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Bri-Toon

Affinity Designer: Tips and Tricks

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Affinity Designer is definitely my program now, so I will be listing any tips and tricks newcomers might be interested in. This is mostly for people just beginning, but even advanced members might learn a thing or two. It's amazing such a program exists. Here are 42 lessons.

 

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Pinned:

 

Understanding what is Compatible:

Just because a program like Designer is compatible to many common file types does not mean everything in the documents is supported. You can open and export several of those files types, but consider certain features that are exclusive to certain programs. For example, Designer does not support Photoshop's "smart objects" but it does still support PSD file types. The file type is what is compatible, not everything in the file since tools behave differently for each program.

 

Adobe Illustrator Compatibility:

You can easily open Illustrator files in Designer, but you cannot open Designer files in Illustrator unless you change it to a file type that Illustrator recognizes. Through Designer, export it to a file type such as a PDF, and the vector quality will mostly stay the same. Be aware that any pixel editing, advanced gradients, or glows may appear pixelated.

  • Tip: When opening an Illustrator file in Designer, anything bleeding off the canvas will get cut off or become lost. Arrange the objects so nothing is getting cut off before opening the files in Designer.

Understanding and Accessing Color Modes:

Different color modes are useful for different tasks. RGB is good for digital artwork and common printing tasks. CMYK is good for 4-colour rotary press printers. To access the different color modes, go into Document Setup in the File menu or from the Context Toolbar when the Move Tool is selected. The go into the Color tab, and then the Color Format dropdown menu.

 

  • Tip: To access the same color properties on your PNG image export as your file, click "More" on the Export dialogue, and under ICC Profile, select the very last option, sRGB. (Adobe is the only suite that converts RGB to sRGB automatically.)

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Other Lessons:

 

Change the Canvas Size Manually:
Create a box with the Artboard Tool and find the size you like. Once you are happy, press delete to remove that artboard but keep the new size. (This applies differently for creating multiple artboards for multiple exports.)

Creating Nested Layers:
A nested layer is a set of curves inside a route layer. The route layer can be opened and closed revealing or hiding the curves. By default, each curve is on its own layer. Create a new Vector Layer, and drag all of the curves in. (Make sure you drag them into a layer and not a curve accidentally.) Whether you are creating layers, groups, or clips, objects can be dragged in and out through the Layers studio.

Creating Clipped Objects:
If you drag curves in another curve through the Layers studio, then you clip those objects inside one. In other words, it is like creating a window. Anything that bleeds off the clipped object's space will be hiding. (The last button on the last set in the top right can also clip objects. Copied or cut objects will always be pasted in the position they were at previously. With the last button selected, they will be pasted inside the selected object in that exact position. This is good for shading.) To unclip the objects, drag them out of the clipped layer, or cut and paste with the last button on the top right unselected.

  • Tip: When scaling, any clipped objects must be updated manually.

Cropping or Masking Objects:
The Crop Tool works differently from other applications. It crops the selected object(s) instead of the canvas. Additionally, you can drag objects to the right of a layer's thumbnail in the Layers studio to crop them in that layer's object. (This is good for creating the illusion of an unclosed path for drawings such as hair, and it is good for creating comic cells.) To remove your mask, click on the mask's "thumbnail" and delete it.

Selecting Individual Objects in Groups and Clips:
Hold Ctrl/Cmd and click (once). After that, you can hold Shift to select multiple objects in that group or clip.

Boolean Operations:
When two or more objects are intersecting, you can merge, subtract, divide, and perform other geometric operations. The second set from the top right are your boolean tools. With your objects selected, click on one to perform an operation.

Compound Booleans:
In addition to making regular geometric shapes (Illustrator's Pathfinder), you can also make compound shapes allowing the multiple shapes to be repositioned. Whether you are adding or subtracting multiple shapes, hold Alt before clicking one of the boolean buttons. You can expand your layer to select objects separately.

Power Duplicate:
Rather than copying and pasting all the time, hold Alt while selecting an object, and drag. After that, you can scale, stretch, or rotate the duplicate. Press Ctrl/Cmd J to make another duplicate in the relevance of the previous two. Keep pressing it, and keep making more duplicates.

Bitmap Pattern Fills:
With the Fill Tool (gradient), you can use a Bitmap type to insert an image as a fill. That image will be tiled, and it can be stretched, rotated, and scaled. (Click the lock icon to maintain its aspect ration.)

Making Corners Easier:
With the corner tool selected, you can select multiple corner points of a shape at once by holding Shift, and then you can change those corners round. There are also corner types you can choose from (straight, concave, cutout.)

Create a Fade Effect:
Move the Transparency Tool across a selected object(s) to create a faded transition between a solid and empty space. You can add nodes on the transparency map and slide them to adjust the level of fade.

Type on Path:
With the Artist Text Tool selected, hold your cursor near a line or shape until the cursor changes, and then click. You can start typing on that object.

Edit Smart Shapes:
There are lots of manipulation options for the smart shape presets, but if you want to edit them as you would with any other object, then you must click the option that says "Convert to Curves" under the Shape Tool's context toolbar. (Sometimes it hides in a drop down menu at the end of the list.) Once this is done, you cannot convert them back to smart shapes.

Convert Strokes to Fills:
When you are happy with the size of your stroke, select Layer > Expand Stroke. Once this is done, you cannot convert them back to strokes.

Breaking and Closing Lines:
This is important since vectors consist of closed shapes. This means to break a closed shape into an open shape, or to close it back up. With the Node Tool or Pen Tool selected, the first two buttons in the "Action" set can do this. If you want to break a path, you must first select the node where you want the break, or first create the node by double clicking on a spot on your line with the Node Tool.

Joining Lines:
This means to have two "different" open paths connect. Select the two lines and click on the fourth button in the "Action" set. (Whichever end points of the two lines are closer to each other is where the connection will occur.)

Edit Throughout All Affinity Applications:
Click File > Edit in (other app) to edit your drawing in another Affinity Application. All are compatible with each other. If you bring the file back into Designer, you will still have the vector quality. Just be careful with the operation you perform. Mesh warps and perspective tools in Affinity Photo will rasterize your artwork.

Creating Color Palettes:
In the Swatches studio, click on the flyout menu in the far right, and click on one of the Add Palette options. After that is done, you can add swatches to your palette with the palette icon underneath your recent swatches. To remove a swatch, right click on one and select "Remove Fill." To remove a palette, click on the flyout menu again and select "Delete Palette."

Add Noise:
When an object is selected, click on the circle icon in the Colours studio next to "Opacity" to change the slider into "Noise." Slide the nob up and down (right and left really).

Change Weight Variation:
With a line or object selected, click on the Pressure box in the Stroke studio to bring up the line's profile. You can add and remove nodes. Hold Alt to change the ends individually (not necessary for closed shapes).

Pixel Editing on Vectors:
Create a new Pixel layer, and drag it inside the vector object you want to edit (the same as clipping). You can now use pixel brushes right inside your vector objects.

Create Pixel Masks on Vectors:
With the object or set of objects selected, click on the Mask icon in the Layers studio. This will allow you to use the pixel Eraser Tool and selection tools on the masked vector objects. But since they are only masks, the Eraser tool does not actually break apart the paths. If you want to get your vector object back without any of the pixel editing, then click on the mask's "thumbnail," and delete it.

Only Edit the Selected Layer:
Toggle the first button in the Layers studio off to work with only the layer you have selected.

Scale Vectors on Resizing:
Toggle on the box "Scale with object" in the Stroke studio while and object(s) is selected.

 

Convert Line to Brush or Brush to Line:
The Stroke Styles in the Stroke studio are actually styles made by the Pencil or Pen Tool and Brush Tool. To convert a pencil line to a brush stroke, click on the Textured Line Style. To convert a brush stroke to a pencil line, click on the Solid or Dashed Line style.

Advanced Text Formatting:
To accomplish formats like leading, tracking, and kerning (line spacing, word spacing, and character spacing), find your option in the Character or Paragraph menus in the context toolbar of either of the two text tools.

Add Text in a Shape:
Aside from the regular square shaped text boxes from the Frame Text Tool, you can change objects into text boxes. Select an object, and select Layer > Covert to Text Frame.

Export Multiple Objects as Multiple Files:
In the Export persona, use the Slice Tool to carve a box around objects you want exported as themselves. Your slices will be listed in the Slices studio.

Change the Opacity of Stroke and Fill Separately:
Select the fill or stroke indicator in either the Colour studio or Swatches studio, and adjust the opacity in the Colour studio. The Opacity slider in the Layers studio, on the other hand, changes the opacity of the entire object (not layer, or just stroke or fill).

Show Objects Bleeding off the Canvas:
Select View > View Mode > Clip to Canvas

 

Only Show the Selected Layer (Temporally):

If Alt is held, clicking on a layer will show just that layer until deselected or edited.

 

Create Pixel Selection on a Layer:

Hold Control or Command and select the layer's thumbnail.

 

Edit Nodes without Selecting the Node Tool:

With the Pen, Pencil, or Brush Tool selected, hold Control or Command to bring up the Node Tool only while the mouse click is held.

 

Work with Small Pixels Easily:

When working in large zoomed in and tight areas, the space of moving or editing objects may not be positioned properly. Hold Alt to position them more appropriately, but do not hold Alt before moving. That will create a duplicate.

 

Set Key Commands for Rotating the Canvas:

In the preferences and under "Keyboard Shortcuts," locate the View option in the second dropdown menu. Then scroll down the list until you see "Rotate Left" and "Rotate Right." Add in a key command in the box to the right of those two actions.

 

Create a Raster Brush:

Create any design, and then in the Export persona, use the Slice Tool to create a slice box around the design. Then in the Slices studio, locate that new slice and click the last icon to export it. Now in the Pixel persona, go into the Brushes studio, and open the hamburger menu and select "New Intensity Brush."

 

Create a Vector Brush:

Set the canvas to a complete square so each side is the same size, and close it down close to the design's edges. (The left and right sides must overlap the design.) Make sure the furthest left part of the design matches the furthest right part of the design on the vertical axis. The background must be black, and the design must be white. Export your design as an image file (preferably PNG). In the Brushes studio, click open the hamburger menu, and select "New Textured Intensity Brush." Now double click that new brush, and in the new window, the bottom picture shows a preview. Move the red indicators to touch the brush's edges. And select "Repeat" if you want to repeat that brush stroke.

 

Turn Black and White Photo into a Colored Photo:

This is not really a vector designing feature, but it can still be done. Use the Selection Brush Tool on an area of a black and white photo. Then in the menu of the adjustments icon from the Layers studio, select "Recolor," and then find the right color for that selection. Repeat the same thing with the other areas on the photo. (Since each color is on an adjustment, you can go back any time and change the color.)

 

**Create Palette from Document:

This will create swatches of the colors in a document. In the Swatches studio, click on the hamburger menu and scroll down to 'Create Palette from Document.' Then you choose whether you want that palette to show throughout all of your Designer files, that one document, or your system.

 

Edit: Dec 2017

I forgot all about this topic. I made another with a very similar title on videos.

Edited by Bri-Toon

The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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bleduc,

I'm sure lots of members will appreciate your effort in making those tips.

 

Therefore - thank you!


High-End Photographic Prints

 

 

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You're welcome. A friend of mine is getting into vector graphics and recently bought the two Affinity applications, so I made this to share what I know.

 

That's strange I didn't get notified to your reply.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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I learned 1 new thing (The artboard / canvas resize)!

 

Thank you :)


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Awesome how-to reference. Thx.

 

Michael


------
AD 1.7.1, AP 1.7.1;Hhave ADW, Serif PagePlus X8 and X9 on an old PC
iMac Retina 5K, 27 inch, Late 2015, 3.2Ghz i5, 8GB 1867Mhz DDR3, AMD Radeon R9 M380 2GB; 1TB HDD, macOS Mojave 10.14.5

Wacom Intuos 5 Pro (wireless - without lagging).

Visit my site: TechniSmart (when I ever find time to work on it)

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Sure thing, guys. I'm glad this is helpful.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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Thank you for these tips Bleduc. Very much appreciated.


Please be aware that NSA/GCHQ are probably admiring my sent images

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You're welcome.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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Your listing is very helpful, thanks for the effort.

 

Could I suggest an addition to it based on importing files, like this:

 

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/34390-creative-market/

 

Rationale: I have tried many imports of various formats and seldom does one work well enough to be easily useful. I see many forum posts like the link just above. Often the responses are different, conflicting and full of caveats. To Import, Place, File-open, or Copy & Paste, that is the question. Will the layers stay intact? Will you end up with text, curves or nothing? If pdf is your best shot, how do you save it in the source program so you can then open it with layers and everything you need in AD (or AP)? Almost every response says, "do this, but be aware (name a function here) won't work...".

 

I suspect your list is too abbreviated to do justice to this compatibility topic, but maybe it is worth a try.

:) 


♥  WIN 10 AD & AP  ♥  Lenovo Legion Y520 15.6" Laptop

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I suspect your list is too abbreviated to do justice to this compatibility topic, 

:)

 

Nonsense. Compatibility is a very good thing to compare. I too picked up on many changes, so I'll see what I can come up with for a proper guideline. Thank you for sharing.

 

I'm following that topic now because I'm interested to know first where Evernote is facing the problem. If it's due to something other than Photoshop's smart objects, then it's worth noting.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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Thanks, bleduc!  Very helpful for someone (like me) who is new to working with vector.

 

You're welcome. I also just made some updates to this topic.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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Love the pinned Compatibility addition! I don't much intend to go from AD to Illustrator (however, many times from Illustrator to AD!) but was blown away by the tip to just add .ai to the end of a copied AD file! I can see how this is good for the pros who need to deliver ai format to clients. Do you leave the .afdesign extension in place so it looks like adfilename.afdesign.ai? Or does it become adfilename.ai?

Your list continues to grow with helpful tips. Watch out: Before you know it, it will turn into a Peachpit Visual QuickStart Guide! I hope! (My favorite How-to books)

:lol:


♥  WIN 10 AD & AP  ♥  Lenovo Legion Y520 15.6" Laptop

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I don't much intend to go from AD to Illustrator (however, many times from Illustrator to AD!) but was blown away by the tip to just add .ai to the end of a copied AD file! I can see how this is good for the pros who need to deliver ai format to clients.

 

Excuse my scepticism/skepticism, but does that really work? Although I know a *.pdf file can be renamed to *.ai and Illustrator will treat it as if it were an AI file containing a PDF stream, I wouldn't expect Illy to be able to read native *.afdesign files.


Alfred online2long.gif
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 1.7.1.404 • Windows 10 Home (4th gen Core i3 CPU)
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.7.1.143 • Designer for iPad 1.7.1.1 • iOS 12.3.1 (iPad Air 2)

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Excuse my scepticism/skepticism, but does that really work? Although I know a *.pdf file can be renamed to *.ai and Illustrator will treat it as if it were an AI file containing a PDF stream, I wouldn't expect Illy to be able to read native *.afdesign files.

 

Well, it never occurred to me that Bleduc would steer us wrong. Certainly, I could have misunderstood his tip. Worse, I don't even understand what you just said. "PDF stream?" Without researching into how PDFs are put together, I will just have to continue to categorize it under "magic." Hey, also, I always enjoy your posts of skepticism so no need to ask for excusing. I learn stuff out of skepticism.

 

:)


♥  WIN 10 AD & AP  ♥  Lenovo Legion Y520 15.6" Laptop

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Well, it never occurred to me that Bleduc would steer us wrong. Certainly, I could have misunderstood his tip. Worse, I don't even understand what you just said. "PDF stream?" Without researching into how PDFs are put together, I will just have to continue to categorize it under "magic."

 

Unlike Brian ('bleduc') I've never actually used Adobe Illustrator, so I can only go by what I've read, which is that AI can optionally save its files in a PDF-compatible format where it writes a PDF stream that other applications can read. Without the PDF data, all AD would have to go on is the native AI data, which is in a closed format that AD doesn't understand. The flip side of this is that you can apparently rename a PDF file to *.ai to trick Illy into opening it.

 

Hey, also, I always enjoy your posts of skepticism so no need to ask for excusing. I learn stuff out of skepticism.

 

Oh dear! You make it sound as though I mostly post sceptical stuff here. :o


Alfred online2long.gif
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 1.7.1.404 • Windows 10 Home (4th gen Core i3 CPU)
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.7.1.143 • Designer for iPad 1.7.1.1 • iOS 12.3.1 (iPad Air 2)

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Love the pinned Compatibility addition! I don't much intend to go from AD to Illustrator (however, many times from Illustrator to AD!) but was blown away by the tip to just add .ai to the end of a copied AD file! I can see how this is good for the pros who need to deliver ai format to clients. Do you leave the .afdesign extension in place so it looks like adfilename.afdesign.ai? Or does it become adfilename.ai?

Your list continues to grow with helpful tips. Watch out: Before you know it, it will turn into a Peachpit Visual QuickStart Guide! I hope! (My favorite How-to books)

:lol:

 

Thank you very much for the support. I'm glad I could be helpful. And no to your question. It would not be a real file to have two dots in its name. The "ai" should replace everything else after the dot.

 

Excuse my scepticism/skepticism, but does that really work?

 

Apparently so. This piece of information came from a page MEB linked a user to in this topic. However, I will make an update in that tip creating a link to same page MEB showed, because Illustrator relies on more exporting options in order for Illustrator to properly read it.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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Excuse my scepticism/skepticism, but does that really work?

 

 

Apparently so. This piece of information came from a page MEB linked a user to in this topic. However, I will make an update in that tip creating a link to same page MEB showed, because Illustrator relies on more exporting options in order for Illustrator to properly read it.

 

The link in MEB's post takes me to an Adobe help page which describes how to save in Illustrator format from Illustrator. I don't see anything about saving to AI format from other applications. :huh:


Alfred online2long.gif
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 1.7.1.404 • Windows 10 Home (4th gen Core i3 CPU)
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.7.1.143 • Designer for iPad 1.7.1.1 • iOS 12.3.1 (iPad Air 2)

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I am really sorry, guys. It appears I did misread MEB's post. And when I followed the instructions on that page he linked us to, I did get a dialogue asking for permission to change the file into an Illustrator file. For that reason, I was very sure it would work, but it was wrong of me to not test it more carefully before posting this. I tried opening it in Illustrator and I had no success. I am very sorry for the false information.

 

I do however know that exporting a Designer file to a PDF will allow the file to be opened in Illustrator and keep its vector quality with the exception of any advanced gradients, glows, or pixel editing.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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Hi guys. I added 9 new lessons, so I now have a total of 42. Some are pretty straight forward, but others may not be.

 

Expect the list to grow after 1.6 is released.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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Hello from YouTube. I didn't realize you were already a member. Thank you for the comment. And I'm glad to hear you'll be making more tutorials. Learning the software is good, but there are still so many ways to use it, so I'm always interested to see everyone's drawing style.

 

After the brush stabilization and 'Convert selection to vector object' feature gets in, it would be a great idea to make a tutorial on how to draw more freely. Brush stabilizers would be for free style drawing, and the selection conversion would be for the color.


The website is still a work in progress. The "Comics" and "Shop" sections are not yet ready. Feel free to connect with me and let me know what you like or what can be improved. You can contact me here, on my contact page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. Thanks and have a great day!

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