If you have ever worked on a design project, you will have worked with an Adobe product or at least heard of one, be it Illustrator or Photoshop. Adobe products have, for a long time, been the go-to software suites for all types of designers, but some alternatives seek to challenge Adobe’s dominance. One of these is Affinity Designer. Affinity Designer seeks to succeed where other similar software has failed. So, how does it compare to Adobe Illustrator?
About Affinity Designer
Affinity Designer was released in 2014 by Serif Labs, a UK-based software company. It seeks to be an Adobe Illustrator alternative by offering all the features illustrator has and then some. Affinity Designer seeks to be the de facto vector graphics designer for Macs even though the software is also available for Windows machines.
The one thing that stands out about Affinity Designer is that it is able to create and edit pixel layers which makes it function like a Photoshop/Illustrator hybrid.
Affinity Designer is a well-polished piece of software offering a sleek and modern user interface. It is so well-designed that even amateur graphic designers can get started on it even if they have never used Illustrator or Photoshop.
All the tools you would need to complete a graphics project are organized really well and accessible through the toolbar or keyboard shortcuts. Because these shortcuts will be familiar to anyone who has used Photoshop or Illustrator before, the learning curve is gentle and very forgiving.
You will find all the standard pen and shape tools you need for complex vector work. The personal toolbar gives you vector, pixel and export tools so you can switch between them with no interruption. The only downside is that many of the advanced tools you would find in Illustrator CC, such as the column graph tool, are missing from Affinity Designer.
Importing and Exporting Files
A common problem designers face is importing a file and not being able to edit it. They are forced to convert it into another file format before working on it. Affinity Designer has addressed this problem by making it possible to open and edit EPS, PSD and AI files without changing the file format. Affinity Designer is able to open and edit files from earlier versions of Illustrator too.
The only downside is that all edited AI files are exported as PSD. Other file formats you can export to include GIF, TIFF, EPS, PNG and PDF. Because of the broader range of settings and features in Adobe products, some features like pattern overlays can be lost when importing PSD and AI files into Affinity Designer.
Availability and Pricing
Adobe Illustrator is available for Mac and Windows as a subscription. The subscription starts at $20 a month. Affinity Designer, on the other hand, is already available for Mac but is still in beta for Windows. It is available as a one-time purchase of $50.
If you are not happy with Adobe’s subscription model or are just looking for an alternative to Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer is a great option. It comes with all the features you would expect, combining features from Illustrator and Photoshop. Although it lacks some of the advanced features in Illustrator, it manages to do everything else perfectly.