How to Use Symmetry in Procreate? (Step-by-Step)

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(Last updated on February 13th, 2023)

Drawing in Procreate can be fun and daunting if you’re repeatedly drawing the same thing. Luckily, Procreate has some symmetrical solutions for patterns and repetition. Check out this guide on how to draw with symmetry in Procreate.

mountain reflection in lake
Make symmetrical reflections look just like the symmetry of this mountain over a lake. Credit: Pixabay

Procreate’s Symmetry

Procreate is an iPad-exclusive design application that comes with plenty of innovations. In addition to having hardware support for the Apple Pencil and better performance, you can add symmetry to your drawings. It can be a real-time saver for more elaborate art projects.

Procreate symmetry of flowers
Procreate can make designs like this circular flower design possible when using quadrant symmetry. Credit: Envato Tuts

Using symmetry can be as simple as turning on a button and as intricate as fine-tuning the reflective areas. We’ll look at the methods for applying symmetry and some crucial information required to make it the best.

How to Turn On Symmetry in Procreate

To start drawing with symmetry, we’ll need to turn it on through the drawing guide. We’ll also need to decide where the symmetry begins and what type of symmetry will work best. Here’s the step-by-step process of turning on symmetry in Procreate.

  1. Open the Actions by tapping on the wrench icon. With that submenu open, tap on Canvas.
Procreate Actions menu 1
Here is the Actions menu and where you’ll find the Drawing Guide. credit: Mary Li Art
  1. In the Canvas menu, turn on the Drawing Guide.
  2. Next, click the Edit Drawing Guide button.
  3. With the Drawing Guide open, tap the Symmetry button on the far-right portion of the screen.
Procreate drawing guide
Symmetry can be activated in Procreate using the Drawing Guide interface here. Credit: Design With Mina
  1. Play around with the sliders to better customize the opacity and thickness of the symmetry line. You can also use the color slider to change the line’s color.
  2. On the left portion of the screen, choose between the options of a vertical, horizontal, quadrant, and radial for how you want to generate the symmetry.
  3. If you want your symmetry to rotate around the canvas, turn on Rotational Symmetry.
  4. Turn on the toggle for Assisted Drawing.
  5. If the symmetry line doesn’t look how you like, you can edit how it’s placed. Use the green dot to rotate the line and the blue dot to move it around the canvas.
  6. Click done and start drawing to see the results of your symmetry.

Important Symmetry Aspects

  • When editing the symmetry line, you should always keep your design in mind when editing through the drawing guide. You don’t want clashing colors or too low of opacity that you won’t be able to make out the line. Spend time getting the line design to look readable enough that you won’t struggle when drawing with symmetry.
  • Always have Assisted Drawing turned on. If it’s not toggled, your symmetry may not work. Check the current layer you’re working on to ensure it says Assisted. That’s the label for when that layer is using Assisted Drawing.

How to Create Mirrored Drawing in Procreate

Some symmetrical drawings might not require all the options we’ve discussed. You won’t have to do much if you just do simple mirrored pictures. Here’s how to enable simple mirroring techniques in Photoshop.

Procreate mirroring
Simple mirroring can make designs like this heart easy to create. Credit: Ebb and Flow Creative Co
  1. Turn on the symmetry feature as outlined in the previous guide.
  2. Do not turn on Rotational Symmetry.
  3. That’s all you need to do. Procreate already has the mirrored function working by default. You can start drawing immediately and see your design’s reproduced results.

How to Use Procreate’s Rotational Symmetry

If you’re wondering what Rotational Symmetry does and why we had to turn it off in the previous guide to mirroring, it essentially creates a rotation. Rather than directly duplicating one portion of the drawing, it rotates around to create more of a reflection than a duplication.

Rotational Symmetry comes in handy when trying to create tapestries and elaborate patterns. Toggled correctly, they can also flip your drawing in a different direction. All of it depends on how you align your settings.

Rotational Symmetry is most important if you’re using a quadrant or radial style of symmetry. This can create a circular effect on your drawings that can only be possible if the symmetry is rotating. We’ll go over the various types of symmetry styles next.

Symmetry Guide Options

  • Vertical: Creates a line going down for your symmetry. This option is ideal for creating symmetrical faces, houses, mandalas, and simple patterns.
  • Horizontal: The symmetry line goes across the screen, meaning anything drawn on top will be reflected below. This method is preferable to the vertical way if you need more of a reflection on the bottom of the screen instead of the side.
  • Quadrant: As the name implies, quadrant symmetry divides the symmetry area into four areas. If you draw in one corner, it will be reflected in the three other quadrants. Worth noting is that you can’t move these lines the same way you would with vertical or horizontal symmetry. This type of symmetry works excellently for creating elaborate tapestries.
  • Radial: This symmetry style will provide the most mirrored areas as it wraps around the screen with eight sections. Use this style if you want to create even more elaborate tapestries. With so much symmetry in the drawing, this style is fun to play around with most.

How to Turn Off Symmetry In Procreate

While the many symmetry options can make drawing more straightforward, there comes a time when you want the symmetry to be turned off. Maybe your design is complete, and you’d like to add a few final touches without the reflections. While it’s easy to turn this off, it’s essential to realize when it’s turned on.

Procreate layer assist
This layer in Procreate has the Drawing Guide enabled based on the label assisted below the name. Credit: Adventures in Art

Look at the layer where the symmetry is being applied. It should say Assisted below the layer name, signaling that it’s using the Drawing Guide. Turn it off in the Layers panel or the Canvas menu. Once it’s turned off, you can draw on that layer before applying the symmetry.

You can also cancel the symmetry if you’re in the process of setting it up. All you have to do is tap on Cancel instead of Done to discard the application symmetry.

Limitations Of Symmetry In Procreate

While horizontal and vertical symmetry lines can be moved, you don’t have complete control over where they’re placed. If you have a specific angle in mind, you won’t be able to enter the coordinates manually. You can only eyeball the settings and get them as accurately as possible with your fingers or Apple Pencil.

As mentioned previously, the quadrant and radial symmetry lines are not moveable, and there’s a good reason for that. Too much customization of these areas can overcomplicate a design and easily confuse an artist with the many changes to the lines.

What Designs Can You Make With Horizontal/Vertical Symmetry?

Procreate symmetrical face
The vertical symmetry can work well with creating human faces. Credit: Skillshare
  • Houses: Most basic homes have a uniform design where it’s ideal for replicating one side if it means less work for a more detailed plan.
  • Faces: The faces of animals and humans can be very symmetrical and made even easier to draw with a vertical symmetry.
  • Mirrors: Reflections are easier to master in Procreate with horizontal or vertical symmetry. Use vertical if you’d like someone looking into a mirror or horizontal if you want them staring at their reflection in a lake. Turn off the symmetry settings after you’re drawn to add some effects to make the reflections look more evident for the intended surfaces.
  • Landscapes: Some long landscapes can stretch with continuous natural elements. They may be easier to draw with some symmetry.

What Designs Can You Make With Quadrant/Radial Symmetry?

  • Carpet Patterns: Carpets often have wild and repeating patterns that wrap around the canvas area. Making these designs is much easier with quadrant symmetry and can be more intricate with radial symmetry.
  • Trippy Artwork: If you’re trying to design something that replicates the psychedelic looks of the 1960s and 70s designs, using radial symmetry can make for some wildly trippy artwork.
  • Circular Designs: If you’re working with circles where you want to add some more character to the design with repeating flourishes of style between the curves, quadrant, and radial, both work well for this.

The Simpler Alternative

If all you need for your Procreate design project is a repeating pattern, there might be an easier way to do this. You may not have to use the symmetry tool at all. The alternative to try out is duplicating layers and snapping them together.

Start by making your designs ready to be symmetrical. Then use the selection tool to shrink down the layer. Duplicate the layer and then place it next to the design to see how well it snaps together.

This method could be better, but it is helpful as a quick solution for creating patterns. Only use this method if you have a clear idea for a wallpaper-style pattern and don’t need to experiment much with the symmetry tool.

Tips and Tricks

  • Different Styles: Don’t be afraid to create multiple layers to experiment with different types of symmetry to find what works best. A vertical style might work best, but a quadrant style could make your design even easier to craft.
  • Keep It Equal: The horizontal and vertical symmetry lines can be moved, but it’s not as advisable if you’re aiming for uniformity. Try to stick with the angular locations of these symmetry lines, as they’ll be easier to keep track of in your designs.

Frequently Asked Question

Is there a Symmetry tool in Procreate?

Procreate does have a tool specifically for symmetry. It can be found by navigating to Action > Canvas and tapping Edit Drawing Guide. From the Drawing Guide screen, you can tap the symmetry button at the bottom of the screen.

How do you draw Symmetry in Procreate?

Drawing with symmetry in Procreate can be easily accomplished by enabling the symmetry tool in the drawing guide. The drawing guide can be located in Action > Canvas > Edit Drawing Guide.

Where is the Symmetry tool?

The symmetry tool can be found in the Drawing Guide of Procreate. To use this tool, open Action > Canvas and select the Edit Drawing Guide option. In this new window, you’ll be able to find the symmetry tool at the bottom of the screen.

Can you have a grid and Symmetry on Procreate?

Since symmetry can be achieved using the drawing guide in Procreate, you can use grids with your symmetry. When in the drawing guide, turn on the grid before applying symmetry if you want more accurate measurements in your design.

How do you make a seamless repeating pattern in Procreate?

Repeating patterns in Procreate can be accomplished with the symmetry tool but can also be done by duplicating and snapping duplicate layers. Line up your duplicated layers with snapping and transformations, and you should be able to create a repeating pattern.

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