Affinity Designer and Photo Workbooks Review

Did you know the people at Serif have written, edited and published their own books for learning Affinity Designer and Photo? Well, they have and they’re both excellent books for learning the two apps. At the very least, you should seriously consider them as they contain invaluable information and tear-out cheat sheets.

Both books are hard cover perfect bound, but due to the weight of the thick semi-glossy paper you can lay them completely flat. And they may be perfect bound, but they are also perfectly bound, meaning the spine won’t loosen any pages if you do lay the books open flat.

The two versions that I received for review were already both updated to the latest version of the Affinity apps (1.7). That’s, of course, always a bit of a bummer when you buy a printed software instruction book; it does need updating from time to time and that implies you’ll have to buy a new book. Do you need one for every update? No, you don’t. Even as version 1.7 of Designer and Photo contain a lot of new stuff, once you’ve worked your way through the original books, you know enough to quickly assimilate the updates’ new features, shortcuts, etc.

That’s mainly due to the way these books teach you how to use the apps. They both start with a healthy overview of the app’s menus, commands, panels and the lot, but they don’t stop at that. There are plenty of examples in there and all carry step-by-step explanations of real projects by real artists.

The Affinity Designer Workbook spends a bit more time explaining the interface and its elements than the Affinity Photo Workbook. The latter contains more step-by-step project explanations. That is probably because in Affinity Designer you’re bound to start from a paper sketch to the digital artwork. That requires more explaining of the basics than when you’re starting from a photograph and editing that into art.

The two books’ project chapters are littered with resource links to the artists’ example files, fonts, photos, and what have you — all to enable you to complete the sample projects by following their every step from start to finish.

Both books have plenty of white space and are very well structured. I didn’t find any errors in any of the tutorials which, after having reviewed Clip Studio Paint, wouldn’t have surprised me if I had. The projects are also well chosen, apparently in function of their capability for learning as much of the apps as you possibly can.


I used to review a lot of Pearson Education books and, over the years, I found there aren’t many instruction books that are good and useful enough to make you want to cling on to them for decades. My one example of such a book would be “Real World Color Management” by the late Bruce Fraser. Back then, I already knew that book would stay with me for the rest of my professional life and perhaps even beyond.

I can tell you these two volumes are of the same calibre. They’ll stay with you for as long as the apps exist and perhaps even beyond. Even if you don’t buy them to learn because you’re more of a video-inclined student, you’ll enjoy these volumes for their design, layout, the images, the explanations — and for the ability to take that book off the shelf, leaf through it and search for some detail you’d like explained.

Each Workbook costs €44.99 and retails directly from