Affinity Photo App Review for Digital Scrapbookers

Affinity Photo App for Digital Scrapbookers

As a pocket-style scrapbooker who loves to document her photos and stories on her mobile devices, I often wonder if there are digital scrapbookers who wish they could do the same. Pocket-style documenters have the Project Life® App loaded with Project Life templates, allowing them to scrapbook anytime, anywhere.


But if you are a memory-keeper who doesn’t document in this format, and prefers to use predesigned templates from your favorite digital designers, the only place you can scrapbook is at home front of your computer. Until now!


Let me introduce you to the Affinity Photo App by Serif Labs.
Can you say “game-changer?” Seriously, it will Blow. Your. Mind.

Affinity Photo App for Digital Scrapbookers


Unlike Adobe’s Photoshop Express, Affinity Photos app is not a lite, watered-down version of Affinity’s award-winning software for desktop computers. This is a fully-functioning photo-editing app for your iOS device. FULLY-FUNCTIONING, my friends! This app has everything a digital scrapbooker needs to document their photos on the go. I don’t want to give everything away in the first few paragraphs of this post, so let’s take a look at what this app has to offer:


When you first open the app you will be taken to your startup screen.


From here you can create a new document at a custom size and resolution, import a photo or open a document you have stored in the cloud. This probably makes you wonder what type of files Affinity supports, right? Are you sitting down? It supports:


  • JPG
  • PNG
  • RAW
  • AI (import, not export) and…


Yes, that is layered PSD files! There are even more file types it supports, but these are the ones we, as scrappers, would use the most. Take a moment and compose yourselves. I know it’s pretty exciting stuff … moving on.


Main Workspace

Once a file is opened you are taken to your main workspace:


You can see the Affinity interface is very similar to Photoshop — your tools are on the left and your palettes, or Studios as they’re called in Affinity, are on the right. Those little callouts pop up when you click the “?” in the bottom right corner — super helpful when learning the app. The bar you see in the center at the top of the screen is your Personas Palette. It docks horizontally in the upper left of your screen when the callouts disappear.


The Personas palette is important because each has a specific function. By default it opens in the Photo Persona, which is the main Persona you will be working in. The other Persona scrappers will use most often is the Develop Persona, which is where you will edit your photos. More on that in a minute …



Look at those beautiful layers!

Just like Photoshop, you can clip your layers together, group layers, create layer masks layers, and even turn layers on and off. Look closely … if your template had layer effects on it, those layer effects are still active! And you can even copy/paste those layer effects on to other layers!

Adding Photos and PNGs

You can access your photos by using the command menu that is part of the Persona Palette (it is the circle with the three little dots inside). You have a choice to place a photo or place a document. Affinity app will pull photos through your iPad’s Photo app (your camera roll). However, when you bring in a photo to your layered template, Affinity recognizes your photo as a vector file. In order to edit your photo using the Develop Persona, your photo layer must first be rasterized. Which is easily done using the options in the Command Menu I just mentioned.


If you are looking to place a digital paper or embellishments such as stickers or stamps, Affinity considers these documents and pulls from cloud-based services such as iCloud Drive, Dropbox, etc (if you have a photo in the cloud you want to use, you would have to chose the place document as well). Personally, I love using iCloud Drive because the icons are so much bigger than in Dropbox.


Once you have selected your photo or embellishment, it does NOT automatically appear on your layout, which was frustrating at first until I found that you must use your finger or Apple Pencil to click and drag it across your workspace for it to appear. However, it will place it above the last layer you had active. So your photo or embellishment may be hiding behind a layer if you still find you can’t see it. Just click and drag the layers to move them around, just as you would in Photoshop!


Layer Effects

While Affinity has the majority of the Layer Effects as Photoshop (Pattern Overlay seems to be missing, but Gaussian Blur is one that is in Affinity and not in PS) I am going to touch on the layer effect that digital scrapbookers seem to use the most:


Drop Shadow–or as Affinity calls it, Outer Shadow

In comparing how a layered psd file opens in Affinity to the same file opened in Photoshop on my Mac, they are almost identical. I say almost because there are just a few settings that differ, but honestly, I don’t see it as a big concern. Look at the two screenshots below:

Both versions have settings for Blend Modes, Opacity, and Angle. But notice that the PSD file has the angle at 45º. The exact same file opened in Affinity as the Angle at 135º. The Blend Mode of the layer effect translated differently when opened in Affinity as well. This can be easily changed through Outer Shadow tool bar you see at the bottom of the screen. Photoshop also has the ability to manipulate Distance, Spread, and Size. Affinity has Radius, Offset, and Intensity. I believe that PS Distance = Affinity Offset, and PS Size = Affinity’s Radius. I am still trying to figure out Affinity’s Intensity setting in the Outer Shadow Layer Effect. I can’t tell if it is related to PS’s Spread or not. And you know what else? You do have the ability to copy and paste layer effects to other layers in Affinity, too! Yay!



The Color Studio is pretty intense. There is a lot available here. It operates in several color modes, CMYK, RGB, HSL, LAB, etc. You can select your color mode when you create a document. Within the Color Studio you can choose colors with color mode sliders, including grayscale and there are even Pantone Color Book! Affinity even allows you to save your own color palettes! Combine the Color Studio with the Color Picker Tool and Flood Fill Tool from the Tool Bar and you have an unlimited amount of color to choose from!



A subject near and dear to my heart. Affinity is loaded with a ton of fonts, but unfortunately you cannot load your favorites into the app. BUT another app can help — AnyFont. It will install your favorite apps directly into your iPad making it accessible in apps that have text features! There is even an Artistic Text tool perfect for headlines, individual words, or titles.





Can you load your own brushes into the app? YES. YOU. CAN! You can even create and save your own brushes!

Saving/Exporting Your Document

Ready for this? You can export your layered files as a PSD, save it to the cloud and open it back up in Photoshop on your computer to finish!

*this is where I drop the mic*



So what do you think?

This post just covers some of the basic features in Affinity Photo that will appeal to digital scrapbookers. While there is a learning curve to the app, if you are comfortable with Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, Affinity will be fairly simple to become acquainted with. You will also find that the tutorials and help documents within the app are amazing and can answer any question you may have!


Bottomline Review

I really, really like this app. And while I am not sure if I will incorporate it into my current Project Life workflow (I still love the simplicity of the Project Life App), I really believe that this app is going to open up a whole new mobile world for digital scrapbookers. I am so excited for them and look forward to hearing what avid Photoshop users think about this app and seeing what they create!


Affinity Photo is available in the App Store for iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad (early 2017). Older iPads are NOT supported. The app is not cheap. It will run you about $40 in the App Store. BUT it is not a subscription. You own it once you buy and will be able to download updates when they come out at no additional cost. I was able to purchase it at their introductory offer of $19.99 a few weeks ago, but I definitely would pay the $40 for it now. It’s worth it. *Please Note: At the time of this review, Affinity App is currently $19.99 here.


Credits: Template: Flight Plan #22 Template by One Little Bird; Project Mouse Princess by Sahlin Studios; Text font: Jonathan, by Becky Higgins

You may also like


  • Donna Knighten July 7, 2017   Reply →

    Great review. Question: Is there an android version?

    • Kelly Sill July 7, 2017   Reply →

      Thanks Donna! Unfortunately there is no Android version at the moment. You may want to contact Serif Labs to inquire about an Android version being developed in the future. There is a desktop version for Windows.

  • Lorii July 7, 2017   Reply →

    Wow! Great review and walk-through! I think you need to do a whole class! 😉

    • Kelly Sill July 7, 2017   Reply →

      Thanks Lorii! A class would be nice, wouldn’t it? I think this app will open a whole new world for digital scrapbookers!

  • Judie Barger July 7, 2017   Reply →

    This is amazing!! I can’t wait to try it on my iPad Pro. 🙂

    • Kelly Sill July 7, 2017   Reply →

      Glad you think so Judie!!! Be sure to check out their tutorials and in-depth documents. They do a FABULOUS JOB of explaining everything!!!

  • Valerie July 7, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks Kelly! Yes, I agree, would love a class, *hint *hint! Just downloaded it…..

  • Kathy July 7, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks for Ithis great review! I second a “class” 😀 I’ve only used a few features of this app, but I anxious to play more! Love love love the layers features!

    • Kelly Sill July 9, 2017   Reply →

      There’s so much to learn, but I’m loving the journey! The tutorials are so helpful!

  • Tania July 8, 2017   Reply →

    Having been a PS user for a number of years and taking the considerable amount of time it takes to get to learn how to drive it I am pleasantly surprised at how easy Affinity has been. I downloaded and installed to my iPad pro 9.5 on Wednesday night and even my husband is impressed. Being able to open raw files on the go for him has been a stand out. Thanks for the great review.

    • Kelly Sill July 9, 2017   Reply →

      You’re welcome, Tania! Opening RAW files is such a bonus! It’s crazy how powerful this app is! I’m so glad you are getting the hang of how to use it!

  • Diane July 8, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks for all the info, Kelly! I have it downloading now. So nice to be able to get it for the $19.99!! I’ll be trying it out later.

  • Carol July 8, 2017   Reply →

    On the basis of your review I went straight to the App Store and purchased this. Unfortunately as soon as I opened it on my ipad mini 4 I got an error message advising me that Affinity will not work on an ipad mini 4. This is contrary to what is indicated in the App store. Serif would like to change the compatibility listing in the app store but so far Apple have been willing to change it. Serif also say that Apple is aware of this limitation. Obviously if I had known it would not work on my ipad mini I would not bought it.
    Buyer beware!

    • Christine M July 8, 2017   Reply →

      Carol, you can request a refund from Apple through your email receipt. Click on “report a problem” At least you won’t be out any money until you have a device that can handle the app.

      • Carol July 13, 2017   Reply →

        I requested a refund and Apple refunded it. The girl who signed the email informing me of the refund said she would also not be happy buying something that would not work so I think it’s high time Apple re-wrote the list of compatibility to avoid more disappointed users

    • Kelly Sill July 9, 2017   Reply →

      I’m sorry you aren’t able to use it on your mini ☹️. I hope you are able to get your refund from Apple!

    • Renee T. July 10, 2017   Reply →

      Thank you for this warning! I was just getting ready to purchase for my ipad mini 4! Bummer that it won’t work, but I’m glad I didn’t spend the money only to be disappointed.

  • Jane D July 8, 2017   Reply →

    This sounds amazing! I would love to be able to digiscrap when I’m traveling. Off to check it out.

    • Kelly Sill July 9, 2017   Reply →

      This is where I think Affinity is going to be such bonus for digital scrappers. It will be so nice to have when traveling. It’s a nice way to wind down in the hotel room at night from a day full of sight-seeing! Enjoy it!

  • Nancy Olson July 10, 2017   Reply →

    This sounds wonderful! All my scrapbooking kits and supplies are on an external hard drive. Would I have to load them to the cloud to have them available when using Affinity to scrap?

    • Kelly Sill July 11, 2017   Reply →

      Hi Nancy! Yes! You would need to load your kits to
      DropBox or iCloud Drive. I use iCloud Drive because they have larger icons! 😊

  • Kerri July 19, 2017   Reply →

    Great review, Kelly! I was wondering how you export a file once it’s complete. Let’s say I’m working on a simple template to add to a PL pocket and it’s just a photo, frame and some word art. When I save or export the file as a JPEG (best quality) to my camera roll so I can then add it to my PL Page, the photo itself looks a little blurry. Should I save it as another format? Or am I doing something wrong? Othwerise, I love this app and am finally able to use all of my psd files that I buy from The Lilypad! It’s awesome!

  • kristina August 12, 2017   Reply →

    I have to chime in and say I hope that there is a class in the near future for this app. I just bought a ipad pro and pen. So I can scrap while I’m on the go. I live in a little house so a big desktop and even a laptop takes up space.

  • Jayne September 3, 2017   Reply →

    What a shame affinity isn’t available for Windows and Android. Ios is not the b – all and end all. Would love to have tried it!

  • Rach3975 December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Sounds like a fantastic program, but I’ll have to join the crowd of people eagerly awaiting an Android version. Thanks for letting us know about it!

Leave a comment

Pin It on Pinterest