Affinity Blog Posts
If you are a front-end web developer chances are you had to set a background color to an object. You could use a simple solid color or you can be creative and use a multicolor gradient.
cssgradient.io is a great site to create gradients. It’s really easy to use and they make it easy to copy the proper css code.
CSS Gradient is a happy little website and free tool that lets you create a gradient background for websites. Besides being a css gradient generator, the site is also chock-full of colorful content about gradients from technical articles to real life gradient examples like Stripe and Instagram.
Some Macintosh users may know this tip:
Did you know there's an easy way to expand the currently active window?
Let's say you working on an application, and you want to expand the currently active window to use the full screen. You can play around with the edge of the window so that it fits perfectly, or you can use a simple shortcut.
To maximize any window to the full screen, simply double click on the window title bar.
The nice thing about this trick is that it doesn't block the main menus, which would happen if you "Enter Full Screen" option in the View menu. This will block out the title bar and the Dock.
Using the "Double Click on the Window Title Bar" trick is a super-fast way to get your window the full attention of your screen.
Enable Window Zoom
If double-clicking the window ends up minimizing the window, you need to make a change to your system settings. You change this in the Dock settings:
- Right click on the | in the Dock and select Dock preferences
- In the Dock Preferences window make sure that your option says, "Double-click a window's title bar to" Zoom.
- Test this on any application window.
Gradient with Transparency
Creating a Gradient with one color at one end and end in transparancy is very easy to do in Affinity Designer.
I discovered this when I was trying to create the effect in Apple Motion. It was so much easier to do in Affinity Designer. I imported my final design into Apple Motion as a PNG with a transparent background. it worked great!
Creating a transparent Gradient
These are the simple steps to transform a simple rectangle to have a single color and fade into transparency.
- Use the rectangle tool and create a shape.
- Click on the Fill in the tool.
- Click on the Gradient Tab.
- Click on one end of the Gradient and select your desired color
- Click on the other end of the Gradient
- Now Click on Opacity and set it to 0%
That's it! Now when you place the transparent end you'll see the underlying color.
Now you can use the Gradient controller to determine the level of gradient that you want.
Using OmniGraffle Shadow in Affinity Designer
One of the things that I like about OmniGraffle is the Shadow effect. OmniGraffle just does a better job of making the shadow look as natural as possible. This is done by using a 50% Obsidian gradient instead of a pure solid color gradient.
When I copy and paste the box into Affinity Designer, there are three layers created.
Inside Affinity Designer
- The stroke of the rectangle as a rectangle object
- The white rectangle as a rectangle object
- The shadow as an Image
I am disappointed that the shadow comes over as an image object. However, chances are that I wouldn't really make changes to the shadow.
You can't use a gradient as a shadow type in Affinity Designer. This is why I use OmniGraffle/
Add Any Emoji into Affinity Designer
As mention in a previous Blog Post, you are not able to use emoji symbols within Affinity Designer. This can be an issue when you want to add a touch up to a graphic, such as this:
The easy workaround is to use OmniGraffle. When you copy an emoji, the emoji is converted to an image. This means that you can convert the emoji to any size as needed.
This is useful if you don't use emojis all the time, and want a quick solution to adding a smiling face or something to an image.
OmniGraffle Text Boxes
The text tool in Affinity Designer works very well. You can do all sorts of text modifications.
The one thing that it does lack is the ability to add a box around the text.
Sure, I can just use the shape tool around the text that I wrote. But I find that it's too much "extra work." There has to be an easier way.
That's where OmniGraffle comes in handy.
With OmniGraffle, I create the shape of my object and then double click on it to add the text or I can create the text and then add a stroke around the box.
I can then copy the text/box and paste it in Affinity Designer. When I paste it in, the text is still editable and the box object is shown as a rectangle. I can change the colors styles and text within Affinity Designer.
Sample Output of a Paste from OmniGraffle
Why use OmniGraffle?
The main reason that I use OmniGraffle to create "text boxes" is because it's much faster to create. In a few clicks I have my text, and ready to paste into Affinity Designer for further manipulation.
Tables in Affinity Designer via Omnigraffle
It's great when two separate applications complement each other. This is the case with OmniGraffle and Affinity Designer.
In particular, the ability to create beautiful tables. Affinity Designer doesn't have any ability to create tables. However, it's easy to create tables using OnmiGraffle, and then Copy/Paste into Affinity Designer as individual objects.
Not All Apps Work the Same
I tried copy/paste tables from Apple Pages and Microsoft Word. The tables don't copy in as full objects.
The table cells are broken into different layers making it really hard to do any customizations in Affinity Designer.
OmniGraffle isn't free. In order to create tables, you need the Pro Version of OmniGraffle. The Pro version costs $249.99 or $12.24 / month subscription.
Obviously that's a pretty expensive piece of software to use just to create tables. There's a lot of cool things that you can do with OmniGraffle and Affinity Designer.
On Wednesdays, in the month of March, I'll give you some examples of more ways to use the two applications.
In OmniGraffle, you have to create the base object first, then convert it to a table.
- Using the Shape tool, create a rectangle that will represent the first cell.
- Type in Shift-Command-T short cut to convert the shape to a table. You'll see some additional black line appear in the shape.
- Using the select tool, select the black lines to add new columns or rows.
- Add text, change color, even make the stroke different.
- Once your done, using the select tool, select the table and type in Command-C to copy the table to the Clipboard.
In Affinity Designer:
- Create a new document and paste the clipboard content.
- Type in Command G to group the pasted content - this makes it easier to manipulate the content of the table in Affinity Designer.
- Now make the changes that you want.
This week I decided to create some neat Affinity Designer Assets.
Download the Affinity Asset.
These are step indicators. Which are useful when you want to point out which items should be clicked or acted on first. These are all Curve base designs with changeable text.
Unlike other graphic programs, these don't increment as you apply them. You do have to go into each asset and indicate the correct step number.
You can change the colors and create a new asset subcategory that matches your style.
Installing the Asset
After you download the file, double click on it to uncompress it. Then in Affinity Designer, go under the Assets and click on the three lines. Click on Import Assets.
Evenly Space Objects
There may be times when you want objects to be evenly spaced. For example, you may want three boxes to be exactly 20 pixels apart.
Affinity Designer makes doing this task as easy as possible.
Steps to Evenly Space Objects
Simple steps to nicely space a group of objects:
- Select a group of objects that you want to evenly space.
- Click on the alignment icon in the tool bar.
- Click on the last icon in the Align Horizontally or Align Vertically.
- If you want to manually distribute, uncheck the "Auto Distribute"
- Enter in the value that you want to see between the objects.
I would recommend playing around with this dialog box - just so you know how things work.
Using Emoji in Affinity Designer
Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo don't support Emojis. Which means that if you try to add an Emoji or Symbol from the Edit menu all you see is a square. I don't know why Affinity hasn't supported this - maybe in version 2?
You can get around this limitations by using the Emoji images on the emojipedia.org website. Simply search for the emoji or symbol that your looking for and then drag and drop it into your document.
While this isn't the best solution, it does offer an advantage - the ability to select the emoji that works for your design.
Create an Emoji Assets Collection
I took about 10-minutes to build my own Emoji Asset Collection. I basically went through all the popular Emoji that I thought I would use.
Basically, I dragged and drop the images from emojipedia and then move the image to a dedicated Asset panel.
White Balance in Affinity Designer
There are a few differences between Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer - where as some functionality isn't available in both applications.
White Balance is available in both applications.
White Balance fixes issues with the color of a photo - particularly if the photo was taken with bad lighting.
Apply White Balance
In Affinity Designer, White Balance is applied to a particular object in a layer.
- Select the Layer that you want to apply the White Balance.
- Select the Layer Menu
- Select the "New Adjustment" and then select the White Balance.
Best to Use the Picker
I would highly recommend using the "Picker" to identify the pixel in the photo that should be white.
Simply click on the "Picker" and then select the part of the image that should be white.
You can play around with the "White Balance" and "Tint" sliders to get some interesting color effects on your photo.
Swatches are a way easily pick a color that you would like to use as an object color or as a font color. It’s a great way to switch between colors and maintain a consistent look and feel.
Affinity Designer supports the ability to import Swatches. You can import any standard. Swatch file to use in Affinity or in the system.
Build Your Library
Since you can import any library, why not import some generic colors. It might give you some colors that you may not have thought about.
Here are a couple of swatches to download and import:
One of the popular paint companies in the world has made available their entire paint catalog in a single swatch file.
Download the ColorSnap Photoshop CS2 & Later swatch file.
Make sure the file you download has an ASE extension - that's what Affinity Designer supports.
Dunn Edwards Paint
Dunn-Edwards has been the leading paint manufacturer in the Southwestern United States since 1925.
They have made their entire color palette available in Adobe Illustrator format - which works perfectly well in Affinity Designer.
Visit the Illustrator Swatches page on to download the swatches.
Note: There are a lot more colors in the Dunn Edwards Pallete than in the Sherwin-Williams.
Affinity Designer has a lot of great keyboard shortcuts as part of the standard installation. What's nice is that you can pretty much set your own shortcut to whatever works for you.
When I was using Photoshop, a long time ago, I got in the habit of using Shift Command D to place images. So for a while, I replaced the Affinity Designer section for "Place Images" with the Shift Command D.
Place Image Tool
Recently I have learned that the "Place Image Tool" offers the same flexibility to inserting images using the "Place" menu which is located under the File menu.
There's no short-cut assigned to the "Place Image Tool." The letter 'i' is assigned to the Color Picker, which I hardly use. It didn't make sense to have a short-cut to something that I don't use.
Last week, I decided to change the shortcut 'i' for the "Place Image Tool." The keyboard shortcut has come in handy so many times.
Remember the Place Image Options
The one thing I have to keep in mind is all the options when placing an image:
|Drag||To place your image. (This is what I should do.)|
|Click||To place your image at default size. (This is usually what I do.)|
|Control||to preview the image before dragging|
|Command||To place center about the starting point|
|Shift||To drag without keeping the aspect ratoi|
|Option||To ignore snapping (if its on)|
This is a good reminder to evaluate all the different keyboard shortcuts in Affinity Designer. Are there any that could be changed to make your life easier?
You can see all the keyboard shortcuts by going under Preferences and selecting Keyboard Shortcuts.
Affinity Designer includes a lot of great keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts make things so much easier.
The tools menu has a lot of great shortcuts enabled by default. For fun, I put in the shortcut letters (abcfghimnpvyz) in an anagram generator to see if some words might come out to help remember some of the letters.
The biggest word to come out was: Champing
Here's what "Champing" represents:
|I||Color Picker Tool|
Most Popular Keys
These are the four most popular toolbar shortcut keys that I need to learn and start using. Learning these will save me a lot of time.
These are the most common tools I use:
|B||Vector Brush Tool||Drawing|
|H||View Tool||Move the canvas around.|
|T||Text Tool||Type some text.|
|V||Move||Move Objects around the canvas|
The initals BHTV is Beverly HIlls Television. That won't help remember the shortcuts, but it is interesting.
Convert to Curve or Rasterize?
Why You Would Converting to Curve?
Converting a vector object to Curve allows you to manipulate the object even more.
You can change individual letters in a text so they appear in different colors or styles.
This is a very common action, so much so that Affinity Designer has made it easy to do the conversion.
When the object is selected:
- Click on the "Convert to Curve" in the toolbar.
- In the Layers menu select the "Convert to Curves" menu option.
- Right Click on the object and select "Convert to Curve"
- Use they keyboard shortcut: Command Return
After the object is changed you should see the "(Curve)" in the object Layer row.
Why You Would Rasterize an Object?
Rasterizing is when you want to convert an object into a Pixel object.
This is usually done when you import an image and want to do some changes to it. When you rasterize an image, anything outside of the canvas will get chopped off.
You placed an image in a document and you want to remove anything not on the canvas.