Is Affinity As Good As Photoshop? Affinity Suite Review (Designer, Photo, Publisher)

If you’re in the graphic design world at all, you have probably seen the new products offered by the company Serif that are named Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, and Affinity Publisher.

Many say they rival Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Elements type programs.

I have been using these tools for a while and want to tell you what I have experienced with them.

This post may include affiliate links from which I may receive a small commission should you choose to make a purchase. Now on with the show!

An Overview of Affinity Products and What They’re Used For

Serif is the parent company of the Affinity suite of products. Currently, it offers 3 programs:

Affinity Photo: This one is good for photo editing. Want to change the color of a shirt in a photo? This is your product. Want to change the background of a photo, or adjust the lighting. Photo.

Generally, any fixing or adjusting to a photo that was taken by a camera is what is best for this program. You can do a bit of this in Designer as well, but some functions are not available in Designer. They also recently added a function to make patterns from pixel layers. (This seemed better fitted for Designer, but whatever.)

Affinity Designer: Want to make a basic graphic or logo, do fun things with text, or make a super-intricate, mesmerizing graphic? Designer will be your friend. Any publication that you want to design, Designer is good for that. It has so many functions, and I see it as the go-between between Photo and Publisher.

If you have money for only one of these three programs listed, unless you have specific objectives laid out in one of these other descriptions, I would opt for Designer above the other three.

Affinity Publisher: So, this one can be used for design, but it (in my opinion) seemed geared more towards multiple-page designs. Think a workbook or planner. Anything with multiple slides.

From Publisher, you can also create a template (“master”) and apply that template to multiple pages easily. This is similar to PowerPoint or Google Slides.

I create digital planners in Publisher (example below), and it can do a lot of design work on its own. However, if I want an extra-special element, I may have to go to Designer or even Photo to accomplish it.

Screenshot of Pink Animal Digital Planner in Affinity Publisher
My Pink Animal Digital Planner pages, made in Affinity Publisher

Affinity Photo and Designer are offered both on Desktop and for iPad. Publisher is only (currently) available on Desktop. All three desktop programs are available for iOS Mac and Windows PC. You can find them all here; select the operating system for your device.

If you get two programs or all three, you will be able to switch between the ones you have bought seamlessly. There is an option to ‘Edit in x ‘ (x being whatever other program you own), and it will automatically open that program and you will have access to all the features of that particular program.

Which Adobe Programs Are Similar in Affinity?

In general, Adobe programs have very similar features as follows:

  • Affinity Photo is similar to Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (more on Elements in a bit).
  • Affinity Designer is similar to Adobe Illustrator
  • Affinity Publisher is similar to Adobe InDesign

Can Affinity Replace Adobe?

The answer on whether you can give up your Adobe subscription and move to Affinity, well, I can’t tell you what to do. There are many graphic designers who have made this switch, however.

For a hobbyist, I would say you definitely could. For anyone, it will be a little bit of an adjustment, as there are some terms that are different that do the same basic function as in Adobe products.

I feel that it is important that, while I will go ahead and say I love these products (I have yet to get to the main reason in this article), there are some limitations as compared to Adobe.

Here are some of the functions in Adobe products that aren’t currently available in Affinity products:

  • Video capabilities in Photo
  • Adding Footnotes
  • Ability to trace (probably the biggest complain of all the programs, there are external programs that accomplish this, but many users hav voiced a desire for this feature.)
  • Creating QR codes
  • Handling ePub opening and export
  • No Free Transform, Warp and Envelope Distortion tools
  • No current ability to gather publication files as Chapters and gather them into a book, build and maintain a back-of-book index.

These are some of the more common complaints I see of Affinity vs Adobe.

If you’re a techie or experienced in Adobe/graphic design, you probably understand these terms, but if not, I would say that you can probably go to Affinity products and not miss a beat.

*It should also be noted that there are some ways to accomplish many of these tasks, but there are extra steps in Affinity or through external programs.

Do I Need Accessories to Work With Affinity?

No, you don’t neeeeed any accessories. The programs run well on their own with just your typical mouse and keyboard. However, I will tell you, I have bought three to make the experience even better, this is mostly helpful when drawing:

Drawing tablet (here) – Inexpensive and works really well with Desktop computers. You can also customize it to draw right or left-handed (important for me as a leftie) and you can rotate the angle and screen at which you use it to serve your setup better. Really impressed with how well it works.

Electronic pencil – for tablet style computers and iPad. As a budget-friendly option to Apple Pencilz, it does work really well, and is easy to use. (However, I also did buy an inexpensive screen protector to protect the screen as I draw.)

Shot of Affinity Designer for iPad with designs
Some Affinity Designer for iPad designs, mandalas and coloring sheets for a little girl

Apple Pencil – (make sure you pick the right one for your iPad, I didn’t initially). This really great when drawing and for creating mandalas and other graphics. I loooove to sit on my couch with my iPad while my husband watches sports and create mandalas and printable coloring sheets for my nieces and nephews.

If Affinity is Comparable, Why Do So Many People Recommend Photoshop & Adobe Products?

This is a little info I need to get off my chest. There are three primary reasons I can think that people recommend Adobe products:

1. They REALLY REALLY love Adobe products. (I can understand this. They are truly some pretty fabulous, fun, and powerful products.)

2. They are afraid to switch. Many people are uncomfortable with change. Now, if I made tons of money and constantly needed professional design software and could afford it, I would also probably use and recommend Photoshop. They are great products.

However, for a hobbyist or someone who doesn’t need an use graphic design software every day, Affinity products will be more than sufficient. And yes, there ARE people creating professional graphics daily with Affinity products.

3. They are Adobe affiliates. This is the one I have to get off my chest. I hate to tell ya, but I have seen some graphic design bloggers who say that they are budget conscious say that creating printables and other products are pretty easy, but that you need an Adobe subscription. You do not.

If you are that basic in skills and don’t know the difference, get Affinity already. If you want to spend the money for a subscription model like Adobe, do it (only if you can afford it.) However, at $120-250+ yearly, I’d rather spend a fraction of that for Affinity products. (I am not an Affinity affiliate, by the way. If they had an Affiliate program I would probably try to join but I would still highly recommend their products, just want to be honest.)

Why Should I Switch to Affinity? How Much Does Affinity Cost?

Here is the #1 reason for switching to Affinity products from Adobe or any other suite.

1. Affinity is powerful. As stated previously, you can create professionally designed products in Affinity. No question. There are people doing it every day, and no one knows any better.

Also, there have been several updates by the Serif team, each one greatly improving and adding features. The recent 1.9 version update added some really great features such as creating a pattern layer in Photo and grouping layers by color, same attributes, and other shared features.

2. The price is right: This is THE #1 REASON that I recommend anyone looking into Affinity just go ahead and get it.

Generally, the price of each product is $50 (see below for sale info). A one-time price. I paid $60 (on sale) for Photoshop Elements a few years ago and while it’s a good intro to Photoshop if you want to get your feet wet, it feels clunky and I wish it had more buttons (less menus to poke through). But like all programs, once you get used to it, you can maneuver quickly. But what drew me in was the one-time price.

However, many times, you can find Affinity products on sale. At the beginning of that big ole virus that locked us in our homes worldwide for months on end, Serif put Affinity products on sale at HALF OFF! Yes. I bought it then for sure, well, Designer and Publisher at least.

At some point they went back to regular price and are back (currently) on sale at half price again. I bought Photo for desktop and Designer for iPad (which was $10 on half-off sale.)

It should be noted that, at the time of writing this article, Affinity has only released version 1 of their products. They have done 1.2 through 1.9 upgrades, however, it is not yet known if they will continue to update version 1 or release version 2.

I hope they continue to update version 1, but that will be sufficient for my needs for a while. Version 2 will likely incur a new payment, like what happens with Photoshop Elements. However, since Affinity has been out for a couple of years now, I would understand them releasing a new version… but I still hope they plan to continue updating in hopes of converting new customers.

So, in summation, yes, you can do professional level work with the Affinity Design suite of products. Think about which one(s) you need most, or catch them on sale and get two for the price of one. (That was what I did.)

Was this helpful to you? Do you have more questions about Affinity? Please let me know in the comments and I will try to answer as best I can. Have you used Affinity? What did you think about it?

If you do decide to use it, join some Facebook groups for specific question, but start with tutorials on the Serif website and also on Youtube, they’re really helpful and will blow your mind at all it can do.

As always, thanks for reading, and God bless!

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