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Affinity Photo Tutorial 1: Making Sense of Affinity Photo Desktop

August 13, 2019

Hello, I’m Robin Whalley. Welcome to Lenscraft. This is the first video in a series of Affinity Photo Tutorials. Today, we’re going to be making sense of Affinity Photo by simplifying that confusing interface. Keep watching as there’s lots to cover. The first thing you need to know about the Affinity Interface is that it has something called Personas. When you have an image open you can switch between the different Personas using these icons at the top left. We use each persona for a different editing purpose and each has a different set of tools. Think of the Persona as being a specialised working area, setup with the tools you need. Reading the icons from left to right, the Personas we have are. The Photo Persona which is general photo editing tools, quite like Photoshop. The Liquify Persona helps you to stretch and deform objects in your photo. The Develop Persona which is where we develop our RAW files into photos. It’s a bit like you do in Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW. But the tools in the Develop Persona aren’t just restricted to just RAW files. You can use them to adjust any image file. In the Tone Mapping Persona, we have tools you might use for HDR, but they can also be useful for general photography as well. Finally, we have the Export Persona where we can export images to share with others. The important thing to remember is that each Persona has a main purpose or function. As you switch between these Personas you’ll see the tools, the screens and the menus change. Some tools or menus are actually unique to a persona. But you’ll find others in multiple Personas, like the Navigator. Let’s take a closer look at some of the Personas. We’re going to start by opening a RAW file I shot with a Fuji X-T2 camera. We’ll open the file using the Open command in the File menu. As this is a RAW file, Affinity Photo automatically opens it in the Develop Persona. This allows us to adjust the RAW file and convert it into a bitmap image which we can work on in the other Personas. If we had opened an image file rather than a RAW file, Affinity Photo would have defaulted to the Photo Persona. Over to the left we have tools we can use to adjust the image. For example, we have white balance tool which we can use to correct any colour cast in the image. We can use the magnifying glass icon to select the zoom tool and magnify an area. The Blemish Removal tool can be used to remove the birds in the sky. Over to the right we have a series of windows tools to help us adjust the photo. There are a lot of Windows here but typically you only need around half of them. We can make changes to our image using the adjustment controls. The objective of the Develop Persona should be to create a well exposed base photo you can refine in the other Personas. Along the top of the screen we have some icons to help us when we adjust the image. For example, we have the split screen preview. Once we have applied our changes we can develop the RAW file into an image by clicking the Develop button. Notice Affinity has now switched to the Photo Persona. This is a layer-based image editor which is a little like Photoshop. You can add a new empty layer using the Layer menu. On the left of the screen we have the Tools Palette. Here we can select tools like the Clone tool. And we can use this to remove distractions from the beach. There’s also a Healing Brush tool which we can also use to repair areas. And because we made our repair to a new layer we can turn the layer off and on. We can also add Adjustment Layers from the Adjustments window, such as Curves. What you see in the preview window is the image showing the sum of all the adjustment layers we’ve applied. We can also use lots of shortcut keys, many of which are the same as Photoshop. If I hold down Shift + Option + Cmd and press E, I create a new pixel layer which is the sum of all the other layers. When you have a Pixel layer selected and you switch to another Persona, the adjustments you make in that Persona affect the layer you have selected. Here we have the new pixel layer selected and can switch to the Liquify Persona. There are a lot of tools here to manipulate the objects in the scene. For example, we can distort the pier in the image. Or we can slim down the tower using the Punch tool. When we have finished we can apply the changes and they only affect the layer that we have selected . Let’s delete that layer now. We then need to create a new one, so we can look at the Tone Mapping Persona. If we don’t and we just select one of the adjustment layers, Affinity will complain. We can repeat our keyboard shortcut from before to create the new layer. Now we can select the Tone Mapping Persona. On the left we have some tools and Presets. Let’s select the “High contrast black and white” preset. Over on the right we have some adjustment tools we can use. Once we’re finished, click “Apply” to apply the changes to the layer we had selected. With our photo complete we can export it from Affinity Photo to produce an image file such as a JPEG or TIFF. If you want to produce an image you need to use the Export feature or the Export Persona. If you use File | Save you will save the image in the Affinity Photo format. If you want to keep your processing to perhaps work on or adjust an image further, you should save the image in the Affinity Photo format. The easiest was to export the image is using File | Export from the menu. You can select the format of the image you want to create. And then export the image. Today’s video has been an overview. It’s been all about helping you make sense of Affinity Photo. I hope some of the things I’ve demonstrated help make this great software easier to understand. As I said in the introduction, this is the first video in a series of Affinity Photo tutorials. If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss future tutorials. I’m going to be using todays image in a few more of the Affinity tutorials. If you want the RAW file to follow along, I’ll put the detail in the video description below. If you enjoyed today’s video, please like it and share it with others. I’m Robin Whalley. You’ve been watching Lenscraft. And I’ll see you next week for another Affinity Photo Tutorial.


  • Reply R Garlin October 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    So that's what those icons-in-the-upper-left-corner do… I see the light!
    Thanks as ever, Robin, and I look forward to you continuing this series.
    (quick aside: please see the email I just sent you too)

  • Reply Brian Eliel October 12, 2018 at 2:12 am

    Can’t wait to watch

  • Reply Wei Chong October 12, 2018 at 4:46 am

    A good start. Look forward to the upcoming tutorials. I'm an experienced user of AP, but I still learn from these tutorials.

  • Reply John Collins October 16, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    I think you jumped a bit too fast from the develop persona,as you forgot to mention the presets that Affinity applies and how to disable them.I do however look forward to your series

  • Reply Vin Sher October 29, 2018 at 5:54 am

    Can you make sure the video quality is 1080p next time, thanks

  • Reply Inma Shed January 10, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    not that easy to understand for a complete beginner

  • Reply SMOKEY JAM February 4, 2019 at 3:14 am

    i have a missing section on the right of my screen it doesnt give me the option to change from histogram,colours,swatches and brushes can anyone help????

  • Reply Gregory TORTISSIER February 24, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Very easy to follow
    And nice overview of affinity. Looking forward to your next affinity tutorials. Using LIghtroom with Fuji RAF since few years but do not want to go for the subscription model of adobe, affinity and One1 look quite attractive. Cheers

  • Reply CK1 March 5, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Hi Robin. Can i make instructional ebooks from you youtube videos – also for my business English students?

  • Reply Archeia March 6, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Thank you for making a straight to the point and very informative tutorial. Very much appreciated 😀

  • Reply CK1 March 6, 2019 at 9:27 am

    yes or no? cheers

  • Reply CK1 March 6, 2019 at 9:27 am

    excellent videos btw

  • Reply Alberto Curtis March 22, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Thanks Robin, Useful.

  • Reply Kim van Holland April 3, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    Excellent video, excellent delivery of content. Look forward to seeing more.

  • Reply William Cruz June 4, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks for the video. I feel so much better with my purchase after seeing what this program can do. I have always used Photoshop until an incident yesterday. I purchase my CS6 three years ago. Yesterday I attempt to work on some photos and receive a message saying my serial number was revoked. When I called to find out they said they no longer service that product with the serial number since it was unauthorized number. I purchased the product from a reputable store, the stand alone software was Adobe and it was legit. They refused to help and kept pushing on me to sign up for the subscription plan. I told them to fuck off. Saw reviews about affinity and decided to try. So far from what I have been seeing is impressive.

  • Reply Patrick McDonald June 10, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Excellent … exactly the right pace and tone … thank you.

  • Reply I Arachnida July 19, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    You’re an excellent teacher! Very helpful video!

  • Reply Henry Bulger July 22, 2019 at 12:44 am

    I am glad that I ordered Essentials of Affinity. This video has assured me of your excellent teaching ability.

  • Reply David Reams August 3, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you so much for your lucid explanations in which you start at square one, assuming that the learner needs to learn everything, while not insulting ones intellegence.

  • Reply Will Parsons August 9, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    ALL Software is great… The problem is remembering what each tool and adjustment bar is used and capable of doing to get the proper edit to a Tee!

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