Created within a two-week deadline period for Wizard Jam 4, The Bear’s Black Heart by Big Bad Studios involves players in a race against hunger and increasing cold as you find food and interact with a host of characters.
Everybody you meet has unexpected replies to the choices you make and both their and your actions can be a little nutty sometimes! Can you reason with Eric the Actor? Can you seek directions from David Bowie’s ghost? There’s been massive interest in the game since YouTube ‘big beast’ Markiplier put out a gameplay video.
Here, Bob Byrne of Spanish/Irish game developers Big Bad Studios, explains how they used Affinity Designer to create characters for the game – up against an incredibly tight timescale.
“We decided to take part in Wizard Jam, a yearly challenge where you have two weeks to create a game from scratch. The only stipulation is that the game title must be selected from an existing list.
We chose ‘The Bear’s Black Heart.’
Step 1: Pencil sketches
As always, I began by working up pencil sketches. This was my first game jam but I’d completed the comic artist equivalent a few times, for example 24hr Comics Day, which is essentially doing a month’s work in one day. Same deal though, you’re given a title and off you go.
Having a hard deadline with no real negative consequences unlocks something inside you. For artists or designers who struggle with procrastination these projects are invaluable.
I figured it also gave me an opportunity to really test drive Affinity Designer v1.5. I’d been playing with it on and off but after this project I’m entirely sold on it for all design work including print and UI stuff.
Step 2 – Character Design
I had no idea what the gameplay style would actually be but when Abban (my gamedev partner) showed me his Unity prototype I knew the character would be physically small on screen, so he needed to be bold and chunky.
Having his heart on his stomach like the Care Bears was too obvious so I developed the ‘jar bear’ idea with some sketches in Affinity Designer.
Previously in other apps I would break out the Wacom tablet and do some sketches but I quickly realised that the Pen tool in Affinity Designer is so smooth and intuitive that I just used my mouse.
I jumped the gun and made a sprite sheet, although in the end we decided to use Spine instead. No harm though as it only took a few minutes to reposition and pose him to make this sprite sheet, he is mostly made up of Symbols and Styles so if needed, I could re-style him directly no problem.
Because in Affinity the Export Persona is only one click away, I didn’t have to fret about targeting different sizes and remaking the sheet if changes were required. Trying to do all that in Photoshop would make my heart sag.
Step 3 Environments and assets
Once the character looked solid I created some tileset environment tests. Everything was created in one Affinity Designer document; by using Artboards there’s no danger of getting lost in a mess of files and I can keep working at a fast pace… the clock was ticking on this project.
In Affinity Designer, the Symbols feature makes mocking up environments and creating final game assets so easy. The trees in the game are actually just one leaf! Check out how I can change every instance of leaf Symbol in a few clicks.
Then to create the Winter and Autumn variations I just used Layer Adjustments to change the tone. It’s ideal for rapidly making and testing a tileset for your game.
Here’s one of the final tilesets we used:
I also had to create a bunch of Non-Playing Characters, Title Screen, Icon and promo screenshots.
The NPC’s were fun and I wanted to continue making them but, yeah…tick-tock!
Step 4 – Affinity to Spine
In Affinity Designer 1.5 you can now export for Spine JSON, which was another massive time saver.
And I must say it was genuinely painless getting the model rigged and ready from Affinity to Spine. If time permitted, we would have liked to add blinks and animation on the liquid bubbles and so on, but again we had a looming deadline on this.
Step 5 – Title screen and Icon
App icons…the bolder and stronger the better. Plus we needed something which doubled as the icon and Title Screen. This is the best thing about working fast and lean; you need to be economical with everything and, most of the time, simplicity is the best. Decisions have to be taken without hesitation.
That wonderful green glow gradient is just a simple Style which you can create by right clicking on any shape and hitting Create Style.
Again, I used Symbols in Affinity Designer, just in case I needed to edit fast or even reuse his arms on a different character.
The two-week deadline approached very fast as we juggled real life and work stuff. We spent all day Sunday before the bell rang making the actual game content and promo stuff like the screenshots and video, which you can view here.
It was a long night. My eyes were stinging from screen time (and brandy!). But we did it and it the game has been well received so far. We were blown away to see the Markiplier ‘Let’s Play…’ video and the response has been amazing. We’re definitely going to use the bear again in our new game ‘Woodland Run’.
All in all, a great experience and I recommend any kind of similar ‘imposed deadline projects’ to everyone. Not just for games but anything in the creative field.
Affinity Designer is shaping up to be the weapon of choice for increasing numbers of game developers. I honestly couldn’t have gotten this amount of work done in such a short window without it.
It’s got export for Spine, silky smooth Raster and Vector tools, a Constraint Tool for resizing UIs to different screen dimensions, plus improved versions of all the standard features which you have come to expect from other design apps. At a competitive one time price, it’s more than worth a look for pro and even casual game developers.”
Find out more info on Affinity Designer or check out the game here.
There’s great news today for owners of Affinity Photo for iPad – and for anyone considering buying it.
Not only have we just pushed out the latest free update to our professional photo editing app for iOS, we’ve also decide to keep the price lower in the App Store.
Since Affinity Photo for iPad was unveiled during Apple’s WWDC keynote in San Jose, in June, reviewers and customers around the world have acclaimed it as a game-changer for professional photo editing on the move.
We launched at the discount price of £19.99 / US$19.99 / 21,99€ for what we intended to be an introductory period at around 30 per cent off the planned full retail price.
Since launch, we’ve been blown away by the response – sales have been beyond our wildest predictions. But because it was a genuine world first for fully-featured professional apps on iOS, there was really no precedent we could use to judge the right price for an app of this quality.
Now we’ve had chance to assess the response, and settled on a price which is not only value for money for our customers, but also sets a benchmark for the price of high-end, professional apps on iPad in the future.
That means we’ve decided to keep the full price point of Affinity Photo for iPad permanently at £19.99 / US$19.99 / 21,99€ (subject to App Store regional variations).
What’s more, today Affinity Photo for iPad has received another update, bringing new features as well as the quick, reactive bug fixes that our customers have come to expect.
The update, free to customers, strengthens the compatibility between the desktop and mobile versions of the app. If you set up and save macros in Affinity Photo on Mac or Windows, you can now play them back on iPad. (The ability to record new macros on the iPad itself will be in a future update.)
Our super-talented developers are working constantly to make the most of the iPad’s unique Metal graphics technology, allowing users to work easily on large super-high-resolution photographs, or complex compositions with potentially thousands of layers.
Affinity Photo already brought unrivalled capability to work on huge images with incredible speed when retouching, applying effects or adding adjustments.
To do this type of work on iPad is something that no-one has ever attempted before, and we are learning all the time how we can squeeze every ounce of power from the device. This latest update raises the bar again with big performance increases – it’s now faster, smoother and more productive than ever.
Other changes include UI improvements, improved PDF and vector export and better integration with the Apple Photos app. Please see below for a fuller list.
Affinity Photo for iPad is compatible with the iPad Pro 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch, iPad Air 2, iPad 2017, and optimised for Apple Pencil.
For more information go to https://affinity.serif.com/photo/ipad.
Full list of updated features continues below…
Additions and improvements in v1.6.4:
• Macro studio import and playback. Supports interactive playback.
• Significant improvements in performance for large or complex documents.
• Even better HDR merge of RAW images.
• Increased maximum size of the liquify brush tools.
• One-press switching between button menus (e.g. document, command menus).
• Improved loading of images from photo library (now shows all user albums/folders).
• Use “Place Image” to place original images from Photos.
• Powerful adjustment previews.
• Enhanced selection refinement.
• Improved PDF and vector export.
• Better TIFF loading, including support for malformed 8bit grayscale TIFFs.
• Dismiss font size chooser by pressing return.
• Focus Merge can now use RAW sources.
• Show progress when committing a refined selection.
• Metadata available when creating a document from the camera.
• Export LUT added to document menu.
• Convert to Curves added to command menu.
• Wet edges can now have a custom interpolation spline.
• Pinch gesture support for grouping / ungrouping layers in the layers studio.
• Passthrough blending for groups.
• Icon improvements, especially in text studio.
• Selection marquee tools support extra-finger-constrain.
• Improved reading of DPI from files.
• Exposure adjustment now operates in stops, not % and has wider range.
• Arrow tool has more options.
• Paragraph leading UI improvements.
• New option to dither gradients in preferences (defaults to ‘on’).
• Significantly smoother pan / zoom.
• Directional lights in the lighting filter can now be directed using on-canvas handles.
• Smart selection brush improvements.
• Adjustments / filters preview react to changes in canvas size.
• Further memory management and localisation enhancements.
• Numerous fixes and stability improvements.
We have some great news for all our Affinity Designer users out there! Until Friday, 18 August the price of the official Workbook will be discounted by 40%, making it just £22.99 / 26.99€ / $29.99 (+ shipping and handling) – exclusively on our Affinity store.
Bound in a hardcover, and printed across 448 full colour pages, the Workbook contains a wealth of stylishly illustrated instructions, guides and expert tips to help you make the most of Affinity Designer’s huge feature set and vast design capabilities.
You’ll learn from the experts with some fantastic projects created just for the Workbook by top artists and designers including Paolo Limoncelli, a leading UX designer and illustrator from Italy. His contribution, The Whittler, teaches valuable raster and vector techniques, plus how to create unique brushes using Affinity Designer.
Other guest illustrators include Romain Trystram, Kevin House and our own Creative Director Neil Ladkin. You’ll gain a rare insight into each designer’s workflow, from concept to finished product, and with links to download all the sample files you can easily follow along with each amazing project.
The Workbook also includes a huge reference of every tool and panel, plus a detailed core skills section for brushing up on fundamental design techniques. And, to help boost your productivity we’ve also included four keyboard shortcut cheats sheets in the back of the book which you can pull out and keep aside for easy reference!
The Workbook has received some great reviews from both Affinity Designer users and the press − it’s currently rated 4.5/5 at goodreads.com and 4.3/5 at Amazon UK, while Creative Bloq have said:
‘Once readers reach the end of the book, they’ll have a wealth of technical knowledge under their belts and prove that they can combine their vector graphics skills to create fully rounded design projects such as product and packaging designs, posters, and press-ready documents.
With clear explanations and an even clearer layout, the Affinity Designer Work Book looks set to make the already popular software even more accessible.’
The discount must end Friday, 18 August, so order now to get the Affinity Designer Workbook for £22.99 / 26.99€ / $29.99 (+ shipping and handling). Click here to view the list of countries we ship to.
We’re almost ready to launch the version 1.6 updates of Affinity Photo and Designer – and we’re asking for your help!
To support all the marketing we do – web pages, videos, social media posts or in-app samples – it’s great to have photos and artwork which our users have created to show off the capability of our apps. So, we wanted to reach out to you to ask if you have any fantastic work you would be happy for us to use in this way. You’d be in great company – in the past we have used work from the likes of Romain Trystram, Ben the Illustrator, Paolo Limoncelli, Man-Tsun and Bang Photography to name a few.
In addition to forming part of the publicity campaign to promote the possibilities of our apps to new users, you’ll receive a fee of US$300 to license each piece we use.
For our Affinity Photo marketing we mostly need incredible photos of any subject matter: landscapes, model shots, nature, architecture, weddings, sports, automotive, etc. Also, we’d love to see any work which uses focus stacking, HDR, panorama stitching, 360 images or full multi-layered compositions.
For Affinity Designer we need any work created in the app – illustrations, web / app mock ups, icons, logos, print projects, paintings, etc.
To get an idea of what we have used before, check out our website (affinity.serif.com) or the latest product videos:
If you have created anything you think might be suitable, and as long as you are the copyright owner and hold all the rights to license the work to us, then please get in touch. You can send your photos or designs to consider to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A flattened PNG or JPG (or a link if you have a gallery on Behance, etc.) is fine at this stage, though if you’re successful we’ll ultimately need the full res image or Affinity file. Please keep your initial submission down to a maximum of five files but let us know if have more. The closing date for submissions is 25th August 2017.
If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to ask us on email@example.com.
We’re really looking forward to checking out your work!
Affinity Photo for iPad – the first fully-featured, truly professional photo editing tool to arrive on Apple’s tablet – is now on sale.
We were proud to be able to launch it during the keynote at Apple’s WWDC in San Jose on 5 June – the highlight of Apple’s global product launch calendar.
If you saw that, or if you use Affinity Photo already, you’ll understand why it’s the choice of thousands of professional photographers, retouchers and editors around the world.
We think Affinity Photo for iPad redefines photo editing once again, by bringing almost all the features in the Mac version to your iPad, so you can take all that photo editing power with you wherever you go.
The new version is tailored to harness the explosive power of the iPad’s hardware and touch capabilities, and is compatible with iPad Air 2, iPad 2017, iPad Pro 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch.
We expect this to be the biggest launch we’ve ever had and even better, Affinity Photo for iPad is priced at an introductory discount of more than 30 per cent in the App Store – so for now, you pay £19.99 / $19.99 / 21,99E.
Watch the video: https://vimeo.com/220098594
See more: https://affinity.serif.com/photo/ipad
Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer version 1.6 customer betas are now available for Mac and Windows users!
If you’re already a user of our apps, this is your chance to preview and test out some of the features we’re planning to add in the next major update.
Most significantly, this introduces the option for you to switch between a dark or light UI. This has been a much-requested addition, for reasons of accessibility as well as personal preference, so we’re really pleased to be able to introduce it.
The betas are free to download and will run alongside your existing version of Affinity Photo or Affinity Designer. Please remember though that at present these are test versions which are being improved, so when you discover bugs we’d appreciate your help in identifying and fixing them.
To download, please go to the Affinity Beta Support Forum. and select your app and OS.
Our good friend Paolo Limoncelli has updated the set of free DAUB® brushes he created especially for Affinity Photo and Designer users.
Paolo says: “I’ve added four new tools, as well as improving the old ones to use the new Accumulation Jitter available in Affinity Photo and Designer that wasn’t available when I was first asked to design them.
“The new painting experience now perfectly matches concept artists’ expectations.”
Click here to download the free DAUB® Concept Tools Pro set.
For information on the original brush pack and instructions for importing the brushes, please click here.
The response to the launch of Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo for Windows has been phenomenal, better than we ever could have predicted. That’s been matched by the positive feedback we’re getting from people who are making Affinity Photo or Affinity Designer — or both! — part of their everyday professional workflow.
Even though we offer a no-strings refund policy for 14 days, trial versions for Windows have been a popular request and we know there’s still a huge market out there of people who want a professional graphics or photo editor for a one-time cost with no expensive ongoing payments.
So we’re delighted to announce that free trials of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are now available for Windows users. This means you’ll be able to spend ten days getting to know the software before committing to purchase.
Affinity Designer, a professional vector graphics editor, was the winner of an Apple Design Award in 2015. Image editor Affinity Photo was named ‘Best Mac App’ 2015, and ‘Best Imaging Software’ 2016 by the Technical Image Press Association.
Both have received thousands of 5-star reviews from critics and professional users around the world.
Click here for the Affinity Designer trial (for macOS or Windows)
Click here for the Affinity Photo trial (for macOS or Windows)
The Windows versions match the Mac versions feature-for-feature and are available to purchase for a single payment of $49.99 / £48.99 / 49,99€, with no subscription and free updates.
Affinity Photo and Designer share the same file format on all platforms, meaning you can switch seamlessly between them both as individuals and in a professional environment, where colleagues work on different systems.
One of the most commonly requested features we have had for Affinity is the ability to switch to a light UI mode. Well, we’re excited to reveal today that this functionality will be included with both the Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer update to version 1.6.
The debate around whether light or dark UI is preferable in graphic design software is one which has existed for a very long time. Is dark better for photo editing? Is light better for layout design work? Can dark cause eye strain? Does it simply depend on the colour scheme of the image or design you are working on?
In the end of course it just comes down to personal preference, and in the 1.6 versions you will simply be able to switch between dark and light UI modes so the choice is yours.
Check out how Affinity Designer looks with a light UI:
Affinity Designer in light UI mode
Affinity Designer pixel persona in light UI mode
The option to toggle between dark and light UI will just be in preferences, and there is no need to restart to app as shown in the video below:
We expect the 1.6 versions of Affinity to launch around Easter, and it will be a free update to all existing owners. We will shortly be making the beta versions available too, follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get notified as soon as they are available.
UPDATE April 2017: V1.6 updates will be slightly later than planned, rather than being released at Easter as we initially hoped. Please follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get notified as soon as they are available.
Our latest keyboard cheat sheets are now available to download and print out. These include all the recent updates to both Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer v1.5, are available for both Mac and Windows and we’ve added versions for German keyboards too!
Of course Affinity apps allow you to fully customise all your shortcut keys should you wish. For that reason along with a PDF file with the default shortcuts, we have also included the .afdesign files (which, of course, you can open and edit in both Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo). This means if you want to create your own personalised cheat sheets, including any customised shortcuts you are using, you can.
All files are available from a zip file download. In there you will find a couple of folders, one for English versions (“Shortcuts_EN”) and one for German versions (“Shortcuts_DE”), and then within there the separate folders for Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Get them from the link below: