TOM LUDD is a 22-year-old freelance graphic designer who – despite his relatively young age – has been practising his craft for eight years and accepting commissions since 2014.
Alongside running a one-man design studio, Tom runs the Designers’ League; a Facebook community of more than 7,000 designers and creatives from all over the world.
Tom’s latest work is a design for the beautiful Letterpress Calendar, the crowd-funded project by French designer Fabien Barral, of Mr Cup Studio.
Fabien recruited 13 designers and gave each an inspirational phrase to incorporate into their design.
For Tom – a former Adobe student ambassador – it was the perfect opportunity to show what he can do in Affinity Designer, the Apple Award-winning vector graphics editor from Serif.
“I discovered Affinity Designer simply by chance online, and snapped it up when it was first released. I played about with it a few times after that but I only really started to use it when my subscription to Adobe had ended. From there I decided to switch to Affinity full-time.
The first thing that really grabbed me about Affinity Designer was the sheer speed of the software and how intuitive and fun it was to create inside of. So many features that I love, especially the Symbols tool which I will go into a little more depth below. This software is truly the only other alternative for a professional designer and the price makes this a purchase to buy regardless, even as a backup – there is no excuse!
For the Letterpress calendar, Fabien contacted me asking me if I was interested in creating a piece. He simply gave me some details and provided the quote “If everything has already been done, try doing it even better” to be included in my piece. I was given free rein on it – one of those rare occasions I couldn’t pass by!
Here’s a sort of step by step guide of some of the techniques I used in Affinity Designer to create pieces like this.
1. Setting up your workflow
With my work, I almost always use a grid, because this allows me to quickly and accurately check the spacing of my lines and keep things contained. With the calendar piece, I was fitting a lot of detail into small framing so had to make sure it was all equal from the start, to ensure any further detailing I make isn’t off (this really saves a lot of headache).
2. Using the snapping feature
Another feature I love using is the ability to snap to the grid, this makes precise line work very easy, I find this helps streamline the process and speeds it up, leaving you added time to experiment.
I work almost always in mono-line and with an aim for the piece to have the utmost precision, as it can make or break a piece of work. You don’t want to let down a great concept by having sloppy execution, and Affinity Designer easily matches any other software for its precision, with the ability zoom in over 100 million per cent.
3. Building your basic frame
It helps to build a basic frame that all your detailing will settle inside as this will help you plan out the rest of your piece. Usually I use a square or circle and build into it, adding in smaller frames and filling in the inners with hatching.
This is easily done in Affinity Designer by holding cmd / ctrl and dragging in the direction you wish to duplicate and then pressing CMD / CTRL + J repeatedly depending on how many you need. You don’t just have to use hatching, you could make smaller repeating patterns, but be careful you don’t go too complicated else it may be lost in print.
4. Using the rotate and duplicate tool to add detail(s)
Another technique I used in this piece was the process of rotating and duplicating an object around a circle, this adds some great detail and was how I easily repeated the dots around the vine inside the border of my piece. The more you can ease your process, the more time you can spend playing.
5. Adding pattern work quickly using the symbol tool
The symbol tool from Affinity Designer is a genius feature that helps speed my workflow up massively, I’m able to create an object and then mirror it in real-time in another area of the art board, as many times as I wish by duplicating it.
This allows for incredibly quick patterns and illustrations and allows me to quickly see whether a concept will work without putting too much time into it.
It totally makes you work in a different way and you will come up with visuals you would have a hard time thinking up without it.
6. Preparing your work for print
When preparing this piece, I had made sure to group up specific segments of the piece as pictured in the gif below, this helped me massively when coming to export this piece as there was a whopping 4,578 separate objects.
From there I was able to easily expand the strokes and then use the pathfinder tool to ensure all details would be kept and that it would print optimally.”
The finished design