Articles, Blog

Affinity Photo – Pen Tool

October 16, 2019

I’m going to show you some
creative uses for the Pen Tool in Affinity Photo. So Affinity Photo is what we
refer to as mixed discipline. Whilst it is traditionally
a raster image editor, it can also deal with
vector information. Now vector information
is infinitely scalable, and it can produce very sharp
and clean looking imagery. However, what we can do is
use various vector tools within Affinity Photo to enhance
or augment a raster image. Case in point, let’s
take this photograph. And as we can see here, we’ve
got some very faint crepuscular rays coming through and hitting
the side of the road here. We can use the Pen Tool to
seriously enhance the rays. So from my toolbar here,
I can select the Pen Tool. Then I’ll just zoom
in, and what we can do is just single click to define
the first point of a vector curve. Then we’ll single click again to
create the second point, and so on. So what we want to do is just
go around the area that’s being hit by the
light, and then I’ll just draw another one
around about here. And finally, to
close the curve, I’ll just click the
first point again. So now we have a vector
curve with no fill color. To change that, we can go
to the color panel up here. And we can just move
any of these sliders and just create a pure
white color for now. So this is obviously very
sharp, which is not at all what we want for this image. So then we need to go
to the Effects panel and enable the Gaussian Blur. Then we can drag the
radius all the way up to its maximum value. OK. This still doesn’t
look quite right. And also, at this
point, I’m going to use H on the keyboard
to switch to the View tool. This just gets rid of
those node bounding boxes so I can clearly see
what I’m working on. Let’s go across to
the Layers panel and find my vector curve layer. It’s this one here. I’m going to change
the blend mode. So on my blend
mode dropdown here, I might choose something
like Soft Light, and immediately that result
looks far more suitable. So that’s just hide
this layer, and we can see the before and the after. So far so good, but let’s say we
wanted a slightly warmer color. Not a problem. Just with the Curve
layer selected, we can tweak the color up here. So I’ll just reduce the
blue contribution here and maybe just bring green
down slightly as well to create a warmer look to
the crepuscular rays here. At this point then, we’re not
locked into this final result. Let’s say, for example,
the initial curve points we drew are
not quite right. So again, with the
Curve layer selected, I’m going to long click on the
Pen Tool to get to the flyout here and select the
Node Tool instead. So the Node Tool
is going to let us manipulate those nodes after
we’ve created the vector curve. For example, I might click
drag and move this node further here. Perhaps I’ll just move these
nodes back a bit as well. And then we can also click
drag in between the nodes to add some curvature, like so. OK. And I think I’m quite
happy with this result, so I’ll leave it there. Once again, I’ll press
H on the keyboard to switch to the View
Tool located up here. And that’s a great little
tip if you ever just want to quickly see the result
without any bounding boxes or other information. OK. One final look at using
the Pen Tool then. And again, I was
talking about sort of enhancing imagery, using
sharp lines and curves. So in this case, we can make
these windows a bit more appealing and make the
whole image look, perhaps, a bit more vectorized. So again, I’ll just long
click into my Tools flyout here and select the Pen Tool. Then I’ll just click and add
some nodes over this window pane. And once again, just
single click on the first node to close up vector curve. And once again, to
add a color fill, I just need to tweak
any of these sliders, and I’ll go for a
pure white once again. OK. So now, again, just using H
to switch to the View Tool, if we zoom in, this
is, perhaps, too sharp. Not a problem, because like
we did before, we’ll just go across to the Effects panel,
enable the Gaussian Blur, and just bring it
up slightly, just so we’re adding a tiny bit
of blur to the edges here. And then finally, if this
looks perhaps too stark, then we’ll just reduce
the opacity slightly to bring through some
of the original detail. And then we need to take
care of the other window. Now we could use the Pen Tool
and draw out some more vector curves. Another approach which
is, perhaps, a bit quicker is to use Duplicate. So on Mac, that’s Command-J. On
Windows, it will be Control-J, like so. Then we can long click
here, select the Node Tool, and we just need to
move the nodes across. So I’ll click drag to lasso
select these two nodes, move them across
here, then click, drag to lasso select
these two nodes and bring them across here. And then I just need to
zoom in and single click to select each node
in isolation and just move each node into its
respective location, like so. And there we go. Let’s just Shift-click to
select these two curve layers and hide them so we can see
the before and the after. So there we go, a couple of
little creative techniques for you involving the Pen
Tool and, by extension, the Node Tool.


  • Reply Chris ozzy10881 October 9, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Great presentation James as always.

  • Reply Tommy Urbanski October 9, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Thank you!
    I got Affinity Photo and Designer only about 3 months ago and I love learning everything about both.
    Truly amazing and inspirational products!

  • Reply David Jenkins October 9, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Another excellent tutorial. Thank you so much for making this.

  • Reply tom black October 9, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    The sound is terrible…or is that my new head phones ..hummmmm.

  • Reply jean pierre aubin October 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Vraiment excellent,même si je comprends pas la langue de shespeard
    Jean pierre

  • Reply Maximilan Williams October 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Wow, very simple and yet so versatile. Thank you for this

  • Reply Marco Di Mario October 9, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I would see your tuts for hours on end 🙂 You're a great teacher!

  • Reply VincentHannon October 9, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    The example with the light rays was excellent.

  • Reply Sidney Johnson October 10, 2019 at 1:18 am

    Nice tips! Short and to the point. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Waqas Hasan October 10, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Excellent 👌

  • Reply Ranson Tham October 10, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Man, light travels in a straight line…

  • Reply Chafi Charneco October 10, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Why does this guy reminds me of Bob Ross?

  • Reply Andy Platt October 11, 2019 at 1:51 am

    Brilliant and thank you

  • Reply Neil Highnam October 11, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Great video as always but how is this possible with RAW images? I have a photo which would be perfect for this but it’s RAW and there is no Pen Tool in the options. (I use the iPad version).

  • Reply Andrew Lowe October 13, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    How can you do this on affinity for iPad ?

  • Reply Dave Nelson October 16, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Ye another nifty trick up your sleeve!!!

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