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New Document Setup and Designer UI


The first section of this post is going to focus on the basics of setting up a new document. In the second half, we’ll go over the basics of the Designer interface. 

Creating a New Document

Designer has a number of preset canvas sizes/settings built in. These settings and categories can be added to and modified. Additionally, you can create and save your own categories and presets!

New document screen Affinity Designer iPad

1. Choose horizontal or vertical orientation for the canvas


2. Categories: Designer is preloaded with a variety of categories with several presets. To rename a category, click the ‘A’ with the pencil icon to the right of the category name.

3. Presets: Each category has different canvas options called presets. Click on a preset to select it.

4. Preset and Category Edits:

A- Add new Preset

B - Add new Category

C - Rename selected Preset

D - Rearrange/delete Presets

Canvas Customization

You can create a custom  canvas, or modify a preset with the settings in this area. 

Dimensions - choose the width/height and adjust the DPI

Document Units - Click the unit name to bring up a list of units, or use the arrows to tab through the list.

Image Placement - Choose if images are linked or embedded into a document by default.

Create Artboard - Toggle on to automatically create an artboard with the canvas dimensions.

Color Format - Choose the default color space for the document.

Transparent Background - Toggle on to use a checkerboard  transparent background by default.

Drawing Scale - Toggle on to adjust the drawing scale settings. 

Margins and Bleed

Toggle on to adjust the margins of the canvas. Click the link symbol underneath the margin settings to create a uniform distance on all sides. The bleed can also be adjusted individually for each side, or linked. If you do not wish to have any bleed in your canvas, set all distances to zero. 

Affinity designer iPad margins and bleed settings

That’s it for setting up a new document, now let’s take a look at the designer interface!

Affinity Designer Interface

Affinity Designer UI Interface overview

  1. Back Button - Clicking the arrow will return you to the Home Screen
  2. Persona Menu - Affinity Designer has three different Persona workspaces:
  3. Designer Persona for vector art
  4. Pixel Persona for raster art
  5. Export Persona for efficiently exporting individual parts of your artwork
  6. Document Menu - This menu contains settings for editing the document workspace. This includes actions such as placing images, resizing the document, changing the background transparency, etc.
  7. Edit Menu - This menu has settings for editing objects within the document. Such as cut/paste, merging/grouping settings, and plane settings for working with parallel projection grids.
  8. Context Toolbar - This is a tool-specific workspace which provides additional or more quickly accessible editing options. 
  9. Zoom Settings - Tapping the magnifying glass will zoom the canvas to fit the screen. Additional zoom options are available by tapping the arrow next to the magnifying glass.
  10. Preview Mode - Toggling on preview mode removes editing assistants visible on the screen, such as grids, guides, and margins. Tapping the arrow opens a menu where you can select options that are visible wen preview mode is off. The grid settings and guide settings will open those menus for editing. 
  11. Snapping - tap the magnet to quickly turn snapping on/off. Tap the arrow to access the snapping options menu.
  12. Hide UI - Tap this button to hide all of the toolbars on the screen. 
  13. Tools Panel - These are the tools used for creating/editing objects in each persona. 
  14. Deselect - Tap here to deselect items on the screen.
  15. Delete - Tap this trash can to delete items on the screen.
  16. Studio Panels - This panel provides tools for editing and organizing your document.
  17. Undo/Redo  Buttons - These optional buttons can be made visible via the Preferences menu. The two-finger undo and three-finger redo tap gestures are always available.
  18. Helper - Tap and hold this question mark to show on-screen labels for all the icons. The guide in the center will also define the context toolbar icons for the selected tool. 

*Quick Tip: If you have hover effects turned on for your iPad, you can also hover over each icon with the Apple Pencil to display the icons name.

16. Command Controller - This handy controller is the iPad version of Mac modifier keys. I find it

particularly helpful as an alternative for touch gestures. Its editing features vary depending on the tool that is selected.

17. Quick Menu - This handy menu opens via one of two touch gestures: a one-finger hold, or a three-finger swipe down. The top section provides quick access to essential functions, such as duplicate & cut/paste. The bottom section is customizable, for adding commands for your most frequently used functions.

So that’s a quick overview of starting a new document and the Designer interface! There are of course additional settings/options for many of these items, which will be covered in the posts for the individual tools/settings. However, I do think the Command Controller and Quick Menu deserve a bit more attention, as they are such great additions to Version 2! 

Command Controller

If the Command Controller is not visible when you first open Designer, the toggle to turn it on/off is under the Document Menu. The specific functions of the Controller vary depending on which tool is active. However, Affinity has a great resource detailing both touch gestures and the Command Controller functions here!:

Quick Menu

I’ve included a short video below showing how to use the Quick Menu (the blue circle shows finger/pencil touches on the screen):

That’s it for this post. Hopefully the information was informative, and helped to make the interface of Designer look a little less intimidating! In the next post, I’ll jump right in to working with the tools in Designer, starting with the Pen Tool!