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DianeF

Improving Images with the NIK Collection Vs. Affinity Photo

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I've recently been watching some videos about the NIK Collection and trying out some of the things you can do with it. I'd already installed the NIK Collection as a plug-in from Affinity Photo and it works very well from within the program. As I've watched these videos and seen the power of the various tools in the NIK Collection, I'm trying to understand why you wouldn't just use the NIK Collection to improve image quality rather than adjustment layers in AP. These filters seem to do the same thing as some of the adjustments available in AP, but in some cases, do these things more easily or in a more automated way. Plus, all the sliders in the NC allow you a lot of control both over the main image and selected portions of it.

 

Am I missing something here? I love AP and have been very happy using it, but I'm wondering how the two programs are used in real life by people who are more experienced in image editing than I am. Are they used iteratively, or is one considered more useful than the other? I know the answer to this question probably depends on the specific image, but I'm trying to get a general understanding of how the programs are used in conjunction with each other.

 

Thanks for any thoughts on this subject.


Affinity Photo, V 1.6.7    Affinity Designer, V 1.6.1

Imac OS 10.12.6 (Sierra)

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NC modules can be used both as standalone applications or a set of plugins. the way you use them depends on your editing goals and workflow.

i seldom use them as standalone applications: actually, only when i need to quickly edit an image whose i don't have the raw original file (i's say, images not taken by me).

in my regular workflow, i always use NC as plugins, as they allow to get results that i cannot reach with AP's native adjustment or live filter layers: i.e. black and white.

as plugins, they are destructive. so, i usually create a copy of the layer i want to apply them to before calling the plugin itself. and, when possible, i try to apply plugins at the very beginning of my editing work or as the very last step.

i hope i didn't misunderstand your question.


take care,

stefano

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Thank you, Stefano.

 

My question pertained to using NC as plug-ins, not a standalone application. I was trying to understand when it is best to use the NC vs. using AP for making adjustment to photos. It sounds like you're saying that you use the NC mainly to do things that Affinity Photo can't do but that you also you the adjustment layers and filters in AP itself.  Is that correct?

 

And thanks for noting that you should make a copy of a layer before working on it and also for sharing your workflow process.


Affinity Photo, V 1.6.7    Affinity Designer, V 1.6.1

Imac OS 10.12.6 (Sierra)

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wherever possible, i use AP native adjustment layers and live filter layers, because they are non destructive.

i think that plugins are comparable to non-live filters: you pass a layer to the plugin and get it back modified in its pixel structure. moreover, i could not find a way to save the final state of a plugin's settings. this means that when i exit a plugin and i realize i done something wrong, i cannot reload the layer into the plugin and start from where i left: often i have to load a "clean" layer and rework it completely.

this is why i use plugins only when AP does not allow me to get the result i want, or it appears too difficult to achieve it using AP native live tools.

plugins cannot be used on a stack of layers (pixel or adjustments), or at least i cannot make them work this way. so, in order to use a plugin, i need to "merge visible" all my stack of layers, so from that point on i also loose the possibility to take advantage of the non destructive editing i made before. this is why i tend to to apply plugins as the very last step of my workflow, but this is not necessarily possible in any situation.

the plugin i use most is silver efex: it's easy to convert to bw as the last step, but this is not necessarily the case of any plugin.

i love AP's live filter layers and adjustment layers and i think they work great: i use them for the major part of my image processing.


take care,

stefano

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37 minutes ago, barninga said:

plugins cannot be used on a stack of layers (pixel or adjustments), or at least i cannot make them work this way. so, in order to use a plugin, i need to "merge visible" all my stack of layers, so from that point on i also loose the possibility to take advantage of the non destructive editing i made before. this is why i tend to to apply plugins as the very last step of my workflow, but this is not necessarily possible in any situation.

I'm new at using Affinity Photo, but I think that snapshots might help you. For example, start with your original image, do some work in AP using layering as you want, then take a snapshot using the snapshot panel. That should capture all the work you've done and current layers at that point.

Next user Layer->New Layer from Snapshot to create  a new raster layer at the top of the stack from the snapshot you just took. Name this layer, for example, X. That raster layer is, in effect, a flattened version of all the work you've done, but all the original layers are still available below it to modify later if you find something wrong after you run the plugin.

Then apply the plugin to the raster layer X you just created, and continue working from there. Later, if you decided that you needed to redo the plugin work but you had several layers above X, you could delete layer X (leaving the newer layers above it), create a new layer (Y) from the original snapshot, move that layer down the stack to the proper spot, and run the plugin on that layer.

At that point you have the work you did after the plugin still there at the top of the stack to adjust further, then the reworked plugin layer, and below that a set of layers you can effectively ignore unless you need to go back even further to rework things.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1809, 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
Affinity Photo 1.6.5.123 and 1.7.0.293 Beta       / Affinity Designer 1.6..5.123 and 1.7.0.293 Beta    / Affinity Publisher 1.7.0.293 Beta

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This is extremely helpful. Thank you very much for explaining this in such detail. Now I have a much better idea of how to use the NIK software in conjunction with the Affinity software.


Affinity Photo, V 1.6.7    Affinity Designer, V 1.6.1

Imac OS 10.12.6 (Sierra)

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@walt.farrell, thank you for your explanation.

i hope i understood it well: if so, i'd say that you can achieve the same result without using snapshots. the "layers menu -> merge visible" command merges all the layers in the image, leaves them untouched, and creates a new raster layer containing the image as you see it.

what i meant with "so from that point on i also loose the possibility to take advantage of the non destructive editing i made before" is that the old layers, which are now below the merged layer (which i apply the plugin to), become invisible because they are covered by that new layer. so, if i decide later that i would modify the setting of, say, and adjustment layer that is below the merged one, the visible image will not reflect the change.

it is true, however, that i can still apply new live adjustments and filters to the merged layer (that is, place them above it). And it is true that i can delete the merged layer, turn off the layers i added above it, change the settings of one of my original, pre-merge, adjustments, redo the merge step and reapply the plugin to the new merged layer, and finally turn the above layers on again. but this does not ensure that the adjustments i added after the first merge will still look good.

i see the action of applying a plugin as a cut between a "pre" and an "after", so i prefer to use them as the very first or very last step of my workflow.

snapshot are an interesting alternative to merge visible, however: plus, it's more or less like making a backup of the image at a certain stage of the work, and it can be useful for a number of reason, besides working with plugins.

the absolutely best options would be plugins acting like live filters or adjustment layers, but i think it is just not possible.


take care,

stefano

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Thank you, Stefano. I had not yet discovered and figured out Layer->Merge Visible. It supplies a function I was missing, and you're right it's very much like my suggestion of using a snapshot layer.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1809, 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
Affinity Photo 1.6.5.123 and 1.7.0.293 Beta       / Affinity Designer 1.6..5.123 and 1.7.0.293 Beta    / Affinity Publisher 1.7.0.293 Beta

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