How to merge layers in procreate: The Basics

Procreate is a fantastic app for anyone who loves to draw and paint digitally. There are so many features packed inside the app that it can be tricky to know where to begin exploring. Users of all skill levels will appreciate the intuitive user interface, as well as the variety of tools and effects available. One slightly confusing aspect of Procreate, however, is merging layers. While many users might assume that this process isn’t necessary until later in their work process, merging layers on Procreate can actually be quite helpful at any stage of your project.

What are layers?

When I first began using Photoshop back in the late 90’s, layers confused the heck out of me. I just could not grasp it. I went to a Photoshop training day and learned so much, my mind was blown! Once I figured out layers, a whole new world opened up for me and I was able to use Photoshop with less stress! I think because of my Photoshop background, I was already ready for layers in Procreate.

why merge layers in procreate

Some tips about merging layers before we get started

Canvas size and DPI matters!

If you create a ginormous canvas at 300 DPI (“Dots Per Inch = Print Quality) you will have very few layers to work with.
You might recall in my post about creating stickers in Procreate, I love to create my designs on a 12 inch X 12 inch canvas and at 300 DPI, that is 37 layers.
This is usually plenty for me, but sometimes, you may get so involved with your work, you run out of layers. This has happened to me a few times which leads right into, “why do you need to merge layers?”

In this commission I drew below, I tapped out on my 37 layers, and had to keep merging. SO, you can always make your canvas size smaller before you start, so you will have more layers to work with, BUT, I look at this like I do a purse, the larger the purse, the more stuff you will put in it, which is why I do not carry a purse, well, that, and I am a minimalist.
So, the more layers I have, the more complex this whole process becomes and by the time I reach 37, I am ready to downsize and merge!

On my 12 ” x 12″ canvas, I tapped out at 37 layers

Why merge layers?

There are a few reasons why you might want to merge two or more layers in Procreate. For example, if you want to move a group of objects around without having to select each one individually, you can merge them into a single layer. This combines parts of an image together that belong together, so you can move them together.

From time to time, I merge layers to make more room to add features, etc. Maybe I want to add shading, or an element I am unsure of, and if it is on it’s own layer, I can delete it, change it up, etc.

The main reason I merge layers is to merge ALL of the layers to flatten the image once it is completed.

*Tip: I create a duplicate of my design so I can have 1 that is layered and 1 that is flat.

How to merge layers in Procreate

There are two ways to merge layers in Procreate: using the layer menu or by selecting multiple layers and dragging them on top of each other. Let’s take a look at both methods.

To access the layer menu, tap the layer icon in the top right corner of the screen. This will bring up a list of all your current layers, as well as some options for managing them. To merge two layers, simply tap and hold on one layer, then select the ‘MERGE DOWN” action from the action menu.

You can use the layer menu to merge layers in Procreate

You can also “pinch” all of the layers together to make one layer. While this is a very quick and easy way to merge layers, I DO NOT prefer this method because sometimes you will lose layers if they are not in the order they need to be to be visible.

This often happens when effects are applied or some layers have clipping masks, etc on them, while others do not. I am very careful about merging and like to do one at a time, especially when you have so many, that way you can see what is happening as it is happening and you’re able to ‘undo’ if a layer disappears.

Pinching layers in Procreate is easy and quick, but can cause issues.

Tips for merging layers in Procreate

As you can see, there are a few different ways to merge layers in Procreate. But which method is the best?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

If you’re working with multiple layers, it’s often easiest to merge them from bottom to top. That way, you won’t have to rearrange your layers after they’re merged.

If you want to keep a copy of your original layers, duplicate the file before merging. That way you can always go back if you need to make changes later on.

That’s all there is to it! Merging layers is a simple but powerful way to organize and manage your Procreate projects. Give it a try the next time you’re working on a digital painting or drawing.

Do you have any tips for using Procreate? Let us know in the comments below!

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