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Affinity Designer vs. Illustrator

We all have that one friend that is a graphic design guru. They can take any idea and turn it into a masterpiece. And they’re always asking us for help on their latest project, but we don’t know what software to use! Affinity Designer vs. Illustrator vs Photoshop vs GIMP… There are so many programs to choose from, and they all have their own merits. However, there are two main programs in the world of graphic design: Affinity Designer and Adobe Illustrator. In this article, we will compare these two software programs so you can make an informed decision about which one will suit your needs best!

Points of Comparison: Affinity Designer vs Illustrator

In comparing Affinity Designer vs Illustrator, we’re going to look at five different points of comparison: affordability, ease of use, program simplicity, mobile availability, and software compatibility. Typically, we would include a raster vs vector comparison, but both programs create vector images. After comparing these programs, we’ll decide which one is the best option for new designers.

Affinity Designer vs Illustrator: Affordability

The first thing that you need to think about when comparing Affinity Designer vs Illustrator is affordability. You can get Affinity Designer for about 50 bucks; it’s pretty affordable. On the other hand, you’re going to pay anywhere between 20, 30, 40, or 50 dollars a month to have the Adobe Creative Cloud. If you just get one program, I believe it’s about twenty to thirty dollars. If you get the whole suite, you’re going to pay about 50 to 60 bucks.

That’s not including any of the other features that Adobe has–some fantastic features like cloud storage, Adobe Stock, and some other cool stuff like that–but Affinity’s much more affordable if you’re a new designer. You don’t have a lot of income coming in yet. You can make a smaller, one-time investment in the program to get yourself started and become familiar with a design program versus paying monthly. Especially if you’ve just been drawing on paper or drawing on some sort of an app and you want to become more professional, a great place to start is Affinity Designer.

Affinity Designer Is Easy to Learn

The second thing about Affinity Designer that I like compared to Adobe Illustrator is that it’s easy to learn and use. The platform is super simple. All the icons are colored, everything is clearly labeled, and you can easily see everything. Adobe Illustrator can be overwhelming; there’s a big learning curve. Even I was just completely overwhelmed, and I’ve been using Adobe creative software since Premiere. There is a pretty sizeable learning curve because of all the functionalities and features that Adobe Illustrator has, so you’re going to have a much easier time using Affinity Designer vs Illustrator.

Affinity Designer vs Illustrator: Simplicity

That additional functionality brings us to the next point of comparison: simplicity. Affinity designer has a simplistic workspace, where Illustrator has more functionality, which means more “clutter” from tools. This streamlined UI is something that I like about Affinity Designer vs Illustrator; the workspace is uncluttered and very simple. You can’t customize it as much as you can inside Adobe Illustrator, where there are tons of functions and features and windows and things you can turn off and on and display.

But that means there are a lot fewer functions and features within Affinity Designer, so I want you to understand that you’re limiting the number of processes and features you’re going to get. So if you’re an artist and you’re not too worried about all those extra bells and whistles, and you can create some pretty good hand-drawn artwork, and you can bring that into your program, this is going to be a massive step for you to begin with going from paper.

Mobile Availability Goes to Adobe Illustrator

Affinity Designer and Adobe Illustrator are very different from the perspective that you can have the desktop program on both of your computers. Still, only Adobe has created mobile apps for their design programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, Photoshop Express, and Lightroom. In addition, there are tons of apps that allow you to design stuff on the go.

You can’t do that with Affinity Designer. So there are limitations on what you’re going to be able to get, and the saying holds here: at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. You’re not spending as much, you’re not paying that monthly fee, so they’re probably not going to innovate and continue to grow the way Adobe does. Adobe is a publicly traded company. They have shareholders; they’re a beast–a leader in the industry. So they’re constantly innovating and adding new features to meet the expectations that their consumers and their shareholders have. 

Affinity Designer vs Illustrator: Creative Suites

One thing you need to look at on the Adobe Illustrator side is that there are many other programs that Adobe Illustrator is compatible with. It is compatible with Photoshop, it’s compatible with InDesign, and it’s compatible with other programs within the Adobe Creative Suite. There are many different features and functions that it ties into, and you can grab programs or grab files and bring them into each other. You’re going to miss out on that if you choose another program like Affinity Designer.

Being cross-compatible between all the different programs may not be that important when you’re just starting out, but the cloud storage feature is. For example, when you work in the Adobe Creative Cloud, you can save your files in the cloud, so if something happens to your computer–if it gets destroyed, gets lost, gets stolen–you still have your files. This feature is incredibly beneficial. Now, don’t get me wrong, you could use another cloud program like Dropbox or Google Drive and save your files there, but having this feature built into your design program makes it that much more convenient and saves that much more space on your machine.

Best for New Designers: Affinity Designer

Affinity created  Designer and their other design programs for people who are new to the design industry and who just want to get their hands on a design program to take the first step into digital media. Most designers start by drawing on paper or using paint or something like that; maybe they’ve used some generic art programs like MS Paint. So if you want to try professional design software for the first time, Affinity Designer is a very, very good way to go. So I highly encourage you guys just to get that to start your journey.

Now, if you’re a pro and you already have experience using design programs, it’s time for you to upgrade and step up to the big leagues. Seriously, just pay the money for Adobe Creative Cloud. I have multiple Adobe Creative Cloud memberships, with the add-ons; it’s the cost of doing business in a market that expects professional results. My clients cover those costs; it doesn’t come out of my own pocket. So, that’s the threshold you’re looking for to see if you’re ready to make the switch. 

I hope this comparison was valuable and gave you a ton of actionable information to use in your graphic design career. Just remember that Adobe is the industry standard, so if you’re doing anything outside of that, you’re going to have a lot fewer resources. To that end, I’ve been doing some tutorials on Affinity Designer on the Adrian Graphics & Marketing YouTube channel and writing content like this Photoshop tutorial article. Thank you so much for reading, and I look forward to seeing you soon. As always, keep looking up!

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