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Feedback about Using Affinity Suite in a Professional (Collaborative) Setting


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Hi there,

I hope, it is this the appropriate place to post my question?!

I have been using the Affinity suite since the launch of version 2. So, I am quite new to the suite, and hence, this forum. Until now, I have no issues whatsoever with Affinity and I like a quite a bit, but I am not using it in a professional context. 

However, I am thinking of starting a business as a freelancer in the nearby future. So, to keep the (initial) costs low, the obvious choice would be for me to use the Affinity suite as my primary set of tools to do the job, meaning creating logos, posters, banners, flyers, mockups, etc. However, when I am currently asking the few professional graphic designers, I know, which suite (Affinity or Adobe) would be their first choice for a freelancer, I get the answer that Adobe is the more secure choice. Of course, this is not a big surprise to me (or to anyone for that matter) as Adobe has quite a monopoly in the graphic industry. The main reason, I heard, is that (as a consequence) the people or the clients I would work with/for (mostly) use Adobe software, which makes collaborating much easier and the end result will be guaranteed, therefore. This makes sense, indeed.

But then I again, I am a stubborn person, and for me, the lower costs by using Affinity weigh more heavily than the hurdles I would need to take to get the job done. Still, then the questions that start arising, are: Is it feasible to use the Affinity suite as my primary set of tools? Or will Affinity first need to get more mature to fight the competition? What are the biggest features/capabilities the Affinity programs still lack to stand a collaboration with Adobe users in the way? I know these are not questions answered easily here, and basically, it comes down to the following question I have:

What is your experience using the Affinity suite in a professional (collaborative) setting?

Please, be aware that I do not want to start a bashing contest here between folks that fully stand behind Affinity and hybrid-users that stand in a high degree behind Adobe. I, hereby, only hope to get a more objective view on the matter, so I know what to expect when I make my move as a freelancer.

Thank you!

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1 hour ago, Goofy said:

What is your experience using the Affinity suite in a professional (collaborative) setting?

Hello @Goofy,

it is a very complex question you are asking but the key in your question is 'collaborative'. If you need to exchange designs or files with others that are working with Adobe then Adobe is the way to go. Only this way you will have guaranteed compatibility.

If you plan on designing mainly on your own and delivering drafts and releases e.g. only as PDF that can be the base of a collaborative communication about ýour designs then you could very well use Affinity.

d.

Affinity Designer 1 & 2   |   Affinity Photo 1 & 2   |   Affinity Publisher 1 & 2
Affinity Designer 2 for iPad   |   Affinity Photo 2 for iPad   |   Affinity Publisher 2 for iPad

Windows 11 64-bit - Core i7 - 16GB - Intel HD Graphics 4600 & NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
iPad pro 9.7" + Apple Pencil

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In addition to dominik's hints: The main problems you'll may notice are related to colour output in PDF export: Affinity has some limited options for colour handling compared to other "professional" software. For example:

• its handling of CMYK colour values (especially 100 K) assigned to vector objects (layers of type "image" included) depending on colour profiles,

• the sensible handling of placed Affinity documents and other container file types (e.g. PDF, EPS) if they have a different colour profile saved than the current, parent layout document,

• limited spot colour handling (for export and partially for layout already),

• handling of 1-bit images (Black & White only doesn't exist for Affinity but gets usually handled as RGB),

• transparency handling in the exported PDF (including blend modes), respectively the limitation to RGB as the mixing colour space within PDF.

macOS 10.14.6 | MacBookPro Retina 15" | Eizo 27" | Affinity V1 only

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Hi @dominik, @thomaso, @Red Sands,

Thank you all for your valuable replies. It's much appreciated.

 

On 5/26/2023 at 8:14 PM, Red Sands said:

I don't currently use AI for my work, which has crept into Adobe in recent years and will big time in the next few years, so it's not a parameter for me now, but expect Adobe and other big players to take off in the next few years with AI features. I don't think Affinity will get on that bandwagon, unless Serif gets its wallet out of its pocket and buys a service or something similar. There is a heated debate about AI all over the globe, but expect it to become commonplace in all products within a few years, where many workflows can become significantly easier or faster when many routine operations lose many layers of hit and miss corrections that we are used to today just take time. Probably not so much of an issue for you at first, but since time is money and you want to do as much as you can that can be invoiced, I don't know what your situation will be in 5 years. If other freelancers can shave 30% of their time off the work, they can bid with lower estimates. It WILL become reality. 

 

Yes, I also think that the AI-functionality in Adobe software could be a huge deal breaker in the nearby future for many professionals. Even when a part of them is reluctant to switch (back) to Adobe, they are kind of pushed to it by the market.

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On 5/26/2023 at 5:46 PM, Goofy said:

What is your experience using the Affinity suite in a professional (collaborative) setting?

I'm gradually moving from an Adobe toolset to the Affinity one. At the moment I use InDesign, plus Affinity Designer and Photo.

First of all, my work often starts from drawings made in a CAD by the technical designers. They might then be retouched by the main designer in CorelDraw. I can receive their work in a format of choice, that can be anything non-Adobe related (but AI usually works fine for technical drawings).

I much prefer Photo to Photoshop, due to the Export persona making my life a lot easier with full images and details. I save everything in TIFF, so anyone having to reuse my images can do it with any program. Vector images are saved as PDF files, also universally compatible.

I'm starting to think to PNG and SVG as the formats of choice, when I move to a workflow where the web output is the most important. In this case, too, my images would be fully reusable anywhere.

inDesign is a different matter. At the moment, Publisher lacks features that I use. And even if I didn't use them, there is no way to exchange your files with someone working in InDesign. You can receive IDML files, but you can't send them anything they can read.

Paolo

 

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AI reminds me of the transition from traditional print publishing where it required a team of designers, typesetters, technicians, etc to do the same work a single individual could perform using a Mac and Aldus Freehand and/or PageMaker. Yes, jobs will change, some may even disappear with new technology, but it also opens up new opportunities that we could not have imagined previously.

I recall early on many designers I knew refused to use digital tools until they could no longer compete with the timelines, costs, and flexibility of digital work. Early on I even had a boss that insisted I hand-code Postscript as he felt it was more 'efficient' going to the image setter than the 'garbage' WYSIWYG apps produced.  I see AI being adopted in a similar manner, where the new tools will will enable creatives to further cut timelines, costs and provide additional value (and opportunities) in ways we've yet to imagine.

Personally, I don't see Serif being competitive in this market as many other companies have significant leads (and expertise) already. Also, Serif is still struggling to add basic features that have been missing from the start (ahem, right to left text support, auto-trace, ePub export, etc, etc) let alone fix the countless bugs, including those that still remain from the v1.x releases. I mean the 'balanced dashed lines' and 'running headers' in 2.1 are basic hygiene features today, not headline release features.

I just don't see Serif meaningfully competing in anything AI related anytime soon.

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I see the answer I posted, in which I was describing my workflow, has been deleted. Was it because I cited two competing products that I use? Wasn't it in the aim of the original question?

Paolo

 

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  • Staff
1 hour ago, PaoloT said:

I see the answer I posted, in which I was describing my workflow, has been deleted. Was it because I cited two competing products that I use? Wasn't it in the aim of the original question?

Paolo

 

It looks as though you may have accidentally hidden your post while editing it as I can't see anything in the log regarding your post being hidden. I have now unhidden this post regardless :)

Thanks
C

Please tag me using @ in your reply so I can be sure to respond ASAP.

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On 5/26/2023 at 4:46 PM, Goofy said:

However, I am thinking of starting a business as a freelancer in the nearby future. So, to keep the (initial) costs low, the obvious choice would be for me to use the Affinity suite as my primary set of tools to do the job, meaning creating logos, posters, banners, flyers, mockups, etc.

Switching depends on your work and what stage of production you collaborate with others. For similar to what you say you produce, I have managed fine, I have occasionally had to dip into my CS6 suite for older files. On the rare occasion I have been supplied with native Adobe files I ask for a flattened version to compare or an alternate format. If you are working with others that use Adobe and are working on native Adobe files, you should get a subscription. If you are providing logos, print ready files and final assets (PDF, SVG, PNG, JPG, WebP etc), you will be fine with Affinity plus and a piece of print production software for piece of mind, such as Acrobat Pro or Callas PDF Toolbox. Over the years I have literally tried every piece of perpetual software I could find and I have put all my recommendations below for what worked for me. YMMV.

I wish you well on you career!

TL;DR

I have been a freelance generalist designer since early 2000s. I started on Photoshop then Illustrator & InDesign before moving to the whole suite for Adobe CS4 and CS6. I never joined the subscription model. 

I bought every release of Affinity products upon launch on Windows, but it was only in lockdown I had enough time to retrain myself and convert work and now use Affinity apps for almost all comparable print and 2D static work.

I am not against subscription if it is done in a fair way like PhpStorm below, who let you perpetually rollback to the last version released when you cancel. I only expect bug fixed from perpetual versions, so I think Affinity go above and beyond in that regard by adding features, although my personal preference would be the dot versions concentrated on fixing bugs faster and there were faster releases of paid major versions with better or more comprehensive features.

Unless you are exceptional in one single discipline, being a freelancer to me means you need to generalise to some extent, so you might only need a tool once a year to keep a client happy and also access old files. So for me, perpetual software licences are extremely important to control my expenses and also secure my work. 

I really enjoy Affinity apps and do not see it as a downgrade. I actually prefer their workflow and some tools. For other apps I prefer almost all of them over Adobe, especially for Video and Web. Some of the quirks and bugs are annoying and sometimes it is easy to slip into thinking the grass is greener, but it was far worse with Adobe, and Adobe support was pretty bad and asking anything on the user forum almost always results in some kind of passive aggressive answer and denial of any bugs until it becomes unsustainable for them. You were effectively paying them to fix bugs in their own software. Also, Adobe have always been trigger happy in discontinuing apps or services out of the blue (Pantone, Photoshop 3D, PS fonts etc, see this list of apps: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Discontinued_Adobe_software) leaving you out of pocket or looking for an alternative. 

Here is how my workflow has changed, everything is Windows 11 unless stated, and everything is perpetual licence unless stated. If anyone has suggestions for alternatives for below, especially the sad faces, I would love to hear them:

  • Illustrator (Illustration) -> Affinity Designer
  • Illustrator (Print Design)  -> Affinity Publisher / Affinity Designer
  • Illustrator (Live Trace) -> Inkscape 
  • Illustrator (3D Extrudes from Vectors) -> Blender
  • InDesign (Print Design) -> Affinity Publisher / Affinity Designer depending on the job
  • InDesign (Imposition) -> I still mostly use InDesign CS6 :(. It handles embedded PDF better.

---------------------------------

  • Acrobat Pro (Print Pre-flight) -> I still use Acrobat Pro :( . When this stops working, I will move to Callas pdfToolbox.
  • Acrobat Pro (Forms) -> I still use my old copy of Acrobat Pro :( 
  • Acrobat Pro (Merging, splitting and manipulating PDF) ->  Acrobat Pro :(  mainly, but increasingly these tasks can be done in countless apps. If I'm on mac built in tools can do this.

----------------------------

  • Photoshop (Compositing) ->  Affinity Photo + On1Sky Swap (Plugin) + Nik Collection (Plugin) 
  • Photoshop/Camera Raw (Developing) -> DxO PhotoLab + DxO Viewpoint
  • Photoshop (Editing) -> Affinity Photo + Nik Collection (Plugin) + On1Sky Swap (Plugin) + DxO Viewpoint (Plugin)
  • Photoshop (Measure Tools) -> Affinity Designer 
  • Photoshop (Painting) -> Affinity Photo / Concepts App / Clip Studio
  • Photoshop (3D Compositing, 3D Text) -> Blender / Nomad Sculpt (iPad) / Microsoft 3D Builder, exported to Affinity Photo
  • Photoshop (Frame based GIFs) -> Photoshop CS6 :( 

--------------------------------

  • Flash / Animator (Web Animation) -> Keyshape (Mac)
  • Premier Pro (editing) -> Davinci Resolve
  • Premier Pro / Flash (Web/Social Video) -> Davinci Resolve (inc Fusion tab)
  • Premier Pro (color grading) -> Davinci Resolve (Colour Tab)
  • After Effects (VFX and animation) -> Davinci Resolve (FusionTab)
  • Adobe Media Encoder -> Handbrake
  • Adobe Audition (Wave editing) -> WaveLab
  • Adobe Audition (Video Audio / Dialogue) -> Davinci Resolve (Fairlight Tab)

-------------------------------

  • Dreamweaver (Coding with live preview) -> PhpStorm (This is a subscription but when you cancel you can still keep using the last version released at the start of your most recent renewal
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Hi @mc909,

Thanks a lot for your detailed reply. Much appreciated.

 

15 hours ago, MC909 said:
  • Photoshop (Compositing) ->  Affinity Photo + On1Sky Swap (Plugin) + Nik Collection (Plugin) 

 

I see, you are using the Nik Collection Plugin. I always thought that it is only for Photoshop. Can it really be used as a plugin for Affinity Photo?

 

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1 hour ago, Goofy said:

I see, you are using the Nik Collection Plugin. I always thought that it is only for Photoshop. Can it really be used as a plugin for Affinity Photo?

nik_col.jpg.14bf11861bcebc5a7900c32532b37fc1.jpg

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.8 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.8 ◆ Affinity Publisher 1.10.8 ◆ OSX El Capitan
☛ Affinity V2.3 apps ◆ MacOS Sonoma 14.2 ◆ iPad OS 17.2

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5 hours ago, Goofy said:

I see, you are using the Nik Collection Plugin. I always thought that it is only for Photoshop. Can it really be used as a plugin for Affinity Photo?

 

Yes, Nik Collection on Windows and the newer version now install automatically. Before I used to have to add the plugin manually by green lighting the Photoshop folder version in Affinity Photo settings. The DxO FAQs describe the installation.

From the collection I regularly use Color Effects Pro with no problems. I occasionally use the sharpeners and noise reduction, also without problem. I do no use Silver Efex much, but it works well. I do not use any of the other plugins in the collection.

This is all on windows. I use a Mac M1 as a backup with my spare licences and have the collection installed, but I have not used it enough on Mac to give a reliable recommendation.

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