What are the Differences Between Photoshop and Affinity Designer

Graphics play a large role in media and marketing. Photo editing has been around and is a go-to for anyone and everyone, including professional photographers, commercial graphic artists, and people who just want to put up a good picture on their Instagram. There are various simple programs that make it easier. But, the standard to photo editing software is and has consistently been Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop is the photo editing software that has become a staple in the industry. Providing a range of tools and capabilities that allow for simple editing, such as adjusting brightness and putting in preset filters to enhance images, and allowing users to manually edit and even change an image to look completely different – hence, photoshopped.

However, there are newer technologies that are providing much of the same tools and capabilities that Adobe offers. Some at even a lower cost. One of these is Affinity Designer. Although much more similar to Adobe Illustrator in terms of general use and functionalities, it also provides users with basic image editing tools.

Let’s take a deeper look into the similarities and distinguishing features of both programs.

What do they have in common?

Graphic Editing Software

In the simplest sense, both softwares are great tools for anyone who needs to work with images and graphics. Both require a good level of skill and are not easy to work with if you have zero editing experience. But, have a similar user interface layout and editing tools that makes it easy for experienced users to shift between them.

However, there is still a learning curve to mastering each software, as they do present varied functionalities. Suffice to say, with both, you have a large capability to create, manipulate, and improve your visuals. That is, if you know what you’re doing.

What makes them different?

Raster VS Vector

If you’re an experienced graphic designer, you probably don’t need a run-down of the differences between vector and raster images. But, for those that aren’t as familiar with these terms, here’s a quick lesson on Graphics 101.

Image files can be either Raster or Vector files. Your photos are an example of Raster images which are pixel-based. That means that each image is made up of tiny colored pixels, arranged to create the mosaic that is the full picture. When you zoom into a photo that you took, you can see those pixels. These files are saved in .jpg, .gif, .png formats.

Vector images are those image files with a .svg extension. Those not working in the graphics industry don’t often use these types of images. However, logos, cartoons, and linear graphics are created through vector-based programs, such as Affinity Designer.

While they both edit graphics and images, the types of visuals that you are looking to create with each software is different. Simply put, Adobe Photoshop is where you can edit raster images, while Affinity Designer is where you can create and edit both types of images. It’s also important to note that there are ways to edit vector graphics on Photoshop but most users would probably not recommend it.

Adobe VS Affinity

Another major difference between both is their founders and developers. Photoshop is just one of the programs in the Adobe ecosystem of creative software. There are over 16 Adobe programs that users can take advantage of; with each program designed to handle specific design needs. To name a few, you have Illustrator, InDesign, and Flash.

Adobe released the first version of Photoshop in 1990, That’s almost 3 decades ago. Over the years, they’ve developed their suite of software, then marketed as the Adobe Creative Suite from 2003 to late 2013. Since then, they’ve shifted everything into the Adobe Creative Cloud, which provides a subscription-based model, offering tiered packages at different prices.
An easy advantage that you’ll find with Adobe is that aside from using Photoshop, you can easily have access to all the other programs they have. And it’s also easier to move files between each program, depending on your design process.

Affinity is a more recent competitor in the market. With the first release of their program some time in 2015. They currently have just 3 programs to offer. Photo, Designer, and Publisher. But, while they don’t have as specialized programs as Adobe has to offer, their current suite has a wider range of functionality.

Special Features: Affinity Personas

Affinity Designer has been dubbed somewhat of a Photoshop-Illustrator hybrid, where it packages vector editing tools and pixel editing tools into one software. It’s able to do this by incorporating Personas, where users can easily transition between using “Draw” for vectors, and “Pixel”. There’s also another “Export” Persona which makes it easier for you to export and share your files.

However, packaging so much into one program presents a few limitations. The Pixel Persona of Affinity lacks tools such as the cloning brush and the magic wand. If you were looking to touch-up your selfie, you might need to use Affinity Photo or Photoshop instead.

File Exports

When you are done working on your graphics, you’ll probably need to save it for a specific purpose. Depending on the specific purpose, you’ll need to save it as a specific file type. With Affinity Designer, you can save files in either of these formats: PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PSD, PDF, SVG, EPS, EXR and HDR.

With Adobe Photoshop, you can export your final files as JPEG, PSD, PSB, BMP, GIF, DCM, EPS, IFF, MPO, PCX, PDF, RAW, PXR, PNG, PBM, SCT, TGA, TIFF. If you’re planning on working on the image again and would need to edit specific layers, be sure to save it as PSD.

Cost: Single Purchase VS Monthly Subscription

Comparing the cost of Photoshop and Affinity Designer is not as easy as identifying which costs higher. For one, you can get Photoshop through a paid monthly or annual subscription plan with prices depending on which package you decided to get. Affinity Designer is offered at a one-time fee of $49.99, each for Mac and Windows versions, and at $19.99 for the iPad version. You have to pay separate fees if you want to use it on your Mac, Windows PC, and iPad. Also, if they release a new version, you’re stuck with the old one, unless you buy the latest release.

With Adobe, you can get Photoshop as a stand-alone app for a $20.99 monthly subscription but you can actually get it cheaper when you opt for the $9.99 monthly Photography Plan, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom. A higher tier price is the $52.99 monthly plan where you get access to all their apps for desktop and mobile use. Their plans also include different cloud storage capacities.

Your choice of software really depends on your preference. Adobe is already a mecca for the graphics industry but other companies are bringing out competitive new programs to the market. Luckily, these programs offer trial periods where you can test out their functions, toolsets, and other capabilities. And, in the end, identify which one truly works best for you.


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