iPad Lettering in Procreate: Brushes, Freebies, and More


iPad lettering has risen to become the latest craze among calligraphy enthusiasts. Apple Pencil’s marvelous pressure sensitivity makes it a powerful choice for calligraphers who want to explore the expanding world of digital art.

I have been joining in on the fun, both in Paper and in Procreate. Paper is my go-to app, with its inviting interface and the tools I’ve gotten to know so well, but Procreate is great for calligraphy because you can customize the perfect brush for whatever you’re making.

Procreate Brushes for iPad Lettering

I just released a brush set with 6¬†fundamental lettering brushes I curated for Procreate users on Creative Market and Gumroad. These brushes are versatile and easy to use, so they’re great for beginning iPad letterers and experienced calligraphers alike.

Download a Freebie Brush!

I thought I would share a brand new brush as a freebie so you guys could get a taste of what’s in my pack.

Introducing Fader!


Fader is a calligraphy brush with a bit of color falloff, so it creates a cool variation in opacity, a little bit like watercolor does before a fresh dip.

A Look at Fader

If you write quickly, the ink falls off right away. If you take your time writing the letters, the ink will fall off at a slower pace.

To download Fader for free, click the thumbnail below, which will redirect you to my shop on Gumroad. Pick Fader, add it to your cart, and enter the code rol_blog_reader at checkout. 

gum road button

If you need help installing the brushes, check out this tutorial.

Take a Look at the Brush Pack

So, the official brush pack comes with these six main brushes and includes two bonus.

The Core 6


  • Monoline has no contrast, so it’s easy to create simplistic, bouncy cursive. (All the names written under the Bs here are with this brush — it’s great for a lot of things!)
  • Subtle is a variation of monoline with slightly contrasted strokes.
  • Playful creates rough edges that work for many styles.
  • Lovely is perfect for modern calligraphy with just of ink bleed.
  • Elegant creates thick downstrokes and delicate thin upstrokes to mimic pointed pen calligraphy.
  • Chalky¬†is great for digital chalk art and lettering, but works for just about anything.

The Bonus Brushes

The two bonus brushes are a glitter brush and a confetti brush. The glitter brush is made for sparkly calligraphy, and the confetti brush adds a simple, colorful decoration.

More Calligraphy Brush Reccomendations

That’s it for my brushes (so far!), but you can never have enough brushes, so I thought I’d reccomend a few freebies from around the web.


  1. from Alternate Glyph¬†Calligraphy Crayon and Streaker. iPad calligrapher Melissa Cabral makes unique brushes that you won’t see anywhere else. She is offering these two for free, and I love using them.
  2. from MakeMedia Co.¬†Southern Belle. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†If you’re a lettering aficionado, you’re probably familiar with Callie Hegstrom‘s funny hand-drawn quotes and popular fonts on Creative Market. She recently began exploring iPad calligraphy and has a lot to show for it. Southern Belle is availible for free on her site.
  3. from iPad Lettering Original Calligraphy.                                     Karin of iPad Lettering was a pioneer in the realm of digital calligraphy. She shares lots of helpful Procreate tutorials and her brushes are used widely and set a high standard in the community. Check out her Original Calligraphy brush.

I hope you guys start stocking up on awesome calligraphy brushes and get lettering!

I’ll be posting more tutorials and tips for iPad lettering soon. ¬†ūüôā



The New Paper



A little while back, I posted a full review of Paper by 53, which has been my favorite drawing app for years.

Recently, 53¬†released Version 3 of Paper, and the app has undergone drastic changes, so it’s due for an all new review.

First of all, Paper used to be an iPad-only app. The update makes it compatible with both iPhone and iPad, which is great. I prefer to use Paper on iPad because of the bigger screen, obviously, but it’s definitely nice¬†to have it on your iPhone if you ever need to jot something down or sketch something quick.

Fifty Three added some new features. The original tools and Think Kit are all still there, but now the toolbar has three little tabs. The first tab is an all new text feature, which I love. You can make checklists, take notes, add captions to your drawings, and easily talk to other artists. You can swipe to change the style from regular, title, subtitle, checklist bullet, and regular bullet. You can also double-tap a section of text to change the style to italic, bold, underline, or strikethrough.

The second tab is photo upload. Like other users of the app, I have mixed feelings about this feature. There are some benefits:  you can annotate and spotlight parts of an image, add your drawings to photos, etc. The problem with photo upload is that it could potentially add a lot of spam to Mix, and it blurs the line between what people drew in Paper and what they just uploaded. (In case you were wondering, the third tab is the old tools.)

That brings me to Mix. Mix has been around for a little over a year now, and it has always been fun and easy to use. If you don’t know what Mix is, this is the summary I wrote in my previous Paper review:

“In September 2014, 53 added a new service called Mix that works within the Paper app. It has over 1 million creators as of March 2015. You can sign up and share your creations made in Paper, as well as see what other artists are making and follow them. Not only that, but you can ‚Äúremix‚ÄĚ their work. You can draw on it and add to it, color it, change it, whatever you want.”

53 has completely changed how Mix works, including getting rid of the name! What used to be the Mix section is simply “People You Follow.”¬†They removed some of the best features it had (such as the popular replay button) and it is considerably more difficult to navigate. 53 doesn’t seem to be featuring art from the community anymore, which is really unfortunate. That was one of my favorite parts of being on Mix. Despite having over one million creators, Mix really did feel like a community. It doesn’t feel like that anymore. The changes were unnecessary and disappointing. (My profile is still there though! I am now Ray of Light on Paper instead Ray of Light on Mix.)

The notebook interface has been replaced with “spaces.” These spaces are like folders, where, if you click on them, you see all of your ideas laid out. It’s kind of like a collage or a mood board, and if you watch their new¬†intro video you will¬†get the idea.

As far as changes¬†to¬†the drawing mode, they modified¬†the way the rewind and zoom features work, which I am not too happy about.¬†There are a few other kinks too right now, but I’m sure the little bugs will be gone in future updates.

I still love Paper. I used to love everything about it, and now I love almost everything. I’m unhappy about the demise of Mix, but otherwise, I’m okay with the update. It’s going to take some getting used to, but in the long run, I think I’m going to get a lot of use out of the new features.




I got excited when I noticed that the App store was featuring a collection called “For Designers.” It showcased 12 drawing apps, 13 design tools, and 12 apps for inspiration. There were definitely a few that I had never heard of or seen before, and that’s where I discovered¬†Coolors.

I’m fascinated with colors and color palettes (as you may have seen with The Palette Project on Mix). I liked (but didn’t love) Adobe Color CC. The app creates color palettes from photos, so there’s a lot of tedious adjusting and stuff like that. It’s slow process and you can’t create any good color palettes if you don’t have any good photos.

Coolors knocks Adobe Color out of the park. It’s so much easier to use, and it’s fun. The only drawback is that it costs $0.99 (while Color is free).

To create a color palette, simply tap generate.

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You can adjust the color values if you want, or you can lock a color and generate palettes to match.

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Once you’re satisfied, you can save and share with the click of a button. Coolors is also available as an extension in Illustrator and Photoshop.

You can try out the generator here for free!

Here are some palettes I created:

Color Palettes August

This marks the beginning of Colors of the Month! Every month I plan to share 5 new color palettes that I created with Coolors.

*Update* 8/29/15: If you want to use these palettes in Paper by 53, I posted them to Mix!

Paper Tips and Tricks #1 — Apple Zoom


The simplicity of Paper (the digital drawing app by 53) allows for people to really explore. A few geniuses have gone beyond experimenting with the tools and have made some amazing discoveries that they share on Mix. One of these is the ability to use Apple Zoom to zoom in further while drawing in paper.

At first when I saw this and tried it, I was not impressed. I mean, it’s blurry, it’s hard to control, and sometimes your marks will end up in random places. But it’s really grown on me.

A lot of people have had the same first impression. It’s not ideal, but with patience and practice, trust me, it works. Of course, it will work better with Pencil but if you’re determined I’m sure you can make it work with your finger.

First of all, you can’t use Apple Zoom alone. Well, you can, but it’s useless because the tools don’t scale down. You have to use Paper’s zoom combined with Apple Zoom. You can adjust the Apple Zoom loupe to get the zoom amount you want once you overlap.

The Fountain Pen works amazingly well in Apple Zoom. The Fountain Pen, or Draw tool, completely changes when I use it like this. Instead of creating unevenly thick lines, it creates steady, consistent, thin lines. Almost like the marker, but a thin version. None of the other tools work nearly as well in zoom. The marker, or Outline tool, can be okay for precise coloring as long as you don’t zoom in too far. As far as I’m concerned, the watercolor (Color) tool is completely useless in this case. I haven’t really tried it, but you might be able to work with the Write and Sketch tool.

Be extremely careful. What happens to me all the time in Apple Zoom is that I’ll draw a line, and then nothing shows up. Outside of Apple Zoom, this can happen sometimes. Usually you just think “oh well” and draw it again. You can’t think like that in Apple Zoom, because every time that happens, you actually do make a mark. This happens because Apple Zoom is not designed to work with Paper, and sometimes the software does not know you are trying to draw in it. It will draw the mark in a random place, and this might not affect you if it ends up in some white space (because you can erase it later) but it will if it ends up on some precious part of your drawing. So, every time a mark does not show up, move your Apple Zoom and check for a random line on your page. If you see one, rewind, and then you can go back to work. If you don’t rewind, it might be hard to fix later.

Be patient. The random marks I talked about above are guaranteed to slow you down, but don’t let that stop you! Here is a piece of work I made in entirely in Apple Zoom:


I published a copy of this on Mix that lets you make your own rose frame with the cut tool. I put roses, leaves, palettes, and some instructions to get you started.


What can you create with Apple Zoom? Share it in the comments below!

Paper by 53



There is quite a selection of drawing apps for iPad if you take a look. Paper by 53 is my favorite. I’ve tried other apps and Paper is just better.

Their approach to digital drawing is keeping it simple. That means no brush sizes, no layers, no photo import, and no paper sizes. It sounds weird, but it’s actually great. It gives you a chance to really explore each tool and how it interacts with other tools, just like how you do in real life. There’s not much thinking involved. The tools just work. In my opinion, the app¬†Procreate¬†has too many features, which distracts from the creative process. How can you get your ideas down if you’re always fiddling with opacity?

Using Paper

Your drawings are organized in notebooks, which you can name and change the covers of. You can easily add, duplicate, and delete pages, as well as move them around.

Once you open up a page, a shelf of tools will pop up on the bottom, Originally, Paper was free to download, but it only came with the fountain pen tool, the eraser, and limited colors. The four other tools and the color mixer were all in-app purchases. Recently, however, 53 made all of the tools free so that everyone could use them. In March,¬†a second set of tools was added to Paper, called “Think Kit.” That’s free, too.

IMG_1112 IMG_1113

There is a zoom feature as well as an undo/redo thing called Rewind. The zoom loupe will show up by pinching (just like how you zoom normally). Rewind works by rotating two fingers counter clockwise to undo, and rotating two fingers clockwise to redo.


The reason 53 could afford to keep their app free is because they came out with their own stylus, called Pencil. It is modeled after a carpenter pencil,¬†and it comes in¬†3 models. Pencil is very lightweight, portable,¬†and easy to use. You connect it by pressing the tip to a button on the screen. Once¬†connected, Pencil unlocks¬†new features, including blend, palm rejection, and surface¬†pressure. It also slightly¬†changes the way the tools work.¬†Pencil has an eraser that you can use without switching tools. I have the walnut model, and I love it. It’s my favorite stylus. However, there is one thing that really bothers me about it, and that is the durability of the tips. The tips are made from thin rubber, and they wear out quickly. There is one extra tip in the Pencil package, but once you go through that one, you’ll have to buy more. Even though the holes form quickly, I try to use the tip as long as I can before switching.

The Tools

The Originals

1. Draw¬† The yellow¬†fountain pen, called the “draw” tool by 53, is a tool that created solid black lines of varying width. If you draw fast, the thickness of your lines will be uneven. However, if you zoom in and write slow, you have good control over how thick or thin you want your line to be. This tool is great for writing, hand lettering, and drawing.

2. Sketch¬† The orange pencil, also known as the “sketch” tool, mimics what a real graphite pencil looks like. The lines are initially thin and light, but you can really darken them by going over it a few times. When the Pencil stylus is connected, you can create really fat strokes by turning onto the thicker side of the tip. This tool is best suited for initial sketches and drawing. It’s terrible for writing.

3. Outline The blue marker, or the “outline” tool, is my favorite. It works really good with Pencil connected. It creates nice thick, even strokes. With Pencil, it creates fat strokes out of zoom, and thin strokes in zoom. It’s a great tool for writing and coloring, and I even use it for drawing.

4. Write The brown pen, called “write”, creates blotchy, thin lines. If used right, it can make your handwriting look good. It can also be used for drawing, and the tool doesn’t change much with Pencil connected or in zoom.

5. Color The purple paintbrush, a.k.a. the “color” tool, mimics watercolor. It’s the tool I use the least, and after using Paper for a long time and still can’t say I have much experience with it. You can create lots of different looks and even sort of blend colors together. It’s only good for coloring.

Think Kit Tools

6. Diagram The diagram tool of a shape (for example, a square or a circle) and the diagram tool will turn it into a perfectly polished version called a “smart shape.” You can also use it to draw lines and arrows.

7. Fill This tool looks like a blue paint roller, and you can use it to fill smart shapes with color. You can also fill empty areas with large blocks of color by dragging (this is called freeform fill).

8. Cut The cut tool is a gray pair of scissors that allows you to cut out a part of your drawing and duplicate it, move it around, or throw it away.

Color Control

9. Mixer/Color Picker — the mixer is a circle that allows you to create your own colors by swirling to mix them. You can also tap to see HSB sliders for an accurate color. You can tap to reveal the color picker, which allows you to copy colors from the page.

10. Palette Slots — the palette slots give you a place to store the colors that you mix up. You drag and drop the colors into the circles for easy access, and you can organize them in a way that is convenient for you. Paper comes with default colors in the slots, and once you customize¬†yours, there is still an option to revert back to the defaults.

Stylus or Finger?

I’ve only had Pencil for six months or so, but I’ve been a Paper user for about two years or more. I never liked any other stylus because there was no palm rejection (it’s only for Pencil). For a long time I used my finger!

The drawings I made before I had Pencil and the ones I make now are very similar. Pencil is a lot of fun and much easier and quicker to use than a finger, but to be honest you can achieve a similar result with your finger with some hard work, patience, and practice. I think Pencil is totally worth it, but you can still use Paper without the investment.


In September 2014, 53 added a new service called Mix that works within the Paper app. It has over 1 million creators as of March 2015. You can sign up and share your creations made in Paper, as well as see what other artists¬†are making and follow them. Not only that, but you can “remix” their work. You can draw on it and add to it, color it, change it, whatever you want. I’m going to post a separate entry all about Mix in the future.

In the end, Paper is a great app and remember that everything except for Pencil is free (be aware that Paper is  not compatible with iPhone and is only available on the app store.)  I highly recommend it and hope that you give it a try. I love Paper so much that sometimes I forget that my iPad does other things. See what you can create!