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How to Edit the Alpha Channel

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10 hours ago, Torquedude said:

I really have enjoyed my experience with AP up til this point after 20+ years with Photoshop. Not being able to work with channels as we need to is really disheartening though. I have been advertising the daylights out of this software but I don't see a reason to anymore in my industry. I only use photo editors for adjusting normal maps, diffuse and albedo textures. If I cannot adjust normal map channels as needed then what is the point of this software for our use?

SO much potential here, SO MUCH! But something you may think of as small, is a deal breaker for many and unfortunately I am included in this pool. Your software was being used to produce some really great products, but I have to say that time has come to an end If there is no support for the gaming sector.

Please get someone on this. This is my one and only issue with this software, outside of this it is pure gold.  

Steaven McKenzie
Torquesim

+1

 

..but again: I thing Serif target audience are designer/photographs - not the game industry.

I think this is one of the reasons, why Adobe invest so much in the game-sector since a few month (like acquire Substances).

I'm a game-developer too, so I understand this needs. But to be honest, I don't think that there will be an update for this feature in the near future.

For professional work, for the game industry, go with Photoshop or maybe GIMP/Krita (never uses it, but maybe it's possible for that).

 

 

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This is really a let down, I bought the software before a proper testing and after just two days I found this...

If only I had known before the lack of support for texturing, I would not have bought this software. 

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46 minutes ago, Kehdar said:

This is really a let down, I bought the software before a proper testing and after just two days I found this...

If only I had known before the lack of support for texturing, I would not have bought this software. 

Welcome to the Serif Affinity Forums. If you purchased directly from Serif via the Affinity Store, you have a 14-day money-back guarantee. See https://affinity.store/help/#returns for details.

 


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1909 (183623.476),
   Desktop: 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00GHz, GeForce GTX 970
   Laptop:  8GB memory, Intel Core i7-3625QM @ 2.30GHz, Intel HD Graphics 4000 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
Affinity Photo 1.8.3.641 and 1.8.4.676 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.8.3.641 and 1.8.4.676 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.8.3.641 and 1.8.4.663 Beta.

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1 hour ago, Kehdar said:

This is really a let down, I bought the software before a proper testing and after just two days I found this...

If only I had known before the lack of support for texturing, I would not have bought this software. 

Yeah,

It is really sad, because Affinity is almost there.... You can easily access and work with the RGB channels and then pack a TGA Texture for your shader. As long as you only need three channels, everything is fine. The alpha channel is used for transparency? You are still good to go and can create a TGA and use all four channels.

Your problems start as soon as you want to pack all four channels into a single texture and your alpha channel is not used for transparency. If you have noise textures in your RGBs and your alpha has a circle shape, your noise textures in the RGB channels inherit the information from the alpha channel and will then be reduced to that circle. The remaining info of the channels are lost if you then export your file as a TGA.

It would be nice to have a check mark where we can set if the RGB channels are allowed to inherit the information of the alpha channel or not. Or... Maybe this feature is already there???? If someone knows, please tell me! I couldn't find a way. 

 

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to the Devs (hey it's me again about to talk TGA and alpha channels, sorry). I gave some time for TGA format to be implemented before fully testing, As it stands I don't think it's working as intended, or if it is then yous really need to think about making some changes. I'll start by saying what I've said before, channel packing is a necessity in games (and tv). At the moment Affinity Photo can't be used for this which is still a deal breaker. At the moment the way it needs to work is that the channels Red, Blue, Green and Alpha should just be editable black and white masks which do not affect each other. What Affinity Photo has at the moment is exactly that between red, blue and green channels, then the alpha channel goes and derps it all up by erasing the information on all other channels (where the alpha is black) when you save the image out (in my case as a TARGA file). This is absolutely the opposite of what is needed. When I save my image, I expect all 4 channels to stay intact in my TGA file. :( As it is now is still unusable. In fact I did a test by making an RGBA file in photoshop and saving out as tga, loading into affinity photo and saving, reopening the file again in photoshop to show you the difference; On the left you have the original, on the right you have what Affinity Photo did to the image (removing rgb information with the alpha)image.thumb.png.38a9f8815615a4d1512a31642256042a.png

Basically what I'm saying is, Affinity Photo destroys images when using alpha channels. Is there something I'm missing here? This seems like a bug more than anything.

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5 hours ago, MattyWS said:

What Affinity Photo has at the moment is exactly that between red, blue and green channels, then the alpha channel goes and derps it all up by erasing the information on all other channels (where the alpha is black) when you save the image out (in my case as a TARGA file). 

The document flattening process sets R, G and B to zero wherever Alpha is zero. That may have been a design decision to improve the compressibility of the image data. In my opinion, that optimisation should be an option for the user, instead of something forced on the user and making the app useless to many potential purchasers of licences.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/15/2020 at 1:21 PM, protoloss said:

Yeah,

It is really sad, because Affinity is almost there.... You can easily access and work with the RGB channels and then pack a TGA Texture for your shader. As long as you only need three channels, everything is fine. The alpha channel is used for transparency? You are still good to go and can create a TGA and use all four channels.

Your problems start as soon as you want to pack all four channels into a single texture and your alpha channel is not used for transparency. If you have noise textures in your RGBs and your alpha has a circle shape, your noise textures in the RGB channels inherit the information from the alpha channel and will then be reduced to that circle. The remaining info of the channels are lost if you then export your file as a TGA.

It would be nice to have a check mark where we can set if the RGB channels are allowed to inherit the information of the alpha channel or not. Or... Maybe this feature is already there???? If someone knows, please tell me! I couldn't find a way. 

 

+1 here and also the DDS thread has over 7k views imagine the people googling before purchasing then see is really just a step there to implement something that would make ti way better and there is no such an option, I was trying again to test, I have to open gimp to convert DDS to PNG with Alpha (already ridiculous a free software is needed to do so) then importing in Affinity isn't any good as the only thing I can do in the alpha is paint white, with both PS and Gimp I can do black and white and work on the mask no issues... then you have again the issue that you cannot even export it correctly let alone export it as DDS or use a DDS plugin from Nvidia or Intel.

At the minute I think the alpha is really a lack of willingness to cover the basics, why only being able to paint white? Really? It is 2020 not 1998... the DDS isn't there but layer paint in Alpha is totally unjustifiable. 

After all will disinstall it 

 

Edited by Sandrooo

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For all of our sake, it might be great, when an official statement can be posted from Serif - devs/support/marketing/whatever else.

With certainty we can stop hoping and begging if it will ever happen or not.

I am not asking *when*, I am asking *if*...


Thank you very much and have a nice day!

 

 

Because both threads are dealing with the same issue/question and are the latest ones, I have posted this text here as well as in

 

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1 hour ago, keena said:

For all of our sake, it might be great, when an official statement can be posted from Serif - devs/support/marketing/whatever else.

Generally Serif does not post official statements on whether functions will be implemented in the future, nor anything about when they might be implemented, until they are very close to releasing them in beta form.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1909 (183623.476),
   Desktop: 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00GHz, GeForce GTX 970
   Laptop:  8GB memory, Intel Core i7-3625QM @ 2.30GHz, Intel HD Graphics 4000 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
Affinity Photo 1.8.3.641 and 1.8.4.676 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.8.3.641 and 1.8.4.676 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.8.3.641 and 1.8.4.663 Beta.

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My guess is that Adobe has some IP in this area and so it is being avoided. There is no other good explanation really. Saying "Affinity is not for game devs" is just silly. We're not talking about adding some complex rendering capability, this is really basic and required by many users. I have already purchased but am thinking I will need to move back to PS. I've stopped recommending Affinity to other people as well.

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On 5/30/2020 at 11:47 PM, unitizer said:

My guess is that Adobe has some IP in this area and so it is being avoided. There is no other good explanation really. Saying "Affinity is not for game devs" is just silly. We're not talking about adding some complex rendering capability, this is really basic and required by many users. I have already purchased but am thinking I will need to move back to PS. I've stopped recommending Affinity to other people as well.

This probably isn't the case but... Can any of the devs for Affinity confirm if adobe has patents on this or anything else that you've had to make an awkward workaround for? Or patents that stop you from implementing entire essential features? I mean, it's probably not the case but if Affinity Photo can't be used in a simple manner to edit alpha channels just because of adobe patents then I'd have to drop Affinity... 

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4 minutes ago, MattyWS said:

This probably isn't the case but... Can any of the devs for Affinity confirm if adobe has patents on this or anything else that you've had to make an awkward workaround for? Or patents that stop you from implementing entire essential features? I mean, it's probably not the case but if Affinity Photo can't be used in a simple manner to edit alpha channels just because of adobe patents then I'd have to drop Affinity... 

I don't think it's because of patents.
PhotoPlus, predecessor of Affinity Photo had exactly the same behavior as Photoshop on alpha channels.

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Long before Photoshop became the 800lb gorilla in the market place, there were image editors that could manipulate arbitrary numbers of independent channels, and there was extensive use of the alpha channel for blending, transparency and overlays.  "Channel ops" was a thing before PS made it popular.

I suspect this is an attempt at either image file optimization or pre-multiplied alpha.  If the latter, you would see varying levels of impact in the RGB channels based on the alpha channel grey level.

Having an export dialog option to turn off premultiplication of alpha on output would be a good thing.

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21 hours ago, sfriedberg said:

Long before Photoshop became the 800lb gorilla in the market place, there were image editors that could manipulate arbitrary numbers of independent channels, and there was extensive use of the alpha channel for blending, transparency and overlays.  "Channel ops" was a thing before PS made it popular.

I suspect this is an attempt at either image file optimization or pre-multiplied alpha.  If the latter, you would see varying levels of impact in the RGB channels based on the alpha channel grey level.

Having an export dialog option to turn off premultiplication of alpha on output would be a good thing.

or showing only transparency of active alpha channel while editing would be fine for me.
only its activating/editing method bothers me.

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On 6/1/2020 at 7:26 PM, sfriedberg said:

Long before Photoshop became the 800lb gorilla in the market place, there were image editors that could manipulate arbitrary numbers of independent channels, and there was extensive use of the alpha channel for blending, transparency and overlays.  "Channel ops" was a thing before PS made it popular.

Affinity Photo HAS all the necessary functionality already, they just disable it for the alpha channel. You can currently select and edit (using all the existing editing tools) any channel EXCEPT the alpha channel. So it's not a matter of adding new functionality, which I could understand not being a high priority. Unless it really is some intellectual property issue, it would appear they are intentionally crippling their software. I'd like to hear an official response as to why they don't do something that's about as simple as changing the value of a Boolean variable. 

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On 4/16/2020 at 11:28 AM, anon2 said:

The document flattening process sets R, G and B to zero wherever Alpha is zero. That may have been a design decision to improve the compressibility of the image data. In my opinion, that optimisation should be an option for the user, instead of something forced on the user and making the app useless to many potential purchasers of licences.

Forget about Potential purchasers there are already a ton of us clients who are complaining about the asinine alpha & channels workflow. I (like so many others) find this to be the one thing that forces me to have to use other software. And the fact that 3 or 4 years later it still isn't addressed is quite honestly disheartening. I was complaining about this back in 2016 and 2017:
 

Heck in this post 3 years ago a mod said "This has been logged with our developers. Hopefully we'll add better support in the future :)" well here we are in the future and nothing has changed.

 

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Also alpha channel behavior has serious problem when doing round trip editing with other apps.
straight alpha option is needed.

 

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I am quite surprised this is still an ongoing issue. I guess I shouldn't be since game devs are not the target audience. It's just still a real shame because it's a much nicer program and reasonably priced. I still recommend Serif to people, but when it comes to game devs I warn them of this very problem before buying... which in every case they say never mind and skip it. I've bought the entire Serif lineup though. It's top notch stuff. Just this one issue still bugs me.

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On 9/27/2019 at 1:46 PM, Patrick Connor said:

@efflam & @tazcebula

Welcome to the Serif Affinity forums :) 

Agreed, but that has not been our target market so far, sorry. Better tools to edit the alpha channel directly will be needed before Affinity Photo would be more suitable for the parts of the games industry that reply on TGA-alpha for texture storage. I would not say it "makes no sense at all", it's just not right for your particular use.

Besides doing image editing for video (where alphas are required), I also do lots of image editing for 3D texturing (where alphas are also required) and I also do photo retouching and calibration for printing where... guess what, ALPHAS ARE ALSO REQUIRED.

Dealing with alphas is a must for any professional that works with images, no matter what field it works on. Is it professional work? Ok, so, dealing with alphas is required.
And working with alphas should be as straightforwards as working with any greyscale image.
Whatever could be done with a greyscale image should be possible to do with alphas, and it should work exactly the same way.
Alphas ARE greyscale images!!! Alphas are just information about opacity.
So, why are alphas different in AP?
I have been asking this ever since the beta versions of Affinity Photo and, if I recall correctly, I was told that working with alphas would be addressed and that it would become easier.
It hasn't! It is still a nightmare.
Will it ever change? As it is now, I can't work with alphas in AP.

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Let me add a few things.
It seems that AP is pre-multiplying the alpha with the RGB, and that is the culprit of the black halo around keyed images.
It is usually impossible to produce a Straight alpha from real life photography. But a digital application should never pre-multiply alphas, when not requested. So, at the very least, we should have the option of pre-multiplying the alpha... or NOT!!!

Also, let me provide another example of a simple workflow that I use a lot in Photoshop and it is simply impossible in AP.
When cutting out a subject from its background, sometimes I need to choke or spread the alpha in some specific places, to prevent halos.
So, in Photoshop, I simply activate the alpha associated with the layer, locally blur the alpha on the the places that I want to adjust and then use the Dodge and Burn tools to choke or spread the alpha.
In AP, I can locally blur the alpha. But neither the Dodge nor the Burn tools work with the alpha.
Why can I blur but not dodge or burn?

Also, I can easily run filters on alphas, in Photoshop. Wether they are additional alpha channels or even if they are layer alpha channels. They are all the same, in Photoshop.
In AP, some filter work, some don't. Add Noise doesn't work, for example. And some that work, produce unexpected results (Dust & Scratches, for example).

If I try to work with an alpha as a regular layer and Option+click to see the whole alpha, Select All, Copy, and Paste, I create a new alpha. Come on!!! I want to create a new layer with the alpha information.

it is like the alpha is an half baked greyscale image where only a few tools are allowed.
 

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13 hours ago, rui_mac said:

n AP, I can locally blur the alpha. But neither the Dodge nor the Burn tools work with the alpha.
Why can I blur but not dodge or burn?

You have to erase and paint in the alpha channel instead of painting with black/white (like in the rgb channels). If you blur in the alpha channel the values are interpolated between 1(=white) and 0 (=No information in the channel = black). This is why the blur brush works.

If you dodge or burn on the other hand, you add information to the alpha channel (= white). The key is, that both brushes (dodge and burn) alter already existing information/color/pixel. So if your alpha channel is completely black nothing will happen. And if the channel is filled with white nothing will happen too, because you are adding information to information (=White). It is just misleading and annoying to show us black and white colors, because technically the alpha channel works completely different than the rgb channels. You really have to think like a coder if you want to work with the alpha channel in AP :P

And by the way: All the 2D illustration and painting packages I have used so far (except for PS) work similar to AP. If you want to create a mask or transparency in other packages, you have to erase in the mask. Photoshop is the only software that allows you to use black and white directly in the alpha channel. I think, when they started designing AP/AD they went with what everyone else outside of Photoshop does: Erase and paint in the alpha channel.

But knowing this doesn't really help because channel editing in AP is just a mess. I have no insights, but the feature really feels like tacked on. And, after they have realized that a lot of people actually need channel editing they had to perform some stunts to outsmart their code....

 

Tl;dr: Channel editing in AP is like writing your name using your feet ;) Please, Serif....fix it!

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, rui_mac said:

Welcome to the Serif Affinity forums :) 

Agreed, but that has not been our target market so far, sorry. Better tools to edit the alpha channel directly will be needed before Affinity Photo would be more suitable for the parts of the games industry that reply on TGA-alpha for texture storage. I would not say it "makes no sense at all", it's just not right for your particular use.

Oh, I just came across this:

and this

https://affinityspotlight.com/article/jarek-majewski-game-development-is-hard-prepare-for-a-lot-of-work-and-dont-be-discouraged-easily/

 

Obviously not meant for game dev....Please, fix the Alpha Channel

 

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20 hours ago, rui_mac said:

Alphas ARE greyscale images!!! Alphas are just information about opacity.
So, why are alphas different in AP?

The short version is the Affinity apps only directly support alpha transparency channels, which despite appearances are not greyscale. They are achromatic (colorless), so much like @protoloss mentioned the only way you can interact with them is with tools that alter their opacity.

And yes, it is a mess because of this.


Affinity Photo 1.8.3, Affinity Designer 1.8.3, Affinity Publisher 1.8.3; macOS Mojave 10.14.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
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4 hours ago, R C-R said:

The short version is the Affinity apps only directly support alpha transparency channels, which despite appearances are not greyscale. They are achromatic (colorless), so much like @protoloss mentioned the only way you can interact with them is with tools that alter their opacity.

And yes, it is a mess because of this.

Please, someone tell me what are the advantages of having "achromatic (colorless)" alphas instead of grayscale alphas.

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