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Andy Leverenz

January 7, 2017

Last updated November 5, 2023

How To Use Affinity Designer Constraints

Affinity Designer is quickly becoming a go-to tool for many modern designers. I personally chose the Affinity Designer for its vast set of tools and features. These features allow me to stay inside one app as opposed to having several open to accomplish the same goal inside my projects. Whether you use it for illustration or UI design, there are amazing tools available to make your job easier and more consistent. Today, I'll focus on the constraints tool.

The constraints tool

When it comes to UI design, designers have to think big. Their final "static" design may live inside the digital realm of countless different screen sizes. There are countless devices available today, all of which manage to have different specifications in regards to screen sizes and pixel densities. A modern designer must be aware of this requirement and act to support it in the best way they can. For instance, your app or UI may look different on different devices because they are simply designed to be.

This giant challenge makes the decision a designer makes very crucial from the very beginning. To design something that's both executed well and supportive of scaling is the ultimate job well done.

Affinity Designer features a constraints tool that allows the designer to fixate specific elements within its parent container. If you create a parent group of layers you can then use the constraint tool to adjust how each child element will behave as you scale its parent. The video I created will show a better example of this in action to give you a better idea.

Why use constraints?

Why not? is the real question. Alongside symbols, constraints in Affinity Designer are arguably the strongest set of features available. They offer a very DRY(don't repeat yourself) approach towards UI design many developers would appreciate it.

App designs for handheld devices, in particular, tend to have the same set of assets that only vary in size or width and height. Since scalability is a big focus today, a designer can use constraints to make their designs both scale in a synced manner as well as be much more efficient and consistent while doing so.

Don't go overboard

I love the constraints tool but as I stated toward the end of the video, it can possibly be problematic if you incorporate many constraints across many portions of your design. My recommendation is to use constraints for the elements that repeat inside your design. Good candidates for this may be:

  • Headers
  • Navigation
  • Footers
  • Buttons
  • Images
  • Icons
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