This site is reader-supported. We use affiliate links to support our expenses. Learn more

(Last updated on January 8th, 2021)

Illustrator or Procreate, which software is better in 2021?

We looked at both programs, comparing their strengths and weaknesses against each other. Read this in-depth Adobe Illustrator vs. Procreate comparison to find out which program is right for you.

Procreate was designed to work exceptionally well with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil workflow. The precise pressure sensitivity, user interface, and extensive brush collection make this program an excellent choice for digital illustration.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based program, great for creating assets that need to be resized repeatedly, like logos, mobile designs for various device sizes, posters, flyers, typography, and more.

We take an in-depth look at both programs, comparing the pros and cons. Read on to see our review.

Comparison At a Glance

1. Features
Winner: Tie. Both Procreate and Illustrator are loaded with great features for their software focus. Procreate is fantastic for digital illustration, while Illustrator does anything and everything vector.

2. Pricing
Winner: Procreate. Procreate wins for pricing. The app only costs $9.99 via the App Store, versus an endless subscription required by Illustrator.

3. Illustration
Winner: Procreate. Procreate wins as a great illustration app. The painting set up is natural, with tons of brushes and tools that make sketching and painting so easy to work with.

4. Logo Design
Winner: Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is much better than Procreate to create logos. Why? The program is vector-based, meaning you can resize the logo to any resolution, making it ideal for branding assets.

5. Compatibility
Winner: Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is available for both Mac and Windows and works across iPad, desktop, and mobile (Adobe Sketch is a sister program of Illustrator). Procreate is only available for iPad with its sister app for iPhones, Procreate Pocket.

6. Learning Curve
Winner: Procreate. Procreate is an easier tool to learn than Illustrator. Both have tons of resources to learn the program. Procreate is beginner-friendly and lets you jump right in.

7. Longevity
Winner: Tie. Both Illustrator and Procreate will stand the test of time. They have great features and continue to upgrade the program to fit the ever-changing software landscape.

Now, let’s delve into the details.

The Short Verdict

Both Adobe Illustrator and Procreate are fantastic programs with a ton to offer, specialized for different needs. If you need to make a logo or resizable graphic, use Illustrator. If you want to paint digitally with real-life textures, Procreate is the right program for you.

Get a Special Discount On Our Top Picks!


BEST OVERALL PICK FOR PROFESSIONALS


Adobe Creative Cloud Logo

Adobe Creative Cloud

Get all 20+ creative apps and services for photography, design, video, UX and more.

at adobe.com

up to 60% off

Try for Free »


BEST FOR VECTOR EDITING & ILLUSTRATION


Adobe illustrator Logo

Adobe Illustrator

The best vector graphics and illustration software used by millions of creators & artists.

at adobe.com

35% off

Try for Free »


BEST FOR GRAPHIC DESIGN & IMAGE EDITING


Adobe Photoshop

The world’s most powerful image editing and graphic design software.

at adobe.com

35% off

Try for Free »


1. Features

All in all, Illustrator and Procreate have a ton to offer for their specialty. Illustrator has many custom tools to create everything vector, from elaborate vector art to logos and graphics. Procreate is king for digital painting, with tons of brushes, tools, and anything you need to make beautiful art.

Brushes

Procreate comes with 190 brushes. You can also import Photoshop brushes into the program. Illustrator also has brushes, letting you stylize existing paths or draw paths while applying the brush stroke simultaneously.

Vector Drawing

Adobe Illustrator is vector-based, while Procreate is raster-based. Procreate does not support vector objects and will convert all layers to pixels. Illustrator can link or embed outside assets. In certain cases, Illustrator will convert them into path-layers when the file type is applicable.

Animation

Procreate lets you make frame-by-frame animation using Animation Assist. Features include onion skinning, letting you see your previous frame as you work the next clip. You can adjust frames per second and how the video loops. You can share your video as a GIF, PNG, or MP4.

Illustrator used to have a workaround with animation using Flash. However, Flash Player is being discontinued and will not run in 2021. As of right now, Illustrator does not directly create animation. You can create animations combining Illustrator and Photoshop, creating your frames in Illustrator and putting them together in Photoshop.

Colors

Both Adobe Illustrator and Procreate support CMYK and RGB color profiles. Having both color modes is great if you want to do both web and print artwork. They have color panels to let you pick and adjust colors. You can also select a color directly from artwork, holding a finger down in Procreate or using Illustrator’s eyedropper tool to select the colors.

Layers

Procreate and Illustrator have layer support. In both programs, you can change the opacity and organization of your layers. Illustrator makes a layer for every object in your project and lets you organize layers by groups. In Procreate, you create layers manually, allowing you to paint over or under base layers, merge layers, and more.

Paths

Illustrator has everything you need to create curves and lines using the pen tool and curve tool. You use the Bezier handles to adjust the line perfectly. Illustrator also has guides that you can adjust to help you line up everything exact. You can also turn on the snap to grid feature, which automatically will adjust your object to be aligned.

To create straight lines in procreate, you draw and hold the line until it becomes straight. Procreate has drawing guides too. You can adjust the opacity, thickness, grid size, and toggle on Assisted Drawing.

Text

Both Procreate and Illustrator support text. Illustrator connects to Adobe Typekit, a super helpful library with over 1,000 fonts that come automatically with your Adobe subscription. Procreate lets you add text, too, allowing you to import new fonts and customize the text with ease.

Sharing

Illustrator and Procreate have sharing platforms, Behance and ProcreateFolio, respectively. Behance helpfully can connect to an Adobe Portfolio, automatically uploading new creations to your showcase website as well. ProcreateFolio is great for sharing your art with the community and getting feedback.

In terms of features, both Illustrator and Procreate excel in their specialty. Procreate is amazing for digital painting. Illustrator creates vector graphics with ease. Both have a ton of features that accomplish their end result beautifully.

Winner: Tie

2. Pricing

ProductRegular PriceDiscounted Price
Adobe Creative Cloud$52.99/monthCheck here
Adobe Illustrator$20.99/monthCheck here
Procreate$9.99 (one-time)No Discount

Procreate wins over Adobe Illustrator for price. While Procreate is just a one-time low-cost, Illustrator requires a current, active subscription.

Procreate only costs $9.99 at the App Store with no strings attached. You get free updates for life.

Meanwhile, Adobe Illustrator requires an Adobe subscription. The options include:

  • $20.99/month for Adobe Illustrator on desktop and iPad. This plan includes 100 GB of cloud storage.
  • $52.99/month for all Adobe apps, including Illustrator. There are over twenty apps in total. This package also includes 100 GB of cloud storage. If you are a teacher or student currently enrolled, you can get this same plan for $19.99/month.

Adobe Illustrator ranges from $239.88 to $635.88 per year! That gets insanely expensive quickly.

Procreate is the best choice overall, saving hundreds of dollars in the long run.

Winner: Procreate

3. Illustration

Procreate’s focus on digital painting makes this a better illustration choice over Adobe Illustrator. The painting is intuitive, mimics traditional brushes extremely well, and has great blending tools.

Drawing in Adobe Illustrator is very different than traditional methods because you use shapes and lines to define a drawing mathematically. Often, artists will start with a sketch and bring it into Illustrator to design over. Illustrator has a great feature called Image Trace that will convert your image into a vector drawing. If you use Image Trace, I recommend that your sketch be as finished and clean as possible to reduce the amount of cleanup later.

Procreate has 190 brushes in total, and you can also import Photoshop brushes and custom brushes to add to the collection. The tools are organized by medium, including Sketching, Inking, Drawing, Painting, Artistic, Calligraphy, and Airbrushing. You can also customize the brush within Procreate and adjust the stroke path, taper, shape, grain, rendering, etc.. Procreate gives you the most precision when it comes to brush design.

Procreate Brushes

To blend in Procreate, you can use effects like Gaussian blur or the powerful Smudge tool. The Smudge tool is fantastic for blending harsh edges and mixing colors. You can control the tool’s strength using the opacity feature and move color as much as you want. Smudge is great for realism and adding shadows.

Color in Procreate is a versatile feature that allows you to switch between a traditional color wheel, palettes, and more. You can import color schemes or make a palette from a photo. In the Colors panel, you can use the Harmony tool to find colors that work well together using the Complementary, Split Complementary, Analogous, Triadic, or Tetradic setting. This feature is great for creating a harmonious color look for your work.

Procreate Color Palettes And Wheel

Adobe Illustrator has several types of brushes: Art, Pattern, Scatter, Calligraphic, and Bristle brushes. These don’t work like traditional brushes, and each has a unique purpose. Art Brushes create hand-drawn, realistic strokes that are even, Pattern brushes are used to create repeating patterns, and Calligraphic resembles strokes made by a calligraphy pen. Lastly, Bristle mimics a natural bristle brush, and Scatter brushes are used to create shading effects.

Adobe Illustrator Brushes

Blending is very different in Adobe Illustrator. You can blend between objects or use the mesh tool. Both of these tools use gradients to create a blended look. Mesh tools create the most realistic looking objects in Illustrator, using a grid to define transition points and how the colors flow.

Illustrator uses a rectangular color picker for finding colors, using the color slider to select a different hue. You can save color palettes using the Library feature. The library feature can be especially helpful when creating content that requires a specific color palette.

Adobe Illustrator Color Picker

Procreate is the better choice for illustration. Painting, sketching, anything drawing related is what the app was built for.

Winner: Procreate

4. Logo Design

Adobe Illustrator wins for logo design overall. The app uses vector shapes, allowing you to create graphics that can be resized infinitely. Procreate is solely a raster-based program.

Adobe Illustrator is the best application to create vector-based graphics, such as logos. There are tons of tools helping you refine your final shape. Powerful tools, such as the shape-builder tool, let you combine shapes to create a perfect final composite.

Procreate, like Adobe Photoshop, is a raster-based program. Procreate users have posted external tutorials teaching you workarounds for this feature. These methods are tedious and involve converting the raster image in different software that is vector-based. Time-consuming, to say the least.

Overall, if you need to create a scalable graphic, I recommend building it in Illustrator to save you the headache.

Winner:Adobe Illustrator

5. Compatibility

Overall, Adobe Illustrator wins for compatibility. Procreate is limited to the iPad only.

Adobe Illustrator is available on Windows and Mac, desktop and iPad! The iPad app was just released in October 2020 and is more limited than the desktop version. Nevertheless, having the iPad option is great for designers who work with multiple devices in their workflow.

Illustrator also works great with many Adobe applications. Adobe Fresco is a fantastic sister app for Illustrator, able to create pixel and vector layers within the same project. The application is very powerful. Other apps that Illustrator works great with are Adobe Photoshop and InDesign.

Procreate was designed for the iPad with the Apple Pencil. You can only use the application on the iPad. If you want the best user experience, you should also use the Apple Pencil. The exclusivity is a huge dealbreaker if you are a Windows-based user.

Procreate also has a sister app called Procreate Pocket. This app is designed exclusively for iPhones. Procreate has no desktop version.

Overall, Illustrator is available on more operating systems and devices, making it the clear winner.

Winner: Adobe Illustrator

6. Learning Curve

Overall, Procreate is much easier to use than Adobe Illustrator. The program is focused on digital illustration, making it easy to jump right in. Adobe Illustrator makes all assets using vectors, a technique completely different from a traditional drawing method. Vector drawing can take some time to get used to.

Adobe Illustrator has a high learning curve for most new users. The complexity is because the program is vector-based, meaning all graphics are made using geographical and mathematical commands, rather than clicks and strokes made with pixels.

Drawing in vector can be difficult at first. The medium is completely different than traditional sketching. Once you learn the concepts of Bezier curves, anchor points, paths, and fills, the program gets a lot easier.

Illustrator’s interface is jam-packed with buttons. The UI can be very overwhelming. They have over twenty tools on the left side, features of the currently selected tool up top, and more navigation on the right side. It is easy to get lost in the app.

Adobe Illustrator Learning Curve

To learn Adobe Illustrator, there are in-app tutorials using the Learn Panel and dozens of tutorials online. Adobe has step by step instruction, with many video lessons to teach you everything from the basic to advanced techniques.

Procreate was created specifically to make the digital illustration process intuitive. The app was designed specifically for the iPad and Apple pencil, making the UI and interactions feel very natural.

Procreate’s user interface is clean and simple. The UI keeps the buttons to a minimum, making the dark interface easy on the eyes. All of the additional features are hidden away from view, allowing you to focus on the artwork.

If you have questions with Procreate, there are many resources for you. Online, there is a Procreate Handbook where it goes over absolutely everything. This online manual guides you through the basics like the interface and shortcuts to learning about the brushes, colors, and effects. There are also video tutorials and an extensive community forum where Procreate moderators and other users answer inquiries.

All things considered, Procreate has an easier learning curve than Adobe Illustrator.

Winner: Procreate

7. Longevity

Both Illustrator and Procreate are highly regarded in the creative industry. They have the longevity that will stand the test of time.

Adobe Illustrator has a huge family of applications supporting it. Illustrator works great with Adobe Photoshop, Fresco, InDesign, and more. You can easily transition from one app to another, great for a creative’s overall workflow.

Illustrator is seen as an industry-standard application. The app is taught in college courses and can be required for jobs in the graphic design industry. Adobe continues to adapt its software. Recently, they added an iPad app for Illustrator, a huge improvement.

Procreate was named the App Store’s best selling app of 2018. Procreate is highly regarded are one of the best drawing apps on the market, curated for digital artists. The program makes digital painting second nature. Procreate also continues to update its software, free updates in perpetuity for all of its users.

Overall, both apps are highly regarded and used throughout the industry. From this perspective, they will both stay put.

Winner: Tie

Final Thoughts

Getting Illustrator or Procreate depends on your needs as an artist.

If you are looking to paint digitally as a professional or newbie, get Procreate. The app is only $9.99, a great value, and gives you a ton of features. You can create beautiful, complex artwork with this app, no question. 

If you are looking to create anything vector, get Illustrator. Illustrator is industry-standard for creating logos and any graphics that need to be resized. In the professional industry, it’s a vital tool to learn. You don’t want to waste time creating a graphic in a raster-based program only to have to redo it at another resolution.

If you need to create a variety of assets, both vector and raster, get both. These apps add a ton of capability to your creative toolbox.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Procreate better than Illustrator?

Procreate is better, depending on what you are doing. Illustrator is best for vector-based work, while Procreate is great for digital illustration.

Does Procreate do vector?

No, Procreate does not support vector. Procreate is a raster-based program.

Do professionals use Procreate?

Yes, professionals use Procreate, especially digital illustrators. Procreate is one of the best digital illustration tools on the market.

Does Procreate come free with iPad?

No, Procreate is a paid app for $9.99, available for download via the App Store.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top