This brilliant iPad animation app means I can finally prove my high school art teacher wrong

Procreate Dreams on an iPad
(Image credit: Future / Savage Interactive)

I gave up a long time ago on my dream of becoming an animator, but with the release of Procreate Dreams, there’s finally hope for me.

Procreate Dreams is far from the only animation app out there, nor is it the best - but it’s certainly shaping things up for amateur artists. That’s because it’s designed specifically to be used on iPads, it’s intuitive, and there’s no subscription - just a one-time payment of $19.99 / £19.99 / AU€29.99.

For me, that makes it an absolute game-changer.

 When you wish upon a star 

When I was about 13, my art teacher called everyone to my desk in the middle of class. We’d been tasked to combine different animals to create a mythical creature, but there was no directive on what art style we should use to actualize our creatures. Being a massive Disney kid, I opted for something inspired by the classic ‘storybook realism’ art style used in Disney’s older, 2D animation.

Homescreen heroes

This article is part of a regular series of articles exploring the apps that we couldn't live without. Read them all here.

Apparently, this wasn’t something my teacher was au fait with. Surrounded by my peers, I watched in horror as she painted over my creature, telling the class that this art style wasn’t “real” art and that I had no future in painting or drawing. 

Up until that very moment, my dream had always been to be a 2D animator for Disney, a notion I completely abandoned after this public shakedown. I wasn’t exactly a savant, but I had some degree of natural skill that went almost entirely unnurtured for ten years - until I bought an iPad so I could try my hand at digital art. 

I’ve been using Procreate for almost two years now, and in that time I’ve produced some art I’m really proud of, and begun to determine my own style. Now, with the release of Procreate Dreams, I’m finally able to live out my childhood dream of becoming an animator. 

Procreate Dreams on an iPad Pro, showing the timeline and stage

(Image credit: Future / Savage Interactive)

Keep it simple 

Procreate has already made its way into our Homescreen Heroes series this year for how accessible it is for artists of all skill levels, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Procreate Dreams would crop up too.

As TechRadar’s US Editor-in-Chief, Lance Ulanoff, highlighted in his piece about Procreate, much of the power of these apps stems from how they are specifically designed and optimized for Apple’s iPads, utilizing all of the tools and features to create something that feels native. 

This becomes the greatest tool in Procreate Dreams’ arsenal when it comes to navigation and control. Much like Procreate, Dreams focuses on a simple, clean interface that negates the need for pages upon pages of menus. It’s by no means without its issues, but by and large, it’s worthy of praise. It’s stupidly easy to achieve simple, fun animations on Procreate Dreams, largely thanks to Performance mode, which allows you to move, warp and resize assets and even effects in your timeline to create live animations. 

Your work renders in real-time too, a feat I never thought possible even with the iPad’s impressive computing powers, meaning there’s little-to-no idling about - apart from when the app crashes, which I’m certain will be fixed quickly by developers at Savage Interactive.

You can add music, videos, and drawings made in the Procreate drawing app with ease, and almost all of its controls are incredibly intuitive and satisfying to use. Yes, it’s noticeably more complex than Procreate proper, but compare it to Adobe’s tools and there’s no competition; Procreate Dreams is incredibly accessible.

That, above all else, is what has made the app rocket to the top of the most-used apps on my iPad. 

A short animation of a porthole and waves rolling past on Procreate Dreams

I was able to whip up this very simple animation in just under two hours using both Procreate and Procreate Dreams. (Image credit: Future / Savage Interactive)

Power to the people 

You can, of course, opt to go the more traditional route to learn to animate, investing in one of the best drawing tablets, using the best animation software, and decking out your workspace with one of the best laptops (for creatives?) - but in all honesty, you just don’t need to unless you’re looking to go pro. 

There’s work to be done on Procreate Dreams, sure - but it’s work the team has already established is in motion with their extensive development roadmap. The value I’ve found in the app far exceeds its low, one-time purchase of $19.99 / £19.99 / AU€29.99 - but it’s hard to put a price on making my dreams come true.

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Josephine Watson
Managing Editor, Lifestyle

Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.