Organizing an Affinity Designer Workspace for Astropad

Mar 31st, 2017
Malyse McKinnon

Affinity Designer is a versatile all-in-one program, that has tools to work with and create both vector and raster images. Starting on a sharp poster design, or making quick photo edits are all possible without opening another program. In this quick step-by-step guide, we’ll help you organize an efficient workspace for using Affinity Designer with Astropad Studio.

Rearranging Workspace and Tool Panels

For Affinity Designer, by default the Tools panel is set to the left and different Studio panels (for example, Color, Layers, and Brushes) are to the right side. These Studio panels can be grouped together, as well as moved individually anywhere on screen.

Affinity Designer default workspace

Your tools can easily be organized all to one side, or scattered around your canvas area.

Affinity Designer panels set to left

If you want more control over your workspace, in Affinity Designer go to “Window” and select “Separated Mode”. This enables all your panels to be free-floating, including the menus at the top and tools panel; further adding versatility and accessibility of your canvas space.

Affinity Designer panels rearranged while Separated Mode. Astropad Studio shortcuts sidebar set left

Any type of panel arrangement works with Astropad Studio, since the sidebar can be placed to the left or right side of the iPad screen. Or hidden by tapping the Astro-Red ring button.

Shortcuts in Affinity Designer

Astropad Studio’s shortcuts are preset to default, so you will need to change them to accommodate Affinity Designer. In Astropad Studio’s Workspace sidebar (towards the bottom tap “Edit Shortcuts”), you can fully edit and rename shortcuts for the sidebar. When you’re done, tap “Workspace” to see all your newly added shortcut commands.

Also note, in Affinity Designer different Personas (Draw Persona, Pixel Persona, Export Persona) may have shortcuts that don’t work in another Persona.

Astropad Studio’s “Edit Shortcuts” menu

Recommended shortcuts for Astropad’s sidebar – 

  • B  :  Brush Tool
  • P  :  Pen Tool
  • M  : Ellipse Tool
  • A :  Node Tool
  • V  : Move Tool
  • Option Command N : New Layer
  • Command ]  :  Layer Up
  • Command [  : Layer Down


Suggested Magic Gestures – 

  • Hover
  • Eraser
  • Shift
  • Undo
  • Redo

Touch panning and zooming

Astropad’s touch gestures, panning and zoom, are supported in Affinity Designer. Using two fingers, pinch to zoom, and place together to pan on your iPad. This way, you won’t need to keep the scrollbars in view when you set up your ideal workspace.

How to set pen pressure

To utilize pen pressure in Affinity Designer, some settings will need to be adjusted —
Select the “More” button right next to “Opacity”, this opens individual brush settings.

Enable “Pressure” in Brush settings

Enable the “Pressure” option, and also change the size variance to give a range for the change in pressure. Also in the top menu, there is a “Controller” option; set this to “Pressure”.

“Pressure” selected in “Controller” option
Using Astropad Standard?

If you’re using Astropad Standard with Affinity Designer, here’s a few things to note with shortcuts —

  • Undo (Command Z) and Redo (Shift Command Z) will need to be changed in the Shortcuts sidebar.
  • Also, the shortcut for Eraser (E) is only usable in the Pixel Persona.


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