Affinity Designer review

Affinity Designer has garnered a lot of interest in the design world and after finishing my first illustration and design project, I can see why.

Heres my little review of the vector drawing programme, which is part of a planned suite of professional-level applications containing Designer, Photo and Publisher.

When I first loaded up AD, the interface seemed familiar enough and there is a fairly easy transition from Adobe Illustrator. I did come across a few quirks that I couldn’t work out but the very active staff on the forums helped quickly and it usually amounted to me not noticing something in the interface. I had to remember that this wasn’t Illustrator and there are a few minor differences in the workflow.

Things that impressed:

  • The speed, on a 2 year old Mac Mini, was amazing (comparing to Illustrator CS 6 we use at my main workplace on Mac Pro 2014!).
  • Interactive shapes are amazing and fully editable after creation (unless you convert them to curves). That means, you can create a 10 sided cog and then alter the number of sides later or  turn stars into rounded petals. The shapes are truly excellent starting points.
  • You can alter the phase on a dashed line to make sure the dashes start at the correct place.
  • Previews of layer blends and effects in real time.
  • I love the curve editor for strokes, allowing you to fine tune the thickness of a stroke from start to finish – this has to be my favourite tool. A great way to create a hand-drawn pen look very quickly.
  • Mixing vector and pixel layers is very easy and the paint brushes are quite speedy and a joy to work with.

Not so impressed:

If you take into account the roadmap (all free updates to purchasers), there really isn’t a lot to be said here. Bleed, cut marks, spot colours, better layers and guidelines are all to be added.

  • I would like lock icons on each individual layer and my workflow in Illustrator always involved dragging on the edges of shapes to move sections but here,this will turn the straight edge into a curve. Not a big deal and really just a case of slightly altering my workflow.
  • The main thing I would have liked to see would be chart and graphs creation.
  • There is no 3D type extrude effects as in Illustrator, but as I use Modo, this is not an problem for me and I always found Illustrators 3D effects fairly finicky.

This review is based on playing for a couple of hours and using Affinity Designer on a single illustration project so I may well have a lot more discover but I am really impressed.

Many people (who do not wish to subscribe to Creative Cloud) are hoping these will be good Adobe CC replacement, including myself. Since using Affinity Designer, I have high hopes that, with the release of Photo and Publisher, I will have everything I need as a Graphic Designer/Illustrator. I am excited about the future of this suite and at the price, it would seem silly not to give Affinity Designer a try.

Author: Gaz

Freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Based in Chester, Cheshire Designer offers great value design and branding for local startups, charities and established businesses.