Linked layers in Affinity Photo Tutorial

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By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2022


How to use the linked layer feature in Affinity Photo such as text layers, shape layer properties, pattern layers, pixels etc


1. Linked layers

Linked layers means all the layer's properties are linked, change one and you change them all. Not every property of a layer is linked so things such as the scale and rotation are not but the pixels are linked for pixel layers, fill colors for shapes etc.

2. Create a linked layer

Select a layer and then go to the layer menu and use the duplicate linked command. You will then have a second layer or third etc and they will all be 'the same' as the first layer and any change will then be replicated.

3. Properties and links panel

To see the properties associated with the linked layers, go to the links panel and you can link or unlink that property and that varies from layer type, so the text layer has different properties to that of a pixel layer. There are a few overlaps such as fill and stroke etc in most linked layers

4. Create multiple layers

I would suggest setting up a shortcut via the preferences in Affinity Photo for the duplicate linked command and then you can create multiple entries quickly. I would suggest avoiding the macro feature as the macros seem to introduce some issues and what seems to be a simple act becomes a little more complicated. You may find the macros useful, I have not when it comes to linked layers

5. Text linked layers

You can create some text such as the word 'max' and then repeat that throughout the image and using different sizes as well as different angles. You can then go to a single entry and change that such as change the text and all the text will change. You can change the font, the color, single characters, add styles etc

6. Color adjustment layers

Adjustment layers can also be linked by the same approach. Simply create an adjustment layer via the layer menu and then duplicate that layer via the menu command. You can only link the same type of adjustment so there is no linking black and white to the HSL etc. You can link HSL to HSL and any change to one of the adjustments will change in the others and you can also change the blending mode etc. You can create all kinds of color combinations using this approach.

7. Pattern layers

You can use the linked feature with pattern layers as well. Create a design and then convert it into a pixel layer (it needs to be pixel for the pattern feature to work) and then go to the layer menu and create a pattern based on the selection. Re-size, rotate, shear etc the design. You can also use the duplicate linked command to create the 'same' pattern layer but you can continue to scale and rotate but they are not linked so all the other settings such as blending modes and effects can be added and they will be linked and you can then create all kinds of awesome combinations of layers with this feature,

8. Pixel layers and filters

All kinds of filter effects can be applied to the pixel layers such as deform or twirl and any change to one layer will be propagated to the other layers. If you are using a design as a shape layer, you need to convert this to a pixel layer before you use the linking otherwise the shape is not the same as any of the duplicated shapes. You can then apply a deform effect to one and all the designs will be modified in the same way. This is not the same as applying a live filter layer deform on top of the artwork. Note that any live filter layers are not duplicated, this only works for the pixel layer itself.

9. Paste inside

You can create a shape and then another shape (and convert into pixel layers) and then copy one shape into the other by using the edit menu and paste inside command. You can then duplicate link those inside layers and create all kinds of awesome combinations by using layer effects as well as blends and a combo of filter effects. You cannot duplicate the container and get all those designs in the new artwork, it is only pixel content and Affinity Photo does not see those layers as pixel layers