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Live filter layers in Affinity Photo tutorial

live filter layers for Affinity Photo tutorial
  1. Layer menu

  2. New Live filter Layer

  3. Gaussian Blur filter in Affinity Photo

  4. Manipulate settings for live filter layer

  5. Go to layers panel

  6. Move live filter layer to normal layer etc

How to use the affinity photo live filter layers feature to duplicate and delete layer effects. Live filter layers in Affinity Photo is a powerful tool to apply effects that can be changed and deleted at any point. The live filter layers can be applied multiple times with multiple effects and settings to create amazing artworks in Affinity Photo. You can access all the live filter layers via the layers panel. You can move the Affinity Photo live filter layers up and down through the layers. You can use blending modes with the live filter layers actually in the filter panel itself along with changing the live filter layer opacity. You can add live filter layers to a layer so the effect is applied solely to that layer. You can apply a live filter layer to the top most layer. Live filter layers in Affinity Photo include gaussian blur, high pass, field blur and many others but not all filters are live. The live filter layer is a super flexible feature of Affinity Photo and is a totally non destructive tool. This tutorial shows you how to create a live filter layer in Affinity Photo. The tutorial shows you how to change the settings and how to move the order and position of the effects.


Layers panel

A super useful graphics application from Serif, Affinity Photo includes many wonderful tools such as live filter layers (a sort of equivalent to the smart objects and smart filters in Photoshop) and these live filter layers are standard layers (though filled only with the filter effect) and they can be treated as a layer and moved around and positioned beneath or above other live filter layers as well as other layers such as pixel layers as well as vector layers and more


The key panel to use is the layers panel which can be found via the studio in the view menu

Affinity Photo / Live filter layers

You can find the live filter layers via the layers menu. Go to the layers menu and new live filter layer and select a live filter. Not all the filters are live (sadly) but the best thing is that the live filters are non destructive and can be changed at any point by double clicking the live filter icon and then going to the live filter settings such as the blur for the gaussian blur.


You can add multiple live filter layers to a pixel layer etc as well as add multiple live filter layers above all the other layers and also you can use blending modes with the live filter layers and the pixel / vector etc layers.


In the image on the left, the gaussian blur is applied to layers below (it is the top layer) You can also set via the settings / blending mode the blend to lighten or difference to create a difference gaussian blur with the layers below. Using blending modes and opacity is a great way to modify the effects in 1000s of ways with the other effects and layers


You can add one live filter layer or 100s of additional live filter layers and the effect is then applied to all the effects and layers below that.


Filter applied to layer

live filter layer effects affinity photo sphere


You can select the little live filter layer icon and drag the effect below the current layer or move it around the other layers. To the right you can see the sphere filter has been added to the background and you will then be able to see the effect but if you click on the sphere filter icon (I personally find it more consistent to use this than the whole line but that is up to you) and then you can drag it to another line such as the third layer down but then you will not see the effect unless the layer blending modes or opacity allow for the effect to be seen.


You can also click on the name such as (sphere) and change it to something like 'sphere filter effect etc'


Apply as top most layer or apply to a layer

top most layer effect add to panel in affinity photoIf you de-select all the layers and then use the layer menu and live filter layer, the live filter layer will be added above all the other layers.


If you want the Affinity Photo live filter layer to a layer only then just select that layer and then apply the effect and you will see the effect 'attached' or beneath the layer. You can always select the little icon in the layer menu and drag the effect above the current layer or drag it to the top most part of the layer menu.


Likewise, if you have a top most layer and you want to add it only to that layer (and for the effect to be only seen attached to that layer), just select the little live filter icon and drag down to the layer icon and you will see a little expand triangle appear


You can also add the live filter layer to another live filter layer but that doesn't appear to have any effect at all though visually you can see the expand option for that effect; likewise if you do the same with an adjustment layer as that also have no content.


The key thing to remember is if the layer is added in the wrong place, if it is added to the top of the layers you can always just select it and drag it to the layer you want afterwards, the whole panel is definitely not cast in stone.


Move live filter layers around a layer

affinity photo multiple layer filtersYou can add multiple Affinity Photo live filter layer effects to a layer and so you could end up with

1. gaussian blur

2. gaussian blur

3. ripple filter

4. pinch

5. noise

6. twirl etc


You may want to move the ripple filter to the top position within that layer well select the icon for the ripple filter and drag above the 1. gaussian blur and the order of the effects will be applied and depending on the filter and the blending mode for the effect, the result will make an actual difference to the displayed image.


You can also move the effect from one layer to another layer and again, depending on the blending mode of the layer as well as the effects above, you may or may not see the next effect changing the overall image.


Delete and remove live filter layers

delete and remove and duplicate affinity photoThey are Affinity Photo layers so you can go to the layer menu and select the duplicate to duplicate the current selected live filter layer effect (to create 10 or so ripple effects if you wish) or just select the effect and then go to the layer menu and select the delete option and the effect will vanish. You can also simply de-select the effect via the layer panel and so you don't need to delete it.


You can also right click to see a context menu such as on the left image for the layer where you can duplicate it in situ and delete and hide etc


Masks and Affinity Photo Live filter layers

masks and live filter layers and effects and paintingYou can also add a mask to the layer, though it should be noted that this does not work with the filter applied to a layer itself but just as a seperate layer


  1. Select the layer

  2. Click the mask button at the bottom of the layers panel

  3. Click on that mask for the layer

  4. Select a brush tool and set the color to black etc

  5. Paint mask (or paint with white to remove)


You will then see more or less of the effect added to that layer and that can be done for all the live filter layers. You can also apply standard filters to the mask through you can't add a live effect to the mask layer (guess that would be getting a little complex). I would say adding masks etc as well as multiple effects even pushes Affinity Photo a little.


Selections and effects

selections and affinity photo and effectsAnother interesting area to explore is to use a selection and then add a live filter layer as the gaussian blur etc effect is added only to that part of the selected image.


The selection can be a basic selection but it can also be a more complex selection such as a tonal selection via the select menu and it can also use multiple effects such as twirl and blurs etc


You can re-select and again apply another live filter layer effect to the current selected item in the panel


Other tutorials

1. deform filter in Affinity Photo to create weird transformations

2. Perspective filter in Affinity Photo tutorial

3. Affinity Photo and twirl filter tutorial to distort and swirl layers and images


Video tutorials

How to use Affinity Photo and live filter layers video (youtube)