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Strokes and fills applied to a group as a whole instead of each individual element within the group


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I often find it want to make a quick outline to a group of items, but I don't want affect any strokes or fills on the items already contained within the group. Currently this isn't possible as while you can apply strokes and fills to a group using the Appearance panel, the strokes and fills are applied to each and every element contained within a group. My current workaround is to create a copy of the group, ungroup it, then perform a union on all of the shapes within that copy. Then perform the now customary clean-up on any Affinity path operations, and then apply the stroke/fill to that copy and move it behind the original group.

image.thumb.png.ac9ec7cd9b10beb174f816f449f311a3.png

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Can’t you simply create a compound object from the items in the group, and then add a stroke (or apply an ‘Outline’ filter effect) to the compound object? :/

Alfred spacer.png
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 2 for Windows • Windows 10 Home/Pro
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 2 for iPad • iPadOS 15.7.3 (iPad Air 2)

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7 minutes ago, Alfred said:

Can’t you simply create a compound object from the items in the group, and then add a stroke (or apply an ‘Outline’ filter effect) to the compound object? :/

Thank you - that greatly simplifies my workaround. :) It would still be nice to be able to apply strokes/fills to groups directly instead of having to using a duplicate compound object. As it stands now if you ever make a change to the original group, you then have to update the duplicate compound object as well.

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1 hour ago, Bryan Rieger said:

Thank you - that greatly simplifies my workaround. :) It would still be nice to be able to apply strokes/fills to groups directly instead of having to using a duplicate compound object. As it stands now if you ever make a change to the original group, you then have to update the duplicate compound object as well.

Do you really need to duplicate anything? :/

Alfred spacer.png
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 2 for Windows • Windows 10 Home/Pro
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 2 for iPad • iPadOS 15.7.3 (iPad Air 2)

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31 minutes ago, Alfred said:

Do you really need to duplicate anything? :/

Yup. When you make a compound object/layer all children take on the same attributes as the lower most object within the selection. If you want to retain different strokes, fills, etc within the shapes/curves you need to duplicate the original object and combine it with the compound object.

image.png.3707a2973c25d183a6f45dcd842cc812.png

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12 minutes ago, Bryan Rieger said:

Yup. When you make a compound object/layer all children take on the same attributes as the lower most object within the selection. If you want to retain different strokes, fills, etc within the shapes/curves you need to duplicate the original object and combine it with the compound object.

image.png.3707a2973c25d183a6f45dcd842cc812.png

Thanks for the clarification!

Alfred spacer.png
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 2 for Windows • Windows 10 Home/Pro
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 2 for iPad • iPadOS 15.7.3 (iPad Air 2)

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*) The easter egg:

To get the Links panel into Designer is not exactly straightforward. It's not a feature, obviously. :D

  • It's easy in Publisher: create linked layers in Photo persona, then click the link icon while in the Designer and Publisher persona to open the panel, then save it with your studio preset.
     
  • In Designer, while linked layers created in Photo will retain their attributes, the Layers panel doesn't display the link icon.
    But it suddenly appeared while I was testing various scenarios what can be done with symbol instances.
    Crop anything with a duplicate of a symbol and … there it is:
    ade_get_links_panel.png.2ef6b02db5fca1161d53ac1c226ebb76.png

    Click the link icon and there's your Links panel, ready to use.

 

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That is really cool, and more than a bit crazy – it makes my head hurt just trying to make sense of it. @loukash your ability to constantly find new ways to workaround the various limitations of the Affinity apps astonishes me.

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As for the "Vector shape parameters" link, it didn't work from the start. Frankly, I haven't tried to replicate it yet, and I don't remember the exact steps, so you may want to rehearse first a bit to figure out the right combinations of links and steps to make it work.
Also, it will not really work with transparent objects, because the outline is not a true outline. Each ellipse still has its own stroke. Perhaps we might go "crazier" with some nested crops or something to work around it.

In other words, the main point of this trick is that only the symbol shapes are linked. This is something I've already discovered in the Publisher personae a while ago, but today I finally found the way to open the Links panel in Designer.

By the way, my starting point was the idea of creating a compound of symbols, but you can create them only with flat hierarchies, not with parent-child relationships. (You can move groups/layers/symbols into a compound object manually in the Layers panel but they won't be affected by the boolean functions and simply disappear.)

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8 hours ago, Bryan Rieger said:

I often find it want to make a quick outline to a group of items

image.png.d46f532134d6ca304096eb4afa9023aa.png

image.png.c642de8bd8fd7dd0de62d63e23a50d2f.png

Affinity Store: Affinity Suite (ADe, APh, APu) 1.10.5.1342, 2.0.0.
Dell OptiPlex 7060, i5-8500 3.00 GHz, 16 GB, Intel UHD Graphics 630, Dell P2417H 1920 x 1080, Windows 11 Pro, Version 22H2, Build 22621.1105.
Dell Latitude E5570, i5-6440HQ 2.60 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics 530, 1920 x 1080, Windows 10 Pro, Version 21H1, Build 19043.2130.
Intel NUC5PGYH, Pentium N3700 2.40 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics, EIZO EV2456 1920 x 1200, Windows 10 Pro, Version 21H1, Build 19043.2130.

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@Pšenda, this is OK as long as you don't mind that it will rasterize everything inside the group on export.
As far as I'm concerned, using rasterizing effects is always the very, very, absolutely very last resort.

Vector is the challenge here. ;)

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10 minutes ago, loukash said:

Vector is the challenge here

As far as I know, the OP does not require anything like that.

Affinity Store: Affinity Suite (ADe, APh, APu) 1.10.5.1342, 2.0.0.
Dell OptiPlex 7060, i5-8500 3.00 GHz, 16 GB, Intel UHD Graphics 630, Dell P2417H 1920 x 1080, Windows 11 Pro, Version 22H2, Build 22621.1105.
Dell Latitude E5570, i5-6440HQ 2.60 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics 530, 1920 x 1080, Windows 10 Pro, Version 21H1, Build 19043.2130.
Intel NUC5PGYH, Pentium N3700 2.40 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics, EIZO EV2456 1920 x 1200, Windows 10 Pro, Version 21H1, Build 19043.2130.

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Speaking of which, the only way to knock out the vector outline without rasterizing while keeping everything fully interactive is another linked symbol group set to white (or whatever the canvas background is):

ade_group_outline_white_knockout.png.d88bca5857ad4f4fb286e081a44f1f9b.png

 

If you need fully transparent knockout, then you can set the "white" group to Erase, but then the "outlines" group will be rasterized.

The "top" group with transparencies will remain vector on PDF/X-4 export in any case.
PDF/X-3 will rasterize, as we already know. :/

Keep also in mind that if you want to change the shape of a symbol that affects all instances, you must select (or keep on double-clicking) until the child object of any respective "Symbol" layer is active. Then you can do anything to the shape: convert it to curves, then add or remove nodes etc., all instances will adjust immediately.

Works with text as well:

Partially linked vector/text layers is quite a "killer feature" if you ask me. :)

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1 hour ago, Pšenda said:

As far as I know, the OP does not require anything like that.

Vector is the challenge. I know Designer has a bunch of bitmap effects, but I typically don't use them as all of my work tends to be vector.

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That's all nice and dandy, and I appreceate your skills and creativity to find workarounds. No kidding! But nevertheless that's only practical when you have just a few (say 4 groups max) that get an outline this way. If you have many groups of this kind, it grows into a massive overhead of shapes/objects, groups and at last - work. The need to find an easter-egg aside 😉. And what's about multiple outlines for a group, for example. (All this is no problem in some other "frustrating" apps 😉)

It would be much, much easier if the asked for feature would be implemented. Serif must not get away with letting users find workarounds, some of which are impractically elaborate. Otherwise, their software will not improve. And to make it clear another time: I know that this would cost money. My money as a customer. But I will happily pay for a powerful workhorse. What makes me sceptical here is the fact, that many requests for essential features are years old. (Therefore "must not get away".)

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9 minutes ago, chessboard said:

It would be much, much easier if the asked for feature would be implemented.

And I'm all for it!
Basically as always, in fact.

13 minutes ago, chessboard said:

Serif must not get away

I'd expect they have already read this thread and taken note, or they will do so soon.
As we all know, they won't comment in the Feedback section of the forum.

15 minutes ago, chessboard said:

letting users find workarounds, some of which are impractically elaborate

You don't have to use them. You can either wait until the requests get implemented, or you can use different software, whatever.
Been there done that. I wouldn't use Affinity for any print production if I hadn't a reliably working installation of Acrobat X (and the rest of the CS bunch) to double-check every PDF/X export I make. It sucks, but there you go.

So…
What I'm doing here is having fun exploring what can be done. I'm literally fishing the forums for "problems" that I could try to solve. Whether a solution is ultimately "practical" or not is not my primary motivation. What may seem "impractical" to you may help someone else in a different context. It definitely helps me to understand how some of the less obvious features work. Then I share what I have figured out with the community. (I could be doing this on other platforms or, er, "social" media, perhaps even making money there, but I don't maintain any user accounts on those by choice.)

It's really that simple.™

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While I would never actually use most of @loukash's elaborate workarounds (c'mon, some of them are INSANE) I do appreciate his experiments as I find they often get me to look at the problem(s) and the available tools in a different way. Also, there's benefit to Serif having visibility of these requests and workarounds as it provides them direct insight into specific user needs and desire paths, as well as ways they may look to solve them within their products.

As an aside, I worry about the levels of animosity and hostility I see directed at Serif on these forums lately[1]. Yes, there are (long-standing) feature gaps and bugs that they have yet to address, but everyone at Serif is a human being not a machine. As such they (like all of us) have had to adjust to remote working, lockdowns, family and health concerns—all of which have impacted us all. I'm sure there's a number of things Serif have planned over the past year that have slipped for obvious reasons. And while I do wish Serif would be a little more forthcoming and transparent with their plans, I do appreciate that is their decision alone to make.

While there are still days I get really frustrated with the state of the Affinity apps, there are many more days where I'm blissfully happy and productive working in them. I've also reached that point where when I now have to use Adobe apps I find myself wondering why Adobe continues to make so many things so complicated.

[1] Yes, many of my posts have been sarcastic and critical, but I do try to keep them professional, constructive and informative.

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7 minutes ago, Bryan Rieger said:

c'mon, some of them are INSANE

Yep

9 minutes ago, Bryan Rieger said:

I'm sure there's a number of things Serif have planned over the past year that have slipped for obvious reasons.

Good point!

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That's surly true, that Corona has a lot of impact on the devolping pace. But things are much older, AD is now 7 years old. And I don't think that the critics here are directly addressed to the people at Serif in person. But when you are in a business as a company you have to deal with expectations and critics.

What makes me somewhat frustrated regarding Affinity (as a product) is, that it had such a good start with fresh ideas and a for a number 1 version really good feature base. I was so lucky to have a realtime gradient tool and realtime changing of colours! Their layer stacking system with masking by the parent layer is the best of all apps I have used so far. And the idea to let the whole suite share one file format is unbeatable, as well as the integration of Photo and Designer into Publisher.
This all were signs of a bright future 😉.

But somehow they (and here come people and their decisions into play) lost the track in my opinion. Instead of tackling the features most desired by users, an app store is installed and integrated into the apps. Apparently, every software must have its own app store these days (wah!). In my eyes a waste of devellopers manpower, because it wasn't a problem to buy additional accessories via the Affintiy website before. And once you have bought your 3 or 5 brush packages there's no more use for the feature in the apps. They won't generate more money by this integrated app store. But they could have done by a really powerfull paid upgrade! An app store would be a feature of version 5 or later.

They bring a contour tool that doesn't offer any possibilities that weren't there before. You can shift the outline of a shape, not more. It's not even a real contour tool, because the original outline is lost, so the shifted one contours nothing anymore. All of that was possible before by using normal outlines and expanding them to shapes, and this even with multipe outlines!

You can have multiple documents open in tabs, but you can't arange two designs side by side (at least on Windows).
You can rotate your design, but only by keys in defined steps and with what kind of visual quality!
They have an export persona, where you can adjust layer visibility for export, but only global and not for each slice.
They bring makros, but just crippled ones and only for one app of the suite.
They bring linked layers (ingenious!), but only for Photo (at least practically).

And so on. Not to speak of missing features. And these are aspects, where I thought: "...err,...but why?🤷‍♂️". By now Afinity offers some good rudimental tools for handcrafting designs. But when I use a computer I would expect the software to automate tasks, so that I don't have to do them by hand over and over again.

For me, Affinity looks like a young eagle, that started to fly and "conquer his empire", and now is more a kind of flapping around. And you stand aside a shout: "Fly, bird! Fly!"

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32 minutes ago, chessboard said:

That's surly true, that Corona has a lot of impact on the devolping pace. But things are much older, AD is now 7 years old. And I don't think that the critics here are directly addressed to the people at Serif in person. But when you are in a business as a company you have to deal with expectations and critics.

What makes me somewhat frustrated regarding Affinity (as a product) is, that it had such a good start with fresh ideas and a for a number 1 version really good feature base. I was so lucky to have a realtime gradient tool and realtime changing of colours! Their layer stacking system with masking by the parent layer is the best of all apps I have used so far. And the idea to let the whole suite share one file format is unbeatable, as well as the integration of Photo and Designer into Publisher.
This all were signs of a bright future 😉.

But somehow they (and here come people and their decisions into play) lost the track in my opinion. Instead of tackling the features most desired by users, an app store is installed and integrated into the apps. Apparently, every software must have its own app store these days (wah!). In my eyes a waste of devellopers manpower, because it wasn't a problem to buy additional accessories via the Affintiy website before. And once you have bought your 3 or 5 brush packages there's no more use for the feature in the apps. They won't generate more money by this integrated app store. But they could have done by a really powerfull paid upgrade! An app store would be a feature of version 5 or later.

They bring a contour tool that doesn't offer any possibilities that weren't there before. You can shift the outline of a shape, not more. It's not even a real contour tool, because the original outline is lost, so the shifted one contours nothing anymore. All of that was possible before by using normal outlines and expanding them to shapes, and this even with multipe outlines!

You can have multiple documents open in tabs, but you can't arange two designs side by side (at least on Windows).
You can rotate your design, but only by keys in defined steps and with what kind of visual quality!
They have an export persona, where you can adjust layer visibility for export, but only global and not for each slice.
They bring makros, but just crippled ones and only for one app of the suite.
They bring linked layers (ingenious!), but only for Photo (at least practically).

And so on. Not to speak of missing features. And these are aspects, where I thought: "...err,...but why?🤷‍♂️". By now Afinity offers some good rudimental tools for handcrafting designs. But when I use a computer I would expect the software to automate tasks, so that I don't have to do them by hand over and over again.

For me, Affinity looks like a young eagle, that started to fly and "conquer his empire", and now is more a kind of flapping around. And you stand aside a shout: "Fly, bird! Fly!"

Thank you for your valuable contribution to the topic "Strokes and fills applied to a group ...".

 

On 5/6/2021 at 2:02 AM, Bryan Rieger said:

Vector is the challenge. I know Designer has a bunch of bitmap effects, but I typically don't use them as all of my work tends to be vector.

It would be good to mention this fact explicitly in the request (for example as a Tag, etc.).
Unlike you, there are certainly a lot of users for whom the current simple procedure through Outline groups is sufficient, and the complicated solutions discussed here will be just confusing for them. Remember that many users (not just beginners) use the forum as a source of information and suggestion for their workflows.

Affinity Store: Affinity Suite (ADe, APh, APu) 1.10.5.1342, 2.0.0.
Dell OptiPlex 7060, i5-8500 3.00 GHz, 16 GB, Intel UHD Graphics 630, Dell P2417H 1920 x 1080, Windows 11 Pro, Version 22H2, Build 22621.1105.
Dell Latitude E5570, i5-6440HQ 2.60 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics 530, 1920 x 1080, Windows 10 Pro, Version 21H1, Build 19043.2130.
Intel NUC5PGYH, Pentium N3700 2.40 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics, EIZO EV2456 1920 x 1200, Windows 10 Pro, Version 21H1, Build 19043.2130.

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