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Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer is a vector illustration and design tool, roughly equivalent to the toolset found in Adobe Illustrator.

It's available via the Mac App store for £39.99.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a bitmap editing tool, roughly equivalent to the toolset found in Adobe Photoshop.

It's available via the Mac App store for £39.99.

Trialling the applications

I've been trialling the two applications over a 10-day period, using them whenever I needed to do any bitmap or vector editing.

I primarily use Adobe CC for either:

  • Creating or editing complex SVGs
  • Editing, creating or manipulating bitmap images

I wanted to see whether our current workflow would be hampered or enhanced by switching from Adobe to Affinity. Given the volume of existing assets generated through Adobe applications I wanted to be sure that we could successfully open, edit and save current vector and bitmap assets.

I also compared file sizes and compression options for file output to see if we could make any speed or size gains by switching to the Affinity apps.

Findings

Compatibility with existing apps and formats

Both Designer and Photo had no issues opening pre-existing .ai and .psd files. Both applications offer the option of saving in the same Adobe-native formats. Edited and re-saved files opened perfectly in Illustrator and Photoshop.

Toolsets

Across both applications I only found one instance of missing or incomplete functionality when directly compared with Illustrator or Photoshop. Affinity Designer is currently lacking a 'live trace' tool, although it is in the product roadmap for delivery before Xmas 2015. There are a number of free-to-use vector tracing apps available that could fill this 'gap'. 

Comparative file sizes

There is no discernible difference in file size between an SVG, PSD, EPS or JPEG output from Affinity and Adobe. Both vectors and bitmaps will need further optimisation beyond the standard compression applied by each applications.

Why use something other than Adobe Creative Cloud?

Pros

  • Free up a 'seat' on our Creative Cloud license (or surrender the seat and reduce outgoings)
  • Move towards building assets in open source formats instead of proprietary ones
  • Faster, more modern UI designed specifically for interactive design
  • A one-off payment for each application not an ongoing subscription
  • Smaller app footprint

Cons

  • Mac only application. Creative Cloud covers both platforms.
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