Until recently, Adobe Illustrator was our go-to application for graphic design. Indeed, it has been a mainstay for many designers since its introduction in 1987. While there have been a plethora of competing products introduced since, most have fallen by the wayside and allowed Adobe to maintain its domination of the market relatively unscathed.
In true David vs. Goliath fashion, Affinity arguably represents Adobe’s fiercest challenger yet, and early evidence suggests that Adobe faces a real challenge to maintain its tight grip on the market.
The Affinity Designer app neatly draws influence from Adobe’s two most renowned applications: Photoshop and Illustrator. Affinity Photo is a dedicated image editing application boasting a wealth of highly refined tools for image readjustment and enhancement.
Affinity Designer and Photo are both available for a one-off fee of £48.99 each, which represents a more cost-effective solution to Adobe’s subscription-based plans. Though designers shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the platform on the basis of price alone. Affinity is not a sub-standard alternative; in fact, it valiantly competes with Adobe on all fronts.
Affinity is a high-end graphics software application that has been created to be used by professional designers. It is equipped with most of the functionality seen in its more renowned rivals, plus a whole host of new features and capabilities. Moreover, Affinity is fast expanding its range of tools and feature set with regular updates - inviting its users to submit new feature requests openly on their forum. Should this current rate of expansion be maintained, Affinity looks set to match and maybe even surpass the range of functions and features that helped establish Illustrator as the unrivalled platform for so many years.
We first started considering moving away from Adobe as our team began to expand. Ultimately, what was instrumental in our decision was a belief that the Affinity Designer is better geared towards the needs of the modern web designer.
Affinity has shown an astute awareness of their audience. A basic example of this would be how users can choose from a range of screen resolution presets based on the screen dimensions of popular devices. The version of Photoshop we last used as a team did not provide typical screen resolutions that were in line with today’s standards.
Furthermore, Affinity has clearly been developed with the aim of supporting a streamlined workflow. Customisable layer effects allow designers to effortlessly refine elements of their design, and these adjustment layers can be saved as templates for future use. We also recommend using the asset management panel for easy access to design elements that feature recurringly in projects.
The team at WCD are sticklers for detail and accuracy, which is why we love Affinity’s advanced snapping and grid options. Affinity also features zooming capabilities of up to 1,000,000% (that’s right, one million percent!).
What’s more, we feel Affinity is far better suited to working with both vectors and bitmap images within the same document than its Adobe counterparts. This often required the work of both Illustrator and Photoshop under our previous Adobe spearheaded design processes.
Our seamless transition was aided by Affinity’s support for PSD and AI files - meaning that we were able to work using our existing source files with ease. Similarly, its wide range of file support facilitates our collaborations with external designers and agencies.
Affinity’s slick, accessible and highly intuitive user interface mean users need little time to bring themselves up to speed with the nuanced differences between Affinity and Adobe. This also makes Affinity an attractive option for beginners as well as seasoned professionals; Illustrator and Photoshop are generally considered tricky for novices to get accustomed to. Though, in spite of this, their user interfaces haven’t changed a great deal over the years.
Affinity’s improbable success - in what has traditionally been a largely impenetrable market - hasn’t gone unnoticed, with Apple awarding Affinity with its highly coveted Design Award at Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2015.
With a free trial available, we’d strongly advise all designers to consider giving Affinity a chance. It’s been two years since we switched to using Affinity, and we haven’t looked back since.