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John-B

How to Edit the Alpha Channel

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5 hours ago, opermaks said:

Why resist being friends with game artists so much?

Resist? – Note that various bug fixes, feature requests, or other improvements are on Serif's list and are being developed by the team with limited staff and time. So, your "resist" sounds weirdly reproachful, like this:

The mother gives her son two shirts for his birthday, one in red, the other in green, both exactly of the son's favorite colors.
The next morning he comes to breakfast in the red shirt. The mother asks excitedly: "What?! You don't like the green?"


macOS 10.14.6, Macbook Pro Retina 15" + Eizo 27" // Affinity preferred in Separated Mode + Merged Windows

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All developers has a lifetime of dealing with "various bug fixes, feature requests, or other improvements". It will be infinite. Until the support is stopped. Just one feature to expand the community. Is that too much to ask? Or should we wait for the moment when developers will have nothing to do and they will get bored in the workplace? It was just a reminder that there are those who are interested in the program. And your analogy only works if the work on the alphas is written in the roadmap. Is this in the official plans? Or is my son not planning on wearing a green shirt at all? (Probably because he doesn't like green, I don't know)

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3 hours ago, opermaks said:

Just one feature to expand the community. Is that too much to ask? (...)
It was just a reminder (...)

I guess you are aware that the total number of requests is more than "just one", though the entire list of requests can be felt as many single "just one" requests.

Although "just a reminder" (in whatever tonality) does increase the number of posts within a thread it doesn't necessarily increase the number of requesting users (~possible new clients). That's why user's who want to support a request often simply type "+ 1" only (... while "+ 1000" hardly counts more ;) ). Instead in such a thread it gets obvious quite soon that the number of supporters is definitely less than its number of posts, which might increase the danger of not counting at all from a certain point.

Why do I text yet? :: Mainly because I get (and want to) info emails about new posts in this thread. Posts with weird text do confuse at least – rude or useless blaming text annoys.


macOS 10.14.6, Macbook Pro Retina 15" + Eizo 27" // Affinity preferred in Separated Mode + Merged Windows

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Not “just one”, but “just one to expand the community”. Understand? Just one to allow a bunch of people even to star work with the product. Just one that will bring new money for development not at the expense of discounts. 
 

That shows why you're still writing. As if you want to overcome someone without delving into the essence of his Message. How nice it is to accuse someone of negativity and try to heroically put it in its place, taking the words out of context. If this is not the case, then do not write. I described my problem to be heard, not to be silenced. And I haven't seen a positive response from the developers yet. If I missed it somewhere, please share the link with me. I'm ready to wait my turn in peace. But in the meantime, I have to ask to let me and other artists into this queue officially. And please don’t imagine how I demand freedom for artists with a machine gun and a can of gasoline. If you communicated with me looking me in the eye, then you would not have any doubts about my adequacy.

Happy photoshopping, bro.

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I have to agree with opermarks and others that are voicing their request for a proper Alpha Channel packing support.
Right now it becomes impossible to have Affinity as part of a pipeline where you need the alpha channel to store additional information. If I make a texture with packing a grayscale map on the alpha of a texture, it opens in Photo with a completely White alpha.
If you try and pack yourself information in an  Alpha channel in Photo and Export it , it will clip all information in RGB with the opacity values of the alpha without giving you any control over whether you want pre/unpremultiplied. 
Unreal engine supports it, Substance Painter / Designer supports it. And aside from photographers the other markets would clearly see the benefit of Photo supporting Alpha channel Packing. Right now ,  I basically avoid Affinity for any work on Images / textures. It is quite disappointing.

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Yes, roger rosathe problem is described correctly. So, bug fixes and new features are cool. But there are also those who can not use these features at all. And that's the whole gaming industry. This is sad, but personally I will continue to follow the news and updates from the developers. Perhaps one day we will be able to put this program on a par with Substance Painter and Substance Designer. In the meantime, Affinity looks like a missing link in the pipeline.

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Coming back to the original question: can you directly edit the alpha channel?

It is possible with a little help of an additional "pixel used as mask" layer - remeber mask can be seen as just another name for alpha channel.

To use this method for alpha editing, just omit the fill layer, and maybe "merge visible" to get the final result as dedicated layer.

The simple procedural text filter will automatically transform your greyscaler pixel layer into a alpha channel, and apply it to the underlying pixel layer (using its R, G,B value, but replacing the A value).

 

 

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My class of future game artists was baffeled when I showed them how poorly Affinity Photo performs at channel packing and alpha channel editing. The disappointment was huge! Almost all of them were interested in Photo and heard a lot of it. Most of them even considered buying it, but after this class... I fear they won't.

It's so damn frustrating! There are so many good things to say about Affinity! Look at the fonts, brush packs! Layouting! Vectors! It really drives me crazy that this key feature is so completely messed up!

tl;dr: It's January 2021 and Affinity Photo still excludes VFX or game artists from properly editing RGBA channels.       

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 Gave up for now on Affinity. For the price theres nothing you can complain. Theres no viable freeware alternative. To sad some features take years to implement. Alpha channel editing, bmp export, better color range selection, artistic filters, brush dithering. Was lucky to buy a used license from PS that some nice user was willing to transfer me. Not going subscription.Id pay 100, 200$ for a programm like Affinity, if this could help them speed up the Project. For now, i have to go back to PS....

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Not as useful as channel feature of Photoshop/PhotoPlus, but at lease now we can edit spare channels directly in 1.9.

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ashf, but still useless tiff files for gamedev. It still turns  pixels in white under alpha mask. In games alpha channels are used for different material information, not only for alpha clipping/cutting. And so this soft now is useless for the whole game industry. I shared this information with you just in case you don't know. Such is the problem

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Channel packing seems to work properly if you save your file as an EXR and associate the alpha (in Prefs).  You can use OCIO to go back and forth between gamma encoded and linear data.

You can also export a multi-channel EXR from AP, where each layer gets exported as a channel.

https://affinity.help/photo/en-US.lproj/index.html?page=pages/HDR/openexr.html?title=32-bit OpenEXR support

kirk

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1 hour ago, John-B said:

I noticed this in the recent update notes:

Is that relevant to this discussion?

Sort of - you can now create a spare channel, edit it directly, and then send that result to a layer's alpha (or the Composite alpha).

kirk

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its not really fixed anything, it's still awkward/impossible to use for channel packing compared to the likes of photoshop... and trust me I hate photoshop, I'd prefer Affinity any day but sadly this is the one thing I can't live without and Affinity doesn't provide. I'm still not exactly sure why it's an issue... People want to draw or copy paste, in all 4 channels, a black and white image(mask, layer whatever people call it) and save that out as a tga, tif, exr etc for the sake of using each channel but simply cannot do that without destruction occurring. It seems deceptively simple maybe, but it's such a basic function. 

Sadly I still can't defend Affinity Photo in this regard because it makes the application useless to everyone in my line of work. I do however still recommend Designer, but someone pointed out there is no timeline animation in designer or photo which would make their jobs as UI designers also harder/more awkward than just using Illustrator... Which kind of leaves me here saying "you could use affinity but it wont do things you want it to do, and then devs know this but haven't done anything about it for several years".

Mind you you guys did add TGA eventually which I still thank you kindly for. :D

 

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Hi everyone. I've looked over many of the posts on this thread in between helping out a friend who needed to figure out how to designate an 8 bit greyscale image as a layer's transparency. I'll have to admit that I haven't read through every post, but I read all of the 1st page, most of the 2nd, then jumped to the last page of posts. It really was a strange little adventure finding a solution. The weirdest part of our experience (we did a couple of zoom sessions so that I could share his screen, etc.) was when I found a solution, had him duplicate exactly my steps and lo and behold it didn't work on his machine!. The biggest difference between our boxes was that he had a later operating system version than mine (mine: Mojave; his: Big Sur). That first attempt (which, again, is a solution for me, but not for him !???) was a variation on the spare channel idea, but, since my 2nd solution was simpler and worked for both of us, I'll ignore that first one here.

Just to reiterate what the desire was:

He had an rgb image document (the character with a background that needed removing) and a separate document which had alpha values (a greyscale image - in this case, what we used to call a "window matte" in which the black was the "background" - ultimately used to determine the completely transparent part of the layer - and the 100% white was the purely opaque part).

So.

Copy the layer from the greyscale image and paste it as a layer into the document with the rgb layer. Now you have, in the layers palette, two layers, rgb on bottom, greyscale alpha on top;

Select the top layer (click on left side layer icon);

Go to the Filters menu and select Colours>Erase White Paper. (suddenly what you see is the rgb character surrounded by black, because the upper layer has had its white pixels turned to transparent);

Command-click on the (top, now only non-white values) layer (on left side layer icon) to load that layer's transparency as a selection (this is the same age-old functionality as Photoshop);

Turn this layer off and select the rgb layer below (left side icon again duh);

Hit Delete.

Background now transparent.

This can also be recorded as a macro, of course. I like the way Affinity's macro recording works (I've only just started playing with Affinity).

My friend thought he was going crazy trying to find out how to do this. I told him that he was NOT crazy at all because there is nothing intuitive about this, in spite of the fact that Affinity is obviously a very deep and powerful tool. It's ridiculous that at one point (when I was outside away from my machine) I said "well what if I just write a script that puts the greyscale from one image into the alpha channel of an rgb (or rgba) image and I can send it to you?" and we both laughed because there was just no WAY that Afffinity couldn't do this. Then I told him, after we found the 1st "solution" that failed on his machine, that he could just keep sending me files and I could fix them and charge him like a thousand bucks per file and we both laughed again, but me more than him.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone.

-CG

 

Edited by crgreen
typo

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On 2/9/2021 at 11:22 PM, crgreen said:

Hi everyone. I've looked over many of the posts on this thread in between helping out a friend who needed to figure out how to designate an 8 bit greyscale image as a layer's transparency. I'll have to admit that I haven't read through every post, but I read all of the 1st page, most of the 2nd, then jumped to the last page of posts. It really was a strange little adventure finding a solution. The weirdest part of our experience (we did a couple of zoom sessions so that I could share his screen, etc.) was when I found a solution, had him duplicate exactly my steps and lo and behold it didn't work on his machine!. The biggest difference between our boxes was that he had a later operating system version than mine (mine: Mojave; his: Big Sur). That first attempt (which, again, is a solution for me, but not for him !???) was a variation on the spare channel idea, but, since my 2nd solution was simpler and worked for both of us, I'll ignore that first one here.

Just to reiterate what the desire was:

He had an rgb image document (the character with a background that needed removing) and a separate document which had alpha values (a greyscale image - in this case, what we used to call a "window matte" in which the black was the "background" - ultimately used to determine the completely transparent part of the layer - and the 100% white was the purely opaque part).

So.

Copy the layer from the greyscale image and paste it as a layer into the document with the rgb layer. Now you have, in the layers palette, two layers, rgb on bottom, greyscale alpha on top;

Select the top layer (click on left side layer icon);

Go to the Filters menu and select Colours>Erase White Paper. (suddenly what you see is the rgb character surrounded by black, because the upper layer has had its white pixels turned to transparent);

Command-click on the (top, now only non-white values) layer (on left side layer icon) to load that layer's transparency as a selection (this is the same age-old functionality as Photoshop);

Turn this layer off and select the rgb layer below (left side icon again duh);

Hit Delete.

Background now transparent.

This can also be recorded as a macro, of course. I like the way Affinity's macro recording works (I've only just started playing with Affinity).

My friend thought he was going crazy trying to find out how to do this. I told him that he was NOT crazy at all because there is nothing intuitive about this, in spite of the fact that Affinity is obviously a very deep and powerful tool. It's ridiculous that at one point (when I was outside away from my machine) I said "well what if I just write a script that puts the greyscale from one image into the alpha channel of an rgb (or rgba) image and I can send it to you?" and we both laughed because there was just no WAY that Afffinity couldn't do this. Then I told him, after we found the 1st "solution" that failed on his machine, that he could just keep sending me files and I could fix them and charge him like a thousand bucks per file and we both laughed again, but me more than him.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone.

-CG

 

I feel just a little dumb, because I realized today that you can do a similar thing but keep it non-destructive by making a mask layer like so:

1-copy/paste greyscale matte image as new layer;

2-select the Filters>Colors>Erase White Paper;

Command-click on that layer to load it as selection;

Invert the selection if needed (command shift i);

Select the rgb image layer

click the make mask layer button on lower left of layers pane.

 

-and you've got the right mask layer you can turn on and off

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Came back a year later, downloaded the trial and see as bad as before, still no use for gaming, 3D (VFX too) or GUI so except photographer, if pure photographers still exist as nowadays you have to offer more services if you want to be more than a hobbyist and are keen in putting food on the table, the software still pretty much a £25 quid worth, if one wants to pay for the extra few features it offers compared to GIMP that is.

Besides this alpha channel topic, packing in general is absolutely tedious and remind me of the process it took to do some simple folders navigation and file manipulation in DOS compared with drag and drop of the last few decades with windows. Even this was never addressed with a simple COPY AND PASTE in the already existing channels, one has to do some weird steps and over 30 different clicks to simply allow to have a B&W maps in channels which is already there and already editable, without even talking about the alpha itself as one can question it has to be added, the RGB is already there. 

As stated above it is not just an industry, nowadays is a bout multimedia in general.

No idea why Serif did not outsource these features either and just create a different edition, like a "Professional" edition and just add a supplement price on it, the only software that can really be called an Adobe substitute is Da Vinci Resolve, price model is still right, and it is one off affordable price even for indies. Substance has more challenge and in fact there is still a perpetual license there, Photoshop has no rivals really.

@crgreen what you are saying isn't what can be done with Photoshop really :) also the steps you are stating are like not viable for anyone but very very amateur out there.

@MattyWS True also fun that Serif is a UK based company, a country where there are some great studios for gaming and films; yes TGA is something but it is like having the key of a car but the car has no tires... the packing is awkward despite the channels are there.

I discovered affinity over a year ago and I was excited like a chid at Christmas, however that excitement died with a google search and this forum when I tried to do some stuff for my texture work, downloaded it again this week and I see no difference, they endlessly work on stuff without even having a solid base first, they hardware accelerate a software which cannot even do the basic first, go figure!  Besides look at this topic views, over 15k, one of the most viewed...besides the various chat we have on busy discord servers on 3D / VFX / Development.

But hey as they say "Never Attempt To Teach a Pig To Sing; It Wastes Your Time and Annoys the Pig" - and you aren't right about photoshop, it has been supporting simple channel manipulation for nearly two decades, that's nearly 20 years...even more refined a decade ago :) 

@roger rosa well not just alpha, even normal RGB packing is so tedious, it takes way too long, Photoshop you open the three maps, (currently I pack AO / ROUGH / METAL) copy rough > paste in AO green - copy metal > paste in AO blue.........DONE..... no need to do the tedious and pointless steps with affinity pixel layers and so on, and with the other engine I work with I do the same with roughness in the Alpha, just open copy > paste and save with SUPER PNG, done. So it is not just alpha, all channels are totally useless in a practical way, extremely limiting. 

***

No offence just my own opinion / rant, Serif keeps adding stuff when they do not even have  solid product but a very specific one with many features in common with open source, or worse free mobile phone app leaving it convenient for a very limited and extremely specific target.

It seems Serif is like Blender years ago when they "knew it better" and had an okay software but not a good software with questionable design flaws and tedious workflows, since when they started to change views (namely started to have a more corporate structure and not just whatever the funder thought was good or bad like a king in medieval times...) they got support from most big names and slowly from the industry too (from gaming to movies) being a better software for all users eventually, in the past year, and it is growing exponentially. 

Serif in other hand still think "we do it our way because we know better", I had that impression from a video I watched a while back about them explaining channel packing as if they ever even did it considering they found a 10 min videos for something it takes second with other software actually smart - fine by all means it is a private company, if they are happy to have an average software none of us can force them to change that, they do believe they do good as Blender Founder thought back then "you do not need an undo if you are a good artist" and "right click to select is good because I says so", we are exactly on the same level here. We have alternative thankfully, is just a shame as this software could do better than what we have (GIMP for easy of use and some powerful features like their selection tool, Photoshop for not thieving customer with subscription) but they do not want to :) 

Well will be uninstalling it, once again...what a shame!

Edited by Sandrooo
added reply to MattyWS and roger rosa and form.

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Shall we all ask to return our copies of Affinity Photo ? I don’t use it anymore due to the Alpha Channel debacle and I could do with the £50. I could send my book back too

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Not willing to return it. Id pay double if the software developers can start to implement important features that are needed. So far i currently dont use it anymore. Uninstalling Affinity wasnt possible, needed a tool from Microsoft. Afterwards i wanted to install the latest version to check back on the new features. Well, the installer said its "updateing" instead of installing, so i cant chose the installation path anymore, which leaves Affinity photo on my tiny bloated 120 GB SSD with Windows installed. I cant scarifice anymore space of the 15 GB that are left, so Affinity had to go again 😞 Lucky me my PS cs 5 purchase from second hand was all transferd to my account and is thereby legal. Still wish i could check the new Affinity features.

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Yea I dont want to return the software even if that was an option. Hell I'd gladly pay more money for Affinity Photo if it meant they make channel packing possible. I'm hoping that with 1.9 out now, 2.0 will be a paid upgrade with the features we've been asking for for the last few years.

Come on devs stop making us use photoshop, we want to use Affinity photo ; ;

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42 minutes ago, MattyWS said:

I'm hoping that with 1.9 out now, 2.0 will be a paid upgrade with the features we've been asking for for the last few years.

Version 2.0 will undoubtedly be a paid upgrade when it comes. However, as has been pointed out in several other threads, version 1.9 may be followed by 1.10, 1.11, 1.12, etc.


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Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher for Windows 1.9.1 • Windows 10 Home (4th gen Core i3 CPU)
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.9.1 • Designer for iPad 1.9.1 • iPadOS 14.4.2 (iPad Air 2)

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Hi,

i made a quick tutorial how to edit the alpha channel as pixel layer, using any pixel tool you want to use, including copy & paste.

There are some constraints:

  1. Works for pixel layers, may not work for other layers types like vector shapes, text, etc
  2. Workflow is not yet non-destructive.
  3. May not work if original layer is deeply nested in other layers or groups.

Looking foreward for your feedback.

Currently investiganting to extend this idea into a non-destructive workflow, and to non-pixel layerds like vector shapes.

 

 

2021-02-21_19-36-46_edit_alpha_channel.mkv

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