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Preferences in Affinity Designer for iPad

Hello creatives, fellow designers, and anyone reading this; today’s post is about the preferences in Affinity Designer. Everyone has their own way of working, and preferences to that end. With that in mind Affinity has made certain aspects of the UI editable and changeable in order to facilitate a better work flow for each individual.

First and foremost you need to open the preferences panel in order to make adjustments to your workspace. You will find when you open affinity designer that there is a small gear symbol in the upper right corner of the screen. This gear is where you tap to open the preferences and begin customizing your workspace.

General Preferences

Under the general tab you can make adjustments to things like the language or default save location. There are also sliders that adjust the undo limit or autosave interval. The undo limit will set how far back into your history you can go, and be aware that the number set can affect file size and current memory when working on a file. And the auto save allows you to restore in the event of a loss of power or app crash. There is also Assistant options (explained below) that you can open and adjust.

Toggle Preferences
  • Automatically update help – will automatically look online for the updated help version and download it
  • Automatically lock background layer on import – locks the bottom and or background layer when importing an image into affinity designer.
  • Import Photoshop text as text (not pixels) – attempts to import all photoshop files text as text instead of rasterizing it
  • Refine HEIC depth maps – turning this on makes the refinement automatic as far as I can tell.
  • Show tutorials and samples – shows additional support categories below projects on the main screen.
  • Dither gradients – adds dithering to canvas view gradients to reduce banding (not on exported file)
  • Show touches – shows transparent blue “fingerprint” when touching iPad screen. This is great for screen sharing and recording.
  • Cache screen updates (uses more memory) – reduces screen pixelation when panning and zooming around the screen
  • Present on external displays – when this is toggled on and you plug in an external monitor it will show the full document despite where you pan and zoom on the iPad.

Assistant Options

The assistant options when enabled manage pop up alerts that you will see on your screen when preforming specific actions. When turned on the Assistant can decide what action to take based upon what your preferences are set to. In order for this to occur you need to have the assistant enabled and have it set to notify on actions, which I believe are both on by default.

Other Options
  • Painting with no layer selected – This determines what happens when you start painting with the pixel brushes without an active layer selected. You can set this to “creates pixel layer and paint” or “take no action”
  • Other Brushes on Vector Layers – When using retouching brushes on vector layers the layer will be rasterized by default, however you can set it to take no action.
  • Applying filters to Vector Layers – As with other brushes on vector layers applying a filter will by default rasterize the layer, however you can set this to “take no action”.
  • Adding Mask Layers to selection – Any adjustments made to masks when working with layers is by default going to create a nested mask layer. You can turn this off by selecting “take no action”.
  • Erasing from Vector Layers – Allows you to erase on a layer mask that is applied to your vector layer; immediately rasterize the layer and erase on it; or take no action.
  • Brush Tool Sharing – You can choose to have selected brush tip settings share across tools of a similar type; to share it across all tools; or not share at all with other tools.
  • Adding Adjustment Layers to selection – If you create a selection and make adjustments to it then by default those adjustments are added to a new layer above the currently selected layer. When there is no layer selected then the adjustment layer gets put at the top of the stack.
  • RAW engine – which ensures consistency between how RAW files are developed on desktop and iPad.

Interface Preferences

The interface makes adjustments to how your tools and display can be adjusted when a document is opened.

  • Background Grey Level – adjust the amount of grey that you’ll see behind the document your working on. Grey is a great neutral color when working on a document because it will not detract from the color palette your working with.
  • Left-Handed Mode – Reverses the layout for left-handed people any app that does this already wins major brownie points in my book.
  • Automatically Hide the UI – This one is pretty self explanatory and is quite useful when working on a design.
  • Show selection in layers studio – When turned on you will jump to the layers position within a layer stack on the document view.
  • On-screen Modifier Keys – Makes extra controls in the context toolbar for certain tools.
  • Text in points – Displays the text size in points as a default.
  • Lines in points – as far as I can tell this is similar to text in points.
  • Show Undo and Redo Buttons – this will display a little undo (<) or redo (>) carrot in the bottom left or right (depending on whether left hand mode is turned on).
  • Panning Inertia – when turned on your document will stop moving gradually when you stop scrolling as opposed to abruptly.
  • Monochromatic iconography – makes icons appear in greyscale. I usually leave it turned off because there is not much color to the graphics as is.

Color Preferences

This section allows you to make adjustments to the colors in your documents, making for the most accurate printing options.

  • Import ICC profile – allows for you to import your own custom ICC color profiles from your cloud storage.
  • Default RGB profile – allows you to adjust your default RGB profile when opening a new document.
  • Default RGB32 (HDR) profile – allows you to adjust your default RGB32 HDR profile when opening a new document.
  • Default Greyscale profile – allows you to adjust your default greyscale profile when opening a new document.
  • Default CMYK profile – allows you to adjust your default CMYK profile when opening a new document.
  • Default Lab profile – allows you to adjust your default Lab profile when opening a new document.
  • Rendering Intent – lets you set the rendering intent of your photos.
Other Options
  • Choose OCIO package – allows you to choose an OpenColorIO configuration file. See here for more info.
  • Preform OCIO conversions on filename – when turned on it will convert EXR documents from its source color space to scene_linear.
  • Associate EXR alpha channels
  • Postdivide EXR colors by Alpha
  • Perturb zero EXR alpha
  • Black Point Compensation – allows you to apply black point compensation when opening an image when turned on.
  • Convert opened files to working space – when turned on an opened image will convert the color space of the image to the color space of the document.

Tools Preferences

  • Create text with Blend Gamma – this slider lets you adjust the blend gamma on text objects
  • Nudge Distance – slider that will adjust the spacing between pixels when nudging layers.
  • Modifier Nudge Distance – when there is an active modifier this slider will determine the distance when nudging layers.
  • Select object when intersects selection marquee – when active this toggle will add an object to the current selection if the selection marquee is partially covering it.
  • Syncronize Tools between Documents – when active this toggle will keep all your tools the same when switching between projects.
  • Allow Canvas rotation in all tools – when this is active you can use 2 fingers to rotate the canvas.
  • Touch for Gestures only – when you turn this on your fingers will still work for gestures but the  pencil is required to use tools. If like me your prone to tapping the screen and accidentally using a tool then this is a good tool to toggle on 😉.
  • Enable hand Tool for Accessibility – when active you can use the hand tool as an alternative to using your fingers to navigate the canvas.
  • Move tool Aspect Constrain – you can use this to adjust the constraining behavior when using the move tool to transform and scale selected layers or groups. Options include – Automatic, always constrain, or never constrain.

Pencil Preferences

  • Enable Double Tap – Allows you to enable the double tap feature if you have an  pencil (2nd generation). Once enabled you can set the double tap for a variety of tools.
  • Tool – Lets you set the tool for the double tap action.
  • Double Tap Action – Determines the action that is taken when you use the double tap on the  pencil. This feature varies based on the tool that is selected however all tools let you choose from UNDO, ZOOM TO FIT, and PREVIOUS TOOL actions.
  • Pressure – This graph allows you to adjust the  pencil pressure.

Font Preferences

The font preferences are pretty strait forward in the iPad version of Affinity Designer. You can see a running list of fonts that you have installed into the app, you can delete fonts you don’t need anymore (trash can icon), and you can add new fonts (cloud icon). Bear in mind that any system wide font you install into iPad through third party apps will be available to you as well when working in documents.

Shortcut Preferences

This is where you will find the keyboard shortcuts for when/if you connect a keyboard to your iPad. It allows you to see the current shortcuts that are set up with the different personas as well as allows you to change and adjust them in a way that is comfortable to you and your workflow. You also do not have to stress if you change your mind because you can reset all of the shortcuts at anytime with the handy reset all button located in the bottom right of the screen.

Resetting your Preferences

Lastly in the preferences you can quickly and easily reset everything back to the factory defaults if you ever feel like you need to. If something isn’t working and your not sure which setting you changed to get to that frustration this can be a quick and easy way to start over and hopefully reset yourself back to square one.

As always thank you for taking the time to read 💙. Know that I appreciate you and wish you all the luck in the world on your creative endeavors.

Till next time, Happy Designing ❤️!

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