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5 things we love about Affinity Photo 2

You asked, and we listened! The next generation of Affinity Photo is bursting with highly requested new features and countless performance and usability improvements to make the workflows of our users—photographers, photo editors, retouchers and artists—more fluid and productive than ever before.

Here are five new additions (and more!) we think you’ll love in the next generation of Affinity Photo.

1. Non-destructive RAW Develop

A new feature at the top of the wish list for many Affinity Photo users is non-destructive RAW, and we’re pleased to announce that it’s in Version 2! This means you can now redevelop your raw files at any time, even after adding additional layers or adjustments to them. You can also choose whether to embed them into a document file or link externally to reduce file size.

Watch the demo:

Discover how to take advantage of Affinity Photo's non-destructive functionality.

2. Compound Masks

Compound Masks allow you to combine multiple masks together, making them ideal for more complex masking situations. The ability to change the Add, Intersect, Subtract and XOR operations for each individual mask gives you much greater control over how multiple masks affect a layer. And the best thing is it’s non-destructive, so you can experiment freely with each mask until you find a result that you like.

Watch the demo:

Learn how to combine multiple masks non-destructively using add, subtract, intersect and XOR modifiers.

3. Live Mesh Warp

Want an image or file to be distorted to match the surface of an underlying template? Now you can apply a non-destructive warp to make that happen, and go back to edit it whenever you like. It is highly effective for mock-up work, where you might place document files and composite them onto surfaces such as book or magazine pages, but it can also be used for corrective purposes such as warping the alignment of a building in an image.

You can see Live Mesh Warp 19:01 minutes into our What’s New video for Affinity Photo 2:

What's New in Affinity Photo 2--Live Mesh Warp

4. Normals Adjustment

Affinity Photo now has a Normals Adjustment, which lets you edit lighting information baked into an existing normal map. It is great as a standalone feature for texture artists, but it also allows the editing of lighting layers generated from 3D render software.

Watch the demo:

Learn how to modify normal map texture passes and also re-light 3D renders using Affinity Photo's Normals Adjustment.

5. Live Masks

Another welcome addition to the roster of non-destructive functionality in Affinity Photo is Live Masks, and there are three types.

Hue Range

You can now create a mask based on a specific colour in your image. This allows you to apply adjustments, effects or paint on the automatically generated mask for your chosen hue.

Watch the demo:

Hue Range Masks are one of Affinity Photo's Live Masks that you can apply for a fast, non-destructive masking workflow. Learn how to use them effectively to isolate colour ranges.

Band-Pass give you the ability to create a mask focused around the edges within an image. It has wide uses for retouchers who work on different frequency layers but also enables the creation of artistic effects.

Watch the demo:

Discover how to mask non-destructively based on image frequency using live band pass masks.

It’s now possible to mask specific luminosity ranges, for example, specific ranges of highlights or shadows (or anything in between) to apply controlled adjustments to those areas.

Watch the demo:

Blend layers together based on weighted intensity using a special non-destructive Luminosity Range Mask.

And that’s not all…

We’ve crammed many more new features into Affinity Photo 2, along with a raft of feature enhancements to make everyday tasks such as working with layers and brushes even more intuitive. Here’s a quick run-down of our favourites that we really wanted to let you know about!

Revamped Layers Panel

The Layers Panel has undergone a massive overhaul in all three Affinity apps and now boasts a ton of additional functionality. Most notable for Affinity Photo: adjustment and filter layers have their own unique thumbnail icons. Layer types are now identified by the icons next to the thumbnails rather than in bracketed text, and if you hover over these, you’ll get tool tips relating to the layer type. Parent and child layering has also been reworked, making the distinction between masking and clipping drop zones much clearer. Reordering child layers is easier to achieve as well. Available in desktop version only.

Layer States

This powerful new feature allows you to save different visibility states of your layer stack to quickly review different design options or versions of your work.

You can either create a manual layer state to save your layer visibility as it currently is or smart layer states which let you specify whether you want to turn layers on or off based on one or more of the following filter criteria: layer colour tag, layer type, layer name and lock status. Available in desktop version only.

Watch the demo:

Toggle layer visibility using manually created layer states and smart layer states, allowing you to filter layers by colour tag, type, name and more.

Quick bitmap fill

When working with shapes and fill layers you can now drop bitmap images from files, assets or other layers directly onto the fill icon in the Context Toolbar or your selected object. Click-drag sets the scaling and rotation of the fill, with all changes happening instantly, in real time. Available in desktop version only.

JPEG XL Import/Export

Affinity Photo has been a leader in editing wide colour gamut and HDR images, with support for full HDR displays. JPEG XL support now allows you to export to a format which is being more and more supported–particularly by web browsers–where the high dynamic range pixel values you see in Affinity Photo can be retained and shared with others.

Improved brush engine

A number of useability improvements have been made to brushes in Affinity Photo. You can now re-order nozzles by drag/drop and use any swatch for intensity brushes, including gradient and bitmap fills. There’s also a new distance controller and brush tip interpolation, as well as improvements to performance and accuracy.

Improved brush engine

Show pixel grid

This new option exposes a pixel grid when zoomed in for improved editing accuracy.

Multiple layer effects

You can now apply multiple instances of Outline, Inner Shadow, Colour Overlay, Gradient Overlay and Outer Shadow to the same object. Previously each layer effect could be applied only once.

Improved Displace Filter

In Version 2, to generate the displacement of content, you now have a choice between the old Sobel kernel method (akin to a pixel diffusion) and a new Red/Green channel offset method.

Watch the demo:

Discover various uses for the Displace filter, made all the more flexible by its implementation as a live filter layer, allowing you to freely displace text and other layer content whilst still being able to edit it.

Create new document from Stock Panel

By dragging straight from the Stock Panel to the top toolbar, you can now create a new document from a stock image, instantly. This is a quick approach if you want to use stock imagery as a starting point. Available in desktop version only.

Get 40% off Affinity V2 for a limited time!

To celebrate the release of Version 2, all Affinity apps–including Affinity Photo–are currently on sale with a substantial 40% launch discount!

You can buy them individually for macOS, Windows or iPad or purchase an Affinity V2 Universal Licence covering the entire suite on all platforms–which is very cost-effective for those wishing to purchase more than one app or the same app on multiple platforms. Whichever option you choose, it is a single one-off payment, no subscription.

The launch discount is only available for a limited time, though. So don’t miss it–check out our purchasing options and buy Version 2 now at


Watch more tutorials

Head over to the Affinity YouTube channel and you’ll find a vast bank of video tutorials covering all the new features and core tools for each app. We’ll be posting new videos regularly, so make sure you’re subscribed to our channel to see the latest V2 demos, tutorials, tips and tricks and more.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Find out more about Affinity V2

More information about Affinity V2, including details of the new features and learning resources for each app, can be found here:

Spotlight editor

As editor of Affinity Spotlight Melanie oversees the stories, interviews and tutorials published on the site. Outside of work she enjoys travelling, reading crime thrillers, Pilates and dabbling in a spot of oil painting. Get in touch with Melanie if you would like to contribute or be featured on Affinity Spotlight.

Credits & Footnotes

Banner image artwork created by LO CHEUK LUN

Brush engine screenshot artwork created by Eisuke Taki

All other imagery by James Ritson