How to Make a Background Transparent in Procreate

If you’ve struggled to figure out how to make the background transparent in Procreate, you’re not alone. Even if you’ve designed a transparent background, it often reappears solid white when you re-open the file.

How to Make a Background Transparent in Procreate

These are common problems for Procreate users. Fortunately, overcoming the struggle is possible. This article will explain everything you need to know about creating and saving transparent backgrounds in Procreate.

How to Make the Background Transparent in Procreate

Every new Procreate design has a default background layer with a white fill. This layer can’t be permanently removed, but it can be made invisible.

To turn off the layer’s visibility, first open the Layers menu. Find the checkbox next to the background layer and uncheck the box. This process is a temporary change and can be toggled on and off at any time. To keep the layer transparent, you must save the file in a specific way.

How to Save the File So That the Background Stays Transparent

Once you turn off the background visibility, you might think this makes it permanently transparent. Unfortunately, if you don’t save the file in a specific way, this option toggles back to the default option and your white background reappears any time you open the file again.

After you make the background transparent, follow these steps to lock it in place permanently.

  1. Open the Actions menu which is represented by a wrench icon.
  2. Click the Share tab to export the file.
  3. Choose PNG for your file type. The file must be exported as a PNG file to keep the transparency in place.

If you save the file in another format, you’ll have to turn off the background layer when reopening the file to reinstate a transparent background.

Why a Transparent Background Is Important

If you plan to sell your Procreate designs to be used on coffee mugs, shirts, vinyl print outs, etc., it’s important not to include the background art. This makes it easier for others to transfer the pattern to their own items. If you also want to place your design on lots of different background colors, it’s important not to have an embedded color blocking the new backgrounds.

Making the Background Transparent with Editing Tools

But suppose the background layer isn’t your problem. Sometimes you begin with a design that has a complicated background across many layers. Sometimes the original art didn’t separate the background from the design on separate layers. In this case, you’ll have to take a more hands-on approach, and manually remove the background with either the selection tool or the eraser.

Separating the Background and Foreground with the Selection Tool

This is another option when your background isn’t easily removed by unchecking its layer.

  1. Deselect any layers that you don’t want to keep simplifying your job.
  2. Click on the Selection tool in the toolbar across the top of the screen.
  3. Choose “Automatic” from the list of options.
  4. Click on the background and slide across the screen from left to right. This increases the “selection threshold.” When the background color starts to creep into the image you want to keep, back up just a little.
  5. In the Selection settings at the screen bottom, click the “Invert” button. Ideally, this will swap from background selection to image selection.
  6. Copy and paste so the image is now on its own layer.
  7. Check to be sure that your image is pristine with all other layers turned off.
  8. You’ll still need to save the image as a PNG to keep background layers turned off in your final product.

If this doesn’t work with your particular image, you can clean it up with the eraser or you may have to do all the work with the eraser.

Using the Eraser to Remove Backgrounds

If you want a background to be transparent, but its layer also has art on it you want to keep, the eraser is a handy tool that might do the job.

  1. Turn off any layers that you don’t need. Leave only the layer with the background you want to make transparent and the image you want to keep opaque.2. Since you can’t turn off the background layers, use the eraser tool instead to remove every part of the background that you don’t want. You’ll have to use fine-tuning up close to your image to remove background color without disturbing the edges of the picture you want to keep.
  2. Zoom in as necessary and erase the remnants of the background around your image.
  3. Don’t forget to turn off the white fill background and save as a PNG to keep its transparency intact.

You can select your foreground picture and paste it in a new file or onto a new layer to clean up the file before you save it.

Making a Transparent Background with the Selection Tool

Another way to pick your design out from the background is to use the selection tool manually.

  1. Turn off all layers that you don’t need.
  2. Use the Selection tool freehand to draw a line around your prominent design.
  3. Once your design is selected, copy and paste it onto its own layer.
  4. You may need to use the eraser to clean up the edges a little.
  5. Turn off every layer but the one with your new design on it and save as a PNG file to maintain this setting.

Why Do I Have to Save as a PNG File?

Without getting too technical, only a rasterized file format will keep the transparency display settings as a part of the file. For this reason, PNG is the only option to export from Procreate that will maintain transparency.

Creating a New Procreate File with a Transparent Background

If you know that you want a transparent background, simply follow these steps:

  1. Click the + sign to create a new Procreate canvas.
  2. Find the option for “background color” and toggle it to “off.” Now the background of your canvas will be transparent from the beginning instead of defaulting to white.
  3. Tap “Create” to complete the set-up of your new canvas.

If you don’t add anything to your background layer, you’ll always be able to turn it off once you’re done designing other layers. Thinking ahead can make it much easier to have a transparent background when you’re finished.

Creating a Transparent Layer

To create a new transparent layer, simply add a new layer and don’t add anything else to it. This is the easiest way to create a transparent layer.

If you’ve already created a layer and need to make it transparent, this is possible, too.

  1. Tap on the layer to view its options.
  2. Find the “Opacity” slider and adjust it to 0% opaque to make the layer transparent.

Both of these options can help add transparent layers to your project. Be aware that the background layer can’t be adjusted to be transparent.

Transparent Background in Procreate

Although working with transparent backgrounds can be tricky, the process is easier once you understand what file types are needed to maintain background transparency. Creating and saving your Procreate file appropriately is the best way to make and keep a transparent background to your file. Then your designs will be ready for multiple applications and even to sell for a little cash. Next time you create a file from scratch, you’ll know how to begin with a transparent background and keep it through any file iterations.

Have you ever made transparent background in Procreate? Did you use any of the tips and tricks featured in this article? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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