Dive Pacific 171 Oct- Nov 2019


Let’s first look at the five buttons

on the top left, circled in red. These

are modes specific to Affinity, called

Personas: Photo Editing, Liquify,

Raw Developing, Tone Mapping

and Export. These Personas switch

Affinity into different operating

modes, translating to distinct

toolbars, menu options and side

panels. Typically, you’ll spend

most of your time in the Photo

Editing Persona, which offers

access to the main toolkit, and the

Raw Developing Persona which is

designed for pre-processing of RAW


In this introduction we’ll only look at

the leftmost Persona - Photo Editing.

Basic Image handling

The first steps you are likely to take

after opening an image is to crop,

optimise overall lightness, contrast,

colour balance and colour saturation.

The Crop tool in the Tool bar comes

with additional settings such as ratio

and image size. It also allows you to

rotate and straighten your image.

Have a look at the long list of

Adjustments on the right in Image

1. Very importantly, any of the

image corrections are applied

non-destructively on its own layer,

similar to the Adjustment Layers

in Photoshop. This allows you to go

back anytime and fine-tune or get

rid of any adjustment previously

made, without affecting the pixels of

the image.

Image 1 shows you the simple

two-slider Brightness/Contrast

control in action. Depending on

your skill level you might prefer

adjusting these parameters with

the Levels or the Curves interface.

This also allows you to fine-tune

individual colour channels for colour

corrections. More commonly the

Colour Balance adjustment is used

to optimise the colours. This interface

looks and feels familiar if you

come from Photoshop (Image 2). It

has three sliders for the primary

colours and lets you adjust the

colour balance independently in the

highlights, mid-tones and shadows.

Image 3 shows you the Layers

Palette with a couple of Adjustment

Layers. The Curves Adjustment

Layer has an added Layer Mask

Image 2 - The Colour Balance Interface

allowing you to affect only part of

the images. Coming from Photoshop

this will make you feel completely at


Affinity Photo has a large bank

of filters. Image 4 shows you the

Colours filter with its many options.

Many (but not all) are available as

Live Filter Layers, which act non-destructively

like Adjustment Layers.

Image 3 - The Layers Palette with

some Adjustment Layers

Under the Sharpen filters you’ll only

find three options: Unsharp Mask,

Clarity and High Pass. Though

Photoshop gives you more options

the Unsharp Mask filter is the only

one I’ve ever used, besides the very

useful High Pass filter.

Selections and other tools

The selection tools are what you’d

expect: Rectangular, Elliptical, Free

Hand (Lasso), Flood Select (Magic

Wand) and Selection Brush - all at

your finger tips. Cleaning up difficult

selections like hair in a portrait

works surprisingly well, often just

with a simple click of the Refine


The Tone Mapping persona does

a good job merging a range of

exposures for HDR photos. You’ll

find tools for stitching panoramas

and focus-stacking. There is even

a Live Projection mode for editing

360-degrees photos.

For saving your images you need

to go to the Export Persona which

allows you to pick the right file

format and other parameters.

Image 4 - The Colours Filter with all

its options

For more on other tools such as the

RAW converter engine, or the Tone

Mapping and the Liquify personas

there are dozens of good tutorials

on the Internet that go into all the


Should you get Affinity Photo?

If you are already familiar with

Adobe’s flagship, it won’t take you

long to orient yourself in Affinity. If

photo editing beyond the basics is

new to you, you’ll pick it up quickly.

Affinity Photo can be yours forever

for less than half of a year’s

subscription of Adobe’s photography

package. The program might

seem priced for the amateur, but

the developers are keen to stress a

professional feature set. You also get

CMYK and LAB colour space support,

necessities in the print industry.

Affinity Photo has its own native

.afphoto format but also extensive

support for the Photoshop

PSD format. However if you

exchange layered PSD files with

other Photoshop users you will

run into problems. But this is the

only limitation I can think of which

could prevent you from switching to


In the next issue we’ll be looking

at other features of Affinity Photo,

especially its handling of RAW files in

comparison with Adobe’s Lightroom.

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