Setting up your document
Open Affinity Photo and go to File > New to set up your blank canvas. We want our finished piece to be high resolution in landscape orientation, so choose the document dimensions 5120px x 3620px in the New Document dialog.
Using the Stock Panel
The Stock Panel is located in the panels on the right-hand side of the workspace. To access Unsplash images from here, make sure Unsplash is selected from the drop-down menu. Next, read the linked Terms and Conditions for using Unsplash and when you’ve finished, check the I understand checkbox. Now you are ready to search over 1,000,000 free (do-whatever-you-want) high-resolution photos from Unsplash within Affinity Photo.
Finding the background image
The first thing we want to do is choose our main image for the composition. The 1.7 update for Affinity Photo now includes a Stock Panel option directly within the app itself, so it couldn’t be easier to find inspiration for your next design. By default, the panel is located on the right-hand side, as part of the tab group that also comprises the Adjustment, Layers, Effects and Styles panels. For this example, I searched for ‘Mountain’ in the search box at the top of the panel. Links to all the images used can be found at the end of this tutorial.
Once you’ve found the image you want to use, simply drag it over to your document from the Stock Panel and you’re ready to go.
Images hosted on Unsplash do not necessarily require you to give credit. It is however greatly appreciated and allows photographers to gain exposure. Once you have dragged your chosen image from the Stock Panel into your document, a dialog will appear that presents additional information. Here you can click on Open Stock URL to be directed to the image via your web browser of choice. You can also click on Photo by Author Name which will take you to the photographer’s Unsplash profile, allowing you to explore all the other great images they have uploaded to the site.
Finding the composite images
Next, we want to choose some stunt-bike and skateboard imagery to fill out our composition. We can do this using the same approach as before by searching on the Stock Panel. For this example, I searched for ‘BMX, Skateboard, Ramp’ in the search box at the top. I added a few key words followed by commas to narrow down my search and get exactly the images I was looking for! Once I found the images I wanted to use, I simply dragged them onto my document to place them.
Cutting out for compositing
We need to remove the background from the skateboarder image so we can effectively composite it into our scene. To do this, we first need to choose the Selection Brush Tool (W), and then proceed to paint the sections we want to show using the brush. As you paint with this tool you can see the image begins to fill out with the sections you have highlighted. Once you are happy with the areas you have selected, click on the Refine button on the context toolbar at the top of the page and you’ll be given some further options in a new panel.
The selection will already be refined, but you can add feathering or smoothing to your selection to potentially improve the accuracy and appearance of your image. When you are happy with the settings, change the drop down Output box to New Layer. This will copy our selection to a new layer, leaving the original completely unedited.
Now we have our newly created layer, we can reposition and rescale the image to fit in with the background and the surrounding elements. Simple adjustments like this can be made by using the Move Tool (V)—the image can be moved by click-dragging on it, and the control handles can be used to scale, rotate and shear the image.
This procedure can be repeated for all of the images we dragged in to composite them onto the scene.
Clipping sections to fit into the background
Once we are happy with our layout, we will need to help some of the new elements blend into the background more effectively. In order to do this we need to ‘clip’ to our image to give the appearance that the mountain in the background is in front of our BMX photo. Firstly, we want to select the Pen Tool (P), and then proceed to draw the shape that we want our mountain to clip to. Once we have made the selection with our Pen Tool, a new Curve layer will be made. Now we just need to drag our BMX image layer underneath this Curve layer so that it can sit inside the confines of that shape.
Adjusting colours and other elements
For the final steps, I wanted to adjust the colours and saturation levels of the overall image. We can do this by going to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Recolour. The adjustment window that pops up allows us to drastically change the appearance of the image selected. You can do this by moving the Hue and Saturation sliders to create the desired effect.
Applying noise to the image
Another adjustment we can make is by adding a noise texture to the artwork. We can do this by going to Layer>New Live Filter Layer>Noise>Add Noise. Here we can add an almost paper-like grain to the image which can really help to add some character and depth to your design. Once the effect is applied you can adjust the Intensity and Blend Mode of the noise effect with the slider and drop-down box.
We can also apply this effect to the whole design or just individual elements, much like the Recolour adjustment tweak earlier. This is achieved by clipping the live filter layer to individual layers—to do this, click-drag the layer and offer it to the thumbnail of the layer you are clipping it to.
- Mountain Image by Jerry Zhang
- BMX Image by Brandon Erlinger-Ford
- BMX Image by Brandon Erlinger-Ford
- BMX Image by Nicolas Picard
- Skateboarder Image by Zac Ong
- BMX Image by NeONBRAND
- BMX Image by Fonsi Fernández
- Skateboarder Image by Kirk Morales
There are so many things you can create using Unsplash images, and it’s so easy to access them now in Affinity Photo. Check out our other tutorials in this series for more inspiration!