Jump to content

"Drift" when using Power Duplicate on large number of items

Recommended Posts

I'm new to AD and have only limited experience with vector graphics programs in general, so please bear with me. I'm trying to use AD to create a watch face. I have done this using GIMP in the past with few problems, but am hitting some frustrating issues with AD.


I want to have the following markers displayed along the outer edge of the watch face:

  • sub-minute markers 5 per minute. Rotation = 1.2 degrees.
  • Minute markers = 6 degrees
  • Hour markers = 30 degrees

I create my 1st marker as a vertical line at the 12 o'clock position, then cmd-J to duplicate, move the rotation center to guides at the vertical and horizontal center of the face, rotate it (painfully) by zooming in and dragging to the desired 1.2 degree rotation, then use cmd-J to make duplicates. I've been able to use Power Duplicate to create small numbers of duplicates, but find it "drifts" when trying to do larger numbers. 

  • I have tried clicking the outside center, inside center and center buttons in the transform box with little success.
  • I have tried entering 1.200000 as the R value in the Transform box.

By the time I generate enough sub-minute markers to get to the 90 degree position (75 duplications), I see 2 common problems:

  • The rotation value has drifted by +.3 degrees. At 90 degrees, the final marker is at 90.3 or worse.
  • The rotation center drifts, resulting in a spiral effect.

This "drift" is so bad that my hour and minute markers don't even align properly. This is all compounded by having to rotate using the mouse, as entering values directly into the Transform R box changes the rotation center.


The only workaround I've found is carefully creating a small number of markers, duplicating these as a group and rotating those. I'm finding this much slower than I expected.


In GIMP, I'd create the 1st marker, duplicate and rotate 5 markers, merge those layers, duplicate and rotate 6 degrees for the next minute and successively merge, duplicate and rotate until I could produce a dial in a few minutes.


I have also purchased Affinity Photo, but don't see a better solution there, and I'd prefer to stick to vectors. I don't think there's anything much simpler than a watch face, yet I'm finding this very difficult to achieve. Am I missing a fundamental trick?





Link to post
Share on other sites

There is an easier way to make the shape that bypasses any duplication and rotation issues - using a (or more than one) Cog shape.


Have a go at using the Node tool on the attached file and modify the shape parameters in the Context toolbar to achieve the face you're after. This doesn't mean that Power Duplicate is or isn't working right, that'll still need investigating.

360 cog shape.afdesign

Twitter: @Writer_Dale
Affinity apps run on: Ryzen 5 3600, 32GB RAM, GTX1650 Super

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi bobstro,


and welcome here …  :)


No wonder that you are experiencing this kind of drift. As you probably saw, you cannot enter rotation values numerically with respect to a shape that has a custom rotation centre. And the value display provided next to the on-canvas rotation handle is too coarse to inform you correctly about the actual rotation values. In order to use create precise rotations around a centre, you will have to use a workaround:

  • Create a duplicate of your stroke mirrored at the midpoint of your clock face.
  • Group both strokes, duplicate the group, set the rotation midpoint to “Centre” on the Transform Panel, and enter the intended rotation degree. 
  • Power duplicate.

By doing so, you won’t get the drift you experienced by creating your rotation manually. Other than that, I would also suggest to follow Dale’s method.


Hope that helps …  :)



Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Dale & A_B_C. Both look promising. 


I'd looked at the cog but had no idea I could set one with 300 teeth! I'm understanding I can anchor to shapes, so that may be very convenient.


A_B_C so a shape or group of shapes that spans the actual center without relocating the rotation point is the key then? 


I'll try these out this evening. Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites

A_B_C so a shape or group of shapes that spans the actual center without relocating the rotation point is the key then?


Yes, that was my suggestion. But when using the Transform Panel, don’t forget to change the reference point of your transformation to the centre of the selected group, before you enter a rotation value. The largest of the nine little squares indicates the reference point (see below).


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your tips worked perfectly. The cog is handy for quickly placing things visually. The trick of grouping objects so that the center point is located on the hub is the key.


Here's what worked:

  1. Create the 1st marker as a vertical line in the 12 o'clock position.
  2. Duplicate it with Cmd-J
  3. Rotate the selected copy holding the shift key to restrict it to 15 degree increments into the 9 o'clock position
  4. Power duplicate the copy 2 times to create the 6 and 3 o'clock markers, giving me a set of 4 perfectly aligned markers
  5. Select all 4 and type in 1.2 (or 6 or 30) in the R box on the Transform menu
  6. Power duplicate like a madman with Cmd-J

I turned off the original 4 markers and was delighted to see the final set of duplicates come to position at exactly the 0, 90, 180 and 270 degree positions. It's not intuitive, but it works quite well now that I know the trick.


I think the cog will simplify another challenge I had using GIMP in aligning elements on the face. I'd create a circular guide line, some radial lines and try to align on that. Using the cog, I'm hoping I can easily snap to geometry much more easily.


Thanks A_B_C & Dale. I'm really enjoying AD and this has helped get past a real stopping point.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There have been feature requests for the Transform panel to work with custom rotation centers, but I do not know if this is on the current roadmap or if or when it will be implemented.

Affinity Photo 1.9.3, Affinity Designer 1.9.3, Affinity Publisher 1.9.3;  2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.92.236 & Affinity Designer 1.9.2 (showing 1.9.9) for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 14.4 (18D52)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a quick follow-up. I was able to knock out 2 variations yesterday, and now that I have the basics down, the entire process is much faster.


The cog is ideal for adjusting placement of elements, and the selection of objects 180 degrees apart has taken care of my rotation woes. Thank you all very much!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Please note there is currently a delay in replying to some post. See pinned thread in the Questions forum. These are the Terms of Use you will be asked to agree to if you join the forum. | Privacy Policy | Guidelines | We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.