Tracing Diagrams In Procreate on the iPad

Screenshot of iPad Pro showing Procreate with a traced diagram.

You can do this using a free app called MediBang Paint. It’s more complicated than Procreate though. Not everyone is born with artistic prowess. I have been tracing all my life, I won’t stop now. Here’s a walkthrough of I trace diagrams in Procreate:

Tracing A Diagram

  1. I used the selecting tool in Notability to cut out the diagram I wanted to trace from the PDF. Then I long pressed on the image to “lift” it off the page and dragged it to Procreate. 
  2. I resized the image in Procreate to cover my canvas as much as possible. I find the bigger the image, the better. 
  3. I chose my drawing ink, I prefer solid inks.
  4. I create a new layer to trace on and I start tracing. When tracing, make sure all your lines are joined and that they are not leaving any gaps. This is very important for colouring in later.
  5. When I have finished drawing the diagram, I remove the layer I was tracing from and check to make sure there are no gaps in my tracing. Zooming in on the diagram helps pick up tiny gaps that can potentially mess up the next step. 
  6. To colour sections, I drag and drop the colours into them. When your diagrams have gaps in them, your colour will spill into regions you don’t want it in.

Some Useful Tips

  • Use the original diagram to pick up the exact colours you want. I occasionally bring back the original picture to get colours using the colour picker.  
  • For super tiny little sections, zoom in to drop your colours in the right places. It’s easy to drop your colours on the edges (which changes them) or outside small sections.

Exporting The Diagrams

I always export my diagrams in PNG format to remove any background. PNG images are the best for creating notes, they float and blend into the page which makes them aesthetically pleasing.

Why I Trace My Diagrams

Besides my appalling artistic skill, I have a few logical reasons for tracing my diagrams, instead of just copying and pasting them from Google or textbooks.

  1. I hardly ever find the right images I need. There’s always something missing or different from what I’m looking for. Tracing allows me to add personal modifications that match my study notes.
  2. Tracing helps me to learn faster because I am a visual learner. Information sticks better when I do my own diagrams.
  3. It is relaxing, not as relaxing as a colouring book (obviously) but relaxing enough. So I tend to trace my diagrams during study breaks. It’s fun, but productive at the same time.

That is basically how you can trace diagrams for your classes and save yourself some time. Unless if you’re a great artist and you actually really enjoy drawing your own diagrams.

Any thoughts? Do tell, do tell!