Digital Planner Cover Template - Planner Rings

Digital Planner Cover Template - Planner Rings
In this Design a Digital Planner in Affinity Suite tutorial, we will complete our digital planner cover template in Affinity Publisher. Concentrating on the cover layout, we are ready to add the Picture Frame placeholders to the template layout for the binder rings. As our planner will have several rings, this is a great time to use the Affinity Designer Symbols feature. So, we will switch from the Publisher workspace to the Designer workspace, using the StudioLink feature. You will need to have Affinity Designer installed on your computer. You will learn the following.

  • Use StudioLink to switch between workspaces within Publisher
  • Use the Symbols panel to create a symbol and eleven instances (copies)
  • Save your project in both the default .afpub format and the .aftemplate template format

For this series of tutorials, we are using the GoodNotes Portrait Letter page size for our template. Most disc-based physical planners of this size, such as Staples Arc, Levenger Circa, Office Depot OfficeMax TUL and The Happy Planner, have eleven discs or rings. So we will give our digital planner the same number of rings. After making a few digital planner covers for sale, you will realize that placing eleven ring graphics and spacing them evenly along the edge of the cover is a task that calls for Designer's Symbols feature.

Affinity Designer Symbols
How does the Symbols feature work? By converting the first binder ring Picture Frame placeholder in to a Symbol and making ten copies, called instances, of that Symbol, we will have our eleven rings. As this will be a reusable template, we will add the Binder Ring Placeholder .png that you have downloaded in to the first Picture Frame before converting it to a Symbol. For each new design, we can easily replace the placeholder graphic for all eleven of the evenly spaced rings at the same time. By making that change to one Symbol, all of the other Symbols will update to reflect that change.

Let's Get Started
  1. Open your .afpub working file in to Affinity Publisher.

  2. With the Front Cover Placeholder layer active, use the Picture Frame Rectangle tool to draw a small rectangle at the top left of the Canvas. Name the new layer Ring.

  3. In the Transform panel, select the top left corner of the Anchor Point Selector. Set the Width should be 272 pixels and the Height should be 88 pixels. Set the X position to Zero and the Y position to 176 pixels (see screenshot).

  4. Let's add the Binder Ring Placeholder .png.

  5. With the Ring layer active, click the Properties button from the Context Toolbar and choose the first option, Scale to Max Fit (see screenshot).

  6. Click the Replace Image button in the Context Toolbar and select the downloaded Binder Ring Placeholder .png. You should see the .png graphic inside the Picture Frame and as a sublayer of the Ring layer (see screenshot).

  7. Let's go to the Designer workspace and make this a Symbol.

  8. To switch to the Affinity Designer workspace, click the Designer Persona icon in the Toolbar (see screenshot).

  9. From the Menu Bar, click View - Studio - Symbols, to open the Symbols panel.

  10. With the Ring layer still selected, click the Create icon in the Symbols panel.

  11. You will see a new Symbol thumbnail named Ring added to the Symbols panel.

  12. In the Layers panel, you will see a new Ring (Symbol) layer, with the Ring (Picture Frame) as a sublayer (see screenshot).

  13. Now that we have our Symbol, let's duplicate it ten times, which will give us eleven instances of the Symbol.

  14. From the Layers panel, right-click on the Ring (Symbol) layer and choose Duplicate (see screenshot).

  15. Select the bottom duplicate Ring (Symbol) layer in the Layers panel. Go back to the Canvas and use the Move tool to drag this ring downward. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard as you drag, to keep the ring aligned horizontally with the first ring (see screenshot).

  16. Repeat this step nine times, duplicating the bottom-most Ring (Symbol) layer each time (see screenshot).

  17. Select the last ring at the bottom of the Canvas. In the Transform panel, set the Y value to 2644 pixels.

  18. By setting the Y values for the first and last binder rings, we are telling the software the total vertical space for the eleven rings. Now we can space all of the rings evenly within this vertical space.

  19. In the Layers panel, select all of the Ring layers. From the Menu Bar, click Layer - Alignment - Distribute Vertically (see screenshot).

  20. You will see the rings move in to a perfectly spaced list (see screenshot).

    We are finished with the Symbols feature, so let's return to the Publisher workspace.

  21. From the Toolbar, click the Publisher Persona icon.

  22. Let's clean up the Layers panel a little by grouping all of the Ring layers together in to a group layer.

  23. In the Layers panel, select all eleven Ring layers. Right-click and choose Group. Name the new group layer Left Side Binder Rings (see screenshot).

  24. That's our template. It's ready for you to replace the placeholder graphics with your design cover and ring graphics. Let's save the file.

  25. Click File - Save to save the working template document in the default .afpub format.

  26. Now, we will save the file as an Affinity template in the .aftemplate format. If you haven't saved any templates yet, you first need to create a folder for storing the template files.

  27. From the Menu Bar, click File - New to open the New Document dialog. Click Templates on the left (see screenshot).

  28. Click the Add Folder button to open the file browser window and give your new template folder a name and location. Click Create to close the window.

  29. Now, we can save our template.

  30. Back in the Publisher workspace, click File - Export as Template (see screenshot). Publisher will open your new template folder. Let's keep the same name for our template as our working file, Digi Planner Cover PDF. Click Save and the template will be stored in our template folder with the special template file extension .aftemplate.

  31. Note: To open your template for a new project, just click File - New and go to the Templates window in the New Document dialog. Just select the template thumbnail and click Create. Publisher will open the template as a new untitled document (see screenshot).

What's Next for the Template
Now that we have a working cover template, saved as an Affinity template, we can use this template to export digital planner covers for sale in our shop. We will also use this template as a starting point for building a complete digital planner template, including tabbed section dividers, calendar pages and more.


Design a Digital Planner in Affinity Suite - Tutorial Series Index
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Screenshots used by permission of Serif (Europe) Ltd. This article is not endorsed by Serif Ltd.

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