The Affinity Photo User Interface: A Complete Guide

Affinity Photo is a powerful photo editing software that offers a user interface with many different tools and panels. In this blog post, we will take a look at each part of the user interface and explain what its function is.

Notably, Affinity Photo is available for Windows and Mac, and the user interface will be slightly different on each platform. We will start with the Menu Bar, the Persona Toolbar, then move on to the Toolbar, Context Toolbar, Tools Panel, Document View (Canvas), Studio and Status bar.

Let’s get started!

7 Layouts of User Interfaces in Affinity Photo

Layouts in Affinity Photo are a bit different than what you may be used to if you’re used to other photo editing softwares.

Following are the 7 layouts in Affinity Photo:

  1. Menu Bar
  2. Toolbar
  3. Context Toolbar
  4. Tools Panel
  5. Document View
  6. Studio
  7. Status Bar

We’ll take a look at each one in more detail in the upcoming sections.

Certainly, the User Interface is Affinity Photo is highly configurable. You can show or hide certain panels as well as move them around to create your own custom layout.

However, the default User Interface in Affinity Photo is a dark interface. You may modify the UI’s darkness or lightness and vice versa, and also change the background grayscale or overall gamma for contrast changes.

How to change the UI from dark to light (or vice versa) in Affinity Photo?

  • Go to Affinity Photo, and choose Preferences.
  • Select the User Interface label.
  • Choose a UI Style for your app: Dark or Light.

How to change the UI background, Artboard background, or Gamma level in Affinity Photo?

  • Go to Affinity Photo, and choose Preferences.
  • Select the User Interface label.
  • Drag the sliders to adjust the Background Gray level, Artboard Background Gray level, and the UI Gamma value.

Menu Bar in Affinity Photo

Menu Bar is the horizontal bar at the top of Affinity Photo that contains all the Affinity Photo menus.

The Affinity Photo menus give you access to all of the Affinity Photo features. You can use the menus to create new documents, open existing documents, save your work, export your work, and more. The menus are also where you’ll find commands for editing your photos, working with layers, selecting parts of your photo, and viewing your photo in different ways.

Moreover, if you need help with Affinity Photo, the menus are also where you’ll find the Affinity Photo Help documentation and other helpful resources. So, let’s take a look at each menu in more detail.

The Affinity Photo User Interface: A Complete Guide: Menu Bar

Menus in Affinity Photo

Following are the Affinity Photo’s menus:

  • File Menu: The File menu is where you’ll find commands for creating new documents, opening existing documents, saving your work, exporting your work, and more.
  • Edit Menu: In the Edit menu you can find editing options for your photos, working with layers, selecting parts of your photo, Undo, Redo, Copy, Paste, and more.
  • Text Menu: In the Text menu you can add text to your photos, work with text layers, and more.
  • Document Menu: The Document menu is you can work with pages, artboards, slices, and more.
  • Layer Menu: The Layer menu is about working with layers. You can use these commands to create new layers, duplicate layers, merge layers, and more.
  • Select Menu: The Select menu is where you’ll find commands for selecting parts of your photo. You can use these commands to select all, deselect, inverse, and more.
  • Arrange Menu: The Arrange menu paves the way to work with your photo’s arrangement. You can use these commands to align and distribute layers, change the stacking order of layers, and more.
  • Filter Menu: The Filter menu is where you’ll find all of Affinity Photo’s filter effects.
  • View Menu: The View menu Show/Hide Rulers and Guides, Full-Screen Mode, and more. You can use these commands to view your photo in different ways.
  • Window Menu: The Window menu gives you commands for Workspace, Arrange Windows, and more. You can use these commands to customize the Affinity Photo interface to suit your needs.
  • Help Menu: The Help menu in the Affinity Photo helps with documentation, Affinity on the Web, Check for Updates, and more.

So, that’s a brief overview of the Affinity Photo menus.

The toolbar in Affinity Photo

The toolbar is located below the menu bar and contains buttons for some of the most commonly used Affinity Photo commands. You can customize the toolbar to include only the buttons that you need.

To customize the toolbar,

  • Go to Affinity Photo > Preferences > User Interface.
  • Then, in the Toolbar section, select the buttons that you want to include in the toolbar.

In the Photo Persona, you can see the following tools in the toolbar,

  • Auto-adjustment icons.
  • Selection actions such as select all, select none and invert selections.
  • An icon to add a quick mask along with some settings for the quick mask via a dropdown.
  • Grid and snapping options.
  • An “assistant manager” icon.
  • Layer stacking order icons.
  • An alignment tool.
  • Icons for placing items relative to active selection areas.

The icons in the Toolbar will changed according to the chosen Persona from the Persona Toolbar. For example, if you click on the “Liquify Persona” button, the icons in the Toolbar will automatically change to include tools commonly used for warping purposes.

Context Toolbar in Affinity Photo

The context toolbar basically presents the Tools’ Options bar and contains settings for the most commonly used Affinity Photo commands for the selected tool.

For example, if you’re using the Rectangle Selection Tool, the context toolbar will display buttons for creating a new selection, adding to an existing selection, subtracting from an existing selection, and more.

The Affinity Photo User Interface: A Complete Guide: Context Toolbar

The context toolbar’s setting change depending on the tool selected and the active Persona.

That’s a quick rundown of the Affinity Photo context toolbar. Make sure to go over each option in depth so you can learn about all of Affinity Photo’s features and how to use them with some hands-on experience.

Tools Panel in Affinity Photo

The tools panel is located on the left side of the Affinity Photo interface and below the Context Toolbar and contains all the tools for creating and manipulating selections, layers, and more to edit a document.

Note that some tools are nested within other tools icons which have similar functions. You can access them by simply clicking on it as well as choosing the desired sub-tool. A white right triangle appears at the right bottom of the tool icon for nested tools. An example would be the Node Tool which is nested within the Pen Tool icon.

The Affinity Photo Tools panel includes:

  • Selection Tools- tools for creating and manipulating selections
  • Drawing Tools- tools for drawing shapes and paths
  • Brush Tools- tools for painting with brushes
  • Retouch Tools- tools for retouching images
  • Text Tools- tools for adding text to documents
  • View Tools- tools for changing the view of the document

Helpful Tips in Affinity Photo

To dock/undock the Tools panel:

  • Select Dock Tools from the View menu.

In order to show/hide the Tools panel:

  • To reveal the Tools menu, choose Show Tools from the View menu.

Remove/or add a tool:

  • Choose View > Customize Tools.
  • Drag a tool button from one panel to the other.
  • Select Close.
The Affinity Photo User Interface: A Complete Guide: Dock, Show and customize tools

Reset the Tools panel:

  • Select Customize Tools from the View menu.
  • Click the Reset option from the pop-up menu.
  • The Tools panel is reset to its original state.

Set the number of columns on the Tools panel:

  • From the View menu, choose Customize Tools.
  • Select the Number of Columns option from the pop-up menu.

That concludes our look at the Affinity Photo Tools Panel. Make sure to go over each menu to discover all of Affinity Photo’s features and how to utilize them.

Document View (Canvas) in Affinity Photo

Document view is Affinity Photo’s interface where you work on your documents. The Affinity Photo canvas is the area where you see your document’s content.

The Document View is the area located between the Tools Panel and the Studio.

By default, the document view doesn’t display the rulers and you should enable it manually if essential by the shortcut “Ctrl+R”(on Windows) or “Cmd+R”(on Mac).

Also, if you want to work on more than one document, you can simply open multiple tabs and each tab will have a name for identification.

The tabs display the document name, whether it has been uploaded, and the zoom level.

The tabs also include an “X” on the far right edge of the tab to allow you to close out your picture or document without closing Affinity Photo.

Let’s discuss the Studio Layout next.

Studio in Affinity Photo

The Studio in Affinity Photo is located to the right of the Document View. It has multiple panels which vary according to the Persona you had selected to work with.

The most common panels in the Photo Persona are:

  • The Color Panel
  • Adjustment Panel
  • Layers Panel
  • Transform Panel

To add more panels,

  • Go to View, and select Studio.
  • Click on the check mark to make the panel visible in the Studio but if there is a tick already, it means the panel is enabled and can be viewed in the Studio.

Now, let’s move on to the Status Bar.

Status Bar in Affinity Photo

The status bar is Affinity Photo at the bottom of the Affinity Photo interface.

It provides information about the current document, such as tips on how to use a select tool, shortcut keys for a selected tool. The information provided changes according to the tool selected.

Conclusion

Affinity Photo has a user-friendly interface that is easy to use once you get the hang of it. So, today we learned about Menu Bar, Toolbar, Context Toolbar, Tools Panel, Document View (Canvas), Studio, and Status bar. Be sure to explore these contents in detail to learn about all the Affinity Photo features and how to use them.

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