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Streamline your iPad workflow with Affinity V2’s Command Controller

Use this innovative feature to access alternative tool and object transformation behaviours just as quickly and easily as on a traditional computer, all from your iPad’s touchscreen.

On a traditional computer, the keyboard’s modifier keys—Ctrl, Shift, Option/Alt and (on Mac) Cmd keys—are a boon to productivity. With a little experience, they’re soon second nature, helping you to implement creative decisions quickly and smoothly.

Of course, you can use a hardware keyboard with your iPad, but you won’t want to feel like you’re missing out on shortcuts if only using the touchscreen. This is why the Command Controller exists.

The Command Controller in its resting state, with no modifiers in use.

The Command Controller brings the same convenience to your iPad. You can drag and hold its centre button over a modifier to affect the current tool or transform operation until you let go. Alternatively, tap a modifier to lock on its effect, and tap again when it’s no longer needed.

The Command Controller with the ⇧ modifier held (Left), and with the ⇧ and ⌘ modifiers locked (Right).

Here, we’ll highlight compelling reasons to start using the Command Controller. To learn more about its operation, read its documentation at or in your iPad app.

A speed-boost for your brushwork

Easily change a brush’s width, hardness, shape, spacing and rotation while in the middle of laying down brushstrokes.

Simply hold the Command Controller’s centre button between the ⌃ and ⌥ modifiers and then, using another finger or your Apple Pencil, drag on the document view.

The brush settings are previewed where you start dragging, rather than at the screen’s centre, like when using the sliders on the left of the screen, allowing you to more directly compare them to existing brushwork.

Modifying brush settings by holding two modifiers and dragging on the document view.

Dragging horizontally adjusts the current brush’s width, and dragging vertically adjusts hardness if the brush supports it.

Tap to cycle through other properties the brush supports, and adjust them using the same drag gestures.

Duplicate layers exactly where needed

Tired of selecting a layer followed by a menu command to duplicate a layer? The Command Controller reduces it to a single step that simultaneously positions the new copy exactly where you want it in the layer stack.

Drag and hold the centre button over the ⌥ modifier. On the Layers Panel, drag the layer (or layer group) to the required position in the stack and drop it to create a copy there.

Using a modifier to duplicate a layer in a specific position on the layer stack.

Cropping documents in Affinity Photo

When using Affinity Photo’s Crop Tool, you can control how the crop area is transformed, just like when transforming shapes and other objects.

Use the ⌘ modifier to resize the crop area around its centre, or the ⇧ modifier to constrain the crop area’s proportions as you resize it.

You can hold the Command Controller’s centre button between the two modifiers to apply both effects simultaneously.

Using modifiers to crop a photo around its centre and maintain the photo's aspect ratio.

Perfect your Pen Tool skills

When dragging to create a Bézier node, using the Command Controller’s ⌥ modifier will freeze the node’s inbound control handle in its current position, and so the segment you just drew does not change.

As you continue to drag, only the outbound control handle moves, determining the shape of the next segment you draw.

With a Bézier node selected (A), dragging one of its control handles normally also affects the other handle (B). You can use a modifier to move each handle independently (C).

To draw a straight line between the last and next-drawn nodes, use the ⌃ modifier.

You can modify nodes and segments you’ve already drawn by using the ⌘ modifier. It allows you to use Node Tool functionality to make on-the-fly adjustments without switching away from the Pen Tool. So, when you’re finished making changes, you can release the modifier and continue drawing.

When the ⌘ modifier is used on its own, you can:

  • Tap on a segment to create a new node at the tapped position.
  • Tap a node to select it and then drag the node to position it.
Straightening curved segments is one of many ways the Command Controller improves working with the Pen Tool.

You can combine the ⌘ modifier with others to more dramatic effect:

  • To select multiple nodes, add the ⇧ modifier. Drag one of the selected nodes to position all of them.
  • To convert a curved segment to a straight line, add the ⌥ modifier and then tap the segment.
  • To delete a segment, add the ⌃ modifier and then tap the segment.
  • To convert a node to a straight node, add the ⌥ modifier and then tap the node.
  • To convert a node to a Bézier (smooth) node, add the ⌃ modifier and then tap the node.

Autoflow overset text

In Affinity Publisher, you can deal with overset (overflowing) text by long pressing the affected text frame’s lower-right Text Flow triangle. The options this offers are also available via the Command Controller.

Using the ⌥ modifier, tap the Text Flow triangle to insert a new page with a linked text frame. This is helpful if you’re designing to a fixed number of pages as it allows you to add one page of overset text at a time.

Otherwise, hold the ⇧ modifier when you tap the triangle to flow all of the frame’s overset text onto however many additional pages are needed to accommodate it all.

In Affinity Publisher, the Command Controller helps to autoflow overset text onto however many pages it needs.

Rapidly reload the Style Picker Tool

New in Affinity V2, the Style Picker Tool samples formatting from an object and applies it to other objects (you can learn more about it in this article).

Successive uses of the tool require you to unload previously sampled formatting from it before sampling from another object. This can be done by tapping a button on the context toolbar, but the Command Controller allows you to skip this step altogether.

The Command Controller reduces the number of steps in repeatedly sampling and applying formatting.

Hold the ⌥ modifier when you tap an object. This replaces any formatting already loaded on the tool with that of the object.

Learn more

To see the Command Controller in action, check out our iPad tutorial videos for Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, and Affinity Publisher.