What's the Alternative to Photoshop?

by Jess Nolte-Cerchio

During a conversation I was having with a friend of mine a few days ago, I mentioned that I no longer use Photoshop (or Adobe products in general) for design work. “What do you mean you don’t use Photoshop anymore?” he asked, shocked. I explained to him that I’ve been using Sketch for all of my UX/UI design work over the past year and that it is absolutely perfect for mocking up wireframes and layouts + exporting files and assets.

That being said, there are a few things that Sketch isn’t great at (or capable of) that I periodically need, including:

  • working in CMYK color space
  • working at a DPI higher than 72
  • flawlessly importing or opening SVG, PDF and EPS files
  • Opening Adobe Illustrator files
  • Fine tuned vector work, such as creating custom icons (while some people successfully do this in Sketch, I tend to struggle)

So what’s the alternative? A friend of mine tipped me off to Affinity Designer by Serif during a sale they were having. Unlike Adobe Creative Suite’s software, Affinity Designer is subscription free and reasonably priced. Just pay once and you’re good to go.

How I felt when I purchased Affinity Designer (I am the rabbit).

Affinity Designer does all of the things listed above. A few other perks of Affinity Designer include robust exporting capabilities that are somewhat similar to Sketch’s, a plethora of shapes within the shape tool, and the ability to open files from their sister program, Affinity Photo, within Affinity Designer.

Export a variety of file formats at 1, 2, and 3x.

I found that I was able to open Affinity Designer and get moving right away. The learning curve was fairly low, due in fact to many of the tools and keyboard shortcuts being very similar (if not exactly the same) as Adobe Illustrator. For example, zooming (Z), grouping (G), hiding/showing guides (CMD + ;), hiding/showing the grid (CMD + ‘), showing the entire canvas (CMD + 0), the hand tool (H), the selection tool/move tool (V) and the direct selection/node tool (A) all have the same keyboard shortcuts in both programs. Plus, you can customize the workspace to what you’re used to.

I can’t speak to Affinity Designer’s capabilities in the artwork or illustration realm, but I have found it to work for digital design work such as digital marketing material creation and icon design as well as the occasional print work that I do. In my opinion, and at its unbeatable price point, it’s definitely worth a spot in your design toolbox!

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