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Affinity Designer tools tutorials

A guide to many of the features of Serif Affinity Designer such as how to use the cog tool, grids, eps files, symbols and many more

 

Cog / gear tool use

Use of Corner tool

Use of grids in Affinity Designer

Open and place eps files in Designer

How to use symbols

Convert text to curves and normal paths

Use with the transparency tool

 

 

Cog tool. How to use the cog tool in Affinity designer application to create stunning cogs and gears. Select the cog tool in the Affinity Designer toolbar (It can be found beneath the triangle / diamond / Crescent in the toolbar). Click the document and then Drag and create the cog. Change the settings via the interactive dot controls or via the settings along the top bar of Affinity Designer. Set the color for the cog via the color panel. Designer is a product from Serif, you can find out more about the product as well as a trial version via their site. The generated design is a vector artwork which can be manipulated in countless ways in Affinity designer. If you wish to transform the artwork, select the path and then go to the transform panel or use the move tool. Go to the view menu and studio and transform and you can then rotate and shear the art etc. You can also change the reference point for the transformation of the artwork. Or use the move tool to transform the artwork. With the path selected and the selection of the CT you will see a number of small dots on the paths. The small dots can be used to interactively change the settings for the path. You can also change the settings for the shape via the settings along the top bar of the application. The number of teeth can only be changed using the teeth setting. The other settings can be changed via the small dots : notch size and tooth size as well as inner radius and hole radius. There is a curvature setting and it can be used to create some interesting curved designs but it depends on the tooth size and notch size. Select the cog tool. Set color. Draw the artwork. Go to the small little red dots on the artwork (with the Cog selected. Drag a dot left or right or up and down (it can only go in the direction allowed). You will notice the settings will change (to the limits allowed). You can set the inner radius to the hole radius and the result will be a starburst design. Many different starbursts can be generated using the teeth settings. Instead of the standard path, the starburst paths are made of separate paths. Here a small selection of settings for the teeth and hole etc to create different designs. Chunks: teeth 29 + inner 83% + hole radius 83% + tooth size 38% + notch size 43%. Sharp separate triangles: teeth 29 + inner 83% + hole radius 83% + tooth size 4% + notch size 43%. Thin lines: teeth 45 + tooth size 4% + inner 83% + hole radius 83% + notch size 100%. Long thin lines: teeth 45 + inner radius 43% + hole radius 43% + tooth size 4% + notch size 100%. Curved edges: teeth 9 + inner radius 84% + hole radius 0% + tooth size 47% + notch size 100% + curvature 100%. You can also create a star design by using the CT. Select the CT and then draw the path and keep that path selected and then use the interactive feature to manipulate the path or use the top bar settings to change the values. I love using the interactive features to create stars etc but sometimes it is often easier to get the exact value and design you want via top bar settings of fill, stroke, stroke style, teeth, inner radius, hole radius, tooth size, notch size, curvature (along with show rotation center, hide selection etc). Set the teeth to 48 + Inner radius 69 + Hole radius 60 + Tooth size 0 + Notch size 0. Go to the Ellipse and create a circle in the center of the path. This creates a star design. You can change the notch setting to create different star artworks. You can also add other paths to the center of the star and then combine them using the union button. This can be with many paths as well and not just a single path. You can modify the shape by using the corner tool. The key thing before you use the corner feature is to right click any generated paths and use the convert to curves command otherwise the corner feature will be of no use. You can use the different corner types to create many variant designs in the application. There are many different corner types such as rounded and concave and combinations of these with the different points can result in countless different path designs. Once you have decided to with the individual nodes and no longer want to use the artwork with the CT, you can select the artwork with the node cursor and right click and then use the convert to curves and then you can select the individual nodes that made up the original path. You can now select one or more of those nodes and totally changes the path. You can select the artwork and select the transparency in the toolbox. (it is a little wine glass). Select the type of transparency to add to the generated gear artwork. Drag across the design. Click on the gradient dropdown along the top bar to change the opacity stops for the gradient

 

 

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Corner tool. The corner tool in Affinity Designer is accessed via the toolbar. It can be used with all kinds of paths. Select corner tool (found in toolbar). Select a path using the move tool or use corner tool itself. Select a sharp node with the corner tool (doesn't work with smooth corners). Drag cursor to modify the corner (you will see a red circle showing the size). The following options are available rounded type + straight type + concave type + cutout type + set radius. You can use it with all kinds of artworks with sharp points such as stars and polygons etc. Select a sharp node with the tool (works only with sharp pointed nodes - two lines coming to a sharp point) - it will only work with the nodes that are displayed with a little square. Drag to a tangent to the sharp corner (though you can drag in a number of directions but the result of the drag and the generated preview circle showing the corner will be the same). You can then see a circle that will grow bigger or smaller depending how far you move from the original node point. You will find it will only go so far and will stop when you have reached the maximum smoothness / curve. You can interactively modify the artwork. You can set the radius etc via the top bar but the interactive features and indicators are super easy to use. As you change the radius you will see a circle grow as the radius increases. It is a small red circle indicator. Move away from the original point and you will see a blue square and circle right. You can use it multiple times on the same node. You can keep selecting and changing your mind. You can move the node or any of the selected nodes away from the original point. The circle indicator for the curve will get bigger as you move away from the original point. If it stops then you can no longer smooth or curve the design but you can always re-approach the original point and the circle will shrink. If you select multiple points then you will find that the circles will all reach a certain size and then stop and that will probably be much smaller than with any single node. You can simply double click the 'original node' point (the blue square) and the node will be returned to a sharp node. You will see it as a solid node point instead of a hollow one. To change all the sharp nodes into smooth / curved nodes, select all the points of the shape by selecting the entire shape. You can see all the nodes are selected in the image of the star on the left You can then change this design in many ways. Now all the points are selected, you can interactively change all the sharp points in seconds (actually it is good fun to see the shape mold before your eyes). You can also also use the selected points with the radius slider which can be found in the top bar of the application. If a point is already a smooth / curved node, the point will be unchanged. You don't have to use the interactive approach by changing the radius of the corner on the actual shape, you can also just change the radius via the slider along the top of the application (just next to the radius type). The value can be increased to the maximum point for the curve and no more. The default type is none and that can also be used to restore it back to the sharp node - simply select the none and things will be back before using the feature. The other types are rounded + straight + concave + cutout. The type can be changed interactively and the result will be seen with the current selected node. The other nodes do not change (any nodes not selected). To turn all the nodes into standard curves then click the bake button at the top of the application. If they are not selected, they will not be converted into standard curves by the bake functionality. Once you have clicked the bake, the path cannot be used as before. You can then use the node feature to modify the curved design in countless ways such as distort the artwork and more. You can use it with type / text as well. You can use the right click context menu command 'convert to curves' to convert type / text into curves and by selecting all the nodes (sharp as well as smooth), you can then use the it to curve and smooth type. The result can result in a radically different character design. You can then export the result for use in apps such as FontLab as well as the Fontself extension in Illustrator and a new font can be generated. There is a similar feature if you select the rectangles and rounded rectangles. A single radius checkbox is available and if de-selected then you can alter the radius for the top left etc

 

 

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Grids. How to display the grid in Affinity Designer as well as change the settings. The basic setup is view menu in Affinity Designer. Show grid (to show or hide the grid). View menu and grid and axis manager. Set automatic grid to OFF. Use basic grid. Set the spacing. Set the number of divisions between the main grid lines. Set the color of the lines. Set the color of the subdivision lines. Set the opacity for both (as required). Use the grid. You can always use the default or automatic grid as displayed in the grid and snapping axis settings. If you want to tweak things, you can via the grid and axis manager. You can always just use the basic settings but there are a vast range of other types of lines which can be used with technical drawing etc. Click the advanced tab. Set the type to something other than standard such as isometric, trimetric, triangular, two axis etc. Depending on the type, some settings will be disabled. Set uniform or not. Set first axis settings. Set angle if available. Set gutter if available. Set second axis if available. Set additional snapping axis setup. All kinds of amazing layouts can be created and then used with snapping and objects. Snapping objects to the layout - Go to the snapping panel along top bar of Affinity Designer. Enable snapping. Set snap to grid ON. Go to the pen tool in the toolbar / box. Click on lines to add points (you will see a little indicator for the snapping).

 

 

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EPS files. How to open / place and use the EPS files in Affinity Designer tutorial (product from Serif). Start Affinity Designer. Open the EPS files via the file menu and open command. Select the node tool to edit the anchor points. Go to the color panel to change the color of the opened document. You can also simply just add another file to your open document. File menu followed by Place command and you can then Browse / select EPS file. Click document artboard and Resize the EPS file as required. Rotate the artwork as required. Double click the artwork or click the 'edit document' button along top bar. Select path with the node tool or move tool and Go to the top bar or the color panel (found via the view menu and studio commands) and Go to the fill and change fill color and then Go to the stroke and change stroke color etc. You can Use node tool to move nodes. Close the embeddeded file. The uses of the opened / placed eps files are nearly infinite in Affinity Designer as with other applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator. The imported vector artwork can be manipulated by a range of different tools such as move tool / node tool / corner tool etc and that does mean a single shape can be turned into all kinds of different artworks simply by using the node tool to move and shift points. You can also change the color of the item by selecting the color in the swatches or perhaps by selecting the gradient tool where you can add super colorful gradients. You can also add layer effects as you edit the embedded document. You can use layer effects to get over an issue with the coloring of the artwork. Outside of the edit document option, you cannot change the color directly but you can. You can add transparency via the transparency tool. You can duplicate the placed EPS artwork by using the alt / option key. You can also go to the effects panel and add outer shadows / blur / glows / outline effects. For example, goto the File menu and use Place command and Browse for file. Click document artboard to place the artwork and then Re-size etc. Go to the view menu and studio and effects and then Go to the effects panel. You can then select a color overlay / gaussian blur etc in the effects and modify the imported artwork.

 

 

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Symbols. How to use symbols in Affinity Designer and add them and how to modify them and color them and more. Open Affinity Designer and View menu and Studio and Symbols and Select a path. Click the create button to add the design to the panel. To add a new artwork to the panel you must first select the artwork (and it can be type or paths etc) and then click the create button in the displayed panel. The artwork is now an instance and you will see the master in the panel. Note that this is for a single piece of art, it works slightly different if you select two or more artworks. You can now delete the original artwork if you no longer wish to use it. If you have one path then the create button will add that single path to the panel. If you have multiple paths selected and you click the create button then you will see multiple entries appear in the panel. The way around that is to use groups. Select multiple paths and then go to the Layer menu and Group command and then select the create button. You can group two or more paths,. You can group multiple entries of type. Now click the create button in the panel to store the group to your panel. If you try to re-add instances and click the create again with the same designs then it will fail. If you select multiple instances and then use the group command then go to the panel and click create, you will see a new master with those multiple instances. Renaming and deleting - You can select the item in the panel and right click and then select the rename. You can also click the delete option to remove it from the panel. Select the artwork from the panel and drag to the artboard. You can then repeat this multiple times to add more and more instances to the document. They can then be selected by the move tool and shifted etc as well as rotated and re-sized and they are copies of the master in the panel. How to detach the artwork from the panel. Select an instance in the artboard. Click the detach button in the panel to detatch the instance from the master design. Edit the paths as normal after this as they are no longer connected to the panel. How to edit the work such as perhaps changing the color of a part of the design or perhaps moving one of the paths inside the instance (as well as the master) is to go to the layers panel and expand one you will then see the structure of the design which maybe made up of one or multiple paths. Select the move tool and then click one of those paths and move it or go to the color settings and change the color or perhaps add a layer effect to the path. If the path is a circle etc you will have to convert it to curves if you want to use the node tool to edit the paths. If it is a normal path then you can use the node tool to modify the artwork or perhaps use the corner tool to smooth the corners of the design. You will notice that any change that you make to one of the instances will be reflected in all the other instances on the artboard as well as in the panel with the master and also in the layers panel. As long as you expand the art in the layers and select one of the paths to modify, you can use any of the instances. There is no duplicate command (there is a rename and delete command if you right click the master in the panel). Drag the artwork from the panel and then use the detach command found in the panel. Edit the artwork such as changing color as well as adding paths etc and then click the create command to create a new resource in the panel. You can add new paths to instances as well as the master. Again, the key panel is the layers panel. Another key thing is to decide which instance you are going to add the paths to (though all the instances will have the new path instantaneous it is good to work with one instance in mind otherwise you may end up confusing yourself to the relative position of the added paths). Go to the layers panel and change the name of the instance that you are going to use - I generally called it EDIT as I know that is the one I am going to add or edit. Now go and add a path. The path may end up above or below the entry in the layers panel and will not be in the instance group but that can be quickly corrected by selecting the path and dragging it down into the edit group (the reason for the name change). You can then re-color as well as shift the path and all the changes will be relative to the current instance and you will see the changes updated across all the other instances. Any changes to the instance such as adding a new path (dot or star etc) to the art will be reflected in the master as well as the instances. You can also simply just use the detach command with the artwork and edit it and then create it as a new entry in the panel but in that case, none of the other instances will be updated. You can also remove paths from the instances and also the master in much the same way as the add. Select one of the instances to work from (it does need one to be on the artboard) and then go to the layers panel and expand the instance. Once you see all the paths that make up the instance, you can then go to the entry in the layers panel and just delete it. You will notice then that all the instances will all be updated as will the master design in the panel.

 

 

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Convert type. Text can be converted to standard paths / curves in Affinity Designer. Quickly convert to standard outlines. Select the artistic text tool in Affinity Designer toolbar. Click document artboard. Select the required font (such as one of the graphicxtras fonts) and size and color and type some text. Right click the artistic text and Convert to curves. Select individual characters by going to the layers panel. Select the node tool in the Affinity Designer toolbar and drag nodes to modify the curves. The same can be done with the frame tool. You can simply right click the frame and select the convert command and then you then be able to manipulate the artwork. Ungroup the artwork by going to the layer menu and use the ungroup command. You can then select the individual characters and use the tools such as the node tool to manipulate the parts of the shape. You can also re-color the artwork and drag them to different parts of the document out of the original frame. Go to the artistic option in the toolbar and click the document and create some characters. Set the font and size for the characters. Right click and do the same as frame tool. You can then ungroup them and manipulate them separately and use tools such as the node tool to change the points. You can also re-color the artwork as well as transform them in many ways. The key panel is the layers - select the characters in the panel and then you can go to the features in the layer panel and set layer effects such as bevels and shadows etc. You can then group the paths as well as arrange them such as moving the art above all the others. You can use the layer panel to combine those generated characters as well as other paths such as use the add and subtract and divide and combine.

 

 

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Transparency. How to use the transparency tool in Affinity Designer. You can find the tool via the toolbar (in the middle). Select any path (such as standard paths or type). Simply generate the path and then select the tool and then click on the path. There are five types available (none, linear, elliptical, radial and conical). You can rotate the selected gradient transparency as well as maintain the aspect ratio and reverse it via the top bar of the application. Select the type and then go to the dropdown and it is basically a gradient panel but no color is changed (you can change the color via the move tool and color panel). You can change the mid point (the thin line) between the two stops. You can click on the line to add or insert a stop. You can then move the stop (change the location) as well as the opacity of the stop and the midpoint between that stop and the next stop on the right. Once you have added that first stop (weirdly the insert is not available until you have at least added one new stop) you can then click the insert button to add a new stop and again you can change the opacity for that. You can also select the stop and delete it via the delete button. You can have multiple paths with different transparencies. You can then select the transparency line and move the origin point as well as the angle (if linear) as well as the aspect and height and width (elliptical) and center and length (radial) etc. As you change the position of the transparency more or less of the underlying images and paths and type will be shown.

 

 

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