Affinity Designer – an alternative to Illustrator

About 18 months ago Adobe upset a lot of people when they announced that their major design software (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, et al) was only going to be available by subscription only. That means that you make a monthly payment to Adobe; about $20 for an individual software package or $50 for the entire Creative Suite.

It’s not bad value if you are a graphic or web design professional using the software all the time, but terrible if you’re just someone who wants to use the software casually or perhaps spend some time learning it before you branch out or find work.

However, the main drawback is that you never own a copy of the software. The software is installed on your computer; it’s not on the Cloud. Stop making the payments and when Photoshop, Illustrator, or whatever software you’re using checks in with Big Brother, it will freeze and no longer work.

An Alternative is here for Illustrator!

Affinity Designer Screen, a UK based company has just released Affinity Designer, vector and art design. It’s available through the Mac App store (it’s not available for PC) for only $49.95. Buy before October 9th and you’ll get the introductory price – $39.95.

When you purchase it, it’s yours to keep. No monthly or annual subscriptions. What’s more they are promising free updates for the next two years.

What does Affinity Designer do?

Serif claims that due to it’s new code base, it is much faster and more efficient than Illustrator.

Here’s just some of what they offer:

  • Panning and zooming is always live at 60fps
  • Live gradients, transforms, effects and adjustments
  • Optimized for documents of any complexity, zoom to over 1,000,000% for absolute precision
  • Live pixel and retina view of vector artwork, wireframe view, split screen mode
  • Seamless switching between tools and editing modes for frustration-free design

Check out their demo

If it is as good or better than Illustrator; you’re not going to dump the Adobe Creative Suite if you still need Photoshop or InDesign. But, here’s the good news. Serif is planning to release Affinity Photo in January 2015 following that up with Affinity Publisher in September.

For those who are upset at Adobe’s subscription based software, the Affinity programs are definitely worth checking out. Plus, Adobe may just have to review their subscription program if there is some serious competition nipping at their heels.

Is Affinity Designer a real contender?

I wasn’t able to resist, I purchased Affinity Designer at the introductory price. At the writing of this post, I haven’t done anything in depth. But my first impression is that it’s the Real McCoy.

The features seem fairly straight forward to use. Drawing, using text and manipulating images is easy and smooth. I haven’t got into the pixel editing side but it looks as if it won’t be a difficult transition. It is very fast and the zoom is incredible. It uses its own native format to save but it can export your files in EPS, PDF and all the major bitmap formats.

I’m going to use it in my work for for a month or so then post my impressions of Affinity in the real world.

If you have knowledge of Illustrator, it will be a breeze for you to get up and going. Check it out and let me know if you think we’ve got a viable alternative to Illustrator and maybe, down the road, Photoshop and InDesign too. Professional designers will still need Acrobat Professional but that is one Adobe software that you can still purchase and own.

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