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Afinity Publisher - Is there a way to apply a feathered mask to a Square drawn with in in built Shape Tool?

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I am working on a PDF project and I'm using a sort of paper texture, which is applied to each page. The problem is that the texture is a little harsh, but otherwise I like how it looks.

What I want to do is be able to draw a white box around the text blocks, fill it white and then set it with an opacity. This will lighten the background behind the text, and make it pop out more.

The problem is that there is a hard line where the shape ends.

Is there a way I can "soften" the edge of the drawn box so the hard line is removed. Similar to making a layer mask in photo and feathering it.

I would prefer to do it all in Publisher, I can of course make the "boxes" in Photo and import them as PNGs with an alpha... but I would rather not have to do that if I can help it.



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I personally would place the white box behind the text, like this:


The Gaussian Blur is in Layer Effects (click the FX button at the bottom of the Layers panel). Uncheck Preserve alpha to give the blurred edge.

Affinity Photo 2.5.3,  Affinity Designer 2.5.3, Affinity Publisher 2.5.3, Mac OSX 14.5, 2018 MacBook Pro 15" Intel.

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