top of page


Procreate Basics: Painting in 3D

How to design 3D models and mock-ups in Procreate

Are you an artist looking to explore the exciting world of 3D painting? Look no further than Procreate, a powerful digital art software that allows you to import and paint on 3D models. In this article, we will guide you through the process of importing and painting a 3D model in Procreate, unlocking new dimensions of creativity in your artwork.

Getting Started with Procreate

Before we dive into the process, let’s ensure that you have the necessary tools to use 3D in Procreate. Procreate’s 3D capabilities are compatible with iPads running iOS 15 or later and Procreate version 5.2 and above. Ensure that your iPad meets these requirements to enjoy the full benefits of 3D painting in Procreate.

Procreate 3D Basics in this Article


Importing 3D Models in Procreate

To begin painting on a 3D model in Procreate, you need to import a 3D model into the app. Procreate supports three file formats for importing 3D models: .procreate, .usdz, and .obj. You can either download 3D models provided by Procreate or import your own 3D models.

Procreate Supported 3D File Formats:

  • USDZ or USD (Universal Scene Description) - designed primarily for AR, contains structural data of your 3D object but also basic texture and environmental information.

  • OBJ (Geometry Definition file) - Most common, simpler file format that includes object structure, texture mapping, and 3D coordinates of the object. Must be imported along with their associated textures by dragging a folder containing the OBJ file and all of the texture maps for Roughness, Metallic, Ambient Occlusion and Normal.

  • PROCREATE - If a 3D model was used in Procreate then exported as a .procreate file the 3D object will retain all its layers, position, angle, features, textures, and more when exported with this option.

Procreate 3D File Requirements

To paint on 3D models in Procreate, the 3D file (OBJ or USDZ) must have it's UV Map. The UV map is the skin unwrapped from around the cube and flattened out in 2D space. Procreate requires UVs to properly import and paint on the model. UVs determine how textures are applied to the model’s surface.

Importing Free Procreate 3D Models

Procreate comes with a collection of 3D models that you can download and import directly into the app. 

How to Import stock 3D Models in procreate

  1. Open any canvas in your Procreate gallery.

  2. Tap on the 🔧 Actions (wrench icon) in the top-left corner.

  3. Select Help and click on “What’s New?”

  4. Download the available 3D model pack. Once downloaded, these 3D models will be ready for you to use in Procreate.

PRO TIP: Ensure that your 3D model has UVs, as Procreate requires UVs to properly import and paint on the model. UVs determine how textures are applied to the model’s surface.

How to Import Custom 3D Models in Procreate

If you have your own 3D models that you want to paint on, you can import them into Procreate. Download or save your 3D model to your iPad and ensure it is in one of the supported file formats (.usdz or .obj).

  1. Open your Procreate gallery.

  2. Tap on the Import button.

  3. Locate and select your 3D model file.

  4. Procreate will automatically open in 3D mode, displaying your imported model on the canvas.

PRO TIP: If you're importing an OBJ file, include all the files in the OBJ folder by selecting all then dropping/importing them into Procreate.


Exploring the Procreate 3D Interface

Once you have imported a 3D model into Procreate, you will be greeted with the 3D interface. The interface in Procreate’s 3D mode is similar to the regular 2D interface, with a few additional options and tools specifically designed for 3D painting. Navigating the 3D space in Procreate is simple and intuitive. 

Procreate 3D Gestures & Actions

  • Move: Tap and drag using two fingers to move around the canvas.

  • Rotate: Drag one finger to rotate the model around its axis.

  • Zoom: Spread two fingers apart to zoom in or pinch them together to zoom out.

Understanding the Layers Panel

In Procreate’s 3D mode, the Layers panel takes on a new structure to accommodate the different parts of your 3D model. These parts are called texture sets and contain groups and meshes.

Types of Layers in Procreate 3D

  • Texture Sets: Texture sets represent different material properties of the model.

  • Groups: Groups contain meshes, which are specific parts of the model that can be painted on.

  • Meshes: Meshes are the individual surfaces on which you can apply your brush strokes.

By selecting a specific layer, you can paint directly on that part of the model, whether it’s the color layer, roughness layer, or metallic layer.


Painting in Procreate 3D

The color layer is where you can apply the base colors to your 3D model. This layer determines the overall color of the object. 

How to Paint on the Color Layers in Procreate 3D

  1. Tap on the Layers panel.

  2. Select the mesh you want to modify.

  3. Tap the hexagon icon.

  4. Choose the Color option.

  5. Select a color from Procreate’s color wheel or import your own color palettes (.swatches).

  6. Start painting on the model with your chosen color.

You can use various brushes and painting tools in Procreate to add details, textures, and patterns to your 3D model. Experiment with different brushes to achieve the desired effects.

Adding Texture with the Roughness and Metallic Layers

To enhance the realism and texture of your 3D model, Procreate provides roughness and metallic layers. These layers allow you to control the surface properties of the object. Experiment with different values and techniques to achieve the desired look for your 3D model.

Texture Layers in Procreate 3D

  • Roughness Layer: The roughness layer determines how smooth or rough the surface appears. Darker colors create a smoother surface, while lighter colors add more texture and roughness.

  • Metallic Layer: The metallic layer defines whether the object has a metallic appearance. Black represents non-metallic areas, while white represents metallic areas.

how to adjust the roughness and metallic layers

  1. Tap on the Layers panel.

  2. Select the mesh you want to edit.

  3. Tap the hexagon icon.

  4. Choose either the Roughness or Metallic option.

  5. Use brushes and painting tools to add texture and metallic effects to the model.

Utilizing the “Show 2D Texture” Function

Sometimes, it’s easier to paint on a flattened 2D representation of your 3D model, especially for adding small details or precise artwork. Procreate offers a “Show 2D Texture” function that allows you to toggle between the 3D model view and a flat 2D texture representation. This function provides a convenient way to work on intricate details without the visual complexities of the 3D model.

How to Use the Show 2D function

  1. Tap on the Actions icon.

  2. Go to the 3D section.

  3. Toggle on the “Show 2D Texture” option.

  4. Select the desired mesh and texture layer (color, roughness, or metallic).

  5. Begin painting on the 2D texture representation of your model.

Adjusting Lighting and Environment

Procreate’s 3D mode allows you to adjust the lighting and environment settings, enabling you to create different moods and visual effects for your 3D model.

How to change Lighting and Environment 3d effects in Procreate

  1. Tap on the Actions icon.

  2. Go to the 3D section.

  3. Select “Edit Lighting & Environment.”

  4. Adjust the lighting direction, intensity, and color.

  5. Choose an environment preset or import your own.

  6. Fine-tune the exposure to achieve the desired lighting effect.

These lighting and environment settings can dramatically impact the overall appearance and ambiance of your 3D model.


Exporting Your 3D Artwork

Once you have finished painting your 3D model in Procreate, you can export your artwork to share it with others or use it in other applications. Select the desired export option from the Actions menu in Procreate and follow the prompts to save or share your artwork.

Procreate 3d File Export and Sharing Options

  • Sharing the 3D Model: You can export the entire 3D model, including your painted work, as a Procreate, USDZ, or OBJ file. These file formats allow you to share your work with other Procreate users or use it in other 3D software.

  • Exporting as a 2D Image: If you want to share a 2D representation of your artwork, Procreate allows you to export it as a JPEG, PNG, or TIFF image. Choose the file format that best suits your needs in terms of quality and file size.

  • Creating an Animation: Procreate also supports creating animated files of your 3D artwork. You can export your animation as an animated GIF, PNG, MP4, or HVEC file format. Customize the animation settings to suit your preferences.


Where to Find 3D Models for Procreate

If you’re looking to expand your collection of 3D models for Procreate, there are several resources available online. Here are a few places where you can find 3D models for Procreate including FFREE and paid options*

  • Online Marketplaces & Free 3D Model Libraries: Websites like TurboSquid, CGTrader, Gumroad, InkyDeals, Free3D, Thingiverse, and Sketchfab offer a wide range of 3D models that you can download and import into Procreate. Check out the #MadeByMELO Artist Shop for Procreate 3D models, color palettes, brush sets and more by MELOGRAPHICS.

  • 3D Modeling Software: If you have experience with 3D modeling software like Blender or Maya, you can create your own 3D models and export them for use in Procreate.

PRO TIP: Remember to check the file format compatibility with Procreate before downloading or creating 3D models. When importing a .USDZ or .OBJ it must have a UV map attached to it if you want to paint on it in Procreate


Take Your Creativity to 3D

With Procreate’s 3D painting capabilities, you can take your digital artwork to new heights. By importing and painting on 3D models, you can add depth, texture, and realism to your creations. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, Procreate’s intuitive interface and powerful tools make it accessible for all skill levels. So unleash your creativity, import a 3D model, and let Procreate become your canvas for immersive and captivating artwork.

Unleash your artistic potential with Procreate. Discover the freedom to create, the joy of experimentation, and the thrill of bringing your ideas to life. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting on your creative journey, Procreate is your ultimate companion in unlocking endless creative possibilities.

Check out all of the Procreate Brushes, Color Palettes, tips & Tricks by MELOGRAPHICS in the in the Artist Toolkit. Download the #MadeByMELO Procreate Artwork badge for your Procreate creations using #MadeByMELO Custom Brushes & tag @melographics1 #MadeByMELO for some virtual high-fives and a chance to be featured (only if interested of course).


This article may inclcude affiliate links which at no cost to you may yield a small comission which is reinvested into the creative content. Learn More about MELOGRAPHICS Partnres & Affiliates here and check out the Artist Toolkit for more Creative How-tos, tools, and resources.


bottom of page