How to Build Apps like Procreate: Features, Tech and Cost

Table of Contents

A3Logics 24 May 2024

Table of Contents

Procreate is one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed art and illustration apps for iPad. It has helped creatives worldwide unlock their potential with powerful yet accessible digital tools. With its success, demand for similar apps has surged. This guide explores key aspects of developing
apps like Procreate‘s capabilities and market reach.


Overview Of Apps Like Procreate In The USA Market


The USA dominates the global app economy led by the popularity of Apple’s App Store in terms of custom mobile app development services. With a thriving digital creative community and higher mobile usage and disposable incomes, the nation presents a lucrative market for drawing and illustration apps like Procreate. 

Several mobile app development companies in the USA and startups across major tech hubs like California and New York have stepped up to offer sophisticated yet affordable drawing and animation apps like Procreate

However, Procreate remains undefeated due to its feature-richness, razor-sharp performance and affordable one-time pricing model. Backed by a robust team of developers, new entrants must invest heavily and strategize meticulously to seriously challenge its stronghold in this space.


In-Depth Analysis Of Popular Apps Like Procreate

Procreate has revolutionized digital art creation on tablets through its phenomenally slick, customizable interface and powerful brushes that capture the most delicate of strokes with pixel-perfect precision. Users greatly appreciate its versatile and non-destructive layers system that facilitates unlimited ‘Undo’ without any data loss, allowing for creative experimentation. 

Its comprehensive brush engine delivers fluid, natural motions just like traditional art materials. Countless customizable brush variants inspire creativity. With lightning-fast response times even with complex compositions, the workflow maintains an intuitive flow similar to traditional media. Regular feature and performance updates from the development team keep the experience fresh. 

Its huge library of free/paid assets, engaged community forums and online tutorials further reinforce Procreate as the de-facto app for digital art and illustration on iPads. Tier-1 graphics art apps and drawing apps like Procreate face a difficult challenge to dethrone it from the top spot.


Lucrative Market Potential For Drawing Apps Like Procreate


The market potential for high-quality drawing and illustration apps in North America is immense. As nonprofits, businesses and individual creators/artists increasingly thrive online, the demand for professional quality digital art multiplies exponentially. 

Reports estimate the global digital art tools industry will hit US$ 1,867.7 million by 2033, with North America dominating over 40% share. Simultaneously, the number of mobile app users has reached 4.8 billion globally in 2024, highlighting a massive audience readily accessible to tablet-based creative ecosystems delivered by free apps like Procreate

Top mobile app development companies in USA seeking a share of this booming market must aim to match or better Procreate’s core feature-set, intuitive design, and stellar customer satisfaction to attract users. Competitors require deep pockets to hire talented graphic designers and engineers while iterating based on user feedback, just like Procreate.


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In-Depth Review Of Core USPs Of Apps Like Procreate

Procreate’s extraordinary success stems from focusing zealously on the core needs of digital artists. Some of its key differentiators that attract creatives include:


Affordable One-Time Pricing

At just $10 for the iPad version, the upfront pricing model is extremely accessible for students, amateurs and professionals compared to subscription-based alternatives or expensive apps.


Powerful Yet Intuitive Brush Engine

Its natural brush behaviors and plethora of customizable variants instill a feeling of using real mediums. Engineers ensure buttery smooth strokes optimize the creative process.


Infinite Undo Without Data Loss

The non-destructive layers empower experimentation without anxiety. Even complex compositions can be effortlessly refined for hours without consuming storage.


Performance Optimization

Apps like Procreate are well-known for their lightning quick response, especially considering the visual complexity possible. This optimization by development teams keeps the creative ‘flow’ undisturbed.


Regular Feature Updates

New drawing tools, effects, templates etc. keep users engaged. The developer community encourages new ideas while maintaining platform compatibility.


Assets & Tutorial Resources

Its asset store and documentation community expands possibilities for all skill levels. Learning resources foster an inclusive, inspiring atmosphere for novices to masters.


Unless competitors can match or better the above qualities through investments in R&D, user research and quality assurance by the best custom app development agency, catching up to Procreate remains a tall order.


Market Insights That Prove Potential Of Art Apps Like Procreate

Insights into the booming digital art market justify enormous potential for high-quality drawing and illustration apps like Procreate:


  • Reports value the global digital art tools industry at $1.5 Billion currently, projected to hit $3 Billion by 2026 as creativity shifts online. North America dominates 40% of revenues.
  • Mobile app installs surpassed web browsing globally in 2022, with 4.8 Billion users highlighting opportunities for tablet art apps. The USA accounts for 1/4th of this massive audience.
  • Non-profits, SMBs, freelancers increasingly rely on visual content and thrive online. This expands the addressable market for apps empowering digital art creation.
  • Individual creators/artists also find online communities more inspiring and lucrative than traditional avenues. Digital tools positively impact their livelihoods.
  • Social media platforms provide new monetization avenues like tailored art tutorials, commissions etc. This incentivizes even amateurs to invest in the craft.

Unless an app like Procreate can match or better its ecosystem through continual development by the top android app development agency and cross platform capabilities, competing in this rapidly growing multibillion-dollar market remains a steep challenge.


Benefits of Investing In The Development of Apps Like Procreate


Time to take a look at the benefits you get with the graphic editor apps like Procreate.


Lucrative Monetization Models

Premium one-time purchases for best apps like Procreate are extremely lucrative compared to advertisements or freemium limitations. Whilst affordable, revenues scale massively with a large user base. Alternatively, well-balanced subscription or in-app purchase models involving regular minor/major updates or premium assets also ensure long-term cash flows for white label app development companies. Customers happily pay for tremendous value delivered consistently.


First-Mover Advantage

Being an early entrant in the emerging digital art app category before it saturates offers strategic advantages. It becomes easier to capture the imagination of pioneers driving word-of-mouth growth. Early traction helps strengthen partnership opportunities and validation for future fundraising, minimizing risks. Art app startups establishing themselves now dominate for years with the network effects of massive communities and quality assets libraries built over time.


Growing Demand from Art Trends

As art becomes more accessible and integrated into online media, the demand for high-quality intuitive creative apps only increases multi-fold. The digitization wave sweeps traditional studios, benefitting startups tackling this widening real-world problem creatively. Entrenching in formative years when interest explodes guarantees a sustainable market even post-saturation for savvy mobile app companies.


Platform Support and Discovery

Curated placement within App Store editorial or direct partnerships with Apple/Google amplifies awareness for quality apps among millions. First-party endorsements carry tremendous branding value especially for premium niche apps. It opens doors for complimentary promotion avenues and guidance from experts at sustaining engaged fanbases.


Talent Magnetism

Crafting industry-leading creative apps demonstrates strong technical expertise and design aesthetics to potential hires and investors. It attracts top talent beyond single app roles into leadership to constantly spread excellence. Veteran studios evolve constantly through world-class innovators complementing core competencies.


Expanding the Experience

Popular apps form the nucleus to thoughtfully introduce related revenue streams. Official merchandising, partnership programs or in-depth online classes conducted by star artists under the same brand nurtures ultra-profitable communities and loyalty in the long-run.

However, sustainably rivalling best drawing/illustration apps like Procreate demands unwavering focus on understanding evolving user passions, constant upgrades and attentive support – the hallmarks of its continued dominance. Only through such devotion does any startup stand to reap the rewards of competing in this diverse booming digital art industry.


Steps To Develop Apps Like Procreate

Below are the essential steps to be followed as per the top on demand app development company to create apps like Procreate.


Conduct Thorough Market Research

The first crucial step for any mobile app development company in the USA seeking to build apps like Procreate is to conduct exhaustive market research. This involves understanding user pain points and expectations from drawing and illustration apps by surveying Procreate’s existing user base as well as competitors’ through online forums and reviews. It is important to note what features users find most valuable in Procreate and other art apps while also identifying existing gaps. Competitive analysis helps determine their monetization strategies and technical capabilities. This qualitative and quantitative user research would help define a unique value proposition and scope of the new app. A custom mobile application development company must leave no stone unturned to gather maximum actionable insights for the subsequent development phases.


Designing An Intuitive Interface & Features

With core user requirements documented, expert UI/UX designers get to work on wireframing and prototyping the app interface and features. The interface design must match the fluid, lag-free experience of traditional art mediums to attract creative professionals. Hence, customisable vector brushes replicating a wide variety of natural bristle textures is a must-have for any drawing app like Procreate. Similarly, non-destructive layers that enable unlimited undo without data loss enable experimentation – a hallmark of Procreate. Other essential features included versatile blending modes, shadow effects, perspective grids etc. Advanced tools for animation, manga/comic making can be added as plugins later based on early user feedback. Multiple iterations involving user-testing helps refine the designs for maximum usability and creativity before development begins.


Developing A Pixel-Perfect Drawing Engine

At the core is developing a sophisticated drawing engine optimized to recognize even the slightest of strokes with pixel-level precision for natural digital sketching, painting and rendering. Advanced algorithms are required to process complex brush interactions on the canvas layer-by-layer in real-time without any lag. Here, an iOS app development agency must push their technical skills to build an engine that surpasses Procreate’s buttery-smooth performance. This involves rigorous mobile app testing services on various devices to eliminate bugs before launch. Continued A/B testing helps further optimize the drawing experience based on usage patterns. Achieving desktop-like performance levels on a mobile device is critical to compete with Procreate favorites among professionals.


Integrations And Extending Functionality

Useful integrations and extensions can boost the appeal of apps like Procreate. For example, allow importing images directly from the iOS photo library, auto-save features backing up progress to cloud services securely. Embedding a well-designed SDK can empower third-party plugins/extensions for tutorials, 3D modeling, animation etc. to continuously engage advanced creators. Potential integrations with Adobe Creative Cloud or Corel Painter boost cross-platform capabilities. However, such integrations require cooperation from top flutter app development companies, so extensions should not hinder the core drawing engine’s performance.


Building An Asset Store And SDK Community

No drawing app is complete without assets and learning resources. Hence, an official asset store curating high-quality brushpacks, templates, tutorials etc. sustains user engagement post-purchase. Professional artists may opt to create and sell their assets here, with the host platform taking a nominal cut. Simultaneously, publishing an SDK allows the passionate community of app developers to create custom plugins and teach paid classes/workshops on the platform. Such initiatives organically expand possibilities and inspire artists, helping retain users in the long-run against competitors.


Testing, Debugging and Continuous Optimization

Thorough testing across devices by expert QA engineers is important before the public release to ensure bugs are squashed. Even after launch, continuous A/B testing based on usage patterns helps an iOS app development agency further optimize performance. Regular updates also incorporate player feedback to enhance features or fix outstanding issues. Analytics help determine the utility of specific tools to refine or remove underperformers. Such iterative refinement has kept Procreate fresh for years post-launch. Emerging technologies like Machine Learning/AR can enhance creativity if incorporated judiciously later based on mature research.


Effective Promotion and Monetization Strategy

Promoting art apps like Procreate among target creatives is crucial for initial adoption. Partnering with online artwork communities and art colleges introduces the app. Discounted introductory pricing or free-trials help convert more users. Once popularity is established, an affordable one-time fee like Procreate unlocks all features, encouraging experimentation. Simultaneously, lucrative monetization avenues like premium brushes, templates, and in-app art/tutorial marketplace sustain revenues against free alternatives. Promoting top artists on the platform uplifts the brand. A community manager nurtures an inspiring atmosphere for sharing work.


Long-Term Support and Continuous Updates

The most important factors to truly compete against industry titans are regular support responses to issues and ambitious annual feature updates. New tools, brushes, learning resources keep the experience fresh, retaining fans against other periodically updated options. Support fixes bugs promptly and resolves payment disputes smoothly. Advanced integrations with 3D platforms expand use-cases. Continuous quality optimization based on usage insights maintains polished performance for loyal, recommendatory fans driving sales mobile app growth sustainably against all competitors.

On Demand App Developers

Features You Must Have In Apps Like Procreate Development

Intuitive Drawing Tools

Any app vying to compete against industry leaders like Procreate must start with core drawing tools that mimic traditional art mediums. Pressure-sensitive brushes, pencils, markers and pens in various styles, hardness levels and sizes enable natural sketching. Adjusting flows, opacity under varying touch pressures replicates the flexibility of wet mediums. Calligraphy tools expand possibilities for logo making, illustration etc. A huge choice of tool presets curated/customized keeps the creative process inspirational.


Advanced Brush Engine

At the heart is an advanced, thoroughly optimized brush engine. It is this that gives Procreate the praiseworthy blend of power and performance attracting pros. Such engines support hundreds of stunningly realistic brush/texture variants. Fine-tuning individual bristles based on applied tilt, angle, and force helps mimic specific techniques accurately. Tools allowing custom brush/texture development let users share assets via online libraries too.


Versatile Layers

Next, robust layers handling is a must for all major graphic art apps. Procreate sets the bar with limitless, non-destructive layers supporting blend modes, opacity, modes like pass-through for easily masking/isolating areas. Similarly, clipping masks allow clipping layers within shapes and adjustment layers precisely tweak toning/effects on specific portions alone. Layer styles incorporate bevels, shadows and illustrations.


Auxiliary Tools

Handy shape drawing, eraser, picker and selection tools aid creation. Magic wand and stroke smoothing streamline pixel-level edits. Panning/zooming keep the interface uncluttered despite complexity. Rulers, grids offer perspective assistance to artists.



Managing colours is simplified through unlimited swatches, importing palettes, plus HDR toning adjustments. Advanced options like gradient/texture fills unleash wild creativity. Accurate colour sampling from previews/imported photos aids matching existing designs.


Undo System

Nothing can impede the creative flow more than clumsy undo/redo limits. Best drawing apps like Procreate set the bar by supporting extensive unlimited undo without data loss even for insanely complex multi-layer works. Users stay fearless while experimenting with wild ideas.


Image Importing

High-resolution raster images from device libraries can be imported as layers for tracing, reference etc. RAW shooters gain non-destructive access to fine-tune mobile photography works in-app.


Patterns and Textures

Oodles of textures from the default library inspire artists continually. Plus, importing patterns/overlays from external sources further expands artistic options.


Panels and UI Customization

Well-designed, conveniently customizable tool panels keep relevant tools accessible throughout the process. Dockable palettes let concentrate on brushes, colours or layers independently.


Cloud/File Storage

Smooth built-in syncing ensures steady access across tablets, PCs via cloud file storage. Resuming works flawlessly anywhere, anytime preventing data loss frustrations creatives dread.



Outputting high-resolution images for web/prints and seamlessly sharing creations on social platforms/forums let receive valuable feedback and discovery.



Thriving online user communities hosted through discussion boards, libraries, tutorials become an invaluable lifelong learning resource nurturing artistic growth sustainably.

Mastering each of the above features at Procreate-beating levels requires herculean investments from established hybrid mobile app development companies. But it is the only path for any new entrant hoping to dethrone the undisputed digital art champion.


Complete Costing of Apps Like Procreate Development

For any best mobile app development company in USA seeking to develop art apps modeling Procreate’s caliber, budgeting 5-15% of projected lifetime revenues towards the initial development is realistic based on standard app cost estimates.

For a top-quality drawing app like Procreate targeting $5-10 million in long-term annual earnings, allocating $250,000-1.5 million would be prudent to deliver the envisioned experience and features professionally over 6-12 months of dedicated work.


UX/UI Design: $5,000-$15,000

Expert UI/UX agencies may charge $5,000-10,000 to visually design all core screens and flows, plus $5,000 more for advanced animation touch-ups. Iterative prototyping ensures fluid usability.


Drawing Engine Coding: $10,000-$30,000

The literal ‘engine room’ powering battery strokes requires senior engineers estimated at $150-250 per hour. Complex algorithms may take 2-4 people 6 months part-time.


Extra Features Coding: $5,000-$15,000

Additional modules like advanced tools, cloud syncing, plugin system etc. depend on complexity and integrations required estimated at $5k-10k.


Backend/SDK: $5,000-$15,000

Integrating robust online asset platforms, communities and developer SDKs involve server-side coding estimated at a similar range.


Testing/Debugging: $3,000-$5,000

Rigorous beta testing by specialists helps squash bugs, identify lag sources to achieve consumer-grade stability costing $3-5k typically.


Assets/Graphics: $2,000-$5,000

Pro-quality starting assets and icons developed in-house or sourced mobile app development cost estimated $2-5k one-time depending on scale.


Marketing: $5,000 launch, $1,000/month thereafter

App store listing assistance, community promotions for launch may cost $2,000-5,000 initially and $1k/month thereafter is prudent.


Maintenance: $500- $1,000 monthly for support

Post-launch fixes and upgrades managed by a mobile application consulting services require $500-1,000 monthly to satisfy discerning clients long-term.

While ambitious, such investments align apps like Procreate’s benchmarks, recouping cross platform app development services costs multi-fold through sales justified by sizable target audiences and premium pricing validated by irreplaceable tools. Cutting corners risks missing the magic formula of Procreate’s dominance over competitors.

Regular user testing and feedback compilation by QA teams also helps optimize and validate ongoing feature pipelines within budget. Sustained returns depend on continuous delightful experiences keeping users engaged against paid/freemium substitutes launched by fellow developers. Overall, rigorous costing factors the many moving parts towards delivering a digital art platform capable of rivaling Procreate’s gold standard.

One-time costs may reach $50,000-$100,000 depending on complexity. An MVP could be developed for under $30,000. Monthly costs thereafter range $1,000-$5,000 covering server, support staff and growth initiatives. Developing in-house may cost significantly more due to non-recoverable overheads so outsourcing makes financial sense.

Overall, a professionally developed app like Procreate is achievable on a $150,000-$250,000 budget, providing robust monetization through premium, IAP or subscription models.


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Final Thoughts

Developing art apps on par with industry leaders comprises dedicated hard work, passion and visionary risk-taking across long-term iterative development cycles. However, for those up to the challenge, immense rewards await in the form of igniting creativity on a global scale, gaining expertise in emerging mediums and securing fulfilling careers. Staying focused on adding real value to users above all else remains critical for success. With perseverance and care for craft, future drawing apps like Procreate can certainly inspire in their own right.

Creativity tools revolutionized by apps like Procreate hold tremendous potential for both artists and investors worldwide. However, achieving excellence requires passion, craft and commitment at par with the market leaders. Careful planning, continuous learning and dedication to quality alone can help new offerings survive and thrive in this competitive landscape. For developers, capturing even a fraction of this multibillion-dollar market presents rewarding long-term opportunities. With creativity and aspiration, challengers can certainly scale new heights. If you are looking for a top enterprise app development company to assist you with the same, then you can always knock on the doors of A3Logics. Connect now!



Q1. How long does it take to develop an app like Procreate?

A basic drawing app can be built in 3-6 months while a top-notch app on par with Procreate may require 9-12 months involving rigorous R&D.

Q2. What programming language is best for drawing apps?

Most creative apps are built natively on iOS using Swift and Android using Java/Kotlin due to superior performance. However, cross-platform frameworks like React Native, Flutter also offer drawing capabilities.

Q3. How much does user acquisition cost for creative apps?

User acquisition costs vary based on platform, competition and targeting. For a new drawing app or best video editor app, expect to spend $1-5 per install initially on Facebook/Instagram ads. Organic marketing through influencers, forums is more budget-friendly.

Q4. What are some monetization models for creative apps?

Popular monetization methods include one-time premium purchases, subscription (monthly/annual), and in-app purchases for extra tools/assets. Microtransactions for virtual goods also work well for community-building apps.

Q5. What features differentiate Procreate from competitors?

Procreate’s excellence lies in pixel-perfect brushes, non-destructive layers, extensive customization, frequent quality updates and its vibrant creator community – all delivered at an affordable single price. Challengers must match or beat these to find success in developing free photo editor apps.