Affinity Designer, a design tool review

Four months ago, I have purchased my first Mac Mini. I’m talking about an entry level 2012 generation device, packed with 4GB of Ram and an Intel i5 processor. The reason for buying this version and not the 2014 revision, was the ability to upgrade the device with SSD and memory that I choose. A secondary reason for buying a Mac mini was to do design work. And even though I have a pretty powerful PC, I wanted a OSX device so that I can purchase cheaper Photoshop alternatives – Pixelmator and the relatively new Affinity Designer.

And this is where my story begins…

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Firing up Affinity Designer takes you into a familiar design application, an application that has a lot of Photoshop/Illustrator visual approach but yet provides fresh perspectives on some ui concepts. Panels like Layers, Colours, Effects and Styles are common to both applications and the omnipresent Tools panel is floating on top of the application as well. But apart from that, the user interface seems more visual. Common actions are present through well crafted icons and new important features define and set Affinity Designer as a great design application.

Personas

Depending on the type of work, you can activate a specific set of tools grouped under a persona. There are 3 personas available at this point: Draw Persona – this mode provides a set of tools similar to Adobe Illustrator, Pixel Persona – this mode has some of the common Adobe Photoshop tools and features and Export Persona – a heaven mode for creating deliverables for a lot of needs.

I have used the Draw Persona to create some experimental icons and it was awesome to work with. The snapping and pixel alignment are really good and you can precisely position elements using the transform box. Something similar is horrible to do in Photoshop, especially when dealing with a complicated composition.

After getting familiar with the application, I have started to work on my upcoming web page analysis project – Pagelocity. And in no time, I have found myself with a brand new landing page. I was simply amazed. Common tasks were now a breeze to finalize them and object manipulation and position was no longer dull.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 00.18.17

Ton of Features

You can easily benefit from the impressive list of features packed in this 1.3 release:
– custom grids (even isometric)
– import Adobe documents (PSD, AI)
– awesome image slicer and exporter
– powerful image preview mode
– vector brushes
– text on a path
– split views
– corner tool
Here is a link with all the features of Affinity Designer.

Speed and Performance

Post launching Affinity Designer, you will be surprised by the responsiveness and lightness of this design tool. With a full HD blank document created it takes 220MB of RAM, which is absurd compared to Photoshop.

Price and Conclusion

One would think after a ton of great features, good performance and freshness, this app would cost something similar to Photoshop. Well, I will have to disappoint you, Affinity Designer costs only 49.99 euros. Not per month … just one payment and that’s it. The conclusion is … Photoshop/Illustrator what?

I have a new tool for my daily graphic tasks and I can’t wait to test the new Affinity Photo.
Cheers!

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