Affinity Designer 1.7 Review - What's new and what's not?

Affinity Designer 1.7 Review

Affinity Designer 1_7 update

Affinity Designer 1.7 Review

Affinity Designer 1.7 has just been released and things just get better and better.

Header image by the wonderful Zutto.

In 2016, I was in the last stages of negotiating my exit from a protracted corporate drama in Malta when I saw this video. I wanted to punch the screen. Just as I was wrapping up and walking away from constantly churning out complex, tabled UI´s I saw that the Constraints feature would save me a world of heartache.

It had been an odd few years for me creatively…my comics just seemed to get me into trouble and I didn´t enjoy illustrating anymore.

I grew restless here in Spain and I needed something different. A stint as a consultant over in Sweden led me to move to Malta where I served as Creative Director then CMO, which further removed me from making anything fun. I was having a ball though.

bob byrne malta cmo

The author bollixed drunk in the Malta office on a workday.

A hangover and InDesign were my daily companions as I pieced together investment pitches bristling with optimistic graphs. The craziest thing is that although I was an early Affinity Designer customer, I never used it. I was initially stumped by trying to get varying weights on strokes and just walked away from it.

It sat there installed and unused for well over a year until that 1.5 video made me give it another go.

And…BLAMMO!

Discovering Affinity Designer coincided a whole new chapter for me as I moved back to Spain and started to make things just for fun again. I was reinvigorated and found myself enjoying design. I rarely used vectors before but now I was Mr. Bezier.

And after a year or so of personal projects, I began to receive a trickle and then a steady flow of offers which lead me to reopen the doors here at Clamnuts. I am back in business in many senses thanks to these apps.

So here we are in 2019 with the dual release of Affinity Designer & Photo 1.7 for the desktop and iPad versions and the imminent release of Affinity Publisher.

 

So what’s new in Affinity Designer 1.7?

Isometric Tools

Similar to the Constraints announcement back in 2016…I wish had the new Isometric Studio while working on a few game projects last year. But I used it a lot during the 1.7 Beta period to create this animated sequence.

 

Performance Increases

Yep. I definitely can feel a new snappiness on my relatively new iMac but I have yet to really explore these boosts.

 

Alternate Futures

This is a new feature which I think will become a fav as currently, I split designs into “what ifs” just by duplicating artboards and files. I need to fiddle with this one more.

 

Appearance Studio

This is exactly what I needed. I have been gradually working on my own Asset and Brush pack called The Shiznizzle but then decided to pause work on it when Matt the Project Manager teased a look at the new Appearance Studio. It is brilliant and will lead to a whole new leap in production speed for me. Here is a rather phallic example of me using Appearances to rejig a second fill on to one of the Shiznizzle image fills.

Effects Studio now has checkboxes

Now you can uncheck and recheck Effects on and off. This is one of those small improvements which will make things so much easier for lots of hardcore users like me.

Symmetry on Pixel Brushes

Definitely a step in the right direction to break our dependency on Procreate for sketching. The iPad versions of the Affinity apps are not scaled down or lighter versions of the desktop apps: they have somehow fit all of the features into them. But this complexity and some other issues do not make them ideal for making quick sketches or illustration pieces.

Procreate is still the king for this but I think Affinity could seriously challenge them over the next years. I would love to see a Sketch Persona which combines some of the best parts of Procreate and Clip Studio´s usability with a scaled down UI and the defaults set for artists and not programmers.

PSD import / export improvements

I have yet to see the full effect of these improvements but I´m sure over the next few weeks I will. Exporting Affinity Designer for After Effects for example has always been messy and it always requires a pitstop in Photoshop to fiddle so maybe we can now skip that downer.

There are loads more tweaks and improvements not mentioned here, see the full lists here. 

What’s not changed?

At the time of writing, Affinity Publisher has not been released publicly but apparently, you will be able to switch seamlessly between the three apps. I’m praying that this will fix one fall down area which keeps me having to use Photoshop and Illustrator for creating my Artboards and fixing bad outputs.

The Affinity apps are of course amazing for illustration and design work but still not 100% ideal for production. By production, I mean being able to constantly output ready assets. I churn out crazy amounts of graphics each week for clients and our own projects.

There is a consistent issue in Affinity Designer which causes me consistent gloom… If you create new Artboards (and position them at whole numbers as recommended) you will find a 1px discrepancy on your many of your outputs or slices. App Store assets and advertising collateral, for example, will be rejected because of this.

On this massive project, I had to manually tweak 200 artboard/slices after a 1px discrepancy crept in somehow.

 

I loathe having to use Photoshop and Illustrator daily to pick up the slack but I think Publisher and the forthcoming Lightroom alternative from Serif will eventually fix this.

After recommending the Affinity apps to many design pros, many come back to me with gripes along the lines of “…brilliant apps but they are not quite Adobe killers just yet”. A fair point but it is important to remember that we are still only on version 1.7.

It is easy to forget that.

Affinity Publisher is being released on 19th June

This will push Serif into a whole new realm. The world is desperate for an app like this and the barrier to entry for newbies is so much lower compared to Affinity Designer and Photo. You can learn it all in a day and start making things in no time.

Even though Publisher is currently still in Beta I have completed several big print jobs in it.

Affinity Publisher Document

I have a long list of print products which I shelved because of my repulsion of InDesign but now nothing is stopping me. I knocked out and published a full book within a week of downloading the Affinity Publisher Beta. The image above is from one of the new products we are developing which involved laying out 200 unique card faces. Done!

On the 19th of June in Serif HQ there will another Affinity Live Event and I´m sure besides launching Publisher, there will be some surprise announcements.

Get Affinity Designer 1.7 now at a reduced price during the launch phase.

Cheers,

Bob @clamnuts