As artists, it’s important for us to have a workflow for saving and backing up our work and devices. I’ve lost all of my Procreate files before and to prevent that from happening to anyone else, I decided to write this article.
Here are 3 methods and some best practices for you to follow as a digital artist and an iPad user. Something as simple as knowing which method you want to use and sticking to a routine can prevent you from becoming the next cautionary tale. At the time of writing this I have a iPad 12.9" 2020 (4th Generation) with 512GB of storage running iPadOS 15. If you'd rather watch a video on this process, you can watch my video tutorial here: https://youtu.be/IxiFUo3mANY
1. Files App
The Files app is an app that helps you manage your files across all of your Apple devices. When you open the app you’ll see a section called Locations.
Under Locations you’ll first see a tab called iCloud Drive. The iCloud Drive tab shows you all of the files stored across your devices. Anything that you edit, upload, or delete from there will be updated everywhere. You can manage your iCloud drive from any device or at iCloud.com. By default you have 5GB of storage for free and from there you can choose to upgrade. I have the 2TB storage plan for $9.99/month.
The next section is the name of the device you’re currently on. For example, if I’m in the Files app on my iPad, this section is called On My iPad. Everything you see there will show you the files that are saved locally on your iPad. If you’re a Procreate user, you’ll see a Procreate folder there. You can do things like save fonts that you want to have access to in the Fonts folder there, and change your color configurations under the ICC folder. The contents of this section will depend on the apps you have downloaded on your device.
How to save Procreate files using the Files App:
- Open Files App
- Go to iCloud Drive
- Create a new folder called Procreate
- Save your files from Procreate into the Procreate folder in iCloud Drive
To save time, you can save also your files in bulk.
How to bulk export Procreate files using the Files App:
- Open the Procreate app
- Hit Select in the upper right hand corner of your Gallery view
- Select the files you'd like to save
- Hit Share and select Procreate as your Image Format
You also have the option to simply drag and drop your files individually or in stacks.
2. Dropbox/Google Drive
What if you want to use an external drive service? You can manage your files in apps like Dropbox and Google Drive within the Files app as well. I use the 5TB Dropbox business plan.
Download the Dropbox app onto your iPad and it’ll be available under the Locations section. If you don’t see it appear, make sure you have it toggled on.
You can tap the icon in the top right hand corner of the sidebar to activate or deactivate whichever folders you’d like.
How to save Procreate files using the Dropbox App:
- Open Files App
- Go to Dropbox
- Create a Procreate folder
- Save files from Procreate into the Procreate folder in Dropbox
That’s right. The process is pretty much the same as saving it directly into your iCloud Drive.
3. iCloud Backup
You should be backing up entire device on a semi-regular basis to make sure that nothing gets lost accidentally when transferring and upgrading devices.
It’s supposed to be a copy of your iPad from apps to preference settings. You can hit Back Up Now to perform a backup over Wifi or you can connect your iPad to your Mac and backup from there.
You’ll want to make sure that under your iCloud section you have Procreate toggled on. That will make sure that it’s data and files are saved into your iPad backups. This is also essential if you ever upgrade or change your iPad.
Understanding Your Advanced Settings
Many Procreate app users might not know about this section. Here is where you can set your preferences for the Procreate app on your iPad.
This determines finer settings on your iPad and how it interacts with the Procreate program. Your drag and drop settings as well as where you’d like your files to be backed up to.
As a rule of thumb, it’s important to not only have a Procreate version of your work saved but also a .jpg, .png, or .pdf. This is because Procreate art files can only be read by Procreate and therefore without the app you won't even be able to preview what the art within the file looks like. Plus, you’ll want to have access to a printable version of your files if needed in the future.
Procreate doesn’t save the files that you’ve deleted, so be careful when managing your files in your Gallery.
I hope you found this helpful and that you’re on your way to protecting your artwork in Procreate! If you want a walkthrough of these methods plus more, you can watch my tutorial video below.
Alanna Flowers is a freelance lettering artist & illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY where she runs AGF Design Studio. Feel free to connect via Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or her newsletter to keep up with AGF Design Studio, and to help grow our creative community.