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Studio panel combinations

Andy takes a look at some useful Studio panel arrangements which can make you more efficient and smooth your workflows.

About Studio panels

Studio panels are areas of the user interface, like dialogs, that contain settings that help you design objects and layer content. Some are also related to the document itself, and others simply offer design aids.

What is common to all Affinity desktop apps is that Studio panels can be arranged in many alternative combinations and groupings instead of their default docked locations. Their ability to be undocked, repositioned, sized and snapped together means you can customise them to help your current workflow.

  • Undocking—Any panel can be detached from its anchored default position by dragging. The panel floats in readiness for repositioning or resizing and will always be on display.

  • Repositioning—An undocked panel can be dragged to a more appropriate position in your Document View, perhaps to avoid obscuring an area of design or to be nearer the design areas you’re currently working on.

  • Resizing—Panels can be resized both vertically or horizontally, typically to reveal additional information that would otherwise be hidden.

  • Snapping—Like the snapping of objects together, panels that naturally work together can be snapped to each other, both vertically or horizontally. This can greatly improve your design workflow. Once snapped, the panels can be repositioned as if one panel.


Here are some panel arrangements that you might like to adopt for all Affinity apps.

Undocking and adjusting panel height

Undocking a panel can bring more settings into view; increasing panel height can further reveal extra information. Some panels may be more complex by design with expandable drop-down categories or hidden layers/group content so you’ll benefit from the extra height.

In this complex multi-layer document, an undocked Layers panel with increased height will bring more layers/objects into view. Keep the panel next to the page edge so you can see more of your design.

Also useful for:

  • Character panels
  • Paragraph panels

Undocking and adjusting panel width

An undocked panel can also be increased in width to view information that is otherwise truncated.

This document has many placed images with lengthy file names. The undocked Layers panel with increased width reveals important information such as embed/link status and object type.
Affinity Publisher’s Section Manager has been dramatically widened to reveal long section names in full. This better identifies sections, and avoids wrongly identifying naming that uses long prefixes.

Snapping panels together

Once undocked, multiple panels can be snapped to each other just like when object snapping. The great advantage is that panels that are closely related will always remain connected, which means less cursor movement between them and a quicker workflow; both panels are always in view too.

This Colour - Swatches panel combination is used to build up a document palette of applied colours as the design is created. New colours were created from Colour panel, added to the Swatches panel’s palette, and then reapplied to new objects from the palette.
In Affinity Designer, as you add multiple strokes in the Appearance panel, you can further modify the stroke using the adjacent Stroke panel. As well as adjusting stroke widths quickly, you can change cap and join settings on multi-stroke curves, and even add an arrowhead to the curve.

Other Designer panel pairings:

  • Assets—Constraints panels: for device mockups, if you’re adding iOS assets to the page you can set constraints for intelligent scaling/anchoring.
  • Layers—Effects panels: with different layer effects applied to each object, clicking between each affected object in the Layers panel displays that object’s layer effect settings in the Effects panel in turn.
In Affinity Photo, with the Colour panel set to a Greyscale spectrum you can paint on selected mask layers on the Layers panel using the accessible greyscale values.

Other Photo panel pairings:

  • Brushes—Colour panels: with your Brushes panel height increased, more brushes are at hand. This lets you quickly pick up colours from the Colour panel for a greater choice of brushes.
  • Brushes—Swatches panels: like the Brushes/Colour panel combination but you can pick up stored colours from any colour palette.
Character, Paragraph and Text Styles panels are by default hidden, but undocking and snapping these text-related panels together means you can review text with most character and paragraph settings visible at the same time. As a further advantage, selecting any text style in the Text Styles panel will show the style’s character and paragraph settings in respective panels.

Other Publisher panel pairings:

  • Hyperlinks—Anchors: the two features work in combination, so pairing these panels makes sense.

Saving your workspace

Once Studio panels are arranged as you want them (they’ll be preserved in future sessions), you may want to save these Studio arrangements to a preset for later use. Saving means you can create multiple presets of panel arrangements to suit different workflows. Presets are saved per Persona, so you can have different presets per design discipline, e.g., presets for vector drawing and separate presets for raster painting.

To save, use View > Studio Presets > Add Presets.

As an added bonus, any customisation you’ve made to your toolbar setups will be saved with the preset too.

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

Undocking and adjust panel height - featured artwork by Emi Haze.

Affinity Publisher’s Section Manager - featured illustration by Steve Simpson.

Snapping panels together - featured illustration by Scott Balmer.

Ink image created by Alberto Seveso.

All other artwork created in-house.