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Affinity Photo Workbook, anybody else disappointed?

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A couple of days ago I finally received my copy of the Affinity Photo Workbook. Having read the first 240 pages I must admit that I am mostly disappointed. By purchasing the book published by the developers of Affinity Photo I hoped to gain some in depth insight into how Affinity Photo works and how I could apply the different techniques demonstrated in the book to my own projects. Sadly though this is exactly where the book fails. Because I know that simply telling you that the book "sucks" is not enough and certainly wont help you improving it I am going to give you a few examples why exactly it has been such a disappointing experience to me.

My biggest issue: From page 120 onward you explain in depth how to move, nest, rename and otherwise manipulate layers. While I admit that this might be useful to some beginners I think anyone who is not a complete computer illiterate will figure this out within minutes. In fact when I started editing images it was immediately clear to me how to perform such basic layer actions that do not differ much from the basic concept of manipulating files and folders in any file explorer. On the other hand any information on how the different blend modes work is completely missing. I ask you, if we talk about the average person who want's to get into image editing, what would such a person typically need help with? Creating or renaming a layer or comprehending what a multiply, hard light or reflect blend mode does? Why are there layouts with keyboard short cuts but no explanatory chapter on blend modes? Again the question, what would I probably want to read a book for? To learn the keyboard short cut to invoke a certain command or to gain a better understanding of the concept of blend modes?
 

If I read a book like this I expect to learn new techniques and I generally want to gain deeper insight on how a program like Affinity Photo works and how I can use the software for my personal work flow. But in the case of your book it has repeatedly left me with more questions than answers. Here is a list of examples where the book has left me with unanswered questions:

  • On page 144 you explain how to control certain colour tones using a black & white adjustment layer and the blend mode overlay. Now maybe I'm the only person on earth who finds it confusing to use a black and white adjustment layer to change colour tones in a coloured photograph but fact is, I don't understand this technique and thus I'm not able to use this trick for my own photos. Unless of course I had exactly the same photo as in the book in which case I'd certainly be able to replicate the steps described. But in order to apply this trick to my images I would need someone to explain me what a black and white adjustment in combination with the overlay blend mode does and why it does this.
     
  • The next example would be page 160 (Laying the tonal ground work) and following. Here you explain how to control tones with brush strokes, an empty pixel layer and the overlay blend mode. And again you fail to explain why it does what you describe. But at least this one is not as bad as the case mentioned above because here I can actually use the technique for my projects (with the slight inconvenience that I use a technique I don't really understand). In other words, if someone watched over my shoulder while I am applying this technique and asked me why I had chosen the overlay blend mode I would not be able to answer the question because frankly I don't know, I just copied the steps from the book without knowing better.
     
  • Another one: On page 228 you show a way to eliminate or at least reduce a colour cast in the sky by using a black and white adjustment layer (again in a coloured photograph) and the multiply blend mode. Once more you fail to provide any background information on why and how this combination works. Without this information the process remains a mystery to me and I'm probably never going to be able to use this technique for my own photos. I just don't feel comfortable to work with tools I don't understand.

I could mention further examples but I suppose by now you are getting the point. Now one could always ask why I didn't search the web for more information. And while this is of course true and I also do this on a regular basis I have been asking myself why on earth I'd read a book that makes me search the web for basic knowledge about the described techniques. Didn't I buy the book exactly because I wanted to gain more in depth knowledge about image editing with Affinity Photo? Wouldn't I be better off not buying the book at all and simply asking the search engine of my choice (which is completely free by the way)?

But enough criticism for now. Let's also mention a few positive aspects. Apart from the missing information as described above the texts are very understandable (even for non native English speakers like me) and the book looks generally very professional. I've also found the selection of images and projects to be well chosen, the projects are interesting and the photographs are of high quality. While reading the book one immediately notices that the authors not only know what they are writing about but it's also clear that the persons involved in the creation of the book are passionate for photography and Affinity Photo in particular. In other words: If you added the missing background information on how and why certain techniques work as well as a comprehensive explanation on the various blend modes available this could become one of the best books about image editing in general and Affinity Photo in particular on today's market.

Oh and one last thought: If you don't want to clutter the book with too much information and avoid overtaxing some readers why not provide an appendix with additional background information (be it in the book or as downloadable resource) for those who desire to better understand how and why certain techniques work? And if you plan to improve the book and add the requested information it would be a very nice gesture of you to make this additional information available to the buyers of the initial issue as well (as a download for example).

P.S. I opened this thread here because I couldn't find any other, more suitable place. Please feel free to move the thread if necessary. And sorry for having created such a lengthy post ;)

 

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