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Format objects consistently and conveniently with Affinity V2’s Style Picker Tool

Think of the Style Picker Tool as the more capable counterpart of the familiar Colour Picker Tool. Rather than sampling colour alone, it picks up a plethora of formatting from a source object to apply to others.

You can use the Style Picker Tool to sample an object’s stroke, fill, layer opacity, layer effects, character settings, paragraph settings and object settings, and then apply all or a subset of these attributes to a target object.

The Style Picker Tool works like this:

  1. Click/tap the source object to sample (load) its formatting onto the tool.
  2. On the context toolbar, select the sampled attributes you wish to apply to other objects.
  3. Click/tap target objects to apply the selected attributes to them.

Alternatively, you can select the target objects first, select the attributes to be applied, and then click/tap the source object. This is invaluable when working with complex, layered documents because it provides certainty of what will be affected.

Putting it into action

The image below shows iterations on lettering like you might find in a children’s alphabet book, made in Affinity Designer. Each letter is a Curve object with different stroke, fill and outer shadow settings.

The Style Picker Tool allows us to carry our preferred design choice from the letter 'a' to our other objects.

Let’s say we’ve decided our choices for the letter ‘a’ are the best for our book. We can use the Style Picker Tool to sample its formatting.

The context toolbar then indicates that formatting has been loaded onto the tool (on desktop, this is also indicated by the Style Picker Tool’s pointer, which will have changed from an empty pipette to a filled one).

The Style Picker Tool's context toolbar on desktop (top) and iPad (bottom).

We don’t want to affect the other letters’ gradient fills, so we’ve deselected Fill on the context toolbar.

To apply the other sampled attributes, we simply click/tap each of the other target objects one at a time.

Applying sampled attributes from the leftmost object to the others.

A more complex case

Complex formatting may require more than a couple of clicks or taps to apply to sample and apply. Take this magazine spread in Affinity Publisher as an example.

The Style Picker Tool allows you to quickly reuse multiple discrete attributes, like on our right page's pull-quote.

The right page’s pull-quote is a text frame with the following applied to it:

  • Text wrap settings.
  • Text frame stroke and fill colours.
  • Text frame insets.
  • Two paragraph styles applied to the citation and its source.

We wish to apply all of these to the pull quote on the left page. Naturally, the Style Picker Tool makes it a cinch.

This time, we’ve selected the target object first and then sampled from the source object. This gets us most of the way to the desired result.

On first use, the Style Picker Tool gets us most of the way to the desired result, except it has applied a single sampled paragraph style to all of the target object's text.

In an instant, the target text frame’s wrap, insets and colouring instantly all look as we want.

All of the frame’s text has the same style, though. This is because we happened to click/tap the first paragraph in the source object (equally, we could have sampled from the second paragraph and adjusted our next step accordingly).

To avoid affecting the correctly formatted paragraph, we next need to deselect the target object so we can target the second paragraph directly.

A Style Picker Tool shortcut

At this point, observe that the formatting we sampled earlier is still loaded onto the Style Picker Tool.

The existing formatting needs to be unloaded from the tool in order to sample different attributes and then take another sample. You can do this in two steps by unloading via the context toolbar–but who doesn’t love a shortcut!

Attributes currently loaded on the Style Picker Tool can be manually unloaded via the context toolbar or using a modifier on your keyboard or Affinity for iPad's Command Controller.

Instead, hold the Option (macOS)/Alt (Windows)/ (iPad) modifier when sampling to automatically unload what’s already loaded on the tool.

Now that the second paragraph’s formatting is loaded on the Style Picker Tool, we can use the tool to select text to apply it.

In our example document, we’ve included the special character at the end of the line to ensure the paragraph inherits the applied paragraph style’s right alignment.

With attributes loaded onto the Style Picker Tool, you can select precisely the range of text you wish to affect.

Voila! In quick time, we’ve applied all the formatting attributes to the left page’s pull quote.

It's tempting to duplicate the correctly styled object and copy and paste text, but the Style Picker Tool has helped us achieve our intended result with just a few clicks.

Formatting objects is inherently useful in Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher. Rest assured that if you use objects in Affinity Photo, the Style Picker Tool is available in that app as well.

Tips for selecting targets

The ability to select target objects first means you can use the Style Picker Tool to affect objects on multiple artboards and pages all at once.

With a document like our magazine article, realistically you might need to format pull quotes on multiple pages. With all of them selected, you can use the technique above to give them a consistent look in a matter of seconds.

The Style Picker Tool's benefits become even clearer when working with designs that contain repeated elements, especially during the early, iterative stages of design.

Further speed things up with Affinity’s smart selection techniques

When selecting target objects in advance, you don’t have to directly interact with them in the document view. Consider selecting them using:

  • The Layers Panel, wherever each object is nested (note that in Affinity Publisher this limits your selection to the active page/spread).
  • The Select Same and Select Object features (Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher only), which allow you to select objects by a commonality, even across all of a document’s artboards/pages.

By adopting consistent layer names or tag colours, you could use Select Same’s Layer Name or Tag Colour option to select all pull quotes. This can be an especially useful technique during the early, iterative stages of a design.

Further learning

You can learn more about the Style Picker Tool in your Affinity apps’ Help system or at, and in our video tutorials for desktop and iPad.

Technical author

Alan is part of our technical authoring team and joined us from the world of magazines (MacUser), where he wrote up software techniques and worked on pioneering interactive digital editions. When he’s not neck-deep in page layouts, layer masks and adjustment layers, you’ll often find him digging through second-hand records for interesting sleeve artwork or gazing in wonderment at the graphical variety of Japanese video games.

Credits & Footnotes

Banner artwork by Matt Searston

All imagery from Shutterstock

Google font Modak used in Designer document

Fonts used in Publisher document:

  • Google font Hubballi
  • American Typewriter, included with macOS
  • Arial, included with macOS and Windows
  • Helvetica Neue, included with macOS