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Missing basic tutorials. Is Affinity a prepress tool?


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TBH, I'm confused. There's a bunch of tutorials for astrophotography, but none about such a basic task like processing scanned drawings and paintings. I know the workflow in Photoshop, but many tools are missing in APhoto and I have no idea how to set up my workflow here. I need to process about 100 TIFs with a children book illustrations and I have no idea what's the best way to make a 100% white background around the illustration (if the scanned paper is not a pure white), how to assure there are no remaining pixels around (obviously you can't see them on screen, but they appear in print) etc. How to setup the picture for print, for Publisher import etc. The Workflow section content in tutorials is kind of weird to me, like if APhoto was created for any other use but prepress…

Did I do a mistake if I dropped the Adobe suite (I have used for 25 years) and switched to Affinity one? Is this tool intended for astrophysicists more than prepress users? In fact, can professional prepress be done with Affinity, for real?

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Hi and welcome.

Could you upload one example file so we can check what the best workflow can be?
Certainly Affinity apps can be used for all named purposes. You may need to unlearn some PS workflows and learn how new (sometimes better)  Affinity workflows.

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Posted (edited)

Of course. A sample attached. Downsized to JPG – the original is A4 600dpi CMYK TIFF.

All illustrations are similar to this one – watercolor on a white carton, either completely faded to white background (text to be wrapped around in Publisher), or with 1, 2 or 3 sides to be cropped/bleeded.

This particular wolf will bleed up & right, text will flow around to the left and below.

sample.jpg

Edited by Petr Stanicek
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So, what I need to achieve:

  • make the background/paper 100% white
  • make it transparent
  • make the remaining illustration fade smoothly
  • make sure there is no darker pixel around

In Photoshop, I would just click the background to select "white" ie. in the curves tool, then smart-erase the background, select the picture with lasso and completely erase everything around, and then I'd play with mask fine-tuning to blend these fine shades in the bottom and top-left sides.

I can cut the lights and make the yellowish background white using curves or levels just by my eye in APhoto, but I'd like to have a more sophisticated workflow, ideally a makro-like steps to preprocess all pictures the same way first; and then just focus to detail retouching.

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FYI, the background color is mostly CMYK 0-0-5-0, so it's maybe just about adjusting the white point…

I'm missing a live information about the pixel under the cursor, ie. to see the pixel color as I move the cursor around. I couldn't find such a feature in APhoto. In fact, there are so many unfamilar features in the menu and I have no idea what to use them for, what typical workflow and usecase they solve… Where is a complete manual?! I can see only a quick start guide. :(  I'm soooo disappointed.

Maybe it's broken…? There is a "picker" button in Curves – it does nothing. I found "Select sampled colour" in the menu – there is a slider, and it does nothing. Disappointed and confused.

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2 hours ago, Petr Stanicek said:

I know the workflow in Photoshop, but many tools are missing in APhoto and I have no idea how to set up my workflow here. I need to process about 100 TIFs with a children book illustrations and I have no idea what's the best way to make a 100% white background around the illustration (if the scanned paper is not a pure white), how to assure there are no remaining pixels around (obviously you can't see them on screen, but they appear in print) etc.

Well that's no easy task at all, especially then for 100 files here! - The general problem with scanned in drawings on paper is, that there are often then many parts (pixels) in the main drawing, which then have the same color tone values as the surounding paper background has. So a realy good seperation of the background paper and the drawing is often difficult to get at all in APh. - Further APh isn't functional as smart and rich as PS in many algorithmic aspects, so one often have to go other ways here for APh.

Let's take your above sample drawing, in order to get whiter whites instead of pastel yellow tones there, one can perform an selective color change for the white color. BUT then parts of the drawing would also get whiter and not only the background. So you would have to make some sort of selection first, which then only affects the background and not possibly parts of the drawing. - Not sure if just performing a visual (catch by eye) lasso selection would be always a good way here.

However, there are different ways possible to get some decent separate parts selection and I will show just one of them here. When doing portrait work (cutouts) I often have to fight with similar problems in terms of having images/shots with same/similar colors parts of the main subject &  the background. And in order to get then some halfway decent distinguishing selection, it's often helpful to get/generate the selection itself then instead from a sort of B&W silhouette like represention of an image. Then taking that selection over to the real color image and performing the needed tasks with that selection there.

For example see these short screencast videos (...the second one is slightly more detailed and shows the threshold usage, which I missed to show in the first one) ...

 

These hopefully might give you some ideas for APh, though there might be even better ways to get around those selection problems!

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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32 minutes ago, Petr Stanicek said:

I'm missing a live information about the pixel under the cursor, ie. to see the pixel color as I move the cursor around. I couldn't find such a feature in APhoto.

Use the Info panel !

Quote

The Info panel provides continuous data readings using samplers. These can sample from the current position of the cursor or from a placed target position.

color-info.jpg.36b68644ac3f46d422927a5870fdfa47.jpg

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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13 hours ago, Petr Stanicek said:

make it transparent

13 hours ago, Petr Stanicek said:

maybe just about adjusting the white point

You can't achieve transparency with just such a colour adjustment.
Also I guess you don't want the paper white to get modified inside the illustration (neither brightened nor transparent, e.g. around the nose).

Here is a quick way: using the Flood Select Tool (1 %) –> then create a mask from the resulting selection. To soften the edges a Blur Live Filter is applied to the mask.

1070799676_dogilluwhitetransparentedge.jpg.89ffd88116a450b76b01a5397d73a316.jpg

Edited by thomaso
added for clarification: "just such a colour"

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Thanks @thomaso – I can do it this brute way, just erase/mask the background manually. What I need is probably a white point shift.

Thanks @v_kyr as well, great effort! However, cleaning the background is the second step I need to do. The first step has to be make the background as white as possible. I think it's ok if the color of picture is shifted with it – because the original paper was white, the yellowish tone should be treated as an scanning error and the entire image should be shifted. In other editors (incl. Apple Photos) I would select a White Point tool and click the background to adjust the color space, and then slightly cut the lights in histogram. Alas, I can't find anything like White Point in AfP and the histogram (Levels) is not clickable and I don't understand how to handle it.

Please understand, I had worked as DTP professional for many years (but many years ago) and I did a ton of collages in Photoshop. I understand the image handling pretty well – I just don't understand Affinity Photo. I've been using AfDesigner for many years and I like it, switching from Illustrator was easy for me. But AfPhoto is so different from Photoshop and I'm not able to do even simple tasks… There is no manual, and tutorials don't cover all features. It's… weird.

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9 minutes ago, Petr Stanicek said:

The first step has to be make the background as white as possible. I think it's ok if the color of picture is shifted with it – because the original paper was white, the yellowish tone should be treated as an scanning error and the entire image should be shifted. In other editors (incl. Apple Photos) I would select a White Point tool and click the background to adjust the color space

Yeah it's slightly different in APh, though you can adjust the WB too there, one way is via ...

 

 

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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13 minutes ago, Petr Stanicek said:

There is no manual, and tutorials don't cover all features. It's… weird.

Well there is no official manual and the online help is at best something which gives you at least an overview about what is avalable in APh. - Instead of an official manual you would have to buy some book then, either the Affinity Photo WorkBook, or some third party book which tells you everything about it (there are some good comprehensive german language ones for APh, though don't know if there are good english ones too).

I'll list you here some APh references you might want to look after, including some of the better structured older tutorial videos.

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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Thank you both, yes the White Balance picker could be it. The first problem was, the picker did nothing when I tried it. I restarted APh and it works now. OK.

However, I don't get white background this way. If I just click with the picker, a CMYK 0-0-5-0 pixel becomes 1-0-4-0, that's it. I can move the sliders manually and click and try, but still have not a solid white. The same way I can use Brightness&Contrast or other tools, I can just try randomly. I'd prefer a more exact method…

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44 minutes ago, v_kyr said:

I'll list you here some APh references you might want to look after, including some of the better structured older tutorial videos.

Thanks! I knew and checked the official info, Online help and Affinity tutorials. I didn't know there are other tutorials than those linked on Affinity website. And I also would like to buy a book – if I knew there is a book to buy… I'm going to watch those other tutorials now. Thanks again!

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Common, this makes no sense at all…

An original background pixel has a 4% of yellow. The RGB values seem plausible (even if Color Meter shows slightly different value).

Then Highlights are applied. The background color becomes visibly brighter, Color Meter shows almost white – but APhoto says 12% yellow. 🤯😵🤪

This must be a bug, right?

image.png.0a59f3fda79f2158e302abbb1f504019.pngimage.png.96ed3d7e331561fc88e3e2afd7fb6d07.png

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Not to just ask the obvious, but have you looked through their in-app help file?  There’s a huge amount of information there that’s not part of the quick start guide.  They break down all the functions in there if you know what you’re looking for.  Granted I’m on my iPad, but this help is readily available on both MacOS as well as Windows.

0797AA64-D865-4E03-920E-6EF5527C6E2F.png

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If you check YouTube you can sometimes find tutorials there for things you may not have considered that may help get you nearer to your goal, if you tweak them

Due to the fact that Boris Johnson is now was our Prime Minister, punctuation, spelling and grammar will never be worried about ever again.  We now have far bigger problems to be worried about.

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5 hours ago, thomaso said:

You can't achieve transparency with an adjustment only

Ok if i object? If you allow to use a combination of 2-3 adjustments, or blend range, you can transform selected color ranges into transparency.

  • channels mixer can do that. 
  • other adjustments in combination with blend ranges can do that
  •  
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I've ran into the same problem - just thought I'd share my workflow which details how I now deal with this sort of thing - It's fairly simple and, as recommended above, it used blend ranges, which you can copy to clipboard and bulk paste (paste style:  ⇧⌘V) to all your pix, easiest way I've found is to make a large pub page or designer artboard and drag all you tiffs onto the page and select all and paste style which applies the blend range to all. I then make a filled vector shape over the chosen pic then add a gaussian blur to the vector (from FX) then duplicate the selected Tiff, then group the duplicate with both the original and the vector path then go to blend range on the duplicate and reset then drag the vector path to the right of the duplicate to create a fully tweak-able mask,  you can then copy the vector masks to all you pix, then tweak away - another thing I've found useful is to create a white vector background so you can change the colour to see how tweaks are going better.

See vid which probably gives a better idea of the description:

Daz1.png

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8 hours ago, Petr Stanicek said:

And I also would like to buy a book – if I knew there is a book to buy…

There are several, for example Serif's own Affinity Photo workbook is available in english & german. It's sold by Serif, Amazon ... and so on.

aph_workbook.jpg.0bbd4e92ac02e3d3cb4ca27a3848c382.jpg

 

And this is a very comprehensive ~1039 pages one in german ...

aph_buch.png.2a2f01272e9600ab2aa24546da28cd7e.png

 

Just do a Google search after the APh book topic, in order to see available books about it!

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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1 hour ago, v_kyr said:

There are several, for example Serif's own Affinity Photo workbook is available in english & german. It's sold by Serif, Amazon ... and so on.

They are no longer available from Serif; only from Amazon, eBay, etc. 

But yes, they are very nice and useful books (though they are not manuals, and do not attempt to explain everything).

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