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A to Z of Affinity Photo: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks!

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Read Time: 10 min

26 different tips, tricks, and features! 26 different letters of the alphabet! Today we’re covering the A to Z of Affinity Photo!

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A is for Assets Panel

The Assets panel is an area for storing any commonly used images or textures. From cut-outs to watermarks, anything you find yourself using over and over can be dragged, dropped, and stored here! 

You can create different categories to organize your assets, and you don’t have to worry about losing an asset! Once placed, it will stay there, even if you delete the file from its original location. 

The Assets panel is hidden by default, but you can turn it on by going to View > Studio > Assets.   

A is for Assets PanelA is for Assets PanelA is for Assets Panel

B is for Blemish Removal Tool

Affinity Photo has multiple different tools for removing those pesky zits, and the Blemish Removal Tool is one of the easiest.

Click the Blemish Removal Tool from the Tools panel, adjust the context toolbar settings to what best suits your needs, and then click on the target area to instantly remove any blemishes! 

B is for Blemish Removal ToolB is for Blemish Removal ToolB is for Blemish Removal Tool
Little Boy

C is for Channels 

Channels in Affinity Photo can do a whole slew of different things, but my favorite way is to use them to create complicated selections!

Select the Channels panel, choose the channel that best represents the areas you’d like to select (keeping in mind that the white areas will be selected), and then hold Control and click the Channel. A selection will be created!

C is for Channels C is for Channels C is for Channels

Now, you can use this selection to pinpoint things like Adjustment layers. Here I used channels to create a layer mask pinpointing only the highlights of the image, so I could then increase them using a masked Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. 

c is for channels final resultc is for channels final resultc is for channels final result
Woman Illuminated by LED Lights

D is for Dodge and Burn

You can use the Dodge and Burn brushes to do everything from removing wrinkles and acne to adding contrast or enhancing shadows. Instead of using the default tools, however, try this less destructive way!

Create two Curves layers and invert both of their Layer Masks by hitting Control-I, which will fill the layer masks with black.

Next, bring up and brighten the image using one of the Curves layers, while lowering and darkening the image in the other. 

Now, using a soft round Brush set to a low Flow and the color white, paint on the Curve’s layer masks, using the brighter Curves layer to dodge and the darker Curves layer to burn!

D is for Dodge and BurnD is for Dodge and BurnD is for Dodge and Burn

E is for Elliptical Depth of Field

A great finishing touch to add to any image, whether it be a simple retouch or a full image composite, is to add some depth of field! 

Select the layer you’d like to add some depth too, select Live Filters found at the bottom of the Layers panel, and then choose Depth of Field. 

From here, you can set the Mode to Elliptical and adjust the blur's starting and ending points. The Radius setting determines how much blur will be added, and the Vibrance and Clarity will affect the whole image, not just the blurred portion. 

E is for Elliptical Depth of FieldE is for Elliptical Depth of FieldE is for Elliptical Depth of Field
Beautiful African American Female

F is for Frequency Separation

Frequency Separation is a well-known trick to get perfectly retouched skin. It splits your photo into a high-frequency layer containing texture and a low-frequency layer containing color.

Other photo editing software requires you to create or download a third-party action to run and create the frequency separation layers. But Affinity Photo has it built right in! Find it under Filters > Frequency Separation. 

From here, you can use the Clone Brush tool on the two different layers, fixing colors and detail separately! 

F is for Frequency SeparationF is for Frequency SeparationF is for Frequency Separation

G is for Gradient

The Gradient tool is a classic and a must-have for any photo editing software. But Affinity Photo does it one step better by having the gradient result show live as you place it. 

As someone who has placed the same gradient over and over in Photoshop, trying to get the perfect angle and spread, the Affinity Photo live Gradient feature is a treat. 

G is for GradientG is for GradientG is for Gradient

H is for Save History

When saving a file in Affinity Photo, you can choose to save your History States as well by choosing Save History File with Document. This lets you pick up exactly where you left off, undos and all!

H is for Save History H is for Save History H is for Save History

I is for Image Brush

Affinity Photo has two different types of brushes. An Intensity brush captures the shape and opacity of an image and will stamp a solid color, just like you might see in Photoshop. 

An Image brush, however, is a brush that contains the shape, opacity, and color values of a brush. You turn the whole image, color details included, into its very own brush! 

I is for Image BrushI is for Image BrushI is for Image Brush
Park with Green Grass and Trees

J is for Duplicate

Duplicate your active layer by hitting Control-J!

Duplicating a layer multiple times is a way great to intensify an effect in a hurry. This works especially well on glow or backlighting layers.

J is for DuplicateJ is for DuplicateJ is for Duplicate
Fashion Model

K is for Black (CMYK)

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. But did you know that K doesn’t stand for black, but instead stands for Key Color? 

But when photo editing software like Affinity Photo uses the CMYK color space, the key color is always black, which makes way more sense!

K is for Black (CMYK)K is for Black (CMYK)K is for Black (CMYK)

L is for LUTs

LUT files are used all over in the film and video editing world, but that doesn’t mean photo editors can’t use them! Affinity Photo lets you download custom LUT files that will give your images an instant color grade!

Just go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > 3D LUT Adjustment, choose the LUT you’d like to load, and the effect will be applied to all layers below the created LUT adjustment layer!

L is for LUTsL is for LUTsL is for LUTs

M is for Macros

Macros run multiple operations all in a row, turning several clicks into just one! Have a sequence of settings you run on every image? Press Play to record it, and then save it as a Macro to supercharge your workflow. 

Go to View > Studio > Macro to activate the Macros panel.

M is for MacrosM is for MacrosM is for Macros

N is for Noise Reduction

Noise reduction in Affinity Photo is as easy as going to Develop Persona > Details and then adjusting the different Luminance settings. 

Drag the Luminance to increase the noise reduction, decreasing the noise without compromising the details of your image. 

N is for Noise ReductionN is for Noise ReductionN is for Noise Reduction

O is for Crop Tool Overlays

With the Crop tool active, hit O to cycle through different Crop tool overlays, including the Golden Spiral! 

When the golden spiral overlay is active, you can press Shift-O to change its orientation, flipping it left, right, up, and down. 

O is for Crop Tool OverlaysO is for Crop Tool OverlaysO is for Crop Tool Overlays

P is for Personas

Affinity Photo Personas change Affinity Photo to suit a specific step or role in editing.

Doing some image compositing? There is the Photo Persona. Time for some liquefying? Jump into the Liquify Persona, and now your workspace has all of the panels you need and none of the ones that you don’t!

P is for PersonasP is for PersonasP is for Personas

Q is for Quick Create Brushes 

Create an image brush instantly by selecting a layer with an extracted object you’d like to make a brush from. Now, in the Brush panel, go to the Menu and select New Brush From Selection. Instant image brush! 

Want an intensity brush instead? Follow the same steps, but this time have the Layer Mask selected, not the pixel layer. 

Q is for Quick Create Brushes Q is for Quick Create Brushes Q is for Quick Create Brushes

R is for Refine Selection

Have a particular hairy subject you are dreading to extract? Just grab a quick selection of a subject using the Selection Brush tool. Then, in the upper context bar, choose Refine. 

Now, drag the Refine Selection brush over the edges of the subject’s hair. Refine Edge will do all of the heavy lifting! Set Output to Mask and then click Apply. 

R is for Refine SelectionR is for Refine SelectionR is for Refine Selection

S is for Snapshots

Snapshots store a version of your current work, kind of like a freeze frame! This allows you to create multiple versions of your work that you can then flip back to if you end up not liking the direction you went in and have long since run out of undo states. 

To create a Snapshot, make sure the Snapshots panel is open, and then from the panel, click Add Snapshot.

Don’t forget to give it a unique name or identifier—your future self will thank you! These Snapshots save with your document and never reset. 

S is for SnapshotsS is for SnapshotsS is for Snapshots

T is for Text Tool

Hitting T will activate the Text Tool, which Affinity Photo has built-in spell checking for! Type your text, and a classic red line will make sure you don’t miss any of those pesky errors. 

Right-click the spelling mistake, and Affinity Photo will give you a list of possible options. If the word isn’t misspelled, just choose Learn Spelling and it will be added to Affinity Photo’s dictionary. 

T is for Text ToolT is for Text ToolT is for Text Tool

U is for User Interface

Affinity Photo’s interface is completely customizable! You can choose either a Dark or Light user interface. But not only that—you can also change the UI’s overall gamma level, creating either more or less contrast depending on which your eyes like best!

Go to Edit > Preferences > User Interface to change any of your UI settings. 

U is for User InterfaceU is for User InterfaceU is for User Interface

V is for View Tool

Need to quickly pan to another portion of your document? Don’t bother switching tools! Just hold down Space to temporarily switch to the View Tool, click and drag where you need to go, and then let go of Space! Your tool will switch to whatever tool you were using last. 

V is for View ToolV is for View ToolV is for View Tool

W is for Watercolor

Affinity Photo comes with a pack of ultra-realistic watercolor brushes pre-installed. Choose from dense brushes, dry or diluted brushes, or even brushes for a light wash of color to a dry fine fiber brush. 

You can find these brushes in the Brushes panel under Watercolors. 

W is for WatercolorW is for WatercolorW is for Watercolor
Woman in the City

X is for Swap Colors

Doing some masking and need to switch between black and white over and over? Hitting X will instantly swap between your Foreground and Background Color! 

X is for Swap ColorsX is for Swap ColorsX is for Swap Colors

Y is for Liquify

Need to do some liquefying? Affinity Photo has a persona for that! Switch from the default Photo Persona to the Liquify Persona using the upper Persona Bar.

From here, you can use any of the liquify brushes, switching back to the Photo Persona once finished.

Y is for LiquifyY is for LiquifyY is for Liquify
British long hair kitten

Z is for Undo

Control-Z, otherwise known as Undo! And when it comes to undoing, Affinity Photo doesn’t mess around, giving you over 8,000 undo states! 

Go to Edit > Preference > Performance > Undo Limit to choose how many undo states you want. Keep in mind, the more undo states, the harder Affinity Photo will have to work. Lower the amount of undo for a possible increase in performance!

Z is for UndoZ is for UndoZ is for Undo

We're Done!

And there you have it! 26 letters, 26 different Affinity Photo features!

But if that wasn’t enough and you’re looking for even more Affinity Photo tips, why not check out some of the other excellent tutorials below: 

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