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How to use Alpha Lock in Procreate the easy way

In most design apps, the concept of masking is key to doing awesome things. Among the three types of masks Procreate offers, Alpha Lock is one of the more important. Let’s dive into the world of Alpha Lock and explore how to to use alpha lock in procreate the easy way!

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What is Alpha Lock?

If you’re a digital illustrator, you’ve probably heard the term ‘Alpha Lock’ being thrown around in Procreate circles. But what exactly is it? In simple terms, Alpha Lock is a feature in Procreate that allows artists to lock a layer, enabling them to only paint within the existing strokes of that layer.

Think of it as putting a protective shield on certain areas of your artwork. This ‘shield’ ensures that no matter how wild your brush strokes get, they stay within the boundaries of the design you’ve already created on that layer.

Ever been in the middle of a digital masterpiece when your brush stroke strays a smidge too far? That’s where Alpha Lock comes in handy.

It’s a game-changer for adding textures, shadows, highlights and intricate details. It’s all about adding depth and dimension to your art, without the worry of ruining your base design.

Alpha Lock, acting like a mask, presents the opportunity to sketch within a pre-existing shape, maintaining the integrity of the borders.  Alpha Lock ensures you color within the lines.

How to use Alpha Lock?

Using Alpha Lock in Procreate is as easy as pie. It’s all about unlocking the potential of this feature for your artistic endeavors. Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Choose your Layer

First things first, pick the layer you want to work with. Simply go to the layers panel and tap on the layer to select it.

Step 2: Activate Alpha Lock

Here’s where the magic happens. Tap again on the chosen layer to bring up the options menu. Then, you just need to select ‘Alpha Lock’. Voila! You’re now in the Alpha Lock territory.

Shortcut: swipe right with two fingers on the layer to activate Alpha Lock.

With Alpha Lock activated, experiment away! Whether it’s adding textures, shading, or even changing colors, the world (or, rather, canvas) is your oyster. Alpha Lock will ensure that your edits only affect the existing pixels on the layer. It’s like having a protective shield for your artwork!

Step 3: Deactivate Alpha Lock

Okay, so you’ve had your fun. Now, what? Deactivating Alpha Lock is a breeze. Just repeat the activation process – tap on the layer, then select ‘Alpha Lock’ once again. As simple as that!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Alpha Lock with multiple layers in Procreate?

Indeed, you can use Alpha Lock with multiple layers in Procreate! However, it’s important to note that Alpha Lock affects each layer individually. Here’s how it works:

  • First, apply Alpha Lock to your desired layer by swiping to the right with two fingers.
  • Repeat this action for any additional layers you want to apply Alpha Lock to.
  • Now, any changes you make with your brush will only affect the existing artwork on these locked layers, protecting your transparent areas.

Remember, unlocking a layer is as simple as repeating the two-finger swipe!

What is the difference between Alpha Lock and Clipping Masks in Procreate?

Alpha Lock and Clipping Masks in Procreate serve similar goals but with a distinct difference. Alpha Lock allows you to paint or draw directly onto a layer without disturbing the transparent areas. It essentially ‘locks’ the transparency of the layer.

Think of Alpha Lock as assigning a ‘no go’ zone for your brushes.

On the other hand, Clipping Masks work slightly differently. They allow you to apply texture, shading, or patterns to a layer, but only within the boundaries of the artwork of the underlying layer.

With Clipping Masks, your artistic effects stay strictly within the lines.

How can Alpha Lock improve my workflow in Procreate?

Imagine creating intricate designs with the confidence that you won’t accidentally paint outside the lines. That’s the power of Alpha Lock in Procreate. It locks your layers, ensuring you only color within your pre-defined boundaries. Plus, it’s a time-saver; no need to constantly select and deselect areas. You can focus on the fun part: being creative.

  • Time-Efficiency: Alpha Lock saves you time by eliminating the need to constantly select and deselect areas.
  • Control: It gives you the freedom to color within pre-defined boundaries, enhancing your drawing precision.
  • Creativity: With the technicalities taken care of, you can focus on the fun part – getting creative!

Are there any tips or tricks for using Alpha Lock in Procreate?

Definitely! Alpha Lock is a creative game-changer within Procreate. Here are some keen tips to maximize its potential:

  • Layering: Experiment with layering colors using Alpha Lock. It’s a great way to build up textures and depth in your work.
  • Blending: When Alpha Lock is on, blending colors becomes a breeze. You can create stunning gradients and soft transitions without affecting your outlines.
  • Quick Toggle: Swipe to the right with two fingers on your layer to quickly turn Alpha Lock on or off. This trick will save you valuable time during your creative process.

Remember, the beauty of Procreate is in its flexibility. Experiment and find what works best for you!


In the world of digital art, tools like Procreate’s Alpha Lock feature can make a world of difference. It’s an integral tool that opens up a plethora of creative opportunities, simplifying tasks while enabling more complex designs. Whether you’re an experienced pro or a beginner, you’ll find this feature a game-changer.

Remember, it’s all about playing around, making mistakes, and learning. If you want to learn a few more Procreate features, check out our articles on how to trace, copy and paste or even best practices around making selections and moving objects around.

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