Procreate 5.2 just got 3D painting, and it's fantastic. This is an amazing update to what is already one of best painting apps on iPad. This update's biggest addition is the ability to take 3D models and use all the Procreate brushes, tools and effects right there on a 3D model, on your iPad. But it's so much more.
The only real niggle is Procreate and it's stunning 3D-featured update only run on iPad, but that's a small downside. If you don't own an iPad, take a look at our round-up of the best Black Friday iPad deals. The combination of Procreate 5.2 and iPad or iPad Pro is a package that will change your digital art for the better.
Procreate is fast becoming one of the most popular and flexible apps for digital painting. It's recreation of real painting techniques and textures, along with easy to use menus, tools, a deep selection of brushes ensure its good for painting, comic art, and now 3D painting…
Procreate 5.2 review: The set-up
The app comes with a few 3D samples to allow you to get going the second you download the app, but the real power comes when you realise that you can take your own models from programs like ZBrush, Blender, Maya and even models created on the iPad with apps like Nomad Sculpt and Forger app.
Models have to be unwrapped and have UV coordinates, which is how textures are applied to models in 3D. There is one fly in the ointment for iPad sculptors, which is that there aren’t many ways to create UV coordinates on an iPad (Forger App has some basic tools) and you have to resort to a desktop program like Blender to create them.
Procreate 5.2 review: The painting experience
The 3D painting process is very easy to learn. In fact, as long as you already know how to use Procreate there isn’t actually anything much new to get to grips with. That's the beauty of this update, you can use your existing skills and workflow, but now in 3D.
You begin by importing the model you want to paint. It has layers in the same way a flat document does. If the model has separate parts you can tap the part you want to paint on, and off you go. There are sub-layers for roughness and 'metalness', which simply means you can enhance your painting with reflectivity and decide how much your material needs to look like metal.
There is a new 3D tab that gives you access to lighting and the environment. You can add new lights, colour them, change the HDRI (backgrounds that will reflect in your model). You can use any Procreate brush or feature so things like Smudge are great for mixing up paint that is already on the model. There is an option to see your texture flattened out too, which means you can also bring in other images or textures and add them in a more 2D way.
Procreate 5.2 review: New features
An amazing new feature is that with the click of a button you can be viewing your model on your desk using an AR feature right there in Procreate. This shows where we are heading and it is fantastic that Savage has seen to add this feature to this update rather than save it for Procreate 6. Being able to check out your designs in the room you are working in is quite liberating and it won't be long before we see some really exciting things created with this update. Watch this space!
The non-3D updates include a much better stroke stabilisation feature for when you are creating your own Procreate brushes. If you are lucky enough to have a 16GB iPad Pro you can now take advantage of bigger documents and even more layers. There is a new Page Assist feature that allows you to view all of your sketch ideas in a convenient sketchbook format, which is fantastic news for storyboard artists and comic book illustrators. You can now even bring in PDFs and annotate them making it a great app for a wider audience to consider.
It would have been nice to get some automated UVing tools to make it easy to bring in any model seamlessly, but I’m sure there will be future updates if this is a successful release.
Procreate 5.2 review: Price and should you buy it?
The update is free to anyone already using Procreate, which is great value. The standalone app price is a mere $9.99/£9.99 too, which with these features and at this price, is unmissable.
We can't state how incredible this update is – Procreate 5.2 is takes the familiar tools of the iPad painting app to another level by enabling you to paint directly onto the surface of 3D models. More so, the update includes an array of accessibility features and optimisations for iPad Pros that take full advantage of the new M1 chip's power. The result? Larger canvas resolutions and more layers. Even for non-3D artists this update still packs in essential new content.
These new features alone mean you'll spend less time in clumsy menus thanks to new Brush Size Memory and Recent Brushset features. Single Touch gestures mean you can zoom, move, and affect the canvas with ease. There's even new Eyedropper colour description notifications to aid colour-blind artists. Savage is thinking of everything.
But the star of this update is clearly the new 3D painting tools, and how easily Procreate 5.2 includes them into the already fantastic app. The level of detail, choice, and flexibility offered is incredible for a budget app, and an essential companion to your new iPad Pro.
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