Brian Houtz

To Affinity... and Beyond!

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I have long been watching Affinity Designer evolve from a distance and this weekend I decided to pull the trigger and purchase a license. I have to say, I am really impressed with the app, its features, speed, layout, and basically the whole kit. It isn't perfect by any means, but neither is Illustrator after all these years. I highly recommend others who are curious to check out Affinity Designer (they have a trial version).

As a long-time Illustrator user, I was worried about how long it would take me to adapt to the app. While there are obviously differences, the workflow feels pretty good. Keep in mind that I am basing this entirely on a single project (this shot). I was really intrigued by their isometric features that were apparently recently added and I was also curious about their gradient system, adding noise (which is seamlessly simple to add) and various color correction and adjustment options (to get the same functionality in Illustrator you need to either work in a clumsy illustrator > photoshop workflow, or buy plugins). Honestly, those features all feel so sleekly integrated and well thought out. The speed of the app is fantastic as well - where Illustrator can sometimes feel cumbersome, even with simple designs and illustrations, AD felt lightweight the whole way through.

There are some things that feel cumbersome with AD out of the gate and I am hoping they are just due to my inexperience with the app. For instance, the way they handle corners feels cumbersome and clumsy. Adjusting corners is a simple task in Illustrator, and while you can achieve the same control in AD, it feels labyrinthian in terms of accomplishing what should be a simple task. Line profiles are also much simpler in Illustrator vs AD. Another issue is seams. Even when curves line up via snapping, seams, where two curves meet, can still appear. You can see this issue in my illustration if you look at the rounded rectangles at the center of the controller where they meet the white outline of the controller. Rarely do I run into this sort of seam issue in Illustrator. Overall, these are all just minor quibbles for the time being and may be due to my familiarity with an Illustrator workflow vs ADs. Time will tell.

With Mario Maker 2 around the corner and the NES controller being a simple shape, it felt like the perfect subject to do a technical run with AD and test drive all the features that intrigued me most. I gotta say, I am very pleased with the app and looking forward to spending more time with it and exploring more of its features. Oh and because I worry this sounds too much like a love letter, I just want to say for posterity's sake I have no affiliation with Serif or Affinity Designer.

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