Since the dawn of colored pixels, Adobe has had a firm grasp on everything digitally creative, and has slapped a whopping great price tag on it. Finally, that monopoly is starting to crack, thanks to reasonably priced offerings like Pixelmator and Sketch. But apps under the $80 mark have never truly gone toe-to-toe with Adobe’s goliaths…until now. Enter Affinity Designer — the freshest thing in OS X vector illustration and graphic design.
In fact, so determined is Serif (Affinity’s developer) to match Adobe, that it seems to have made a near-clone of Illustrator. A similarly dark interface holds comparable features, but there is one instantly noticeable difference between the two apps — Affinity is properly speedy. I mean, you can drag around hundreds of shapes, complete with various fill styles, and there’s virtually no lag whatsoever. That even holds when you zoom in to ten million per cent, as well.
In terms of functionality, Serif’s new app mostly just keeps pace with Illustrator, but there are areas where it pulls ahead. It’s happy to work in CYMK, for instance, and Affinity blends bitmap and vector visuals seamlessly. In fact, you can instantly switch between these two toolkits with a click of a toggle switch. This level of bitmap integration also allows for effects, such as masks, to work with both scalable and non-scalable objects. I actually believe that this ability, in particular, is a real breakthrough for visual design apps.
In addition, Affinity is fully compatible with Illustrator and Photoshop files, along with other industry-standard file types, such as SVG. And then there is the array of slicing options to consider; the features here should keep web and app designers happy. Resizing to meet the needs of a retina display is simply a matter of putting a check in a box, and designs can be outputted in a broad range of file types.
All things considered, Affinity seems to be a remarkably polished design environment. Serif has spent four years developing the app we see today, and that graft has been well rewarded — Affinity instantly rocketed to the top of the App Store’s charts in the hours after it launched. And quite frankly, unless you’re a pro with money to burn, I’d highly recommend you join those who have already discovered this pleasingly priced gem.
Affinity Designer is available now in the Mac App Store, priced at $39.99 (20% reduced launch price)