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GomorrahDotD

What I think how Affinity Photo could be further improved

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Foreword

Hello dear Serif development team & hello fellow Affinity Photo user,
I created this topic to write a little bit about Affinity Photo and what I see could be improved! I worked on my latest piece entirely in Affinity Photo to see how good I can work with it.
Note: I have been using Affinity Photo for quite some time now but only to do sketches and a little bit digital painting now and then but I never spend very much time with it. So if there is already a solution for my "problems" than I would really appreciate it if you'd tell m
e :)

So, before I start, let me give you a bit information about me and why I chose to write this article. I am a 21 year old, German Game Art & Animation student who has a background in digital art - most in digital painting. I started my journey around 6 years ago in Photoshop CS6 and since then I have always been checking out other art programs such as Rebelle, Paintstorm Studio, Clip Studio Paint, Sketch Book and now Affinity Photo as well. I have been using Affinity Designer for quite some time now and I just love it so after Affinity Photo was announced I was all raring to check it out as well. And now with Publisher released I am very confident that Serif and their programs can have quite the impact on the creative programs market and I would like to contribute to make them even more impactful.

Because I did a digital painting this time my suggestions and feature requests are more suiteable for the painters but since Photo is a pixel editing program I don't see why it should not succeed in the digital painting sector as well.

Room for improvement

Rulers

First of all I'd like to request rulers. Rulers in general for example to make parallel lines, to constrain the brush to an editable ellipse and some French rulers. In addition to that a tool to create and to constrain brush strokes etc to a perspective grid. And I don't mean something like the perspective warp tool - something more like the options the neaty little program Lazy Nezumi Pro provides. I really would like to use it in Photo as well but the downside is that the developer only focused on a good Photoshop implementation. You will get perspective issues when you zoom or pan the canvas with this tool in any other program so it is not really useful in regards of that matter.

Color picking

Moving on, I'd like to request something like a toggle to tell Photo to pick a color by just Alt+Click. I tend to just go very swiftly over my canvas and using the shortcut for the eye dropper tool to get colors I've already used but to use Alt+Drag just really kills my workflow. Don't get me wrong, I would just like the eye dropper tool to be active when I hold down Alt so that I can pick my color with just one click and I'd like to drag it after taht to get the exact color I want to.

The layer panel

Next up on my list are suggestions for the layer panel. I'd like to Make working with the Layer panel a bit more comfortable by giving access to the most used commands for manipulating layers via right click on the layers. For example create a merged version of selected layers on a new layer or clip the selected layer to the layer below. In general the idea that you can drag and drop the layer on another one too create special layer versions is good but you have so many options to create a different versions than what you've wanted to do that it gets quite frustrating + to get the desired result I really have to "aim" with the layer what is a bit counterintuitive to a nice workflow. A simple rightklick on the selected layer and then "create clipping layer to below" (or something similiar (making a mask for example)) would do just fine.   
Next, I'd like to have a better merge layer method. Something like "Select layers and then right click "create a new merged layer" from the selected ones but keep the origial ones. In my painting I had to select the layers > Document > Add Snapshot, then Layer > New Layer from snapshot. It feels unnecessary and complicated (I figured that out by myself after I searched for a way to do the merged layer thing).

Masks

After that, I'd like to speak a bit about the masks in Affinity Photo. To be honest I find working with masks in Photoshop is the most convenient thing to do than in any other program I've tested so far. For Photo I'd like to see that you can turn the entire mask black my using the flood fill tool by just selecting the mask and go. Because right now you have to right click the mask > edit Mask and only in this mode you seem to be able to make the entire mask black.
Speaking of masks: When working on a mask the colors in your "current color circles" (the one where you can switch between them via x) should turn to black and white automatically and turn back to the previous selected ones by exiting the mask (by clicking on a normal layer).

Creating and manipulating layer selections

I'd like to have a shortcut to make a selection out of the content of a layer by Shift+Click -ing a layer. I know that there is a function that you can use via Ctrl+Shift+O but as far as I am concerned it only selects the active layer. And with Shift+Click one should be able to load a selection of a layer whether its active or not. You could also make it so that you can alter the current selection by Alt+Click -ing another layer to subtract the content of that particular layer from your current selection.

The brush panel

Finally, I'd like to give you a few suggestions regarding the brush panel. I find your way of organizing brushes via categories okay but for me its too segregated (of course it depends on how one handles and creates the brush packs). I had the idea in mind of giving brushes tags when you create them. For example I create a brush and give them the tags #scribble #sketch I could use a filter system to explicitly search for brushes with the tag #sketch. Combining this system with a favourite system (like with the fonts) it could sort the search with that even more.

Closing

For the time being that is everything I noted where I see improvement. As said in the beginning if there's already a way to get specific things I've mentioned done, pleas feel free to tell me! I would really like to learn everything so I can master the awesome program suite by Serif.
Also I would really like to hear your opinion about the things I've mentioned and engage in a discussion!
As for now, thank you very much for reading and considering!

 

PS

If you are interested to see the image I have painted I uploaded it here:

 

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Er.... but you can actually pick color with just alt click (like in PS), can't you ? 

If you drag you force the more involved operation, imo.

Quote

Because I did a digital painting this time my suggestions and feature requests are more suiteable for the painters but since Photo is a pixel editing program I don't see why it should not succeed in the digital painting sector as well.

Due to the effort in their brush system, I suspect they have some interest in adding some digital paint features, but is definitely not a digital paint app (like Rebelle, CSP, Procreate, Corel Painter, etc). But can you do digital painting with it ? Absolutely yes. Just keep in mind the painting features are a bit like a gift : It is an image editing software, more focused in photography than painting, it seems. (who knows their plans, though).


Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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On 7/6/2019 at 10:52 AM, GomorrahDotD said:

I'd like to request something like a toggle to tell Photo to pick a color by just Alt+Click

It already works that way, problem is there is no visual feedback to let you know you picked a different color.

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4 hours ago, SrPx said:

Due to the effort in their brush system, I suspect they have some interest in adding some digital paint features, but is definitely not a digital paint app (like Rebelle, CSP, Procreate, Corel Painter, etc). But can you do digital painting with it ? Absolutely yes. Just keep in mind the painting features are a bit like a gift : It is an image editing software, more focused in photography than painting, it seems. (who knows their plans, though).

Yeah ofc its main focus is image editing but I think that most of my points are very valid for that aswell (see masks, layers and rulers). But thanks for the tip with the eye dropper tool. I will see if it works for me. That you don't get visual feedback is a pity though :/

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@GomorrahDotD Here are the shortcuts you can do when clicking on a thumbnail:

  1. Ctrl+L click = make selection of a layer based on alpha. So 100% transparency will not be selected and 0% transparent areas will be fully selected.
     
  2. Ctrl+shift+L click = same as above, but you can add to selection by clicking the thumbnails of other layers.
     
  3. Ctrl+alt+L click = make selection of a layer based on luminosity. The lighter the value the more transparent it is and the darker the value the less it transparent. White is 100% transparent and black is 0%.
     
  4. Ctrl+shift+alt+L click = Same as above, but you can add to your selection like shortcut 2.

If you want to make a selection based on all layers, just put your entire project in a single group or artboard and use the above commands. Clicking the thumbnail works whether it's a layer, adjustment, filter, or a group. Also works on masks, but you you would need to use ctrl+L click or ctrl+shift+L click to selection based on transparency.

As for the colour picker, I made a video tutorial on how to make a fast colour picker work in Affinity. It is not a perfect solution, but it works for now until the developers add a proper indicator that shows that you have colour picker mode activated by holding down alt.
 

Fully agreed on the part about Lazy Nezumi Pro support and rulers. The issue about why Lazy Nezumi does not support Affinity is because Affinity as a whole lacks high quality tablet coordinates (I personally contacted the add-on developer last year over e-mail and had it explained to me). The Serif developers are planning on adding something called high precision tablet input, which from my understanding will solve the issue of Lazy Nezumi Pro not supporting Affinity since it will give tablet users the needed high precision input while drawing. It should also solve the issue of jagged lines that's caused by not having this feature.

 

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39 minutes ago, Frozen Death Knight said:

Ctrl+L click = make selection of a layer where everything is 100% transparent.

Doesn’t Ctrl-clicking make a selection of all the pixels which are not 100% transparent? o.O


Alfred online2long.gif
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 1.7.2.471 • Windows 10 Home (4th gen Core i3 CPU)
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.7.2.153 • Designer for iPad 1.7.2.6 • iOS 12.4.1 (iPad Air 2)

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5 minutes ago, Alfred said:

Doesn’t Ctrl-clicking make a selection of all the pixels which are not 100% transparent? o.O

Oops, I meant that the selection would be made based on areas where there is transparency in the image based on the layer alpha. Worded it very oddly, I agree. Will change that bit. ^^

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