Every now and again a Mac app comes along that fills a void; either a gap where no comparable app exists, or a gap where the established industry leaders dare not go. Mac using graphic designers know the value of Pixelmator vs. Adobe’s flagship Photoshop. What about those who use Illustrator? Is there a comparable vector-based bargain tool?
Take a look at Affinity Designer. You’ll pay more in a few months to rent Illustrator than it costs to buy Affinity Designer outright. What you get is a bargain-priced tool, with professional level capabilities, worth of a few hundred five star reviews.
This new app uses an artful blend of vector tools delivered in a Photoshop-like presentation. Sure, it imports PSD files, but also handles PDFs, SVGs, AIs, EPS files, and even Freehand (remember that blast from the past?).
Unlike Pixelmator, Affinity Designer handles CMYK as well as RGB, LAB and other color models with full ICC color management at 16-bits per channel. And, yes, the tools are completely familiar to anyone who’s used Adobe’s flagship monthly rental suite.
Affinity Designer has tools which blend both vector and rester in editable layers, complete with pen tools, curve editing, geometric operations, smart shapes, textures, masking, and customizable brushes.
All the OS X basics are built-in, too, including OpenGL support, Core Graphics, Grand Central, and 64-bit power with multiple core processor capability.
Yet, for anyone who’s ever used any app from Adobe, Affinity Designer is instantly familiar.
Let me be clear about one thing. Affinity Designer is not Illustrator, and not some funky blend of Photoshop with vector tools tossed in. It’s more like the Pixelmator of vector-based graphic design apps; bargain priced, but with enough tools to get plenty of professional use.
It doesn’t have the rich set of tools and add-ons you’ll find with Adobe’s far more expensive apps, but it is surprisingly robust considering the nominal price tag. If you’re a graphic designer wannabe and balk at Adobe’s monthly rental fees, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and impressed with Affinity Designer’s capabilities; especially the price-performance ratio.
High recommended, but with one caveat. Affinity Designer is Mac App Store only, so there’s no try-before-you-buy option. That is sorely needed.