Illustrator rival launches for $40

When it comes to vector drawing tools, Adobe Illustrator has stood unchallenged for many years as the high-end choice for creative professionals. But let's face it, a bit of competition is always a good thing.

So we're pleased to see UK software firm Serif has embarked on an ambitious new project. Namely, design software that will seriously challenge the Adobe power trio of Photoshop (opens in new tab), InDesign (opens in new tab) and Illustrator (opens in new tab) with its new Affinity range. (Well on the Mac at least – it's OS X only for the time being).

Affinity Designer is built on a brand-new codebase that its makers claim makes it faster and more responsive than Illustrator

Affinity Designer is built on a brand-new codebase that its makers claim makes it faster and more responsive than Illustrator

Two of these tools, Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher won't be due until January and September 2015 respectively. But today Serif launches Affinity Designer (opens in new tab), which it describes as "the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available".

The company has Adobe users and ex-users firmly in their sights, especially those who balk at the prospect of taking out a subscription to the Creative Cloud (opens in new tab).

Affinity Designer will be available on the Mac App Store (opens in new tab) for a special launch price of $39.99/£27.99 from 2-9 October, then will revert to the 'normal price' of $49.99/£34.99. It's a one-off fee, and updates will be free for at least two years.

It's on sale for a one-off fee: no subscription required

It's on sale for a one-off fee: no subscription required

But it's not just about money. Serif claims that because it's built Affinity Designer on a brand-new codebase, it is faster, more efficient and more feature-rich than Illustrator or other rivals such as Sketch (opens in new tab).

Key features include:

  • Panning and zooming is always live at 60fps

  • Live gradients, transforms, effects and adjustments

  • Optimised for documents of any complexity, zoom to over 1,000,000% for absolute precision

  • Live pixel and retina view of vector artwork, wireframe view, split screen mode

  • Seamless switching between tools and editing modes for frustration-free design


Updates will be free for at least two years

Updates will be free for at least two years

When it comes to colour and output, Affinity Designer offers professional CMYK, LAB, RGB and Grayscale colour models
, full 16-bit per channel editing
, end-to-end ICC colour management and Advanced Lanczos 3 image resampling plus Bicubic, Bilinear and Nearest Neighbor.

But for most designers, it'll be the business model that's of more interest than the technical side. And Serif CEO Ashley Hewson told us Affinity Designer isn't just aimed at Adobe refuseniks. He hopes that Creative Cloud subscribers will see the $40 launch price as so affordable, they'll want to download it to have both Illustrator and Affinity in their arsenal - and over time work out which tool works best for which tasks.

So what do you think? Have you tried out Affinity Designer in beta? We'd love to hear your views in the comments below!

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity (opens in new tab), published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.