Procreate® Handbook

Layers

Paint on 3D models without affecting the original textures using Layers. Move, edit, recolor and delete elements with total creative freedom. Break each layer down into its individual materials to work exclusively on color, metallics and roughness.

Layers in 3D Painting look similar to 2D, but they work differently. Each 3D model comes with at least one Texture Set containing a Mesh, a Base Layer and a set of Materials broken down into color, metallic and roughness.

Interface

A 3D model contains Texture Sets, Meshes, Base Layers and Materials. Use all of these when 3D Painting in Procreate to create incredible 3D art.

Existing Layer interface terminology is explained in the Interface section under Layers in this handbook. Having a basic understanding of how Layers work in Procreate will help you understand the differences in Layers when 3D Painting.

Create Layer

The Create Layer button is shaped like a +, you’ll find it in the top right corner of the Layers panel. Like 2D painting, use Create Layer to add layers to your artwork. Use these layers to paint on without affecting any existing Base Layers.

Tap + to add a new layer.

Texture Set

Texture Sets contain all the meshes and layers for a 3D model, with each layer containing its own set of materials. Some 3D models may contain multiple Texture Sets that make up a smaller pieces of the entire model.

Selecting a Mesh, Layer or Material contained within a Texture Set will make that Texture Set active.

Mesh

Within a texture set, a 3D model is broken up into meshes. A Mesh defines a painting area for a part of a 3D model. Think of it as a 3D version of a traditional clipping mask, letting you paint within the mesh’s masked area without affecting any area outside of the mesh.

Most 3D models come with multiple meshes that break the model down into smaller parts.

All meshes within a single texture set share a Base Layer and any extra layers you may have created to work on.

Base Layer

Base Layers contain all the Color, Metallic and Roughness information used to create the initial color and texture of a 3D model that you can see upon import.

Each texture set contains a Base Layer that is shared with any of the meshes that sit within that set.

A Base Layer is masked by whichever mesh is selected. This causes the Base Layer to shift under the selected mesh as if it is grouped. Despite this, the Base Layer will be shared with all meshes within a texture set at all times.

You can paint on a Base Layer at any time, but be aware that this will affect the original colors and textures that came with the 3D model.

If you want to keep the 3D models’ original colors and textures to make your own changes in a non-destructive way, it is best to create an Additional Layer to paint on.

As with 2D painting layers, you can apply any Blend Mode to your Base Layer.

Pro Tip

Not all 3D models contain Base Layers. An .OBJ file may have a Texture Set and Mesh layers, but can come with, and without any Base Layer(s).

Additional Layer

An Additional Layer is any layer added by you to a texture set, and is shared with any of the meshes that sit within that set.

You can use Additional Layers to paint Materials such as Color, Roughness or Metallics without affecting the Base Layer.

As with 2D painting layers, you can apply any Blend Mode or perform any action from the Layer Options menu to your Additional Layers.

Materials Icon

One major way layers differ in 3D Painting from 2D is each layer contains three Materials — Color, Roughness and Metallics. You can paint on any three of these materials contained within a layer.

To access and select an individual Material, tap the Materials Icon. This will cause the layer to reveal the Color, Roughness and Metallics below that layer.

To hide materials for a layer, tap the Materials Icon again.

Materials information is supplied in three different ways in Procreate:

  • They can be supplied with the 3D model when it is imported into Procreate as a .USDZ file.
  • They can be supplied by a Procreate brush that contains Roughness and Metallics materials information. If you paint on a 3D model with a brush that contains no materials info it will only paint information to the Color materials of a layer, not the Roughness or Metallics materials. To find out more about how Materials brushes work in Procreate check out Materials in Brush Studio Settings in the Brushes section of this Handbook.
  • You can select and paint directly onto the individual Materials. This works similar to painting on a Layer mask. Color respects a full spectrum of color, whereas Roughness and Metallics operate using greyscale values.

Materials — Color

Color contains the color information contained within a layer. Tap Color to select, anything you paint will now only affect the Color material of that layer.

Materials — Roughness

Roughness contains the roughness materials information contained within a layer. Tap Roughness to select, anything you paint will now only affect the Roughness material of that layer.

Roughness operates using greyscale values, and ranges from glossy (black) to matte (white), and can also contain texture information supplied by a brush’s grain.

Materials — Metallics

Metallics contain the metallics materials information contained within a layer. Tap Metallics to select, anything you paint will now only affect the Metallics materials of that layer.

Metallics operates using greyscale, and ranges from non-metallic (black) to metallic (white), and can also contain texture information supplied by a source image.

Material Options

The Color, Roughness and Metallic Materials come with their own cut down version of Layer Options. These options include Select, Copy, Fill Layer, Clear and Invert. To access the Materials Options tap a layer’s Materials Icon, then tap a Material to select it and tap again to open that specific material's Options menu.

Select

Select the all the contents of a material contained within a mesh.

In the Layers panel, tap a layer and then the Materials Icon to reveal the layer’s materials. Then tap the Color, Roughness or Metallic material you wish to work on to select it, and tap it again to bring up Material Options, then tap Select.

Copy

Copy the active material to the clipboard.

In the Layers panel, tap a layer and then the Materials Icon to reveal the layer’s materials. The tap the Color, Roughness or Metallic material you wish to work on to select it, and tap it again to bring up Material Options, then tap Copy.

Once you copy image data to the clipboard, you can paste it into another material layer or a different Procreate canvas. You can also paste into an email, or into another app.

Fill Layer

Fill an active material with flat color.

In the Layers panel, tap a layer and then the Materials Icon to reveal the layer’s materials. The tap the Color, Roughness or Metallic material you wish to work on to select it, and tap it again to bring up Material Options, then tap Fill Layer.

This will fill your entire material layer with the currently selected color. The flat color will override all other layer contents.

Clear

Clear an active material’s entire layer in an instant.

In the Layers panel, tap a layer and then the Materials Icon to reveal the layer’s materials. The tap the Color, Roughness or Metallic material you wish to work on to select it, and tap it again to bring up Material Options, then tap Clear.

This will clear the contents of the entire material layer, and reset the opacity to 100%.

Invert

Invert the colors in your active material’s layer.

In the Layers panel, tap a layer and then the Materials Icon to reveal the layer’s materials. The tap the Color, Roughness or Metallic material you wish to work on to select it, and tap it again to bring up Material Options, then tap Invert.

Repeat the process above to invert the colors back to their original shades.

Pro Tip

Procreate also imports Ambient Occlusion and Normal materials, but you cannot access or edit these through layers. Ambient Occlusion and Normal materials will also export, along with Color, Roughness and Metallics when you use the Share Textures option in Actions > Share.