7 Affinity Photo Tips for Beginners

Affinity Photo is a versatile image editing tool. you can use it to make all sorts of edits to your photos, from simple color correction to creating multi-layered images.

In this article, I’ll share with you some of the most useful Affinity Photo tips to help you get started. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to dive in and start editing (and, over time, you’ll love using Affinity Photo to enhance your files).

A quick note before we begin: the key to mastering photo editing software is a combination of learning and practice. I encourage you to read a tip and then practice until what you’ve learned becomes easy. Only then should you repeat the process. If you try to learn too much at once, you’ll probably forget most of it and get frustrated!

1. Familiarize yourself with affinity personalities

Personas are workspaces in Affinity Photo; these are the areas where you perform a variety of tasks. Each Persona has a specific goal. They are:

  • The Develop Persona, where you apply basic edits at the start of the RAW processing workflow.
  • The Photo Persona, where you’ll do most of your serious editing.
  • The Liquify Persona, where you can perform advanced pixel manipulation.
  • The Tone Mapping Persona, where you can manipulate the dynamic range of the image.
  • The Export Persona, which is used when you have finished working on an image and want to save it in a particular format.

You will find the Persona icons at the top left of the Affinity window:

Affinity Photo Tips illustration of personas

Mastering each of these Personas takes a lot of time and practice. Start by familiarizing yourself with the purpose of each. This way, you will know which workspace best suits your needs while editing.

2. Start by straightening and cropping your photos

When editing a new image, one of the first things you often have to do is straighten and crop. Fortunately, Affinity Photo makes these operations quite painless.

You can apply crop or straighten adjustment in Develop or Photo character. Select the Crop icon from the Tools panel or use the keyboard shortcut (C).

A grid will appear on your photo:

Affinity Photo Tips illustration of cropping and straightening

To straighten the shot, hover your mouse over one of the four corner handles. Your cursor will turn into a curved double-headed arrow, and you just need to click and drag in the direction you want.

To crop the image, click and drag one of the four handles along the edge of the grid, then drag the edge until you achieve the composition you want.

In Develop Persona, you can remove blemishes using the blemish removal tool. Click on the corresponding icon in the toolbar or press “L” on your keyboard. Your cursor will turn into a circle; you can adjust the size of the removal tool using the square brackets ([ and ]).

Then click on the spot or blemish you want to remove and watch it disappear!

In Photo Persona, you have more control, so it’s easier to do complex clone jobs. Click the Clone icon in the toolbar or press “S” on your keyboard to select the Clone tool.

To choose your clone source area, hold down the Alt/Opt key and click on the appropriate spot. Then paint with the brush over the pixels you want to replace. (As with the blemish removal tool, you can resize the brush with the brackets.)

Cloning in Affinity Photo

If you want to adjust parts of your image while leaving other areas untouched, it pays to master the art of selection.

To make selections in Affinity Photo, press the “Q” key to access the Mask tool. Then paint with a white brush (press the “B” key) on the area you want to select:

Affinity Photo Tips mask tool illustration

To refine your selection, click on the corresponding layer in the Layers panel and type Alt/Opt+Ctrl/Cmd+R. This brings up the Refine Selection window. You can then carefully paint the edges where you want to improve the accuracy of the selection. Click on Apply to make changes.

In the Refine Selection window, you will have many additional options to help you control the precision of your selection:

Refine Mask tool in Affinity Photo

Once you’ve created a good selection, the sky’s the limit! You can sharpen or lighten the selected area, add beautiful color shades and much more.

5. Use Live Filters for Non-Destructive Editing

In Affinity Photo, you can apply non-destructive edits with Live Filters. These are like regular filters, but they are applied non-destructively like adjustment layers. You can hide them, edit them at any time, and move them up and down in the layer stack.

Live Filters can be used to sharpen your photos, adjust shadows and highlights, denoise, and more. To find Live Filters options, click Layer from the top menu, then select New Live Filter Layer:

Example of live filter in Affinity Photo

Once you’ve accessed the Live Filters options, experiment and have fun! They all work without affecting the original image, so you don’t have to worry about changing your photo permanently; any changes you make can be reviewed and modified as needed throughout the editing process.

6. Do some dodges and burns to improve your photos

The Dodge and Burn tools are probably the most underused editing options you’ll come across, but they’re two of my favorites. You can access it from the Tools menu or by pressing “O” on your keyboard.

Note that painting with the Dodge tool will lighten parts of the image, while painting with the Burn tool will darken certain areas.

I recommend setting the opacity to less than 100% to keep the effect subtle. Choosing to work on shadows, midtones or highlights – an option available in the main menu – offers even finer control:

using the dodge tool in Affinity Photo

As with any Brush tool in Affinity, you can adjust the size using the bracket keys ([ and ]). You can also manage the softness of the brush edge depending on your edit.

7. Add text to your image for a personal touch

For those who want to turn their photos into cool graphics, Affinity Photo offers two methods for adding text: the Artistic Text Tool and the Text Frame Tool.

Select the Text icon from the Tools menu or press “J” to launch the Text tool, then choose one of the two options listed above. With the Artistic Text tool, you can click and drag to adjust the size of your text. This is great when you want to add just a little text to your image.

You can also click and drag with the Text Frame tool, and you’ll see a text box containing any text you type. You can then select the text to resize it, change the color or change the font. Once you have your text in place, you can apply all sorts of interesting tweaks until it looks exactly how you want it.

Affinity photo tips text

Affinity Photo Tips: Final Words

I hope you found these affinity tips useful; they’re designed to whet your appetite and get you started on your Affinity Photo journey!

Once you dive into this editing software and get the gist of it, you might not be able to stop. Retouching photos to get them just right can be addictive.

Getting started with new software is a challenge. Take your time and enjoy the process. Take the time to practice these tips and any others you learn. As you gain experience, you’ll start to get a feel for how Affinity Photo works and what it can do!

Which of these Affinity Photo tips do you plan to use first? Share your opinion in the comments below!

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