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Dave Vector

3 Time-saver tools: 1.) Selection Sets, 2.) Select By, 3.) Colour Modify

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First off,  thank you for Affinity Designer's powerful toolset.  It's a joy to use!

When I am using Affinity Designer to create complicated presentations with multiple artboards and nested groupings, I wish for 3 key tools to make my job faster, easier, and more controlled.  Tools that obliterate tedious tasks can mean the difference between enjoyable and monotonous, between making money and losing money as a designer.  Let me know if you think these three suggestions should be added to Affinity Designer.  Apologies if these have already been suggested...

1.       SELECTION SETS

a.       Summary – Select a bunch of objects across artboards, even within groups, and save them out as a selection set.

b.       Distinction – Not the same as grouping because the selection set can span multiple groups.  Also spans objects located on different artboards.

c.       Procedure – Select the objects you wish to have in the selection set, save them as a selection set, give the set a unique name.  Choose your selection set from a list at any time.  The selection is made, ready to modify, hide/unhide, lock/unlock, etc.

d.       Advantages, examples – Easy to select multiple objects within complicated group structures.  Many 3D apps have this, like 3DSMax.

 

2.       SELECT BY…

a.       Summary – The “Select By” command allows you to select objects by stroke, fill, or effect properties.

b.       Procedure – Select the source object with the properties you wish to select, activate the “select by” command, choose the properties you wish to select by (stroke, fill, effect) Affinity Designer will select all the matching objects.

c.       Advantages, examples – Allows you to select all objects with similar properties and easily change those properties.  E.g.: If you determined that your assets would look slightly better with a 6-pt. line thickness, rather than a 4-pt. line thickness, you can select them all and change them easily, without adjusting adjacent objects with a 5-pt. stroke.  Adobe Illustrator has this.

 

3.       COLOUR MODIFY

a.       Summary – If a group of selected objects have the exact same stroke and fill colour, this command will allow the user to change identical stroke and fill colours simultaneously, rather than have to change the stroke colours and fill colours separately.

b.       Distinction – Not the same as using Global colour on a stroke and fill, where the global colour swatch can be changed, because this affects all items using that colour, not the selection exclusively.

c.       Procedure – Select the objects with the colour you wish to change, activate the “Colour Modify” command, choose the source colour, choose the new target colour, all the selected objects’ fill and stroke colours are modified if they are the exact same colour.

d.       Advantages, examples – This comes in handy of you have an asset comprised of a mixture of lines and shapes all the same colour and you wish to change that colour, which can be complicated when those objects are grouped, and/or have mixed colour stroke and fills.

 

 

Colour Modify....png

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The “Select By” command allows you to select objects by stroke, fill, or effect properties.

Believe me, I understand the need and the concept. But let's not set our sights too low. As far as programmatic selection features, I will never be satisfied until I see something at least match the elegance and power of Macromedia FreeHand's Graphic Find & Replace palette, which did far more than Illustrator's anemic Select Same commands and far more than you describe. It could find user-specified combinations of attributes and, when appropriate, within user-defined ranges. And not just styling attributes. The list of combined possibilities would be very long to list, so by just one example: Beyond finding mere stroke weight, it could select path lengths within a user-specified range.

Much of the time and tedium I spent writing Javascripts for Illustrator was to make poor-man's substitutes for some of the functions for which I most often employed FreeHand's GF&R.

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Not the same as using Global colour on a stroke and fill, where the global colour swatch can be changed

But frankly, I think "global swatches" is the more appropriate way to do this. Again, I'll refer to FreeHand. To users first accustomed to FreeHand, Illustrator's whole "Global Swatch" thing was just one of many needless stumbling blocks. In FreeHand, every Color Swatch which the user took the time to store in the Swatch Palette was functionally "global." And why wouldn't it be? Why would I ever want to define and name a Swatch that I could not use to programmatically update objects to which it is already applied?

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because this affects all items using that colour, not the selection exclusively.

FreeHand's treatment of this gently but effectively enforced a much needed measure of organizational discipline as the user worked. Knowing that Swatch edits updated objects to which it was applied, intuitively trains the users to define a differently named Swatch (even if it was of the same color values as other Swatches) for objects which should, for any reason, be treated separately in terms of color. That's a simple matter of duplicating a Swatch and changing its name.

This largely prevented the common beginners' bad practice of just applying colors willy-nilly, and then wishing they hadn't later.

JET

 

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@JET_Affinity Thanks for chiming in on these ideas.  I have never used Macromedia Freehand, so I was not aware of those robust functions you describe, and yes, I would not want to limit the idea of "Select By" to just what I described, so selecting by ranges, line length, etc., would exceed my expectations.  Similarly, your comments on every colour functionally being a global colour is a great way to handle colour swatches.  This gets me excited again for the possibilities, so thanks for your comments!

I personally found Illustrator's colour manipulation tools clunky to use and I cannot say I am loving Affinity Designer's solutions either.  Without offering any concrete suggestions, I wish the colour tools were more elegant and intuitive to use.  Serif, I realize your job is not easy, and to make something not just functional, but a joy to use, is really difficult.  Please consider this as constructive feedback to help grow your new customer pool.  "Elegant" is what inspires a user base to become passionate, evangelical and sell your product with very little advertising.

After thinking about how I use my time creating assets for clients with Affinity Designer, I wanted to present the following use-case.

I love creating assets for clients from scratch.  Nothing beats the joy of assessing their needs, collaborating on concepts, and then creating a unique set of assets they are happy ultimately with.  But the other side of my job, the less glorious, but inanely practical side of my work, is taking a client's existing assets and building something new from it. This is, for example, an old PDF with a chart in it that needs to be revamped.  If I can reuse some of the old vectors from that PDF, that would make my job much easier, or maybe the client just needs a few tweeks, like updating the font or updating a few colour choices.  This is where powerful selection tools or "find & replace" tools become essential.  I think that is it:  Powerful "Find & Replace" tools can relieve tedious tasks and save designer's time!  Please continue to look at the Affinity suite of products through that lens.

Serif, I hope this offers you a perspective that I am sure is shared, and has been shared, by many of your enthusiastic users.  I just wanted to express my feedback to help make your Affinity tools more valuable.  Please consider this use-case and incorporate these ideas.  Thank you.

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Hi, 

I realize that my requests for (2.) Select By... and (3.) Colour Modify have been vigorously discussed. 

Does anyone finding themselves wishing for (1.) Selection Sets?  Please read above for details.

Serif, thanks again for listening to our deluge of requests.  We can surely make them faster than they can be filled!  :/ Mostly, it comes from a place of passion and the value we see in these tools!

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2 hours ago, Dave Vector said:

Does anyone finding themselves wishing for (1.) Selection Sets?  Please read above for details.

Since you are asking :)

Basically I think this is an interesting idea and consider this not as a mere +1 post.

If there were Selection Sets (whatever they were called eventually) this might be a feature for organized and structured workers. Others work in a more unplanned manner and would not bother to organise their objects into sets of what ever. This to me makes the feature more of something that might come at some time later (like e.g. searching the layers panel which requires that one names the layers beforehand). I do not mean to say that it is not a good time to think (and post) about this ;-)

I have a certain example in mind where Selection Sets might be handy. I'm not sure though if this cannot be accomplished with symbols as well.

Assuming a design of some corporate identity has come to the point where one wants to present different variations of a logo in different contextes, scattered across multiple artboards. The contents of the artboard are not supposed to change but certain aspects of the logo. Being able to select all logo backgrounds and add a different texture would speed up things. But again, a logo as a symbol might achieve the same.

d.


Affinity Designer 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.464)   |   Affinity Photo 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.464)   |   Affinity Publisher 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.458)
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On 7/29/2019 at 10:20 AM, dominik said:

I have a certain example in mind where Selection Sets might be handy. I'm not sure though if this cannot be accomplished with symbols as well.

Assuming a design of some corporate identity has come to the point where one wants to present different variations of a logo in different contextes, scattered across multiple artboards. The contents of the artboard are not supposed to change but certain aspects of the logo. Being able to select all logo backgrounds and add a different texture would speed up things. But again, a logo as a symbol might achieve the same.

@dominik  You have some good points and they gave me opportunity to think about them and test them out.

I was using Affinity Designer today to create about 74 icons, all with a similar style.  I was relying on symbols to give me the freedom to alter shapes within the icons.  Then I wanted to "un-sync" the symbols to shift the colours on certain groups of them.  It became apparent that, although symbols are like powerful selection sets in and of themselves, having the ability to save a selection of elements within a bunch of groups (or symbols) would be a very powerful addition to the tools. 

Imagine a user attempting to do this type of deep selection in the Layers Tab.  The user has to expand the drop-down arrow in each group or symbol, and select the crucial elements to change their properties.  But if the user can SAVE the selection, they do not have laboriously go back, expand all the grouped layers, to select those elements ever again.  It would be  a HUGE time-saver and further enhance the power of Affinity Designer.

Combine (2.) Select By... to easily pick elements of similar properties with (1.) Selection Sets and, as an artist, you would be "owning" your file instead of your file "owning" you!  B|

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1 minute ago, Dave Vector said:

 

@dominik  You have some good points and they gave me opportunity to think about them and test them out.

I was using Affinity Designer today to create about 74 icons, all with a similar style.  I was relying on symbols to give me the freedom to alter shapes within the icons.  Then I wanted to "un-sync" the symbols to shift the colours on certain groups of them.  It became apparent that, although symbols are like powerful selection sets in and of themselves, having the ability to save a selection of elements within a bunch of groups (or symbols) would be a very powerful addition to the tools. 

Imagine a user attempting to do this type of deep selection in the Layers Tab.  The user has to expand the drop-down arrow in each group or symbol, and select the crucial elements to change their properties.  But if the user can SAVE the selection, they do not have laboriously go back, expand all the grouped layers, to select those elements ever again.  It would be  a HUGE time-saver and further enhance the power of Affinity Designer.

Combine (2.) Select By... to easily pick elements of similar properties with (1.) Selection Sets and, as an artist, you would be "owning" your file instead of your file "owning" you!  B|

Hi @Dave Vector,

thanks for picking up my example. To be clear my intention was not to say that symbols are an equivalent to your suggested Selection Sets. I meant to point out that I'm a little unsure if it might be the same or not. You seem to come to the conclusion that Selection Sets are a different thing. I can follow that.

The only thing about this suggestion that makes me expect that if Selection Sets (or something similar) are coming at some point they might come rather later than sooner.
Since Serif's developers work by prioritizing features to implement I would assume that there are a lot of other things that may take their attention first ;-)

Still, I like the idea and like to think about the possibilities this offers.

Cheers,
d.

 


Affinity Designer 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.464)   |   Affinity Photo 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.464)   |   Affinity Publisher 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.458)
Affinity Designer for iPad 1.7.0.7   |   Affinity Photo for iPad 1.6.8.77

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I would suggest further generalizing the "selection sets" idea as "tagged layers" - in which layers could have tags added to them in much the same manner as what is described here as a "selection set".  These could be used for selections as described here, but could also be useful for indicating what to export, etc...  adding the ability to control visibility at the tag level could potentially make this an interesting alternative to the whole "global layers" concept as well (not a replacement for global layers - should still have those - but as another option for some use cases).

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@dominik yes, good point.  I would love to hear from Serif if they are considering a feature like this and if so, where it roughly sits on their timeline of potential new features.

@fde101 the idea of tags is a good one and an interesting solution to this issue I had not considered.  I like that tags give you an even broader functionality.  Nice one!

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This is how I could see tags working:

Add a "Layer Tags" panel.  Layer tags are named, in a flat namespace (no hierarchy needed), and global to the entire document (independent of spread or artboard).

Any given layer can have one or more tags associated with it.  A layer which has one or more tags associated with it would show a tag icon in the Layers panel, and the tag icon would be a different color when that tag is selected in the Layer Tags panel, to help identify which layers are associated with a given tag.  Clicking on the tag icon in the Layers panel would select the tag(s) that layer belongs to in the Layer Tags panel.

The Layer Tags panel would have buttons underneath the list of tags to "Create Tag from Selection", "Add Tag(s) to Selected Layers", "Remove Tag(s) from Selected Layers", "Delete Tag(s)", and "Delete Tag(s) and the Layers Tagged With Them", etc...  maybe that last one should be in a context menu or something instead as it is relatively dangerous.

Next to each tag within the list in the Layer Tags panel would be three icons: one would select all layers in the current spread or artboard which are tagged with that tag, one would be a visibility toggle for the tag (eye icon), and one would be a lock toggle for the tag.

A layer which is tagged would be visible if it meets the existing visibility requirements AND at least one of its tags is set to visible.

A layer which is tagged would be locked if the current locking rules would indicate it is locked OR at least one of its tags is set to locked.

 

Build on this by adding tags to the export persona (the way layers can be used there now), etc.

 

Note that this is not a complete replacement for the concept of global layers.  Global layers would impose front-to-back ordering of their contents and force a structure to the document as a layer could only be a member of one global layer at a time, while multiple tags could apply to a given layer and the layers having those tags could be all over the place in terms of z-order.

 

 

Strange bonus idea: adding adjustment layers to tags.  These adjustments would be applied to each layer having that tag, across the entire document.  Not sure if this would be practical or not, or even genuinely useful, but it is a potentially interesting thought so I'm adding it here anyway.

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1 hour ago, fde101 said:

Any given layer can have one or more tags associated with it.

This, indeed, is a very interesting idea. Simple and powerfull. And 'invisible' to those who don't need it.

d.


Affinity Designer 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.464)   |   Affinity Photo 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.464)   |   Affinity Publisher 1.7.1.404 (beta 1.7.2.458)
Affinity Designer for iPad 1.7.0.7   |   Affinity Photo for iPad 1.6.8.77

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