10 Essential Design Tips for Affinity Designer Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Learn the Interface
  2. Use Vector and Pixel Personas Effectively
  3. Master the Use of Layers
  4. Make Use of Guides and Grids
  5. Experiment with Blend Modes
  6. Utilize Global Colors
  7. Get Familiar with the Asset Library
  8. Use Masks
  9. Experiment with Typography
  10. Learn to Use the Export Persona

Stepping into the world of design with Affinity Designer can feel like learning a new language. But fear not, with a few key tips and tricks up your sleeve, you'll be creating stunning designs in no time. Think of this blog as your friendly guide, offering you 10 simple, yet powerful tips to help you get started on your design journey with Affinity Designer.

Learn the Interface

Designing with Affinity Designer begins with understanding its interface. It's like meeting a new friend - the more you know, the better you can communicate. So, let's introduce you to some important elements:

  • Toolbar: This is where all your primary tools live. You'll find everything from the Move tool, which lets you move objects around, to the Pen tool that allows you to draw curves and lines. Familiarizing yourself with these tools is a great first step.
  • Context Toolbar: Located just above the main toolbar, the Context Toolbar changes based on the tool you're using. For example, if you select the Text tool, you'll see options for font, size, and alignment.
  • Studio: On the right side of your screen, you'll find the Studio. It's your go-to place for layers, brushes, color selection, and much more. It's a key component in your design with Affinity Designer journey. It's like your personal toolbox, storing everything you need.
  • Navigator Panel: Found in the Studio, the Navigator panel helps you zoom in and out of your artwork and navigate through your canvas. It's a small but mighty tool!

Remember, it's okay not to know what every button and tool does right away. Practice, explore, and you'll soon become comfortable with the interface. Just like learning a new language, it takes time to get fluent. So be patient with yourself and enjoy the process of learning to design with Affinity Designer.

Use Vector and Pixel Personas Effectively

Imagine having two superpowers. One lets you create sharp lines and shapes, perfect for making logos or icons. The other allows you to work with images and textures, ideal for photo editing or digital painting. Well, you don't have to imagine. In Affinity Designer, these superpowers are called Vector and Pixel Personas, and they're yours to command.

  • Vector Persona: This is your go-to persona for creating and editing vector graphics. It's perfect for creating sharp, scalable designs. The Pen Tool or the Shape Tool are some of the weapons in its arsenal. Think of it as your secret weapon for creating clean, professional designs.
  • Pixel Persona: Enter this persona when you need to work with raster graphics. It's ideal for tasks like photo editing or adding texture to your designs. The Brush Tool and the Eraser Tool are just a few tools at your disposal here.

Switching between these personas is as easy as clicking a button. Literally. The personas are represented by icons at the top left of the screen. Click to switch and voila! You are in a new persona, ready to tackle your design tasks with a fresh set of tools.

So, go ahead, play around with these personas. Discover the unique design powers each one holds. Before you know it, you'll be creating designs with Affinity Designer like a pro. The key to using these personas effectively is practice. So, what are you waiting for? Your design superpowers await!

Master the Use of Layers

Layers are like the secret ingredient in your favorite dish. They work behind the scenes, but without them, the whole thing falls apart. When you design with Affinity Designer, layers are your best friends. Let's get to know them a bit better.

  • Basics of Layers: Think of layers as sheets of glass stacked on top of each other. You can draw, paint, or place images on each layer. The great thing is, whatever you do on one layer doesn't affect the others. So, you can change, move or even delete a layer without messing up your entire design.
  • Order Matters: The order of layers in Affinity Designer is crucial. Layers at the top of the stack appear in front, while those at the bottom show up in the back. This is important when you want to layer different elements in your design.
  • Group and Lock: Grouping layers together lets you move or transform several layers at once. On the other hand, locking a layer keeps it safe from accidental changes. Both are handy features when your design starts to get complicated.

Mastering layers may seem a bit intimidating at first, but don't worry. With a bit of practice, you'll get the hang of it. Remember, layers are there to make your life easier, not harder. So, don't be afraid to use them to your advantage.

Next time you design with Affinity Designer, remember: layers are your secret ingredient. Use them wisely, and your designs will shine.

Make Use of Guides and Grids

Alright, let's shift our attention to guides and grids. When you're designing with Affinity Designer, these tools are like your roadmap. They help you navigate your design and ensure everything aligns perfectly.

  • Guides: Imagine trying to hang a picture on the wall without a level tool. It's nearly impossible to get it straight, right? That's where guides come in. They are the invisible lines that help you place and align objects in your design accurately. To use them, just click on the ruler and drag. It's that simple!
  • Grids: If guides are the level tool, then grids are the graph paper. A grid is a series of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines. It helps you maintain consistency in your design, especially when you're working with multiple elements. You can customize the grid in Affinity Designer to fit your design needs.

Don't underestimate the power of guides and grids. They might seem like simple tools, but they can make a huge difference in your design. So, next time you're struggling to align objects or maintain consistency, remember: guides and grids are there to help.

So, go ahead. Give guides and grids a try in your next Affinity Designer project. You'll be amazed at how much they can improve your design process. And who knows? They might just become your new best friends in design.

Experiment with Blend Modes

Now, let's dive into a feature that can truly add a spark of creativity to your design with Affinity Designer: blend modes. Ever wondered how designers create those cool overlay effects or stunning color interactions? They're likely using blend modes.

Blend modes allow you to control how the colors of one layer interact with the colors of the layers beneath it. And the best part? There are lots of different blend modes to experiment with. Here are a few:

  • Normal: This is the default blend mode. It doesn't mix colors at all.
  • Multiply: This mode darkens colors, which can be great for creating shadows or darkening an image.
  • Screen: Want to lighten things up? The screen blend mode is your go-to. It's perfect for creating highlights or brightening an image.
  • Overlay: This mode combines the best of the multiply and screen modes. It darkens dark colors and lightens light colors, adding contrast to your image.

But don't just take my word for it. Try experimenting with different blend modes in your designs. You'll be amazed at how they can transform your work. They're like a secret weapon in your Affinity Designer toolkit.

Remember, design is all about creativity and experimentation. Don't be afraid to try new things and push the boundaries. Who knows? You might discover a new favorite blend mode that takes your designs to the next level.

Utilize Global Colors

When it comes to design with Affinity Designer, color is more than just a visual element—it's a powerful tool that can set the tone of your design. And when you want to create a consistent color scheme across your project, there's one feature that you'll find incredibly handy: global colors.

Global colors allow you to define a color once and use it across your design. Need to change that color later? No problem. Update the global color, and it automatically updates everywhere you've used it. It's a massive timesaver, especially for larger projects.

But how do you set up global colors? It's actually pretty simple:

  1. Open the Swatches panel: This is where all your colors live.
  2. Add a new global color: Just click the menu in the top-right corner of the Swatches panel and choose 'Add Global Color.'
  3. Choose your color: Pick a color from the color wheel or enter your RGB values, then click 'Add' to save it.

And there you go! You've just created a global color. Now you can use this color anywhere in your design, and if you need to change it, you only have to do it once. It's like magic!

So, next time you're working on a design with Affinity Designer, don't forget to make use of global colors. It's a small step that can make a big difference in your workflow.

Get Familiar with the Asset Library

Every artist has a toolbox, and when you're designing with Affinity Designer, your toolbox is the Asset Library. It's a treasure trove of useful elements that you can drag and drop into your designs, from shapes and symbols to textures and patterns.

The Asset Library is not just a tool, it's your secret weapon for speeding up your design process and bringing your ideas to life. Need a specific shape for your project? It's there. Looking for a unique texture to add depth to your design? You got it. The Asset Library is like your personal collection of design elements, always at your fingertips.

Here's how you can get the most out of your Asset Library:

  1. Explore and experiment: Take some time to browse through the Asset Library and see what's available. Don't be afraid to play around!
  2. Organize your assets: Keep your Asset Library tidy by creating categories and subcategories. It'll make finding what you need a breeze.
  3. Add your own assets: Did you know you can add your own elements to the Asset Library? Just right-click in the panel and select 'Add from selection.' Now that's handy!

So, make the Asset Library your best friend. It’s an invaluable tool that can take your designs to the next level. Remember, the more familiar you are with your tools, the more easily your creativity will flow.

Use Masks

Imagine you're painting a picture, but there's a part of the canvas you don't want the paint to touch. In the physical world, you might use a piece of tape to cover that section. In the digital design realm, we use something called 'masks'.

When you're designing with Affinity Designer, masks can be your go-to solution for controlling where your changes affect your artwork. They give you the power to hide or reveal parts of your design, without actually making changes to your original layers.

Here are a few pointers to help you master the art of masking:

  1. Understand the basics: In its simplest form, a mask is a greyscale image. The black parts hide your design, the white parts reveal it. Easy, right?
  2. Start simple: Try adding a mask to a basic shape, then paint on the mask with black and white brushes. You'll see how it works in no time.
  3. Experiment with gradients: Masks aren't all about harsh lines. You can use a gradient on a mask to create smooth transitions between visible and invisible areas.

Don't be afraid to mask! It might seem tricky at first, but with a bit of practice, you'll find it's an incredibly flexible tool that can greatly enhance your design capabilities with Affinity Designer.

Experiment with Typography

Think of typography as the voice of your design. Just as the tone of your voice can dramatically change the meaning of your words, the font you choose can set the mood for your entire design. When you design with Affinity Designer, you have a whole world of typography at your fingertips.

Here's how you can make the most out of it:

  1. Explore different fonts: Don't stick to the same old fonts. Affinity Designer has a vast library of fonts. Try them out, mix and match, see what works best for your design.
  2. Play with sizes and weights: It's not just about the font type. The size, weight, and even the spacing between letters — these can all make a big difference in your design.
  3. Remember readability: While it's fun to experiment, always keep readability in mind. After all, the main purpose of text is to be read.

So go ahead, let your design speak. With Affinity Designer's wide range of typography options, you have endless ways to express your creativity.

Learn to Use the Export Persona

So you've created a fantastic design with Affinity Designer, and now you're ready to share it with the world. But what's the best way to do that? Meet the Export Persona.

The Export Persona is a unique feature in Affinity Designer that makes exporting your design a breeze. It's designed to give you more control over how your design is exported, allowing you to create multiple versions of your design at the same time, each with different sizes or file types. Sounds pretty great, right?

  1. Understand the Export Persona: The Export Persona is a separate workspace in Affinity Designer. It's all about exporting, so it has tools and panels that help you do just that.
  2. Master the Slices: In the Export Persona, slices are your best friends. They let you define specific areas of your design to export. You can create as many slices as you need and set different export options for each one.
  3. Choose the right format: Depending on where your design will be used, you'll need to export it in a specific file type. PNG, JPEG, SVG — Affinity Designer supports them all.

The Export Persona might seem a bit complex at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can save you a lot of time and effort. So take the time to learn it, and make exporting as much a part of your design process as creating.

If you enjoyed these essential design tips for Affinity Designer beginners and want to further expand your design skills, check out the workshop 'Start Designing in Figma' by Tetiana Gulei. While this workshop focuses on another design tool, Figma, the skills and principles taught can be applied to Affinity Designer as well. Broaden your design knowledge and improve your abilities with this insightful workshop.