Change your clothes in Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo tutorial
(Image credit: James Paterson)

Watch video: How to change outfits in Affinity Photo

Whether you want to change someone’s clothes, or alter the colour of an object, the process is simple in Affinity. We just define the area to be altered, then use layers and masks to change it.

The first step is to isolate the area with a selection. Affinity offers several excellent selection tools that lock on to complex shapes and objects. In this project we’ll use the Selection Brush and Refine command, a combination that lets us make quick, precise selections easily.

After that, we can go on to add an adjustment layer. Our active selection is automatically converted into a layer mask, making it possible to alter the tones and colours in a specific part of the photo. There are several different adjustment layers that we can use to change colours. Here we’ll play with HSL, Curves and Selective Colour.

If, like the outfit on the right here, the aim is to add a different pattern or texture to the surface, then instead of adjusting the tones we need to copy and paste part of another photo or design. Once done, we can use a layer mask to confine it to the shape of the dress and then use layer blending modes to combine the two into a believable whole. 

Here, the Multiply blend mode lets us blend our flower pattern with the shadowy folds in the dress. All of our effects remain independent of one another on separate layers, so if we like we can go back and change the colours or pattern at any time.

Read more:

• Affinity Photo 1.8 review

Step 1: Make a selection

You can click on the gadget in the top right corner of these screenshots to zoom in on a full size version. (Image credit: James Paterson)

Grab the Selection Brush tool and make sure ‘Snap to Edges’ is checked in the tool options at the top. Paint over the clothes to select the area. If the tool selects the wrong areas, hold Alt and paint to subtract. Next, click the Refine button. Increase Border Width to about 5px and hit OK.

Step 2: Alter the hue

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Once you’re happy with the selection click the Adjustments icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose HSL. Drag the Hue slider one way or the other to alter the colour of the clothes. Fine-tune the intensity of the colour with the Saturation slider, and tweak the brightness with Luminosity Shift.

Step 3: Check the edges

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Zoom in to check the edges of the clothes. If you need to tweak the area covered by the colour change, highlight the layer and paint with black to hide areas or white to reveal them. You may also want to paint at a low opacity to tint the skin, as the colour of the clothes casts over the nearby skin tones.

Step 4: Use selective colour

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Select the second dress in the same way as before. Add a Selective Colour Adjustment, then click the dropdown at the top of the settings and tweak the Yellows and Reds to create an orange colour. Next, add a Curves layer. Drag it below the Selective Colour layer and drag down on the curve line to darken the colour.

Step 5: Paste in a pattern

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Select the dress on the right, then add an HSL layer and drag Saturation down to 0. Open an image of a pattern, then copy and paste it into the portrait. Set the layer blend mode to Multiply. Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click the thumbnail of the HSL layer below. Highlight the pattern layer and click the layer mask icon to add a mask.

Step 6: Warp the pattern

(Image credit: James Paterson)

We may want to reshape the pattern so that it follows the surface of the dress. Duplicate the pattern layer with Cmd/Ctrl+J, then go to the Liquify Persona. Use the tools to warp the pattern to match the clothes underneath, then add a mask to confine it to the area.  

Quick tip

The problem with selections made by tools like the Selection Brush is they’re hard edged. Objects are usually a bit soft, especially if edges include hair or other shapes like fur or grass. This is where the Refine command comes in. After making a selection we open Refine and increase the Border Width, then use the Foreground and Background brush to fine-tune what’s included.

About N-Photo magazine

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James Paterson

The lead technique writer on Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, James is a fantastic general practice photographer with an enviable array of skills across every genre of photography. 

Whether it's flash photography techniques like stroboscopic portraits, astrophotography projects like photographing the Northern Lights, or turning sound into art by making paint dance on a set of speakers, James' tutorials and projects are as creative as they are enjoyable. 

As the editor of Practical Photoshop magazine, he's also a wizard at the dark arts of Photoshop, Lightroom and Affinity, and is capable of some genuine black magic in the digital darkroom, making him one of the leading authorities on photo editing software and techniques.