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How to Use the Layers Panel in Affinity Designer
  • By Design Bundles
  • 25 Nov 2021
  • 10 Mins
  • Affinity Tutorials

How to Use the Layers Panel in Affinity Designer

In this tutorial, discover how to effectively use the Affinity Designer Layers Panel.

The Layers panel in Affinity Designer is where the multiple components of your design are built up. The main difference with Affinity Designer is that you can't merge layers. You can group them but they remain on individual layers. This is a non destructive approach to creating. It is also a great way of keeping everything organized.

Layers also work according to their order, grouping, blend modes and adjustments. In this tutorial we will explore how to use the Layers Panel in Affinity Designer. We will also be using a ready made SVG of a pumpkin gnome. We have more adorable Gnome SVG files for you to choose from.

Access and rearrange the Layers Panel

In Affinity Designer the Layers Panel can be found on the right hand side of the screen. Here you will find all the elements of your design neatly arranged. Open Affinity Designer and setup your page requirements.

Open the Layers Panel

Open your design in Affinity Designer. Now go to the right hand side of the screen and click on the Layers Panel to open it. If you can't find the Layers Panel, go to View > Studio > Layers. The design will open with each element on its own layer or grouped layer.

Locate Layers Panel Affinity

Rearrange the layers

The order of the layers changes the layout of the design. You can adjust the order, shift the layers and decide what goes where. This also helps if you have created a new layer and want to move it below another.

Under the Layers Panel, click on the layer you want to move. You can move it one of two ways. The first way is to click and drag up to where you want it. We chose to move it to the top of the layers. The second way to move the layer is to click on the Move to Font button at the top. Next to this button are other options for shifting layers.

You can click on Move Forward One to move the layer up one. Move Back One shifts the layer down one. Move to Back shifts the layer down to the bottom.

Move layers around Affinity

When moving layers, as you move it a blue line appears. This is an indication of where the layer will be placed.

Multiple layers can be shifted at once. Hold Shift and click on the layers to select then click and drag to rearrange the layers.

Grouping Layers in Affinity Designer

In Affinity Designer, there is no option to merge layers. In the Designer Persona you are working with vector layers. Usually merging these means merging all the shapes together. But this is not an option in Affinity Designer. The layers can be grouped to keep everything organized.

If you do need to combine elements together you can use the Boolean operations.

Grouping for both the Designer Persona and Pixel Persona is the same. Select all the layers you want grouped. They will be highlighted in blue.

Choose layers for grouping Affinity

Right click over this highlighted area and choose Group. For this tutorial we ungrouped the images to show you how this works.

Select Group Affinity

Under the Layers Panel you will see that the layers have been grouped. This will be shown as an arrow. Click on this arrow to open the grouped layers.

Grouped layers in Affinity

You can ungroup the layers by right clicking the Group layer and selecting Ungroup.

Lock a layer

A layer can be locked to prevent it from being resized, moved, or rotated. The layer can still be edited but if you try to move it, the corner handles each show an X. To lock the layer, click to select and at the top right of the Layers Panel click on the little lock.

A lock will show next to the layer name. To unlock you can either click on this lock once or click again on the lock above right.

Locking the layer Affinity

Hide the Layers

Hiding a layer makes it easier to focus on one element if there are many elements in the design. Toggle the layer visibility on and off by clicking on the little check box on each layer.

Hide layers Affinity

Add and Delete Layers

Layers can be added and removed from the Layers Panel. Affinity Designer automatically adds new layers for some actions like Adjustments and text.

Add a new Pixel layer

Adding a layer is done by clicking on the Add Pixel Layer button bottom right of the Layers Panel. Where the layer is placed depends on which layer is selected. If a single layer is selected, the new layer is placed above it. If a grouped layer is selected, the new layer is added to this group. You will know it's a new Pixel layer by the name.

New Pixel Layer Affinity

Delete the layers

Layers can be deleted in two ways. You can click on the layer, right click > Delete. You can also select the layer and hit Delete on your keyboard.

Delete selected layers Affinity

Next up, check out our guides on how to use clipping masks, how to outline text, and how to use the pen tool in Affinity Designer.

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