The new application from Serif joins the already released Affinity Designer and as the title suggests is more of a Photoshop alternative. The two applications are supposed to work well together, so you have the vector design possibilities in Designer, which will also do some bitmap work. You can open a document which was created in Designer in Photo, obviously you’re not going to be able to do much vector work in Affinity Photo application. The image does come in separated into layers, so it is quite workable in bitmap fashion. No problem at all to bring in a document created first in Photo and then add layers of vector designing on top of it. In Finder the documents appear as Affinity documents rather than being designated one or the other of the two applications.
The Personas of Mac Affinity applications
The persona you will work in to manipulate your photographs and make your creations will be the Photo Persona. There is also a Liquefy Persona, a Develop Persona and an Export Persona. The Liquefy Persona will only work with a pixel layer or a mask which you need to choose before entering Liquefy. You can select a layer and choose rasterize to make it into a pixel layer. When you enter the Liquefy Persona you are then able to move pixels around distorting the shapes while still keeping them together. You could do something like turning the Mona Lisa smile into a proper grin. You get a mesh overlaid over the top of your bitmap to give you an idea of what effects you are giving using the tool. It is not just one tool, but a set of tools you can use to distort your images creatively.
Within the Photo Persona you get all of the tools you would expect to find in a alternative to Photoshop. Selection tools, painting tools, drawing tools and fill tools, plus the rest. In another article I will go into each of these tools in detail of how to use them. After a quick look into the brush tool I can see that there are a lot of options for creating different sorts of brushes. Lots of settings for how the brush works in terms of texture and dynamics, plenty of room for creativity there. I am also loving the Mesh Warp Tool and the Perspective Tool for moving around and manipulating shapes and designs within my photographic art.
Throwing the shapes in Affinity Photo
There is a Shape Tool which gives you plenty of different shapes to choose from. You have the basic rectangles, circles and ovals, triangles as well as cogs, clouds and heart shapes. The shapes are configurable once you have them placed upon your design. For example, with the stars you can choose the number of points for the star and also choose the inner radius for the star shape. It’s also useful to have shapes such as the callout rounded rectangles. This will be very good if you were creating your own comic style of design and you needed some speech bubbles.
Working in layers
Each of the objects you put into your design is assigned to a layer. You can apply effects, adjustments, style modes and blend modes to affect just the objects or make chages to the whole layer. It’s really easy to add masks to the layer and drawing on the layer with black and white to show or hide parts of that layer. There is a checkbox to the right of the objects which lets you turn on and off the view of that object. Live filters can be added to the layer or objects so you can manipulate the look of whatever you have in the design object by object. It’s pretty cool you are able to see the effect of these filters as you swap from one to another. This also works the same with the effect and blend modes which helps you make the basic choice of which to use.
Making mistakes and using the history
There is a history tab which shows you each of the changes you’ve made to your design. This makes it easy to go back to any point in time during your design work. If you’ve gone down a particular path of design changes and don’t like what you’ve done, just go to the history tab and take a few steps backwards.
Slicing and dicing in the Export Persona
There will be times when you have a large image that is going to be better sliced up if you’re going to put onto a webpage. There is the slice tool within the export persona which makes it easy to split the complete design into segments. When you are selecting the slices the next slice will snap to previous slices if you want them to. You just have to hold down the option key if you want to ignore snapping. When you are ready to export, you choose original size or two times or three times bigger. Within the export options you can choose from the presets and formats such as PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, EPS and even as the SVG format.
Verdict on Affinity Photo
I have been using this application for a few months now using the beta versions. I have paid for the version 1 which was recently added to the Mac App Store. The price is very reasonable indeed. The quality of the application is of professional level. The developer team for this application are working hard to add more features and to improve it generally. The Affinity Photo application for working with bitmaps and photos is impressive to say the least. It is without a doubt my favourite application now for working with my images. In combination with Affinity Designer I have just about everything I need for my two-dimensional creativity. I use it to create my Good and Geeky book covers. I’m finding it very easy to use to make my creative photo collages and overall I really enjoy using these applications. I highly recommend the Apps from Mac Affinity, Serif.