For an artist, influence from historical and contemporary styles of art plays an essential role in the development of one’s own artistic and visual style. Read on to learn about 30 different art styles to inspire you in your own art-making journey! Some are based on art movements, some are based on techniques, some are based on a particular art medium. For each art style, you’ll find a brief description, plus characteristics of the style, a Pinterest board filled with inspirational images, links to additional research, and a suggestion about how to apply that style to your work in Procreate.
How to Use this Page
When sitting down to start a piece of artwork, or approaching a prompt, topic or subject matter, choose an art style to work with. Analyze the characteristics and find a way to incorporate some aspects of that style. This doesn’t have to be an exercise in making an accurate representation of that particular art style. Pull just one or two things from what you see and bring those into your art. This is an excellent way to help you develop your own visual style.
Experimentation with style is vital to your development as an artist. In the end, “your style” is a complex mix of your experiences, your skills, and your influences. So never stop exploring!
PLEASE NOTE: This article is currently under construction, and I’m working on updating information and resources for each Art Style. For now, peruse the Pinterest board and make observations about each art style to find ways to incorporate them into your artwork.
30 Art Styles to Try in Procreate
Click a title from the table of contents below to jump to that art style.
1. Absract Art
Abstract art uses shapes, forms, colors, and lines to create a non-representational composition. This type of art is not intended to look like something that exists in reality, but it is influenced by reality. It’s not literal; it’s not representational. It’s always up for interpretation. The possibilities are endless when it comes to abstract art. It can be an interpretation of how you feel about a particular subject or topic. You can take the colors, line, or elements of your subject and mix them up in new and exciting ways. You can use abstract art to communicate movement, mood, emotions, and more.
Making Abstract Art in Procreate
Think about the subject, prompt, or topic you want to make art about. Play with different brushes and colors and make various shapes and lines on your canvas. Don’t overthink it, just lay down whatever comes out of you. Keep adding different forms and textures until you feel your piece is done.
2. Art NouVeau
The Art Nouveau style, most popular in the early 1900s, was prevalent in art, design, advertising, and architecture, objects, and more. It is characterized by ornate, curvaceous flowing lines, in often intricate patterns. Organic shapes and plant forms, vines, florals, etc. were a significant source of inspiration in this style. Colors were mostly flat, and the palettes used were fairly monochromatic.
Art Nouveau Style in Procreate
Realistically draw your subject in terms of proportions, but simplify your linework and keep shading mostly flat. Art Nouveau uses a lot of outlining, merging shapes and lines together that overlap. Use a muted color palette. Consider adding an ornate border that utilizes some of the motifs and patterns commonly found in Art Nouveau design.
3. Collage Art
A Collage is made by taking cut or torn pieces of paper, photographs, printed material (such as magazines or newspapers), ephemera, fabric, and other flat materials, and pasting or combining them to make a new composition.
Making Collage Art in Procreate
Take photos of real paper, fabric, magazines, and other materials, or download free stock photos from sites like Unsplash and Pexels and save them to your camera roll. Import a photo or image to your canvas and use the selection tool make a freehand selection of the area you want to cut out. Copy/Paste that selection to a new layer. Repeat with the rest of your paper photos and stock photos, keeping the prices separated into layers. Use the transform tool to move and resize the pieces to create a new composition.
4. Comic Style Art
This style comes from comic books and graphic novels. The classic comic look is characterized by black outlines and simple color fills, sometimes with a dot-like halftone pattern which, comes from the process of printing the comic books. Shading can be simple or complex, but it’s usually depicted using black linework or dot patterns on flat color. Comic Art is designed to tell a literal story, so you’ll see dialogue and or text represented in talk bubbles or boxes, as well as lettering and imagery to communicate action. Think a big starburst with the word BOOM!
Making Comic Style Art in Procreate
Depict your subject as a moment in a story! Can you incorporate and action or dialogue? Visually, use a lot of black linework with a minimally-textured inking brush. Use black lines and patterns to add shading. Then, place a layer beneath your line art, and color everything in, coloring-book style. Use a textured brush, like the Press Rough or Halftone brushes found in my Texture Maker set to add a press-printed effect to your art.
Cubism, invented by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, was one of the first big steps toward abstract art. Cubism aims to represent the different surface planes or sides of an object together in one flat plane. In other words, Cubism shows many different viewpoints of a thing at the same time. Imagine seeing the side and the front and back of an object at the same time in one painting. The parts of the object can be irregularly placed or mixed up. Picasso said, “A head is a matter of eyes, nose, mouth, which can be distributed in any way you like.” The forms used in Cubism are generally fragmented, angular shapes.
Cubism in Procreate
How can you mix up the “elements” that make up your subject? Imagine what it looks like from all sides and draw those different perspectives at once. How can you interpret the subject into angular forms? Experiment with colors that differ a bit from real life.
6. Digital/Pixel Art
Pixel art originated from the look of graphics created for early computer and video games. The graphics are created entirely of a grid of uniformly sized squares, or pixels. Artwork rendered in pixels can be made up of something as small as just a few pixels across, or hundreds of pixels. All raster-based digital art is made of pixels, but computers today work in such high resolutions, those pixels are no longer individually visible. Art considered to be “Pixel Art” today is created on a pixel-by-pixel basis.
Making Pixel Art in Procreate
Luckily, Procreate is already a pixel-based art-making program, so making Pixel Art in it is pretty easy! Use a very low resolution canvas to make your own pixel art in Procreate. I’ve created a FREE set of Pixel Art brushes and a Pixel Art tutorial about how to make this fun style of art.
7. Doodle Style Art
Doodling is both an activity and a visual style. To doodle is to draw absent-mindedly, possibly while simultaneously doing something else like talking on the phone, listening to a lecture, or sitting through a meeting. Doodles are generally drawn with a single pen or pencil, whatever you happen to have in your hand at the time.
Doodling in Procreate
Start by distracting yourself! Put on a show or movie or call a friend and chat, then pull out your iPad and a pencil or pen brush. Then draw whatever comes to mind! Don’t worry about adding color, texture, or even much detail. Doodles are Keep it simple and draw as many different things as you can. You can even start by picking a “theme” like food, animals, plants, etc. and fill the canvas with as many different things as you can that fit the theme.
8. Flat Illustration Style
Flat Illustration is characterized by simplicity. The subject matter is reduced to simple forms and, as the name implies, flat areas of color. Most flat illustration is devoid of texture. Dimension, depth, and shading may be ignored, or communicated with variations in color and shape. Flat illustrations also often use a limited color palette. This style is found prominently in web design and branding design.
Making Flat Illustration in Procreate
Because Procreate is a digital art medium, it’s actually perfect for creating the Flat Illustration style! First, simplify the elements of your composition as much as possible. Remove details and reduce objects to simple, flat colors. Think of how you can add shadows and dimension using additional shapes and variations of colors. Start with a sketch of your composition, then use many layers to make your final art. Draw your forms with a texture-less brush, like those found in my Basic Toolkit, or Procreate’s built-in brushes, “Syrup” and “Studio Pen” from the Inking set. Draw the outline and fill in using the Color Drop feature for a perfectly flat area of color. Keep it simple and avoid complex color palettes, gradients, realistic shading, or textures.
9. Folk Art
Folk art is defined as creative works made by common people as opposed to professional artists with formal artistic training. Methods, techniques, and motifs are passed down or taught through generations. Because of this, Folk Art tended not to follow any specific art movement of the moment. The subject matter of Folk Art tended to focus on every day human experiences, traditions, and culture of the community.
Folk Art can be found in many forms and mediums, including painting, objects, textiles (such as quilting, sewing, and embroidery), crafts (like basketweaving and stained glass), ceramics, sculpture, and more.
Each region of the world has it’s own iconic Folk Art styles, so the term “Folk Art” can never pertain to just one style. There are as many different styles as there are places in the world!
Making Folk Art in Procreate
Take a look at different folk art styles from around the world and choose one to consider. Study the characteristic motifs, patterns, and graphic elements. Think about incorporating things like animals, natural elements like leaves and flowers, and scenes from everyday life. Many folk art styles incorporate a lot of decoration and utilize design elements such as symmetry and patterns.
13. Midcentury Illustration Style
The mid-century illustration style was very minimal, characterized by clean, defined lines, vibrant bright colors, and geometric shapes. The subject matter would be reduced into simplistic forms. An iconic mid-century look consisted of flat areas of color with textured linework over the top. Because the artwork was designed to be printed on a press, and it was more expensive to print in full color, working in a limited color palette is also common in this style. The illustrations usually feature a “press-printed” texture for this reason.
Mid-Century Illustration in Procreate
Start by simplifying your subject matter as much as possible. You’ll want to combine angular or geometric areas of flat color with textured line art. Make a sketch to plan out the details (remember to keep it simple!) I have a set of brushes, the Midcentury Illustrator’s Kit, designed to emulate the types of textures and line work found in mid-century illustration. Because midcentury illustration was never digital, but a printed medium, use a textured brush (like Press Fine or Press Rough from my Texture Maker set) to add the press-print texture to your work.
17. Old-School Tattoo Style
Sometimes referred to as Traditional American or Western Tattoo, this ia a style defined by tattoo artists of the mid-20th century. Think about a classic sailor tattoo with the word “mom” and what you see in your head is probably this style. The style is very bold and graphic with thick line art and imagery of anchors, banners, roses, stars, military insignia, pretty ladies, and more.
Old-School Tattoo Style in Procreate
Simplify your subject matter and draw line art in black using a mono-width brush. Fill your line work with mostly flat color and minimal shading. Decorate around your main subject with stars, dots, or other imagery iconic of this style.
18. Painterly STYLE Art
The painterly style is more defined by the media used than a particular art movement: that medium being paint! It allows the medium to be explicitly evident as opposed to smoothing out brush strokes to make something look hyper-realistic. In other words, the painterly style seeks to look like it was painted. This can translate into a less-detailed, more loose appearance where brush strokes are expressly visible. The painterly style is devoid of flat color, instead allowing visible brush strokes to be seen.
How to create a Painterly Style in Procreate
Try using a brush set that was designed to emulate real paint, such as my Gouache Paintbox, or the built-in Procreate brushes from the “Painting” set – Wet Acrylic and Oil Paint are good choices. Forget about all the special features that you’d typically use in digital art, like layers, masks, blend modes, etc. and imagine you are painting on a real canvas. If you can, work entirely on one layer. Start with your background and broad areas of color. Layer colors over one another. Allow your brush strokes to blend together, try using the smudge tool to blend as well. Start with big shapes and work toward the finer details. Don’t strive for perfection or hyper realism, allow your brush work and painterly strokes to be visible.
25. Psycedelic Art
Psychedelic Art refers to artwork created based on visions and graphics seen while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. For our purposes, we’re going to be referring to artwork and design related to the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s. Psychedelic artwork from this period was heavily influenced by the early 20th century Art Nouveau Style. Look back on the Art Nouveau section n this article, and I think you’ll see the connections right away. Some visual characteristics to look for in Psychedelic Art bright, neon, and even sometimes jarring color palettes. The style features smooth, flowing organic shapes that appear to be melting, moving, and flowing. A psychedelic art piece would often be “packed-in” compositionally, with a noticeable lack of negative (empty) space. These spaces would be filled in with a variety of decorative elements such as flowing or emanating stripes, stars, organic or floral patterns, and more. Another visual characteristic is the use of linework and outlining to separate colors and objects.
How to Make Psychedelic Art in Procreate
Want to make your own psychedelic art? Get yourself into a hypnotic state. Hey, I’m not telling you to start taking drugs. There are, in fact, other things you can do like meditation, sensory deprivation, or intense breathwork.
Simplify your main subject matter and depict it using round, curvy shapes. Use a wild and bold color palette. Elements of your artwork can be morphing or appearing to melt. Flowing, organic shapes are very iconic of this style. Push the boundaries of your mind and re-think how things should look. Fill in empty areas of your artwork with decorative elements like chromatically-colored, wavy stripes, floral patterns. Try adding black (or other colored) lines to separate colors.