How to Select and Isolate Multiple Layers in the Procreate Drawing App

Key Takeaways

  • Procreate allows you to select and isolate multiple layers simultaneously, enabling efficient editing and manipulation of your artwork.
  • You can select layers as primary (active) or secondary, giving you precise control over which layers are affected by your actions.
  • Isolating layers helps you work on specific elements without altering others, providing a non-destructive workflow for experimentation and revisions.

Procreate, the powerful digital illustration app for iPad, offers a robust layering system that allows artists to work with complex compositions efficiently. One of the key features is the ability to select and isolate multiple layers, enabling you to edit, move, or manipulate specific elements without affecting others. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various techniques for selecting and isolating layers in Procreate.

Selecting Layers

Procreate provides two main methods for selecting layers: primary (active) and secondary. You can have only one primary layer at a time, but you can select multiple secondary layers simultaneously.

Selecting a Primary Layer

To select a primary layer, simply tap on the desired layer in the Layers panel. The selected layer will be highlighted in bright blue, indicating that it’s the active layer. Any drawing, painting, or editing you perform will affect this primary layer.

Selecting Secondary Layers

To select additional layers as secondary, swipe right on the desired layers in the Layers panel. The selected secondary layers will be highlighted in dark blue. You can select as many secondary layers as needed.

Once you have selected secondary layers, you can perform various actions that will affect all selected layers simultaneously, such as moving, transforming, or grouping them.

Isolating Layers

Isolating layers is a powerful technique that allows you to work on specific elements without affecting others, providing a non-destructive workflow for experimentation and revisions.

Alpha Lock

Alpha Lock is a feature that locks the transparency of a layer, ensuring that any further drawing or painting will only affect the existing artwork on that layer, leaving transparent areas untouched. To enable Alpha Lock, tap on the desired layer in the Layers panel, then tap the “Alpha Lock” option in the Layer Options menu.

Alternatively, you can swipe a layer left-to-right with two fingers to activate Alpha Lock quickly. A checkered background in the layer thumbnail indicates that Alpha Lock is active.

Layer Masks

Layer Masks function similarly to Alpha Lock but with a key difference: instead of respecting the transparency of the current layer, they respect the transparency of a parent layer. This allows you to modify the appearance of the parent layer non-destructively, enabling experimentation with colors, textures, and effects without permanently altering the original.

To create a Layer Mask, tap on the desired layer in the Layers panel, then tap the “Mask” option in the Layer Options menu.

Clipping Masks

Clipping Masks are another powerful tool for isolating layers. Unlike Layer Masks, which are attached to a specific layer, Clipping Masks act as separate, distinct layers. You can link Clipping Masks to any other layer, stack multiple Clipping Masks above a single base layer, or move them between layers, enabling the creation of complex visual effects.

To create a Clipping Mask, tap on the desired layer in the Layers panel, then tap the “Clipping Mask” option in the Layer Options menu.

Advanced Techniques

Procreate offers several advanced techniques for working with selected and isolated layers, allowing you to streamline your workflow and achieve professional-quality results.

Layer Select

Layer Select is a handy shortcut that allows you to select a specific layer by touching the content on the canvas, without needing to access the Layers panel. To enable Layer Select, navigate to “Actions > Prefs > Gesture Controls > Layer Select,” and set up touch and Pencil shortcuts to integrate this feature into your workflow.

Grouping Layers

Grouping layers is an excellent way to keep your artwork organized and tidy. When you select multiple layers, the “Group” option will appear in the top-right corner of the Layers panel. Tap it to gather your selected layers into a group, which you can then expand, collapse, or move as a single unit.

Drawing Assist

Drawing Assist is a powerful tool that uses layers to assist you in creating mirrored or kaleidoscopic images. In the Layers panel, tap a layer to bring up the Layer Options, then tap “Drawing Assist.” Repeat this process for each layer you want to include in the drawing assist effect.

Layer Blend Modes

Layer Blend Modes allow you to control how the colors and elements on different layers interact and blend with each other. By adjusting the blend mode of a layer, you can achieve various visual effects, such as screen, multiply, overlay, or color dodge, among others.


Selecting and isolating multiple layers in Procreate is a crucial skill for any digital artist. By mastering these techniques, you can work more efficiently, experiment with confidence, and achieve professional-quality results. Whether you’re working on complex illustrations, digital paintings, or graphic designs, Procreate’s robust layering system empowers you to unleash your creativity and bring your artistic visions to life.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]