In this tutorial, we’ll be creating a colourful wallpaper design for the lock-screen of our iPads using various tools and functions of the new graphics application for iOS, Affinity Designer! Affinity Designer for iPad allows you to combine both vector and raster graphics, creating great images with all the features that can be found in a similar desktop package.
I’m a fan of the Firewatch video game, which inspired me to create this illustration. If you’re a wild nature lover, be sure to check PhotoDune for some proper references of mountains and forests.
Grab your pen, stylus, or Apple Pencil, and let’s start!
1. How to Draw a Sketch in Affinity Designer for iPad
Let’s launch the app and create a New Document.
I’m using an iPad Pro 9.7’’, so my wallpaper size is going to be 2048 x 1536 px. If you’re using another model or would like to create wallpaper for another device, you can find your screen resolution here.
Here we have a blank document with all the tools of Affinity Designer. You can tap and hold the tiny question mark icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to see the name of each tool.
We’ll be switching between the Vector and Pixel Personas in the top control panel of the app.
Let’s switch to the Pixel Persona by tapping the Pixel icon. We’ll be using its tools to create a sketch of our future wallpaper.
Select the Paint Brush Tool and tap the Brushes Studio in the right part of the app to reveal it. Select Mechanical Pencil 4B from the Pencils and Charcoal group and adjust its settings in the control panel at the bottom of the screen. Tap and hold the option you want (for example, Width), and then drag your finger up or down to change the value.
Open the Colour Studio and use the Colour Wheel to select the desired colour for the Stroke.
Make a rough sketch, paying attention to the composition. Make sure that you leave enough space for those areas of the lock screen of your iPad which display the time and date.
You can use the Hide UI function in the top right part of your screen to give yourself more freedom while sketching.
Pinch inwards or outwards with two fingers to zoom your illustration in and out.
Tap with two fingers to Undo and three fingers to Redo the actions.
When you use gestures, you may notice blue circular highlights under your fingers when you tap and hold the screen. This helps to perform various actions, as Affinity Designer uses a lot of gestures with two and three fingers to make drawing and navigation much easier.
Here is a helpful short video about gestures from the official Affinity website.
You can create your own sketch or use this one.
Once you’ve saved it to your iPad, tap the Document icon in the top control panel of Affinity Designer and select Place Image to add the image from the Camera Roll.
Open the Layers Studio and tap the plus icon to create a Vector Layer for our future wallpaper. Tap and hold the new layer and drag it down, placing it beneath the Pixel Layer that contains our sketch.
Then select the Pixel Layer and tap the Layer Options icon (three dots in a circle) on top of the Layers Studio.
Lower the Opacity to about 50% and set the Blend Mode to Multiply. This way, we’ll be able to draw beneath the sketch.
2. How to Make a Firewatch House in Affinity Designer for iPad
Tap Vector in the control panel on top to switch to the Vector Persona and select the Rectangle Tool.
Tap and drag to create a rectangle. Use your sketch as a base to figure out the right size for the shape. Fill it with dark purple, using the Colour Wheel.
Tap and hold the Rectangle Tool icon to open the menu with all the shapes. Select the Triangle Tool and create the roof. Switch to the Move Tool, tap the created shape, and drag the corners if you want to resize it.
Tip: Tap and hold a finger of your opposite hand while creating the shape to make it even (if you need to make a square instead of a rectangle, an even circle, etc.).
We also need to make sure that both shapes are aligned properly. Using the Move Tool, tap on an empty space in the canvas, and hold and drag to spread the selection box to cover both shapes. You can also select multiple objects by tapping one of them, holding your second finger on an empty space on the screen, and tapping another object. This adds it to the selection.
Open the Transform Studio and tap Alignment. Select Align Horizontally to the Center, and set the key object to First Selected.
Let’s add some windows. Use the Rectangle Tool to make an orange shape for the first window.
Tap Edit in the control panel on top, and tap Duplicate. Repeat this action to add more windows.
Let’s use the Alignment function to distribute the shapes properly. Select the windows and tap Distribute Horizontally. Tap and hold the Width circle and drag your finger up or down to set the value.
Set Align Vertically to Bottom.
Keeping the windows selected, tap Edit > Group.
Use the Rectangle Tool to draw a thin stripe for the support of the building. Select the shape with the Move Tool, tap the white circle on top of the selection box, and hold and drag to rotate the shape slightly. You can also open the Transform Studio and use the Rotation option there to set the desired value.
Duplicate the created shape and Flip Horizontal in the Transform Studio to create a second support.
Add more details to the support construction. Group the created elements and Duplicate the whole group.
Make the back copy slightly narrower and make its colour lighter, so that it looks farther away.
3. How to Draw a Forest in Affinity Designer for iPad
Now let’s create the surrounding environment. Grab the Pencil Tool or use the Pen Tool to create a silhouette of the fir tree. I’m using my sketch as a guide while creating a rough outline.
Once I’m happy with the silhouette, I’m switching to the Node Tool and using the control panel in the bottom to manipulate the nodes and node handles. I’m deleting the unneeded points and making the overall shape smooth.
Tip: When using the Pen Tool, try holding your finger down while making a line—this way you can control your line and work with handles too.
Open the Colour Studio and apply a dark-purple fill for the tree. Now we can Duplicate it to create a forest. A faster way to duplicate any object or group of objects is to select it with the Move Tool, and tap and hold on a blank space on the screen with two fingers while moving the selected object.
Let’s group our trees. A faster way to do this is to open the Layers Studio, tap the top tree to select it, and then tap the bottom tree with two fingers to select all the layers between these two.
You can also swipe the layers left or right to select and deselect each of them.
Once you’ve selected the layers, pinch them inwards using two fingers in the Layers Studio to organise them into a group. You can pinch outwards to perform the opposite action.
Let’s create more copies and change the fill colour to light purple. Place the second group behind the firewatch house.
Now we’ll fill the bottom part of the illustration, adding the ground. I’m using the Pencil Tool to draw a freehand wavy shape. Add smooth, flowing lines of darker and lighter colours to make the ground more textured.
Now let’s add some mountains in the background. Use the Triangle Tool or the Pen Tool to create the main shape of the mountain.
Then take the Pencil Tool and draw a darker shape for the shadow covering the left half of the mountain.
Let’s see how we can hide the unneeded pieces of shadow that are crossing the edges of the mountain.
Switch to the Move Tool. Tap the shadow, and hold and release your finger to open the context menu. Tap Cut.
Now tap to select the mountain, open the Edit panel, and select Paste Inside. The shadow shape will be placed inside the mountain shape, as if inside a container. You can still access and edit both shapes in the Layers Studio.
Add a second mountain (without the shadow) behind the first one.
Keep adding smaller mountains in the background, making their colour lighter to form the depth of the perspective.
Use the Rectangle Tool to make a shape for the sky. Make it slightly larger than the canvas and place it at the bottom of the Layers Studio.
4. How to Work With Gradients in Affinity Designer for iPad
Now it's time to replace our placeholder colours with a nice, vivid palette. You can use the Colour Picker Tool by tapping and dragging it onto the canvas to pick the desired colour and apply it to the selected shape. For example, you could do this if you want to pick the colours from a photo reference.
As you may also have noticed, there is a Quick Colours field in the Colour Studio that keeps all your latest picks.
To make this illustration into some real eye-candy, I’ve decided to add some gradients to the objects.
Let's start with the sky. Tap to select it with the Move Tool, and then take the Fill Tool. Drag it to create a gradient fill. You can tap and hold another finger on the screen to make the gradient fill precisely vertical or horizontal.
Adjusting the colours of the gradient fill is also easy: just tap the circle tip of the slider and pick the desired colour in the Colour Studio. Repeat the same for the opposite tip of the slider, if needed.
Let’s apply a pinkish-yellow fill to the sky and start recolouring the mountains by applying a linear fill from darker pink to lighter pink.
Select all the small mountains and apply the gradient.
In order to pick a gradient fill (or other style settings) from an existing object, just Copy the object, and then select the shape that you want the style to be applied to, and tap Edit > Paste Style.
Let’s move on to the foreground trees and apply a purple-bluish fill to the group of objects, creating a subtle mist at the bottom of the forest. Make the bottom part of the back group of trees lighter as well, adding depth to our illustration.
Recolour the ground, applying dark blue and purple colours.
Now we’ll add some final touches to the background. Take the Ellipse Tool, tap and hold your finger, and then hold and drag another finger to create an even circle for the sun. Place it behind the mountains and the firewatch house.
Open the Layers Studio and tap the Layer Options icon. Set the mode to Lighten.
Use the Pencil Tool to add some light, semi-transparent clouds in the sky.
Let’s add a subtle glow to the windows of the hut. Select the windows group and open the Layer FX Studio. Tap Outer Glow to apply the effect and play with the settings in the bottom control panel. Let’s set the colour to bright yellow, Blend Mode to Screen, leave the Opacity at 100%, and set the Radius to about 75 and the Intensity to 20%.
At this stage, I’ve decided to simplify the mountain ridge by merging those separate triangles into one shape.
To do this, select all the mountains inside the group, tap Edit, and use the Add operation to unite the objects.
5. How to Apply Texture in Affinity Designer for iPad
Let’s make our wallpaper more interesting by adding some texture to it.
Switch to the Pixel Persona. Select the Paintbrush Tool and tap the Brushes Studio. Find the Grunge set of brushes and select Brush 2.
Once you start drawing, the new Pixel layer will be created automatically.
Select white as the colour, increase the Width of your brush in the bottom control panel, and make a few broad strokes, covering the whole canvas.
In order to make the texture layer more subtle, open the Layers Studio and tap the Layer Options icon. Set the Blend Mode to Screen and decrease the Opacity to about 35%.
We can make the texture more consistent by adding some grain to our illustration. Open the Layers Studio and select the Vector layer that contains all our objects. Keeping all the objects selected, tap the Colour Studio and move the Noise slider to about 5%. This effect can be applied to every separate object as well, but selecting everything at once is much faster.
You can also change the amount of noise or remove it completely anytime by selecting an object (or a group of objects) and moving the Noise slider back to 0%.
We’re almost there! Let’s see how our wallpaper looks. Zoom out by pinching with two fingers, or tap and hold the Navigator Studio icon and drag up or down to zoom in and out. Another way to make your image fit the screen is to open the Navigator Studio and double-tap the thumbnail.
Once you’re happy with the result, tap Document in the control panel on top and select Export.
Congratulations! Our Firewatch Wallpaper for iPad Is Finished!
Great job! I hope you’ve discovered some useful tips and tricks while following this tutorial and enjoyed working with Affinity Designer on your iPad!
Now you can draw awesome things anywhere you want while carrying Affinity Designer in your bag.
Have you also tried the desktop version of Affinity Designer? Be sure to check out these useful tutorials: