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I'm considering retiring Photoshop CS4 in favour of Affinity Photo when it's released for Windows, hence why I'm here, but am curious how far Affinity Photo's tools stretch for digital drawing/painting too?  Although I'm not new to image editing, one thing that has recently started to peak my interest is digital drawing/painting.  However, as it's something that I haven't paid much attention to before, I am a complete newbie when it comes to that. 

 

As an example, here's a video of an artist who used Photoshop for a long time, but recently started using Manga Studio (now called Clip Studio Paint) for drawing due to it's better drawing brushes, etc..  The brushes he seems to use most often are pencils for sketching (5:15  & 10:35), G-pen for inking (12:00) and transparent watercolour for blending/shading (15:42).  Here they are in real-life use (Note: Link may or may not be safe for work depending what country you live in).

 

I assume Affinity Photo contains brushes that are capable of producing good results for sketching and blending.  However the Manga Studio brushes also seem to have brush stabilisation and the G-pen seems to have a mode to use it as a vector brush.  Do the Affinity Photo brushes have stabilisation and a vector brush tool (or are there any plans to introduce them)?  A quick search brought up the following posts, which seem to suggest no?

 

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/7617-stabilise-brush-strokes-and-faulty-brush-settings/

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/10152-brush-stabilizer/

 

 

 

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Hi Dasim!

 

I'm a user of both apps, CSP and AP.

Leaving apart specific features for a moment I think it is a matter of aptitude.

 

illustrators can be "roughly" divided into shape-oriented and the line-oriented.

 

The first ones prefer to visualise and draw things starting from shapes, or volumes --> eg. Painters

The second ones prefer to start from outlines --> eg. Comic artists, industrial designers

 

Obviously there are approximations just to give you an orientation.

You seem to me a line-oriented one.

 

 

AP is perfectly usable for digital painting, but it is not yet on par with CSP for precise inking.

AP has no stabilisation yet, and vector brushes (such as the Gpen of CSP) are available only in Affinity Designer.

 

Personally I use those side-by-side, depending on which project I'm working on.

AP manipulation tools and effects are better and faster than CSP ones, moreover it offers direct CMYK and 16bit editing, so they complement each other very well.


The white dog, making tools for artists, illustrators and doodlers

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Ciao Paolo

 

Thank you for your reply.  I looked at a few Affinity Designer videos, however they seemed more geared towards using vector tools that work much like the pen tool in Photoshop (I.E. Clicking anchor points and dragging Bezier handles).  So I take it that Affinity Designer can also be used for freehand inking, like with the G-pen in Clip Studio Paint?

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Ciao Paolo
 
Thank you for your reply.  I looked at a few Affinity Designer videos, however they seemed more geared towards using vector tools that work much like the pen tool in Photoshop (I.E. Clicking anchor points and dragging Bezier handles).  So I take it that Affinity Designer can also be used for freehand inking, like with the G-pen in Clip Studio Paint?

 

 

Yes, AD is a vector illustration software with impressive shading and painting features.

The vector inking is not the very same as CSP but you can manage strokes and their width maybe easier.

 

AD offers a nice raster engine too.

These are a couple of stupid samples that shows the raster engine of both Designer and Photo (it is the very same and brushes can be shared)

 

 


The white dog, making tools for artists, illustrators and doodlers

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I've been through just about every painting program out there. In general, Clip Studio Paint is unmatched in efficiency. The brushes perform great and so do all the filters etc. It has most of the basics you need. However, it has one missing feature or at least a very weak method. What I'm talking about is dual brushes. This is where one brush bitmap creates the daub shapes and another bitmap creates the textures within the brush shape. There is an app on the iPad called Procreate which has fantastic power in these terms but Photoshop is very good as well. The second texture within the brush shape needs some basic editing, for example jitter etc for maximum effect. Then you get beautiful brush textures. Affinity Photo has this dual brush idea to some degree but it's not as effective as Photoshop and Procreate. Clip Studio Paint has a much more static and weak looking secondary texture (it seems to actually just provide two tones) to add texture to brushes. It doesn't cut it unless you are happy with a much smoother look. Affinity Photo is a better than Clip Studio Paint in this respect. However, I've just posted about using Photo for painting. The brushes are not fast enough, at least on the machine I have tested on. This is an area where it appears that Photoshop still rules over Photo. Clip Studio Paint is the fastest performer in general for all brush work but Photoshop has a stack of features which comes in handy just for painting and it has decent dual brushes. So this is my main disappointment with Photo.

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So to summarise. My opinion is that firstly, without brush performance, all the other features become meaningless. This is why Artrage is a fail. They tried to go for realistic media look that still looks fake anyway but it doesn't cut it in terms of speed. Then secondly, the brushes need to provide for rich textures via dual brush technique which is why Procreate is so great and Photoshop is good as well. If Affinity Photo can get above a certain threshold with these two aspects, it would be a win for painting because then you have all the other featured as well.

 

A lot of people seem to love brush stabilisation. I'm not really concerned about that but I can see it's uses. It depends on your style. If Manga style comics is your thing then Clip Studio Paint has no rival. It's not entirely my thing though. I like more grit.

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Nice efflux, personally I share your thoughts, but I cannot verify one point

 

 

 

Affinity Photo has this dual brush idea to some degree but it's not as effective as Photoshop and Procreate.

 

AP's approach seems to me much more similar to CSP than PS: multiple brush tips (nozzles), which is very different from dual brush (PS).

What offers Procreate is another story too, basically a per-brush texture that you can manipulate "a bit more" than usual, but it is still far from PS approach: for example you don't have the jitter control and composition modes offered by PS, moreover in PS you can still assing a further Texture. So you can reach something like Dual Brush + Texture that is the base for a very clever emulation of a watercolour for example in a dab-based raster engine.

 

AP and CSP as said before are similar, obviously CSP offers more control over this feature.

 

What I think, in terms of ux, is that CSP and AP could be extended to Dual Brush feature without "tragedies" (and hopefully we will see these options sooner or later)

I suspect that PS inclusion of a multiple nozzle approach (widely requested) would be very challenging, for sure they need to redesign the brush editing presentation in order to do it.

 

About speed, on my machine (a late 2012 MBPR) PS and AP have almost the same speed, depending on the complexity of the brush used.

Some brushes are faster on PS some other on AP. CSP is faster than both.

 

For Inking, line work, comics no challenge, CSP is the benchmark.


The white dog, making tools for artists, illustrators and doodlers

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You're right. AP's approach is similar to CSP but CSP just doesn't seem to look good in results in terms of the way it uses the "paper" texture method and I've tried creating my own texture without particularly good results. As for Photoshop, I'm actually not so familiar but Photoshop's brushes seem very versatile overall. I was using the demo of Photoshop and I think I'll start using it now so I'll look back at the brush engine. It's not such high cost despite the terrible subscription method. They beauty is at least you can end your subscription when another app comes along. Maybe Photo can eventually finally be the alternative. My main gripe is performance, at least on the machine I'm using to test.

 

I see Procreate doesn't have jitter but the texture appears to move as you start new strokes. I'm not using Procreate despite it being a great app because as far as I'm concerned, you need an iPad Pro otherwise the pen tech is terrible. Samsung tablets and phones have great pen tech but no Procreate.

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If you're into this texture angle, it seems Photoshop and Procreate work best. Procreate being iPad only though is the problem. I've just looked at it and I think they gave the brushes just what is needed at most basic level to get nice textures. Photo needs at least another option to adjust the way the texture is applied to get more interesting results.

 

So Photoshop doesn't do multiple brush nozzles? I don't have it working now so can't check. I think I'd rather have the better texture options though. A lot of programs I've used allow multiple nozzles, even Gimp.

 

The biggest problem is that everyone uses Adobe products i.e. if you apply for a job. It's nuts though. For example there is a really great vector graphics program called Inkscape. It's free open source. I use that on Linux. I think Designer may be better, especially on non Linux systems but people stick to these industry standards from Adobe like there is no option.

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In AP you don't have yet all the functions to manipulate it after import: blending mode, composition, threshold for pressure etc...

This force you to find the best grey ramp for both nozzle/texture in order to find the best result.

 

It is a rather "manual" approach, quite demanding, but works somehow.

 

 

textureStrokes.png

 

 

Personally I think that for being a 1.x version features and speed are rather fine.

I use it with ease side by side with CSP, that is the very best companion (AP fulfils CSP lacks and viceversa).

 

Before new features I'd love to see the available jitters unlocked and fixes for tablet input smoothness.


The white dog, making tools for artists, illustrators and doodlers

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I noticed that I can still use Photoshop and Illustrator even although my trial period is up. Presumably it just stops me saving or something. So I was able to play with Photoshop again. I'm not sure I can bothered with it. The only reason I'm even looking at these is because everybody else uses them.

 

Having messed with it again, Photoshop probably isn't that much better performing than Affinity Photo in terms of the brushes as long as I make equivalent brushes. I can't judge for sure because I'm using on different systems. Photoshop's line quality is unacceptably jittery as well. I can't use Affinity Photo because the demo is up but I can see Adobe losing masses of users to these apps. I've tried the Affinity Designer Demo on my Windows system and it performs fantastically. Designer makes Illustrator feel like a traffic jam of a workflow. There are some missing features compared to Illustrator but Designer is really great. My Mac Mini was a weak graphics card so maybe if Affinity eventually release Photo for Windows as well, I'd get better performance. I don't know whether GPU power would effect brushes or not. Most apps require fast CPU for fast brushes.

 

As for the brush options in Photo. I think we need an option for the texture to begin in a new place with every stroke. This is simple but effective.

 

One of the reasons I can't deal with bad brush performance is that I've been using a drawing program called Mischief a lot more recently. This is the other benchmark painting app amongst some we have mentioned here but it's in a totally different category because it doesn't actually use pixels at all. It's like vectors. This app isn't really relevant to mention here but if you haven't used it, it's worth trying. Very simple so you really need another more advanced program for fuller work but nothing at all beats the pen feel of Mischief.

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Paolo, I see that you are actually the creator of the DAUB brushes which explains why you know this stuff. I've been messing in Clip Studio Paint again and I've finally worked out how to get the texture right. The layer to create the texture from has to be grayscale but importantly also have only black selected which I was missing. So now I've got awesome textures in Clip Studio Paint. I think the whole procedure to create brush shapes and textures in CSP is way too convoluted and no proper instructions. This would explain why we see so few heavy texture images. I don't think people have got their heads around the brush system in CSP at all. It's actually very capable. You have obviously worked it out but I don't see many other cool brushes being used.

 

I think Photoshop is off the table now for me even although the monthly is not that expensive. Illustrator is another matter. It's way more expensive so Designer is definitely looking good to fill that gap. Photo is also looking like an option again for me. I actually don't intend to finally use Windows so I could move it all the a Mac.

 

I have one question. How are you creating seamless textures? I take it that Photo doesn't do this.

 

I might buy your CSP brushes to save myself time. High res seamless textures are what is most needed in CSP to expand beyond the clean Manga look and probably the same in Photo as well since it's system is similar.

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I've had a test of the Windows Beta Designer. I notice it has a mixer brush. The other brushes perform great on my PC but the Achilles heel is mixing and blending.  I have Gimp on here which actually has a mixer brush. Even Gimp's mix brush devastates Designer's brush. Other than this one aspect I really like these programs. Designer is really great but for painting where you require any blending or mixing they are unusably slow. In fact, I've never used a program with blending brushes this slow. Maybe this aspect can be improved, after all it's early days.

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I have one question. How are you creating seamless textures? I take it that Photo doesn't do this.

 

 

Yes, all the texture I create for in my brushes are seamless (both CSP and AP).

I use AP to refine some of those (frequency separation is priceless), but not to make them seamless.

AP offers tools to create seamless textures (Affine Filter) but it still has a manual workflow.

 

For my textures I tend to use fractal algorithms.

 

 

 

 

I've had a test of the Windows Beta Designer. I notice it has a mixer brush. The other brushes perform great on my PC but the Achilles heel is mixing and blending.  I have Gimp on here which actually has a mixer brush. Even Gimp's mix brush devastates Designer's brush. Other than this one aspect I really like these programs. Designer is really great but for painting where you require any blending or mixing they are unusably slow. In fact, I've never used a program with blending brushes this slow. Maybe this aspect can be improved, after all it's early days.

 

I do agree, Affinity Mixer Brush is very powerful, but still too rough to be used in a productive workflow.

I use it sometimes for small touchups, but it is not yet ready for smooth strokes and blocking large areas.

 

Anyway in 1.5 betas we have finally the Accumulation Jitter, which acts as an opacity variance, but keeping Opacity as a fixed value.

This variance together with Average blending mode makes colour blending process very smooth.


The white dog, making tools for artists, illustrators and doodlers

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OK. I have some faith that Affinity can get there with these things. I expect they will add the right features but I'm concerned about slow performance.

 

My feeling at the moment is that the two best painting apps are Procreate and Mischief. In fact, in my opinion these are the only two that are really great if you come from working on paper. Mischief is another ball game entirely though because the brush engine is completely different. There is no res. You can zoom in forever and the lines are clean. The brushes respond fantastically. However, this tech means that there are limitations. It's very simple app and it doesn't have all the functionality of Photoshop etc. Tragically, it seems that development has stopped. This is mad because it's revolutionary. The other one is Procreate because the brush engine has just enough features to get great textures and it performs great. If Procreate ever goes to the desktop it will rule. I'm not a huge fan of iPads. The iPad Pro is expensive and you can forget the other iPads because the pens are absolutely terrible. The Samsung tablets are still the best in terms of hardware because the screen tech is Wacom.

 

A lot of these things are really simple. I tried to get the Krita guys to implement some things but nothing happened. Firstly, the texture inside the brush shape can't be totally static. This creates an uninteresting texture which you can't vary. The difference between this and one that moves is huge. In this respect Photoshop can carry on resting on laurels because it's up to a standard that can get you great results because of the dual brush. They need to add functionality in Clip Studio Paint to get better textures. Otherwise it will tend towards the clean Manga look. Also, I think the whole process of creating brushes and textures in CSP is just way too troublesome. You should be able to select an area of the canvas and make a brush shape out of it without going through a process of adjusting it to suitable image type and messing around with registering it as a material.

 

Unfortunately Photoshop no longer works here so I can't mess with it without paying. I don't know why it allowed me to open it yesterday because the trial was up weeks ago.

 

Affinity Designer is great. I will most likely buy that when the Windows version is finished. Not sure about Photo yet. Designer is much more unique.

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