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mintcar

Better pathfinder functions

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First I would like to say that Affinity Designer is awesome and improving all the time, and I now use it almost as much as Illustrator.

As far as I can tell there is no real pathfinder in Affinity, though. It's a very essential function in my opinion, and I hope you can find time to implement it eventually. This post explains what I mean:

On 7/26/2018 at 8:14 AM, firstdefence said:

Illustrator has similar geometry tools but also has Pathfinder tools... I've posted this so you understand what the OP is asking for.
1904915729_ScreenShot2018-07-26at07_06_28.png.830884504ec4aaf412cd0b5e889fe38d.png 
The Pathfinder: Merge option will retain all of the shapes colours, a bit like creating a compound object, so in Affinity you can use Layer > Create Compound and the colour used for an object which is placed at the lowest layer becomes the colour of the compound but... 

In illustrator using the Pathfinder: Merge retains all of the objects original colours and dependant upon where the objects are in the layer hierarchy and whether there is overlap of higher layers dictates whether the object gets subtracted from (see example of the illustrator Pathfinder: Merge in action)
1046385514_ScreenShot2018-07-26at07_06_01.png.43a7e56dfe549cf184bb3efe34dac6e6.png    

 

 In addition, Illustrator has a pathfinder tool that lets you click on intersecting paths and merge them in any combination you like. I'm sure you can understand how powerful and intuitive this becomes when you want to prepare a graphic or logo for production. You can simply select your mess of overlapping shapes and paths and flatten them into something presentable with a single click. Or you can do something like this.

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While I agree in concept, it's worthy of some further discussion because this can be taken as another example of assuming that Adobe Illustrator is the end-all "leading' functionality worthy of being mimicked when, here at nearly one fifth of the way into the 21st century, we really should be aiming rather higher.

Not trying to be a know-it-all, but the following may be instructive to those...well, younger. ;-)

Like most vector drawing programs, Illustrator also started out with just the four basic Boolean path combination operations (add, subtract, intersect, exclude), and as I recall, it didn't move beyond that until around version 9 or 10, when its so-called "Live Effects" became all the focus. That's when Illustrator's so-called "Pathfinder" functions became (by default) its so-called "Compound Shapes" (which, in typical Adobe fashion, creates untold confusion with the term "compound paths"; an entirely different thing).

Affinity Designer also provides the four base Boolean path operations, and they are also already "live" constructs.

In Illustrator's case, it was actually user reaction against "Compound Shapes" (the "Live Effect" behavior) being the default that finally reversed the default so that the "Live" behavior requires the modifier key.

Regarding the Merge Pathfinder in particular:

Illustrator's Merge Pathfinder cycles through the selection in its stacking order and performs Boolean subtract on paths with differently-colored fills (which Mintcar's screenshot depicts). But its differentiating aspect is that it then cycles through the results and performs Boolean add on any adjacent same-color fills (which the screenshot does not depict).

This is indeed a very useful time-saving feature, especially when designing for rather involved instances of purposes like cutting sign vinyl and stencils, or screen printing. So yes, when priorities get around to elaborating the Boolean operations already in Affinity Designer, something similar to Illustrator's Merge would be valued. But for decades prior to its appearance, we did what Merge does by simply performing Boolean subtract, followed by Boolean add.

As in almost all such comparative requests, there remains much to be desired, and we should aim higher than "like Illustrator."

For purposes to which Illustrator's Merge is most beneficial (and thereby worth of a separate command), a degree of overlap is commonly, if not usually, needed (similar to separation traps in offset printing terms; but more like offset path commands in vinyl and screen printing). To make Illustrator's Merge feature something rather more special than just doing color-specific Boolean subtract followed by Boolean add, it should have also been provided a simple field for an offset value.

Illustrator's Merge also suffers from the same problem which has always plagued its Pathfinders (and other things like its Knife Tool): It doesn't know what to do with strokes. Whenever Pathfinders have this problem, strokes are just removed. Even before the advent of so-called "Live Effects," competing programs did not have this problem. FreeHand, for example, simply kept strokes as strokes (which, if one thinks about it, is also a "live effect") in the results of its Boolean path combinations (and its Knife Tool correctly cut all paths, open, closed, filled or unfilled).

Illustrator provides multiple features which essentially do the same thing, and add to its overall clutter. While sometimes useful, this is not elegant interface design. It's a better user experience when more "power" is provided "just under the hood" of more fully thought-out and better-integrated functionality of relatively fewer tools.

In this context, I'm not sure that greater path combination functionality couldn't be accomplished as part of a user-friendly scripting or macro implementation.

Given that, as explained, Illustrator's Merge button is, in effect, a "macro" that performs two base Boolean operations (subtract, add) in one move, with the caveat that the operations are color-specific, consider:

Wouldn't the "missing" overlap value field also be valuable for the normal subtract function? Wouldn't all the Boolean operations benefit from an option to set a conditional constraint, such as same or different color?

So Boolean path operations represent yet another opportunity for Affinity to break beyond and rise above the conventional-wisdom treatment, providing greater power with less "feature glut."

JET
 

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I would implore Serif to examine the Astute Graphics Vector Design Tool Technologies they are making available to anyone (https://astutegraphics.com/tech/technologies/). This has pathfinder (boolean operations unsurpassed by any other graphics tool out there. It is so far ahead of anything else and it could be engineered in to Designer. There are also more tools that would really make Designer a much better option than Illustrator... finally!

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@JET_Affinity GREAT post, thank you for the detailed explanation!

The most important point here is, like JET said, to have fewer Tools but more "powerful"... Thats why Im a big fan of Affinity, because its SUPER INTUITIVE there are not as many tools as in Illustrator BUT you can easily get all the results that you get with Illustrator too, for Pathfinder functions you just need 1-Click more...

When you understand Boolean operations, its all you need...and Im talking about professional graphic design work..

Im looking forward to the upcoming Affinity updates... There is alot of room for improvement for Affinity, the Dev Team works hard on improving their products.... I feel the future for Affinity is BIG!

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On 9/26/2018 at 7:45 PM, J Clark said:

I would implore Serif to examine the Astute Graphics Vector Design Tool Technologies they are making available to anyone (https://astutegraphics.com/tech/technologies/). This has pathfinder (boolean operations unsurpassed by any other graphics tool out there. It is so far ahead of anything else and it could be engineered in to Designer. There are also more tools that would really make Designer a much better option than Illustrator... finally!

There is a wider knowledge of this the AG Tech’s availability in the market. Implementing the full AG Tech SDK is a larger step, but it may be possible for users of Affinity to one day implement the Astui web API which is now being fully rolled-out: https://astui.tech

Any modern design app which has extensibility designed in (Illustrator, XD, Sketch, etc.) can make quick use of this.

It would be interesting to learn if Serif added this core tech layer to Affinity. Newcomers such as XD, InVision and Figma are going to give all existing players a run for their money if the current rate of development is anything to go by!

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I do not follow JET_Affinity's counter argument. I am indeed old but I never used Illustrator's boolean operations before merge was available. But the concept of dividing and simplifying paths based on color is not something that originated with Illustrator. It was an integral part of how Flash worked, and I think it's a very intuitive way of thinking about paths. I think some way of simplifying artwork by separating colors into shapes would be really great for Affinity Designer, because it's so easy to work with compared to boolean operations. It's both faster and more intuitive. And it is aligned with how print production works. And it's an easy way of reducing the amount of anchor points in an illustration to reduce file size. What's not to like?

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