When you’re working to tight deadlines, it’s more important than ever to save time without sacrificing on quality. In this article, we’ll focus on how keyboard shortcuts, workspace customisation, Boolean operations and global colours can be used to redefine your workflow when designing logos in Affinity Designer.
Using keyboard shortcuts
Knowing basic keyboard shortcuts can make all the difference when it comes to helping you accomplish more in less time.
Here are some basic shortcuts that may be helpful to commit to memory:
Undo (Win: ctrl + Z, Mac: cmd + Z)—the ability to undo a step without taking your eyes off the canvas can be a real help when focusing on your design.
Cut (Win: ctrl + X, Mac: cmd + X), copy (Win: ctrl + C, Mac: cmd + C) and paste (Win: ctrl + V, Mac: cmd + V)—it’s useful to have these handy when you’re looking to remove, copy or place objects from the clipboard.
Select multiple objects (shift-click)—this is great for managing several layers (or layer objects) all at once.
Toggle snapping (;)—it’s handy to be able to position objects relative to other objects on the canvas, but sometimes a little more flexibility is required, so the ability to switch this on and off with a single key is extremely useful.
When it comes to tools, here are a few staples that can really help you out:
Move Tool (V)—for repositioning objects on the canvas at a moment’s notice.
Zoom Tool (Z)—home in on the fine details or go back to the bigger picture without losing focus on other aspects of your design.
Pen Tool (P)—create new lines, curves and shapes on the fly.
Colour Picker Tool (I)—grab and apply colours as you go.
Customising your workspace
When you’re designing a logo, it’s good to be able to clearly visualise your workspace. Everyone has their own way of working—customising Designer’s workspace gives you the freedom to really play to your strengths.
Designer’s Personas can each be uniquely customised, allowing you to rearrange and store a preferred setup of Studio Panels, Tools, or icons on the Toolbar for use at a later point.
The ability to choose which panels to show and hide makes it easier to navigate the workspace in a way you prefer. Panels can be displayed or hidden by going to View > Studio and selecting your panel of choice.
You can also move panels around to fit your way of working by dragging them. You can dock, group and resize panels, or hide the left and right Studios completely by going to View > Hide Studio if you prefer to go for a more minimalist approach.
To save studio presets for later, go to the View menu and select Studio Presets > Add Preset.
Saved studio presets can be loaded and edited at any time from the View menu by selecting Studio Presets > Manage Studio Presets.
From this dialog, you can load, rename or delete any of the presets you have saved.
If you’d prefer to go back to the default workspace setup, you can reset the studios within your active Persona by going to the View menu and selecting Studio > Reset Studio.
Using stock images
With Designer’s Stock Panel, you can access a range of stock images—perfect if you’re looking to quickly and easily gather research material and design inspiration for moodboards and referencing. You can also use this panel to grab scenes, objects, merchandise, and mockups that can help with seeing your logo designs in situ.
The Stock Panel acts as an in-app image browser that connects to one of several photo providers. From the panel, you can search each provider’s images, browse image thumbnails and drag stock images directly to the page.
Setting up a grid
Grids are perfect for getting things positioned just right, saving you the trouble of guessing where elements of your logo should sit.
You can set up automatic or fixed grids via the View menu—select Show Grid to display the grid, and adjust settings via the Grid and Axis Manager. When using automatic grids, the frequency of grid subdivisions changes as you zoom in and out, while fixed grids always keep the grid frequency constant no matter how far you zoom.
Grids work well when combined with snapping. It may be especially helpful to enable the Snap to grid option (this can be done via View > Snapping Manager).
Grids can be based on any document unit and also align perfectly with rulers, if these have been switched on.
Using Boolean operations
If you’re not sure what you want your logo to look like, or find you have a lot of different ideas on the go, Boolean operations are a great way to start experimenting.
More often than not, memorable digital logo designs tend to use a combination of basic shapes that are easy to recognise at a glance.
With Designer’s Boolean operations, you can build advanced shapes non-destructively, letting you play around with endless combinations until you find the one that works for you.
To combine shapes, with multiple shapes selected, you can select from a variety of Boolean operations on the toolbar.
The Add, Subtract, Intersect, Xor, and Divide operations all make the newly created compound into something different, so it’s easy to create a range of effects with the same set of shapes.
If you hold down ALT while selecting a Boolean operation, you can create a Compound layer containing the shapes you originally selected. Doing this lets you edit the shapes non-destructively, meaning you can rearrange and transform shapes directly from within the compound layer.
You can also change the Boolean operation applied to shapes within a Compound layer by clicking on its icon in the Layers panel and selecting one of the available options.
Working with global colours
Colour plays a huge role when it comes to branding. When designing logos, it helps to keep a copy of your brand’s colour palette handy at all times. That way, you can jump straight to your palette and grab your chosen colour in an instant.
One easy way to do this is to create global colours, which can be instantly applied to any object in your design. If you haven’t decided on a colour palette for your logo yet, this also gives you the perfect opportunity to play around with different colour combinations.
Global colours can be created from an existing object by selecting the object, choosing a document palette in the Swatches panel, setting the Stroke/Fill colour selector, then clicking Add current colour to palette as a global colour.
They can also be created from scratch via the Swatches Panel. Select a document palette from the palette pop-up menu (or, if no palette exists, you can create one from the panel’s Panel Preferences menu). With your palette chosen, from the Panel Preferences menu, select Add Global Colour. Adjust the settings in the dialog, then click Add.
If you want to change the colour across your design at a later time, you can simply edit the global colour in the Swatches Panel—all objects using the selected colour will update with the new colour automatically and simultaneously. This is extremely useful if you ever need to rebrand.
Some extra tips
By making a few tweaks to Designer’s customisable features, it’s easy to save time when preparing, designing, and arranging different parts of your logo.
If you’re still on the lookout for more time-saving tips, keyboard modifiers can easily turn tedious tasks into something much quicker and more intuitive. This article covers some of the more commonly used keyboard modifiers and how they can help you work faster.
For another great time saving method when producing branding materials, you might want to look at customising symbols—check out this article for more details.