Switching to affinity?

I use all three Affinity apps (Photo/Designer/Publisher) and love them. I made the switch from Adobe a litle over a year ago and never looked back. It took a couple of weeks to get used to them and there’s still a few things they lack compared to Adobe, but nothing important. At least for me. In fact I’ve replaced all of Adobe CC with other apps and couldn’t be happier. :slight_smile:

Experienced Photoshop user here, left Photoshop a few years ago because of the renting business model.

I own Affinity Photo and Publisher, but hardly touch Affinity Photo but for the odd photo stacking or panorama. I do a lot of compositing and render editing, general image editing, and so forth.

My weapon of choice is PhotoLine. I have tried Photo, but it is just too limited in many ways, and the basic workflow is quite lacking for the time being.

  • Smart objects are missing (PhotoLine imports PSD files with smart objects intact, and even allows for editing illustrator smart objects) in APhoto.

  • the Curves adjustment controls are very limited compared to PS, and in particular to PhotoLine. I use Curves for a LOT of things, and this is a workflow stopper for me.

  • APhoto is far more destructive than PhotoLine which even allows for live non-destructive Photoshop plugins, just like PS and Fireworks.

  • The embossing layer effects in Affinity are not very usable from a quality perspective. Try applying a sharp looking embossing effect, and you will understand what I mean. It is terrible. In contrast, PhotoLine’s embossing looks great.

  • anti-aliasing control is very much lacking in Photo. It is always on, and the only way to control it is via layer blending. The layer blending is quite nice in Photo, but not sufficient enough for good anti-aliasing control. In contrast, PhotoLine allows for a per document and per-layer anti-aliasing control.

  • APhoto’s non-destructive image layers are a bit of a pain to work with. For example, suppose you place an image. Then you create a selection to grab a piece of this image. Won’t work: it first must be converted to a regular pixel layer. PhotoLine is unique in that it doesn’t care about a layer’s bit depth, colour mode, or pixel dimensions. Those are maintained no matter what you do with a layer.

  • no non-destructive vector warping.

  • no non-destructive RAW development. In PhotoLine a RAW file is imported as a layer, and developing is non-destructive.

  • no perspective warping of a layer without a convoluted filter. It is not possible to grab the corner handle of an image layer, and skew it or drag it out independent from the other handles.

  • no non-destructive Liquify tools. In contrast PhotoLine uses non-destructive liquify layers which can be stacked - a bit like sculpting with layers.

  • the layer panel is a complete pain in the butt from a usability point of view. Showing and hiding layers is done with check marks which are positioned to the far right. Only three thumbnail preview sizes. No search layer options. Both PhotoLine and Photoshop have mature layer panel functionality, which APhoto lacks.

  • Layer opacity control is very limited in both Photoshop and APhoto: in contrast PhotoLine allows for -200 up to +200.

  • live procedural textures require manual input. In PhotoLine procedural textures are available anywhere where colours can be applied, and they use simple visual controls.

  • No scripting. PhotoLine supports scripting.

  • No Divide blend mode in APhoto.

  • No option to link externally to placed files and have those layers update when the external file is changed.

  • file formats are quite restricted in Affinity. No DXF, no webp export, no DDS, JPG2000/XR, no BMP, icon file formats. It is also not possible to import PDF files and convert the type to outlines.Photoshop and PhotoLine have much better file format support in general.

  • Gradients a pain to edit in APhoto compared to PhotoLine. Better than Photoshop, however. No bezier interpolation of gradient stops in APhoto. This sucks, just like in Photoshop. Gimp has this too, as does PhotoLine.

  • No vector patterns in Affinity. PhotoLine has full support for these, with good pattern controls. Even a pattern preview mode. Pattern and bitmap fills in Affinity Photo are quite limited.

  • No 1bit support in APhoto, and the developers have stated that they do not intend to ever support it. This is a BIG no-no for me, since I work with black and white comic pages. PhotoLine has the BEST 1bit support of any image editor: unlike Photoshop 1bit still works with layers.

  • Actions in PhotoLine are more powerful.

  • No web export preview in APhoto. This is problematic.

  • Pixel snapping is somewhat problematic in APhoto. The workflow is half-heartedly implemented. It works much better in either Photoshop or PhotoLine.

  • No indexed colour mode (PhotoLine lacks this too however).

  • layer masks cannot be referenced/instanced in either APhoto or Photoshop. This is a pain in a non-destructive compositing workflow. In Photoline anything can be referenced and instanced.

  • Layers cannot be linked in APhoto (neither in PhotoLine)

  • Layer effects copy and paste is still buggered in APhoto

  • can’t use burn, dodge or sponge on bitmap masks directly.

  • no vector tracing in Affinity. PhotoLine, Illustrator, Corel, Inkscape all have this.

  • spot colours are not very well supported. Spot channels are not.

  • no bridge or min-bridge like functionality in APhoto. Photoshop has Bridge, and PhotoLine its own Bridge-type browser and mini-Bridge.

There are additional little things that are just very nitpicky in APhoto, but I will stop here. APhoto actually has a features which are extremely well implemented:

  • the great non-destructive lighting filter

  • vector objects have nice easy-to-use on-screen widgets to control their appearance (something PhotoLine lacks, and must be done in a properties panel)

  • the grid and snapping aids are excellent. Really good.

  • saving the history in (for undoing) in the file as an option is very innovative.

  • HDR merge/tone mapping, focus stacking, panorama stitching generally works well

  • it has 360 degree image editing (unfortunately no layer support)

  • while PSD import and support for PS features in PhotoLine is arguably better than APhoto, APhoto has much better PSD export.

  • good text controls. Better implementation than PhotoLine.

If you are doing advanced compositing, and are an advanced Photoshop user, then Affinity Photo is going to disappoint you in places. It misses some essential features, which PhotoLine has no issues with.

More importantly, I am an advanced image editor and compositor, and my
view is biased towards the workflow - does the image editor hamper my workflow, or does it assist me in doing my work quicker.

In this APhoto is just TOO LIMITED in its current incarnation. APhoto is still basing itself on a layer workflow which basically is very Photoshop-like, barring the masking system. But the overall workflow and the depth of the tools are too lacking for my work.

In Photoshop I was fast. Real fast. And efficient, mostly. In PhotoLine I am faster and more efficient than I ever was in Photoshop, excepting for one or two things. But all in all, PhotoLine helps me arrive at my goal faster.

This is definitely not the case in APhoto. Its workflow is too limited compared to either Photoshop or PhotoLine. It is missing essential tools. Its basic workflow is actually quite traditional, while PhotoLine does things no other layer-based image editor (including Photoshop) can do in the right places.

That said, do I suggest that everyone uses PhotoLine? No. For regular users, who do some minor image editing, or graphic designers or hobby photographers, even most professional photographers Affinity is more than enough.

Also, while PhotoLine’s GUI has improved a huge amount in the past five-six years since I first started using it, the default setup is somewhat ill-conceived, and just doesn’t look as good as the default GUI of APhoto or Photoshop. This puts shallow users off. And truth be told, PhotoLine is a dream for advanced compositing, but perhaps a nightmare to get into for beginners and casual users.

I’d even hazard saying that APhoto is easier to learn for beginners than Photoshop is.

PS neither PhotoLine nor APhoto support indexed colour modes, 3D, or video. PhotoLine has animation support, but it is a bit oddly implemented.

For digital painting I would never use either app. I love Krita and ClipStudio too much for this. APhoto cannot compete at all with Krita, in my opinion in this area, although some might disagree. The brush engine in APhoto is better than the one in PhotoLine, btw.

Anyway, I use a combo of Krita, ClipStudio, PhotoLine, and a trifle of APhoto in my current workflow. PhotoLine is my hub. Oh, and PhotoLine is sort-of a Photoshop and Affinity Designer/Illustrator in one. It offers a seamless bitmap-vector workflow, and still has vector features which Designer lacks (blending, etc.). The latest beta of PhotoLine introduces a variety of vector improvements.

As always, try them out for yourself. Allow for at least a couple of weeks to familiarize yourself with the alternatives.


This is one of the major reasons for Photoshop’s Smart Objects. Converting a bunch of CPU-burning layers and live adjustments to a Smart Object creates a static image, and this frees up the required processing power that would otherwise be needed to render those layers while editing.

In PhotoLine these are called “Placeholder layers”, but regardless of the label, the reasoning behind these is exactly the same. At some point the CPU chokes up due to all the live effects.

This, together with the lack of external linked file layers and some other limitations, is the main reason why Affinity Photo is handicapped in a complex compositing and non-destructive image editing workflow.

I am pretty sure the developers will introduce SOs or similar functionality in an upcoming release.

Do you fellas have the same performance issues in Designer with vector layers? I was thinking about picking up Photo if they have a Black Friday sale (I’m not terribly in need of it, but if there’s a sale…).

For me, Designer is pretty performant, so I figured Photo would be similar, as they share an engine. Just wondering if I should expect less performance.

On that note, @BD3D, wait until next Friday if you do decide to pick em up. They had a sale the last two black Fridays. I snagged Designer for $20.

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I do have performance issues in Designer as well.

@Herbert123 nice list! Not sure you mentioned this, if you did I missed it. APhoto lacks multiple layer objects selection operations. In PS you can CTRL + left click on a layer, then CTRL + SHIFT left click on another layer to add selection, and then subtract, intersect and so on. With APhoto that’s just not possible.

Another big one for me: regardless of whether performance and stability is an issue or not, development is a question mark. Affinity team is small, resources limited (from developers’ statement on the official forum) hence you may end up requesting something and never seeing it implemented, even important features. Like the one Herbert mentioned, dodge & burn on a mask. The request is older than the Windows release.

It is possible in APhoto to ctrl-click on a layer thumbnail, and then hold down various keycombos to select based on luminance, and add to the selection by clicking other layer thumbnails.

But you are correct that it is not possible to subtract or intersect selections this way in APhoto.

PhotoLine is developed by two German brothers, and they have been implementing requested features at a high speed. In the past few years they have implemented 80% of my requests (small and large ones!), sometimes within a week. So the Affinity team ought to be able to do better, although they have been focusing on getting all three products out of the door and seeing them released.

It is indeed odd, however, that various very basic features have been requested from the very beginning by Affinity users, and these are still missing. A blend tool to blend shapes is pretty basic for any vector editing app - it’s been requested for years now, and still nothing in Designer.

Hey @Herbert123 I know it was mentioned a few times but can you confirm, that PL is working without hick ups under Wine? I’m a bit tired of switching to a VM for APhoto.
Since you seem to be using it for a considerable time, how did they handle update fees in the past? And how frequent would major version occur?
I’m really considering buying a license.


Probably stupid and inappropriate questions, but if you don’t mind…
I am not a regular or passionate image editors person and use PS for some really general stuff, like add blur or noise, remove some glitches etc.
I was looking forward to switch from PS to something, and I was curious about your opinion about:

  • GIMP as a general image editor software;
  • Krita as a painting software;
  • Inkscape as an illustrator alternative;

What do you think? Or should I use PS / Affinity instead?
And if I am going to look for a job in the CG industry - is it critical to have good PS knowledge? Or any image editor will do like Affinity? I check sometimes for industry requirements and particular DCC software rarely in demand, usually companies demand any of popular ones like Maya, Blender or Houdini. But always, ALWAYS they demand good PS knowledge. What if I go with Affinity? Will it be a drawback when I try to apply to a vacancy? It bothers me and I can’t drop PS because of it…

Krita is great for painting. Use it. Affinity Photo is a lot better image editor and manipulator compared to GIMP. Affinity Designer is a lot better than Inkscape for vector graphics. At least on Windows. If you want industry compatible then use Photoshop. There is no real alternative, at least how it seems to me.

Why GIMP is not good enough can you please explain? I was going to start using it, but not sure if Affinity, PS or GIMP.
And what about relations between the industry and Affinity?

I haven’t use that much affinity photo, but I have use deigner.

It lacks shape builder, recolor artwork, image trace, width tool, blend tool, live painting (althought I don’t use it), vector effects, gradient mesh and expanding strokes.

Also, while it doesn’t have other features, it has other ones that work similarly, and might or might not work better for you compared to Illustrator.

Instead of non-destructive booleans there’s layer > create composition
Instead of knockout groups there’s erase blend mode

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I’ve got both Photoshop and Affinity Photo. Photoshop is the one I’m actively using, but if I wouldn’t make use of the great Adobe Portfolio CMS that comes with a Photoshop subscription, I’d surely cancel my Adobe subscription and switch to Affinity Photo. But as long as I’ve got Photoshop, it has still got the edge in terms of functionality.

I do definitely prefer Affinity Designer over Illustrator though. I really dislike Illustrator’s user-unfriendly interface / workflow. I haven’t got an Illustrator subscription, only Photoshop.


Although I don’t use PhotoLine often under Wine, when I do it works without issues. I have it installed on my wife’s Linux machine.

A few advanced users on the PL forum use it on Linux only, and they have no issues. The developers actively fix things to make sure PhotoLine runs under Wine. For colour management under Linux/Wine they added LittleCMS support.

A new version is released about every year, which are paid (29 euros). A free point release is released halfway for free.

I tend to use the beta versions which can be downloaded on the beta users forum, and these are for the most part trouble free, excepting perhaps for some weird behaviour or two once in a while. Even the betas are quite crash-free, and I actively hunt bugs. The advantage of using the betas is that often small requests for improvements are implemented within a week or two. Betas are released every three or four weeks.

For example, I requested a HDR normalization option for z-index depth maps in order to use these as layer masks, which was implemented only a week later in a new beta this year.

PS when you install it, run through the options to adjust PhotoLine’s behaviour to your personal preferences. The default settings won’t allow for zooming in with the scroll wheel, for example (scrolling the view instead).

If you need more tips regarding setup and workflow, let me know.


It seems like Affinity has the same issue as Adobe stuff. No linux version.

Just curious if anyone did a real comparison between Affinity Photo and Krita?

Cool started to read a bit in their forums and communication seems to be pretty good between the devs and the community. Didn’t know they have a Demo. I’ll give it a spin. The money they asking for seems very reasonable to me. I almost made my mind up…

Just keep in mind that there WILL be some switching pains up front, and it’s not the big things that will confuse you, it’s those little, still important things you only use on rare occasion.

For example, when I first switched to AP, I spent a good hour looking for the offset filter to try tiling a simple texture I was making. It wasn’t anywhere immediately noticeable, and Google wasn’t giving me any quick answers. I was about to give up on it, assuming that AP just didn’t have a way to offset images.

…oh, but it does. It’s called affine, and they hid it in the distort category under the filters dropdown.

Affinity Photo is similar enough to Photoshop to lure you into thinking it’s nearly a 1:1 alternative, but will throw you for a loop when you least expect it.

Thanks for your input, but I believe you didn’t mean me. I am actually considering to switch away from Affinity for Photoline.

Yeah, well, It’s the thought that matters, right?

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Just like with mother’s day presents, yes.

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I think that one of the biggest drawbacks to trying to learn Photoline is the lack of tutorials. I have read your posts before and got exited at your enthusiasm and knowledge of the program - but, when I downloaded the trial I immediately got into trouble trying to do things that I had done in Photoshop for years. In other words my brain/muscle memory was working against me and when I tried to fine help it was very difficult. Also I take issue with your statement that the interface will put ‘shallow’ users off. I work in photo editing programs a lot and like to feel comfortable there. Thus the UI and the UI aesthetic is very important to me. I have no doubt from what you have described that Photoline is a more accomplished program than AP but their UI reminds me of a bad Microsoft program from the 90s. What Affinity have done very very well is thoroughly worked out (some might say copied) their UI making it very user friendly. Perhaps more importantly have a large selection of video tutorials that hold the users hand as they learn the new program.