Affinity Photo Personas Explained




Robin Whalley, Landscape Photographer

13 August 2019

Are you confused by the Affinity Photo Personas? If you are, you’re not alone. In this tutorial we’re going to look at the different Personas, explain what they are and how to use them. We’ll also look at a couple of reasons people find the Personas so confusing.


What Are Affinity Photo Personas?

If you look up the word persona, you’ll find it means an identity, role or character. And that’s probably a good description for the Personas in Affinity Photo. Each of the Personas changes the identity of Affinity Photo to suit a specific editing role.

Affinity Photo Trial Software

If you don’t have the latest version of Affinity Photo you can download a trial from the Affinity Photo website.

Different Personas for Different Roles

A series of icons in Affinity Photo provides access to the different Personas. You’ll find the icons to the left-hand side of the toolbar as shown in the following screenshot.

Affinity Photo Personas

Affinity Photo Persona icons in the interface.

The Personas as numbered are:

  1. Photo Persona
  2. Liquify Persona
  3. Develop Persona
  4. Tone Mapping Persona
  5. Export Persona

The Photo Persona

This Persona is the main editing workspace in Affinity Photo. It’s also the default Persona when editing an image. Typically, you use this Persona if you want to perform tasks like removing or moving objects in an image. If you want to apply an adjustment to an image to enhance its colour or make it black and white.

Use the Photo Persona to perform all your photo editing. You can then drop into the other Personas as you need to use those tools. Yes, that’s correct. Each of the different Personas has different tools, although you’ll find some tools are common across the different Personas.

The Liquify Persona

Have you ever looked at a photo of a model in a magazine and thought that must be “airbrushed”? Well, if the person doing the editing was using Affinity Photo, they probably used the Liquify Persona. When you switch to Liquify, the pixels in the image become like liquid. You can click and drag them with the mouse to change their size and shape. What’s so impressive is that Affinity Photo blends the changes naturally into the rest of the image.

The Develop Persona

Earlier we said that the Photo Persona was the default editing Persona. The exception to this is when opening a RAW file. You must convert a RAW file to an image format before you can edit it. This conversion’s performed in the Photo Persona. If open a RAW file in Affinity Photo, you’ll find yourself automatically in the Develop Persona. You can then only switch to another Persona by clicking the “Develop” button in the top left of the interface. This converts the RAW file to an image format.

Although the Develop Persona is the default for editing RAW files, you can take any pixel image into this Persona for editing. It’s not only for RAW files.

The Tone Mapping Persona

If you’re familiar with HDR, you’ll probably know that HDR files are 32bit images. This means you need to apply a step called Tone mapping to make them viewable on a regular monitor. The Tone Mapping Persona has a range of tools to help you work with and refine HDR images.

The Export Persona

This is where you can export your finished file from Affinity Photo. The Export Persona has lots of tools to help convert your image into other formats. Although it’s frequently overlooked, this Persona can be very useful. If you’re maintaining a website for your photography the tools you’ll here are invaluable.

“It’s important to realise that each Affinity Photo Persona has a different layout and tools. This is designed to make photo editing tasks easier.”

Why Are Personas Confusing?

Most new users of Affinity Photo find it and the Personas very confusing. Other than the rather odd name, there are possibly two reasons:

  1. Sometimes you’re forced to use or prevented from using one of the Personas. We already mentioned one example where the Develop Persona is the default for editing RAW files. Another example is that you can only switch to the Tone Mapping Persona when you have a pixel layer selected in an image. Try it with an Adjustment Layer and you see a warning message.
  2. Each of the Personas has different tools. The tools are organised based on the Persona’s purpose. This makes each Persona look very different. It’s almost like you’re using a different application.

Studio Panels

In the Personas, the tools are organised into Studio Panels. You’ll find some tools and panels appear in each of the Personas whilst others might be unique to a Persona. In addition, it’s possible to change the Studio Panels and organise them to your own preference.

If you find you’ve done this by mistake (it’s easy to do) click the “View” menu in Affinity Photo. Here you’ll find the “Studio” submenu, at the bottom of which is the “Reset Studio” option. Click this to reset the Studio Panels back to their default arrangement.

Watch This Affinity Photo Video

If all these options have given you a bit of a headache, I can’t say I’m surprised. The best way to understand everything is to spend a few minutes watching this short video. In it I walk through each of the Affinity Photo Personas, using simple examples to demonstrate their features.

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You can also watch this video on my YouTube channel. I publish a new video every week, often based on subscribers’ requests and feedback. Subscribe to my YouTube channel now and be sure not to miss future videos.

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The Affinity Photo Personas can be confusing when you first encounter them. But with a little understanding, they become very easy to use.

In this tutorial, we looked briefly at the different personas, explained what to use them for, and demonstrated them in a short video. If you would like to know more about the different Personas as well as managing the Affinity Photo Studio Panels, please see my book “Essential Affinity Photo”. You’ll find this in the Lenscraft Book Store.

More Affinity Photo Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Affinity Photo Tutorials page.

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