Resizing projects with confidence

“Can you do it in A3 instead?” Andy offers some suggestions to avoid that uneasy feeling when resizing projects.

If you find yourself stressed out because you have to unexpectedly resize a project, then don’t panic. With a little thought and knowledge, you’ll be able to resize your projects with ease.

I’ll explore some document resizing basics and cover some useful tips and tricks on the way.

Before we get started, here are some common reasons to resize your work.

  • Conform to new guidelines—redesign to different sizing standards (e.g. social media, changing device mockups).
  • Design change—your original design concept may have changed direction.
  • Multiple size requirements—in advertising, you may need to supply differently sized adverts of the same design—at the same time.
  • Client rework—your client may simply want to change the original design requirements during the design or client review stage. It happens!

If some of these seem familiar, then read on!

Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher

With these vector-based apps, you inherently take advantage of vector object scalability.

Successful scaling will depend on whether the newly proposed document size has either the same or different aspect ratio compared to the original document.

Same aspect ratio

A simple rescale of all objects to the new page sized is a simple one-click operation. Using the A-series of page sizes (e.g. A5, A4, etc.) is advantageous here as their aspect ratios are identical when using the same page orientation, be it portrait or landscape. Any custom page size can also be scaled as long as the aspect ratios are to be equivalent.

A4 to A3 resize with automatic object rescaling
  1. Select File > Document Setup (Designer) or File > Spread Setup (Publisher).
  2. On the Dimensions tab, enable Objects Will Rescale, then change the page Dimensions in the width and height boxes.

Different aspect ratio

If the page sizes have different aspect ratios (e.g. A4 vs Letter), then you need to take a different approach. By anchoring the objects (e.g. to the centre of the page) instead of scaling them automatically on resize, you’re better off resizing selected objects manually after the document is resized. This avoids automatically squashing or stretching objects and gives you absolute control.

A4 to Letter resize with anchoring and manual object rescaling: 1. original, 2. document resized, 3. objects grouped and manually resized in proportion.
  1. Select File > Document Setup (Designer) or File > Spread Setup (Publisher).
  2. On the Dimensions tab, enable Objects Will Anchor to Page, then set the Anchor point (e.g. to centre).
  3. Change the page Dimensions in the width and height boxes. Note that the objects are kept the same size, but the document size changes.
  4. Select all objects, and then drag from any corner handle until the design scales approximately to the new size.
  5. Fine-tune the position of the rescaled objects if needed.

Different page orientation

A tricky scenario is if you need to swap a document’s orientation from portrait to landscape (and vice versa). The document’s size remains the same, but its dimensions are swapped.

Here you can take the same approach as described in Different aspect ratio above as you’re faced with the same challenge of maintaining the object’s aspect ratio while scaling—manual object scaling is king here.

A4 portrait to A4 landscape resize with anchoring, then rearrangement of design elements to fit to new dimensions.

In this instance, the two main components of the design were split—being presented side-by-side, rather than being stacked.

Affinity Photo

Resizing with resampling

For most users, a simple resize of the image is needed. The open image equates to the document size, so you just need to resize the document itself.

By default, you’ll be resampling your image to optimise resizing results. You’ll be able to choose between various resampling methods depending on the image: Nearest Neighbour (for pixel work), Bilinear (default), Bicubic (all-rounder for good results), and Lanczos (for sharpest results) can be chosen.

  1. Select Document > Resize Document.
  2. Enter new pixel Size values, which is the pixel resolution of your document.
  3. Experiment with your Resample method.
Resize Document dialog in Affinity Photo using resampling.

Scaling for print

If you’re preparing images for print layout, by swapping the resize dialog over to a physical unit of measurement, e.g. inches, you can set required image Size (e.g., 6in x 4in) and DPI (>300) and the pixel resolution will adjust to honour the print size.

Resizing the canvas

The document size is the pixel resolution of the opened image, while the canvas size is the dimensions of the ‘mount’ on which the image sits.

You can make the canvas smaller or larger separately from the document itself; typically, this is made larger, so it can act as an image ‘frame’; reducing the canvas size is simply a destructive crop. The document size changes either way.

Canvas resized by +20%, leaving a transparent checkerboard border, which can be filled with a sampled Matte colour.
  1. Select Document > Resize Canvas.
  2. Enter new pixel values, optionally unlocking the canvas aspect ratio (padlock icon) to give canvas proportions independently of the document (i.e. the original image).
  3. Set an anchor point if needed.

After enlarging the canvas, it shows as a transparent area. You can colour this by editing the matte in the project (via Edit > Matte) or at export time; colour sampling from the image is a popular technique for setting the matte colour.

You can also selectively anchor your image to any document corner or edge, so the canvas extends from the opposite corner or edge. To do this, set the Anchor point, which visually represents the anchor position in relation to the page itself.

Resizing on export

If you’re not planning to resize your document, all Affinity apps let you export ‘on the fly’ to any graphics format and size. Use File > Export, then from the More option select a Matte colour.


Documentation manager
Andy manages our software documentation here at Serif and is our chief technical writer. In-between falling off his bike cycling into work, he keeps himself busy ensuring all our apps have up to date and accurate help content, and is editor-in-chief of our stunning Affinity Workbooks.
Credits & Footnotes

Danube Documentary Poster by Vincent Jacquin