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nickhughesart

A few questions from a Master of Illustrator

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Hello,

 

I am what many would consider an Illustrator master. I have been using it at a very fast clip nearly every day for well over 10 years. During this time I have pushed the program to its absolute limits, taught high-level art classes with my techniques, and printed thousands of art prints, murals, artistic vehicle wraps, t-shirts, etc etc etc in various sizes for hundreds of amazing clients. I now lead a design team of some of the best designers in my region, and constantly output beautiful work at a very high level with all of Adobe's products.

 

That being said.. somehow I just found out about Affinity Designer this past weekend!!! I am so overwhelmed with the possibilities I can't even contain myself. I would love nothing more than to switch myself and my design team over 100% to Affinity designer. There are only a few minor things about the software that make it clunky for me, because I work extremely fast in illustrator and keep finding myself road blocked by these issues. 

 

  • Where is the eye dropper tool? Being able to quickly select a color from an image source or impart a color/style/gradient to another object is CRITICAL to quickly working with vectors. In my work flow I manage multitudes of complex gradients by keeping them consistent throughout the entire piece. Being able to select them with the eye dropper tool is the only way to do this.
  • Can you edit paths by "restating" a line like in Illustrator? In other words, if my line isn't exactly what I wanted do I have to use the anchor points and pen tool at that point to adjust it into what I want? Being able to quickly restate a pencil stroke in illustrator is just as critical to my fast-paced work flow.
  • Along the same lines as question 2, is there a smooth tool in Affinity Designer? Being able to select that tool on the fly, smooth out a stroke to my desired effect, and transition back into drawing mode is the one way to stay "in-the-zone." 
  • Can I draw outside of the artboard? Is there a way to turn off the artboard? I prefer to think of my workspace as an infinite plane with no boundaries or obstacles, then size my artwork down once it is complete or once I know where the boundaries should be. Creating artwork in a "framework" is a great way to stifle creativity and limit options in my opinion.

If I could only resolve these 4 questions I would switch my workflow, and the workflow of my entire staff, to Affinity Designer. I love the other features that it offers.. I just cant get into the flow the same way because of these feature limitations.

 

Any help on this subject is greatly appreciated. 

 

Thank you,

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Hello,

 

  I do not represent Affinity, but from one fan to another I may be able to provide you a small bit of help. 

The first has to do with the pen tool. First I recommend the very quick and excellent tutorials provided by Affinity. You can go through the tutorials section on this site or go to Vimeo. 

                                                                                          Affinity Designer - Pen Power Duration: 03:37               

 

The Pen Power is a nice tutorial that answers all your pen questions easier than I can. But the short answer is, holding down the Alt key changes you to the node tool.

 

At the top of the screen is a row of menu items with the personas on the left. Below that is the context menu items that change for the tool selected. If you go along the Pen tool's context menu, you will see the MODE, where you can select the default node type you will next place. The CONVERT selection, where you can change your selected node type. Various actions, snapping items, and use fill.

Under the fill, and stroke items you can go to color menu items where the eyedropper is also selectable. You will also see the eye dropper to the right on the color panel. If you have a drawing shape or brush tool selected, when on the screen and you press down Alt and drag, your cursor will change to the eyedropper selection.

 

I am no expert on all the capabilities of the artboards, but I know they can be turned off. There is a series of tutorials by Affinity that will answer all of your questions I believe. 

                                                                                          Affinity Designer 1.4 - Artboards: Basics Duration: 05:05               

                                                                                          Affinity Designer 1.4 - Artboards: Exporting and Printing Duration: 00:10               

                                                                                          Affinity Designer 1.4 - Artboards: Colour and Opacity Duration: 01:33               

                                                                                          Affinity Designer 1.4 - Artboards: From Content Duration: 03:56               

 

I hope these basic responses will suffice until someone of authority and expertise can respond to you.

 

 

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@crabtrem Thank you for the fast response. The artboards information is helpful, but I still cant figure out how to replicate the eye dropper and smooth tool functions from illustrator. Not being able to use either of those functions on the fly really limits how this program can be used by artists.

 

Being an artist who has transitioned from the pen tool to using mostly brushes and pencil tool fills for a rapid workflow, there's no way I would ever go back to adjusting individual nodes or line segments. Stopping my work flow to adjust a line segment or node that is out of place is the last thing I want to do. This goes hand in hand with being able to "restate" a line with the pencil tool in Illustrator. You don't always draw the correct shape.. Why can't you restate a selected segment to impart that change? Why must I edit with the bezier tools? It's 10 times slower and strictly mechanical - it doesn't capture the nuances and organic quality of a hand's stroke.  

 

I really hope there is a work-around somewhere, because outside of these issues this software is exactly what I have been hoping to see for over 10 years!

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If there are features you would like to see implemented, you can post in the Feature Request forum. Before you do, be sure to check the sticky post with the outlined roadmap--it could be that something you want is already planned for a future release.

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Well, I warned you that I most likely wouldn't comprehend all your needs. As far as the eyedropper goes. If you're in any of the drawing tools. Pen, pencil, vector brush, any shapes. With your cursor on the screen, hold down the Alt (option) key, hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse. Your cursor should change to the eyedropper tool and you can hover and pick up any color you wish.  

 

As I said. I don't, and can't represent Affinity. I just wanted to give you as much a head start with what I could. I'm certain I don't understand what all your requirements are, and their advantages. I haven't used the pencil and vector brush tools as much as I should either. 

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nickhughsart...While I completely sympathize with your wish to make the transition from Illustrator and to do it as painlessly as possible, you have to bare in mind that Illustrator has a monumental head start in development over Affinity Designer. The reason you only recently discovered Designer is because it is a very new program. It is amazingly advanced for it's age but is still in it's infancy.

 

You can take a look at the road map for things that are currently being worked on and as these things are completed more requested features and improvements will be added to that list. This is a work in progress and the eye dropper is one area that I hope will see some improvement and redesign. It's there. It just doesn't work like what you are use to.

 

At present Designer doesn't have the functionality of Illustrators pencil tool that you describe. It's a great feature and at some point may find it's way into Designer. I'm hoping for some compatibility with Astute Graphics plugins sometime in the future as well.

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Yeah the eyedropper functionality is ...... (mmmm, trying to be nice).... not good. There is the method crabtrem mentioned. But even then it still only picks up a fill color from the pixel you're hovering over.

Another workaround is to go to the object you want to emulate, hit cmd-c, go to the new object and hit shift-cmd-v (edit > paste style). A little clunky I know, but at least you get fill (even a gradient), stroke, transparency etc.

 

Smoothing....... um, no. "not yet".

 

Drawing off canvas:

In regular page layout mode you can make your default grey background white and unclick View > View Mode > Clip to Canvas.

You'll still have a tiny rule around the page but you will be able to draw in the surrounding area.

In Artboard mode, you can draw in the surrounding area by default.... BUT, you can't change the background grey (as far as I know) and any object that intersects the artboard will get clipped (items fully outside the artboard are fine).

 

Please log your requests in the roadmap/request section as posted above.

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Hey everyone,

 

I apologize if I posted these questions in the wrong place. The roadmap/requests area wasn't helpful in answering my questions. I wasn't requesting any changes to the software, because I don't know if it can do what I want it to do. This is why I posted in the questions forum, where it says you can ask any question about Affinity.

 

Is there a staff member of Serif that can touch on my original points? Omission of these features makes this otherwise amazing program feel unusable. I would love to be a part of the solution! Lets talk!

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Thanks for sharing Crabtrem. The video is a good example of how you can sketch and then "vector ink" a drawing in the same program, but it's a little bit basic compared to what I want to achieve with this program. However, I really do appreciate your patience and suggestions.

 

To go back to my original questions - my main question is about being able to edit a line segment on the fly with the pencil tool by restating over the line and correcting the path. Is there a work around that anyone knows of? I understand this software is new - but is this a possibility? And if not, does anyone know if this is going to be implemented soon? In my opinion anyone who draws freehand with the pencil or brush tools will be turned off by this program unless this issue is resolved. The solution shouldn't be to stop what you're doing, switch to the pen tool and adjust nodes manually. With the amount of layers and objects and strokes that I create it would take me 10 times longer to achieve the same quality of work.

 

You can see what i mean on my Instagram account. A lot of my vector artwork is full of complex gradients, dozens of layers, and hand drawn strokes. I could never achieve this with the pen tool. There's just so much geometry there that it would literally take hundreds of thousands of clicks and countless additional hours to complete.  instagram.com/nickhughseart 

 

I would love to make Affinity Designer my new best friend. I see so much potential in what it has to offer. If I could just make it work as fast as my process in Illustrator..

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Not to presume, but have you looked at the erase tool in Affinity Designer. 

While searching through the help, I noticed that the erase tool can be used for both pixel and vector drawings. The only thing I don't know how to do is access the erase tool from the Draw Persona directly. I have posted a question to the same.

 

Your link to instagram is very nice and impressive. I am not a professional, and am only a novice user. But I wanted to show you my works from Affinity Designer to date.

 

Bear in mind...... I emphasize I am no professional, and I am only a novice at this.  I did rely heavily upon photographic references.

 

 

 

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Hi,

 

I hope you don't mind, but I have a question about your question. Out of my own curiosity, I googled "Illustrator restate line" (because I've never heard of that before) and nothing relevant came up. I also googled "Illustrator restate path" and "Illustrator restate stroke" and also nothing. Is there perhaps another, more official term used to describe the feature you're referring to?

 

Sorry I can't be of any help, but perhaps if people more clearly understand the feature you're talking about, they'd be able to do more to help.

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@crabtrem I have used the erase tool and It's not a big part of my process. I would much rather edit paths / objects with the pencil tool as I have been trying to describe. Thanks for continuing to try to help me with this, and keep up the hard work on your artwork.

 

@schizandra I use this function so much in Illustrator I didn't even realize a vector program could be made without it. At Adobe's website they describe this feature in one sentence toward the bottom of the page. It says:

 
Add to a path with the Pencil tool
  • Select an existing path.
  • Select the Pencil tool.
  • Position the pencil tip on an endpoint of the path.

    You can tell you’re close enough to the endpoint when the small x next to the pencil tip disappears.

  • Drag to continue the path.
     
     

What it doesn't say is that you can edit any path starting at any point along the segment and chart a new course to finish the line. This allows you to leave the best parts of your lines intact, and only edit the areas that need tweaking. You can even start at one part of the line, edit or add to it, then connect back onto the end of the same line.

 

If you want you could try it for yourself In illustrator. With the pencil tool try hovering over a selected line and you will see that the * symbol next to the pencil cursor will disappear once you get close to the line. If the * is there you are going to draw a new line. When the * is gone that means you are no longer making a new line, you're editing the line you have selected. This is the functionality I wish Affinity designer had, because it makes drawing with vectors and a drawing tablet actually possible. Without it you're spending your entire time editing individual nodes and line segments instead of drawing, so you're better off working with the pen tool going slow and steady.

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This functionality with the pencil would be great. It is not available in CS6 which is the version of Illustrator I have since Adobe priced me out of their current software with their ridiculous rental requirement. Though I believe Astute Graphics has this in one of their plugins.

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Just to add an official answer to the Pencil tool queries - I'm aware that the Pencil tool is far from mature in its present form, but it is one of the areas I will hopefully be addressing for the next major update of Designer, so if you can hold tight then we'll get there soon :)

 

Thanks,

Matt

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Wow, I didn't know Illustrator could do that with the pencil tool! Thanks for the info, nickhughesart. I've been using Illustrator since the early 90s and am now stuck on CS5, so I really hope this feature works with my version. This will speed up my workflow dramatically while I wait for AD to catch up.


They might not need me—yet they might— I’ll let my heart be just in sight—
A smile so small as mine might be

Precisely their necessity

 

iMac 27" 32GB RAM, MacBook Pro 15" 16GB RAM, iPad Pro 12.9", iPad Pro 9.7", Apple Pencil

Software tools of my trade: Affinity Designer  |  Affinity Photo  |  Astropad  |  Amaziograph  |  PDF Expert  |  Drafts  |  Editorial  |  Things 3

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Hey guys,

 

I wanted to bring a video of me working in Illustrator into this conversation. I know that we have already touched on all of what I want to see in Affinity, but I think it helps to see it rather than just explain it with words. 

 

I saw the video that Crabtrem posted last month and I have to say while the illustration isn't bad, it's still a very basic way of approaching digital art. Like a lot of veteran digital/vector artists I started with the pen tool, mastered it, and moved towards a more free-form, expressive, layered, complex and above all fast drawing process. This is the key reason why I would love to work in Affinity Designer. I feel like the software is built in a way that would allow me to do a great deal more, if not for the fact that it is currently missing a few fundamental drawing functions. You would either spent countless hours redrawing entire shapes and tweaking individual nodes or loose your mind in the process.

 

I have a video of me working on a client project "Art car" that I think helps illustrate how quickly I am working and how this could relate to working in Affinity Designer. I would LOVE if I could work this quickly in Affinity Designer. Serif team - I would love to be a part of the solution! Please let me know if you have any questions about how I am working this way.

 

Keeping in mind my last post outlining some of my questions of what is and is not possible in Affinity Designer, check out this process video of me working on a summer surf meets winter snowboard culture "art car" for one of my clients in Illustrator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLHRVD3_Qzo

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Nick, like they say, "It ain't braggin' if it's true". That van illustration is a very impressive piece of work. And seeing your process in progress makes your posts here much clearer. I have never seen the pencil tool used that way before and I will never look it the same way again. I don't know if CS6 can function that way but I am going to give it a try. This is exactly why I hope Affinity will develop/pursue support of Astute Graphics plugins or add this kind of functionality to Designer. I think they will get there.

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@Crabtrem: Hotkeys are the key to my process. It's not the root of the issue for me with AD though. The problem is that there is no way to edit a path with the pencil tool on the fly. You have to stop your train of thought, go to a different tool entirely, adjust nodes at a snails pace, then continue on with your work. This is also why I want the eyedropper tool or something similar to it. If I am doing complex gradients on the fly its very important to be able to select an object with a specific fill and/or gradient and impart that to another object. In this video I only deal with simple gradients, but in other works I have done extremely complex gradients with 10 or more colors throughout, that I then impart to hundreds of objects. This allows you to create a detailed drawing with tons of depth and color variation in no time at all.

 

@Jmac: Thanks for your support! I am hoping videos like this and sincerely interested designers such as myself can help Serif adjust their tools and add functions that effectively make Illustrator useless. Honestly, I have been working with Illustrator for over 10 years and cant WAIT to switch full time to Affinity because of the big leap forward that it represents. Competition is always a good thing, and Adobe has not even had to think about that, much less try hard in the last 5 years. Illustrator is essentially the same program that I started tinkering with originally, but with a few extra bells and whistles that nobody cares about or uses. I would hate to see the same thing happen to Affinity Designer... I would rather Serif introduce serious updates that truly beef this program up for the bulk of it's users, rather than add tons of tools that are catered toward students and junior designers that need a new way to produce simple shapes and perform simple actions. 

 

I hope Serif can take this feedback seriously and recognize how special and transformative their software could be!  I am no programmer, but I feel like a lot of what is missing here could be done relatively easily because it just involves redirecting paths on the fly and copying an objects color, style, fill, or stroke to another. 

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I've tried to follow the steps but it seems something I can't see what happens after you jig jag shape is made and you add the gradient. There is some sort of function that allows this to happen so quickly. Can you explain what is happening here?

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@evtonic3

 

What I am doing is finishing the shape with the pencil tool and then immediately switching to the gradient tool to redirect the way that the gradient is applied to the shape. I am also making quick adjustments to the gradient in the gradient toolbar, as well as the opacity throughout the entire drawing. I am using a lot of hotkeys to repeat this process throughout the entire drawing. In instances that my object/shape doesnt have a fill, I quickly select the eye dropper tool, select the gradient from another location, then adjust the gradient accordingly. 

 

Does that help?

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