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Symbols in Affinity Designer tutorial

symbols in affinity designer tutorial

How to use symbols in Affinity Designer and how to modify them and color them and more. Symbols in Affinity Designer are a powerful tool for re-use of designs. You can use Affinity Designer symbols to store images for common elements in artworks. You can find the symbols panel in Affinity Designer via the view menu and studio and symbols command. Once you start using the vector symbols, any changes to the symbols are reflected in the Affinity designer symbol instances. You can add new symbols in Affinity Designer by selecting a shape and then clicking the create button in the symbol panel in Designer. You can add instances to the document and also delete them from the document. You can edit symbols. You can add paths and remove paths from the symbols in Affinity Designer. The Affinity Designer symbols are only connected to the document and are not universal to all the other documents. This tutorial shows you how you can quickly use symbols to create common elements and re-use and how you can create symbols from paths and groups of paths and edit them and add paths and change paths and more. Affinity Designer allows for a whole range of operations to create a wonderful library of artworks in your projects. Symbols in Affinity Designer can be used as a great way to store images for re-use. It is also a great way to create common elements in Affinity Designer. Any changes to the symbols are reflected in any copy / instance.

  1. Open Affinity Designer

  2. View menu

  3. Studio

  4. Symbols

The symbols panel has three buttons, create and detach and sync.

Basics of symbols / To add a new symbol to the panel in Affinity Designer

adding symbols to Affinity designer
  1. Select a path / shape / type

  2. View menu

  3. Studio and symbols

  4. Click the create button in the symbols panel in Affinity Designer

If you have one path then the create button will add that single path to the panel. If you have multiple shapes selected then you will add multiple symbols. See the groups section to get around this (you may want multiple symbols from multiple paths)

Grouping paths for a single symbol

group of paths as a symbol in Affinity Designer

If you want the paths to be all added together then you must first use the layer menu and group command. Click create after grouping the paths.

  1. select multiple paths

  2. layer menu

  3. group command

  4. symbols panel

  5. create

To add an instance or copy to the document in Affinity Designer

instance multiple affinity designer
  1. drag symbol from the symbols panel

  2. repeat for the number of symbol copies you wish to create

  3. Move symbols around document

  4. Resize etc

It is super easy to add them to the document and once added, they can be duplicated and then edited etc as required

To detach an instance

  1. select an instance of a symbol

  2. click the detach button

  3. edit the paths as normal


If you wish to add it as a symbol, click the create button

Edit the symbols - you can edit the symbol instance in numerous ways

edit the symbols in Affinity Designer
  1. select a symbol instance / copy

  2. go to the layer panel

  3. expand the layer panel


You will see a single path or multiple paths. To change one of those paths (and the symbol)

  1. click the path you wish to change

  2. apply layer effects or change the color

  3. change the color to a gradient etc

  4. shift or scale the path or rotate the path


You can also repeat the same with other paths in the symbol group of paths. Any change to the paths will be reflected in a change to all the copies and the symbol in the panel.


If you select the entire symbol and change the color or add layer effects (such as blurs), all the paths in the symbol will be changed. If you rotate or scale a copy, there will be no change to the other symbol copies or symbol. If you scale or rotate the paths, the changes are reflected throughout the copies and symbol in the panel.

Add new paths to symbols in Affinity Designer

add additional paths to the symbols in Affinity Designer

Work with one of the symbol copies in Affinity Designer.


To make things simple, edit the name of the symbol copy you wish to edit. Use a symbol copy that has not been transformed or rotated (relative to the other symbol copies). Remember which symbol copy you are using as all paths you add etc will be relative to that and not any of the other displayed copies.

  1. De-select the symbol copy (make certain that no symbol copies are selected)

  2. add a new path to the document near the symbol to edit and place the path as required relative to the other paths. You will see the path appear in the layer panel at the top.

  3. select the path in the layers panel (outside of the existing symbol)

  4. drag into the symbol set (you can position it relative to the symbol's existing paths)


You will now see all the copies change (of the symbol) and this is reflected in all the layer entries for the symbol. The symbol in the symbols panel will also then be updated as well

Remove paths from symbols

remove symbol instance
  1. Go to one of the symbol instances in the layers panel

  2. Rename the symbol to 'main' or something unique (just makes it easier to always edit and add and remove from a single instance - it is easy to confuse paths and symbols)

  3. Expand that symbol instance in the layers panel

  4. Go to the path you want to remove

  5. Press delete

You should now see all the other instances update and the symbol in the symbols panel also

Symbols in document

You should note that the symbols are not permanent, they are only for the document. There appears to be no way with the current version to save them for permanent use in other symbols such as with Illustrator symbols AI files (hopefully this will happen in Affinity Designer 1.7 or 1.8 perhaps ?)

Resources for use as symbols in Affinity Designer

Fonts and eps artworks for use as symbols in Affinity Designer

Other tutorials

1. Corner tool to curved nodes in Affinity Designer tutorial

2. Cog tool and how to use it in Affinity Designer tutorial

Video tutorials (youtube)

1. How to use the symbols in Affinity Designer (youtube video)

Sources and references

Affinity Designer on serif