Updated: Jun 10, 2020
The best part about starting your own online publication is you can write a software review loaded with references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and no one can stop you.
So everyone has heard of Adobe. They’re the Photoshop people. They make wonderful but very expansive software for arty people. They had a hard time keeping this very expensive software from being pirated and we all thought things would never change.
We were wrong. Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same. And now it's here. Or should I say, Creative Cloud is.
A few years back, Adobe decided that reality could be whatever they want and changed their business model. Instead of buying/acquiring a copy of an Adobe product and then riding it out until your OS would no longer support it you now had to “subscribe” to the software. I get it. It's a simple calculus. Adobe is finite, its resources, finite. If piracy was left unchecked, Adobe would cease to exist. It needed correcting.
But unless you’re an agency or a photographer this model sucks.
The MOST sucky part is that while you can get Photoshop with light room ala carte for $10 a month (a very fair/reasonable price) that is the ONLY program that they offer this way. Hooray for you if you’re a photographer but if you’re a digital artist of any other sort: tough luck. I also use Illustrator and Animate in my workflow and to get those two programs I’d have to get a full creative cloud sub at a wallet-busting $53 a month. Included in that price are a ton of programs that I don’t need and never will. (It would be even more to buy the three programs I need ala carte, which makes NO sense.)
Adobe knew that they had no competition and they could get away with this. When they were done half of humanity would still have Adobe products – the half that could afford it. The rest of us were kind of out of luck.
So with our toys taken away, what next? If you’re about to tell me to try Corel Draw or Inkscape… I’m about to hit you with a peanut butter sandwich. (I did try them both.)
I’m not sure where I first heard about Affinity Designer but it was the answer I’d been looking for. I’m sure many developers saw the opportunity in the market for an Adobe alternative but this was the first product that really backed that claim up. Just like Illustrator, Designer is a vector-based drawing app with the same basic tool sets and best of all, the same keyboard shortcuts out of the box. This sounds like a minor thing but when you’ve been doing things a certain way for 20 years learning new key commands will really slow you down and, as we all know, no amount of money ever bought a second of time.
Designer will also open AI and PSD files. No converting your whole archive to EPS or SVG just to be able to open older files.
All of this and Affinity designer is $50. One time. (As of this writing it’s 50% off – a crazy cheap $25! They’re also doing 90 day free trails right now. If your wallet is getting hammered by COVID this is your out from Adobe.)
Once you’re up and working, yes, Illustrator has more bells and whistles but as an illustrator I didn’t really miss them. If you’re a professional designer working on agency deadlines or a Hollywood concept artist you probably would but in that case you probably have Illustrator anyway so stop whining.
Here is my strongest endorsement of Designer: even though I have Illustrator for free now (via my day job) I’ve found myself drifting back to Designer and it’s because Affinity also has one thing that Illustrator doesn’t and that’s a KILLER iPad app. It’s my go-to art app for drawing on my tablet and moving between the mobile and desktop versions is absolutely seamless. Even better, it’s often unnecessary. Adobe’s version of Photoshop for iPad seems to beg you to get back on a desktop at some point in your process but Designer for iPad isn’t a half-assed version of its desktop sibling. Yes, it’s a separate purchase but it’s a real illustration solution, not a mobile plaything and having to buy Designer for iPad and Desktop is still nothing compared to a Creative Cloud subscription.
This is to say nothing of Affinity Photo (their Photoshop stand-in which I have used) or Publisher (the InDesign alternative which I have not.) Maybe I’ll talk about those in future installments of the Affinity Saga. The short of it is if you are digital artist displaced due to Creative Cloud these programs are full of tricks, wizard and I highly recommend you check them out. If you have any specific questions about Designer or want me to record a demo feel free to ask away in the comments or on social!