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Crop Tool improvements
Ash posted a topic in 2.1 New Features and ImprovementsApps: Photo Platforms: Windows, macOS and iPad A number of improvements have been made to the crop tool based on customer feedback: Crop to selection. If you have a pixel selection active the crop tool will now initiate to be a min fit around the selection you have. After a crop the current zoom level will be maintained (rather than automatically zooming to fit as previously). From various feedback this was considered preferable behaviour and leaving it to the user to choose if they want to zoom to fit after (cmd-0 or hitting zoom icon in the top toolbar of iPad). The Crop tool now remembers the last setting globally, so if you wish to apply the same ratio crop to a number of images it's much easier. You can now drag anywhere on the bounding box edges to resize the crop, rather than having to drag from a handle. Enter as well as Return will now commit a crop Escape will reset the current crop In unconstrained mode, holding Shift will constrain the current aspect ratio and Cmd (Ctrl on Windows) will resize around the centre When you rotate / use straighten feature in crop tool it will now automatically adjust crop box to fit. Please let us know what you think or if you spot any issues or have any feedback on this new behaviour.
Exciting times. With precious little in the way of recent updates, some users wondered if Affinity was dead—but no, we were promptly told that they were just focused on the next major version. And four months later, here it is! A common expression amongst users has been 'hopefully in version 2', so here's my list of hoped for changes. I'm about to fire up my new V2 apps for the first time and see if all the hopeful waiting has been rewarded. I've divided my list into two main categories: 'UI frustrations' and 'Missing or broken features'. UI frustrations Window management (Separated Mode) Ever since MultiFinder appeared on the Mac in 1987, we've been able to run multiple apps and see their document windows side by side. Over the years came other improvements like drag and drop between apps and documents. You lose some of those benefits when an app takes up the whole screen with a solid background. For this reason, many of us preferred a separated workspace (turning off Application Frame in Adobe apps), but after switching to Affinity, quickly discovered that Affinity's Separated Mode was pretty broken, with document windows and Studio panels seemingly having no knowledge of each other's existence. After much criticism, Affinity finally responded in June 2020 with a help article titled 'Increase your efficiency with Affinity’s Separated Mode'. There was no admission of any issues though, and I parodied the unhelpful article in this forum comment. Changes in V2 Affinity seems to have finally acknowledged the issues with Separated Mode. Their solution? Remove it altogether! The new 'Float View to Window' command kind of gives us the worst of both worlds… separate windows that still aren't aware of your Studio panels, and a big old solid-grey app window obscuring every other background app. It looks like Affinity might have just put this one in the too hard basket. Panel management Resizing Studio panels in V1 is somewhere between painful and impossible. To be fair, this was never a perfect experience with Adobe either, but Affinity takes the pain to a new level. Can't see most of your Paragraph panel? Hover your cursor very carefully over that one-pixel hairline between panels… Nope, there's the 'no entry' cursor telling you the panel can't be resized (for some unknown reason). Double-click to minimise a panel or two to make more space… only to find that it added several inches of completely empty space to a different panel instead. Try to resize that one. Nope, there's the 'no entry' cursor again. Start double-clicking ALL the panels until you can finally see the one you want. Utter frustration. Changes in V2 After playing around with panels for just a few minutes, the results are mixed. Firstly, I can resize panels (without seeing the 'no entry' icon all the time)—great! Secondly, the hover-zone seems to have expanded from one pixel to around two—I'll take it! Beyond that, things are still quite unpredictable. For example, I currently have a massive Swatches panel full of mostly empty space, and a tiny Text Styles panel below it which is showing me only two lines. I can resize the Text Styles panel to my liking, but if I then minimise and reopen it, it's right back to the way it was—tiny and useless. Whatever algorithm is determining these panel sizes is clearly not fit for purpose. On a positive note, on the Mac the Studio panels are now listed under the Window menu—exactly where they should have been all along! Oh one other thing… I lost the Swatches panel in Designer. As in, it just totally vanished. 😳 I can hide it and unhide it again from the menu, but it does not reappear. Restarting the app doesn't bring it back either. This could be a bit of a problem!! (Edit: Found!) Working with guides Creating a simple guide the normal way, by dragging out from the ruler, works fine. Unfortunately though, Affinity apps lack the power and flexibility of other drawing apps like Illustrator, which let you select and manipulate guides like normal objects—positioning them numerically for example, or hitting delete to remove then. Illustrator even lets you convert normal vector objects into guides. With Affinity apps, you have to drag a guide off the edge of a page to remove it. The issues with this approach are (1) you have to be zoomed out so that you can see the edge of the page, and (2) it's inconsistent with the behaviour of other objects, which can be safely dragged and positioned beyond the edge of the page. This creates confusion for users as discussed on threads like this one. Instead, Affinity gives us the Guides Manager. It's a useful tool, but it would be less necessary if guides were more flexible in the first place. Changes in V2 There appears to be no changes to the way guides work in V2. Working with colour swatches In my opinion, Affinity seriously dropped the ball in V1 with the way colour swatches are handled. Here are some of the features that are missing or broken: There's no obvious place to put your custom colours. You have to find the 'Add Document Palette' command first, which then creates something called 'Unnamed'. Other actions may trigger the app to add a second palette named 'Document'. Once a swatch is created, you can't convert it to or from a global or spot colour. You can't select more than one swatch at a time. You can't drag and drop colour swatches between palettes or between different parts of the UI. There's no obvious way to add a Pantone swatch to an existing document palette. (You need to apply the colour to an object on the canvas, select the object, switch back to your document palette and click on one of the two 'Add…' buttons.) New global colours are given generic names (Global Colour 1, etc). Pantone colour names are not preserved when added as global colours (the most common requirement!) and need to be typed in manually. Global colours are not transferred between documents when copying and pasting objects. (You need to explicitly export a palette from the first document and then import it into the second document.) Global spot colours are not added to a Publisher document palette when placing a Designer file (unlike InDesign and Illustrator). There's no search field in the 'Add Global Color' panel or edit colour pop-up, making it almost impossible to select the one you want from a large list of swatches. (They aren't displayed as a list, even if you set the panel appearance to 'Show as List'.) There's no command to find and delete unused swatches from a document palette. There's no option to merge two global colours. When deleting a used swatch, you're not asked what to replace it with. (If you delete a global colour, all instances just get replaced with a non-global version.) Yes, colour swatch management in Affinity V1 is bad—really bad. In one forum comment I wrote, 'That's one thing Adobe got right, and something the Affinity devs would have done well to replicate, rather than trying to get clever and do their own thing. Gosh I hope version 2 starts to take this seriously.' Well let's check out V2 and see… Changes in V2 (1) The 'Add Document Palette' command now displays a pop-up which asks, 'Please enter a name for the new palette.' It still defaults to 'Unnamed', but it's a small improvement over the previous behaviour. (9) Both the 'Add Global Color' panel and the edit colour pop-up now feature a search field, making it much easier to select from a large list of swatches. (They also now respect the 'Show as List' setting.) Aside from those two improvements, very little seems to have changed with colour swatches across the Affinity suite. That's a big disappointment, and seems to communicates that the Affinity team don't share the view of many users, that this really needed an overhaul. Undo/Redo In Affinity apps, the action of selecting or deselecting an object gets added to the undo/redo stack. This is counterintuitive, goes against years of established practice, and (if the user is not familiar with it) can lead to data loss. Only an action that alters the artwork in some way should be added to the undo/redo stack, as discussed here. Changes in V2 Nothing has changed. Missing or broken features 1-bit black and white artwork (line art) Graphics applications have, since the beginning of time, supported true 1-bit black and white artwork, so many professional users were understandably shocked to discover that Affinity V1 apps offered no support at all for 1-bit files. The only workaround is to work with grayscale and manually compress your lightness levels. This is anything but reliable, as compression algorithms at export time will not recognise the difference between a faux B&W image and a grayscale one, downsampling line art to an unacceptably low resolution and adding unwanted antialiasing. Changes in V2 Incredibly, there's still no support for 1-bit black and white artwork. Turning off antialiasing The ability to turn off antialiasing of exported graphics is an essential feature for any professional graphics application. Affinity V1 apps lacked this feature entirely in the beginning, but in response to a forum post in 2015, one of Affinity's developers added highly-customisable, per-object control of antialiasing. Then, in 2020, it got better, with a simple on or off option, which you can apply to multiple objects at once. This is a huge improvement already, but some of us would still like to see a simple on/off checkbox at export for outputting something like a raster print versions of a logo. As I explained in the same discussion: 'it's about tailoring the artwork to different output media. That should be an export function, not something I have to hard-code into the design file.' Changes in V2 Turning off antialiasing cannot be done globally at export—it must still be hard-coded into each object of the file. Reliably exporting for print Affinity Publisher's default PDF export settings for print-ready artwork ('PDF (press-ready)') turns black (K:100) to a CMYK mix (e.g. C:71, M:66, Y:66, K:76), which would be a disaster if not detected before your job goes to print (something which is difficult when there are no pre-press tools provided). There are other issues too, like line art being downsampled and antialiased (related to the previous two issues). Changes in V2 This has not been fixed. The 'PDF (press-ready)' export preset still has an all-or nothing 'Embed profiles' option ticked by default, and still causes black artwork (like text) to get converted to a CMYK mix. Previewing colour separations Affinity has no alternative to Acrobat Pro. For print professionals, this means no way of previewing and checking colour separations before going to print. When combined with the issues mentioned above, the chances of poor quality artwork and printing are high. Changes in V2 There are no new apps or built-in tools for checking colour separations. Summary V2 may have brought some cool new features, but it has only brought modest improvements to a few of the features which matter to me the most, while other issues have been overlooked completely. Having waited so many years for the first major update, I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed. I'll still purchase all the apps, and I'll still recommend them to family and friends. They do a lot of great things, and you certainly can't beat the price. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the issues I have with the Affinity apps—just a few that frustrate me the most. If I've left out some of your biggest issues, feel free to add them below with a note on whether V2 fixed them for you.
Would love to see Crop to Selection (i.e. whatever is surrounded by the marquee tool) added in a future update. Was very disappointed to hear it did not make it into the V2 release. I'm speaking primarily about Photo as that's the one I need it for, but I assume others would get benefit in the other apps too. Please note this is an entirely separate discussion to the one regarding V1. There's an entirely separate forum for V2 so I'm assuming feedback related to V1 isn't applicable to V2 and thus this thread is needed.
I am very disappointed that this behavior is still not addressed in Photo. It has been reported as a problem for years in v1 of Photo. It is completely fundamental thing that should work and never has worked. Work with game or web bitmap graphics in Photo that are e.g. 200 x 200 in 100% view Crop it to 150 x 150 pixels Photo zooms so the graphics take up the whole screen, i.e. huge pixels Select 100% zoom again, annoyed Crop it again to 150 x 140 Photo zooms so the graphic fills the whole screen, i.e. huge pixels Select 100% zoom again, annoyed Etc Unfortunately, Photo is not useful for working with smaller graphics. And no, setting in prefs doesn't change anything in this workflow. It's unbelievable. Redefined workflows? Not here.