Recently I've been following AfD news and the software looks quite mature and cheap (no 100€/y license like Sketch). Last year I was happy Sketch user, but suddenly after some macOS updates, Sketch became so buggy I couldn't work so I had to pay for the updated version. I like AfD pricing model and the demos it feels quite solid. Do you have good experience doing UI design on AfD?
Affinity Designer is a good tool for UI design. It has excellent type tools (including styles), symbols, constraints (a way of anchoring objects to other objects) and artboards. The latest version finally added arrowheads - a long-requested feature previously missing.
However, it does not have a plug-in system or prototyping tools. You won't find as many resources (wireframe libraries, tutorials) for UI design in Affinity Designer compared to Sketch.
My impression is that Affinity Designer is more popular in use as an illustration tool.
If community and a large eco-system of add-ons and libraries is important to you, then Sketch beats Affinity Designer. But if that isn't a concern, then Affinity Designer is a perfectly good tool for UI design.
I would recommend recreating one of your Sketch designs in Affinity Designer. It will give you an idea of whether Affinity Designer has all the tools you need and whether the workflow feels ok.
Affinity Designer is great, but is not really built for UI work. I would certainly recommend replacing Photoshop/Illustrator with Design (and maybe Photo).
If you're tired of Sketch, I would recommend Figma. The starter level is free, and it has a lot of features that pushed it above Sketch for me. It's also similar enough that the learning curve isn't too bad at all.
Why not use Figma?
One can buy Affinity Designer for the price of a 6 month professional subscription to Figma.
Figma is pricey.
It's $12 dollars per month. A bit more than your netflix subscription. If it's your main design tool - this is really cheap. Plus it works great.
Honestly I’ll never understand the intense reaction the design community has to paying for software. Do we not expect people to pay for our work, either?
I don’t use Figma but $12 /mos for their featureset is not even close to expensive. Neither is $100 a year for Sketch.
$100 for Sketch felt cheap. But $100/year for UI changes and updates that I don't really use is a little annoying (still worth it but...). Couple that with the thousands I've spent using InVision since 2015, and I'm ready to trial Figma.
I don't see why us paying way too much for InVision (me too btw :( ) is on Sketch to solve. They should charge nothing so InVision (a company that is trying to compete with them now) can gouge us?
Figma is more $$$ than Sketch, and has a less forgiving Saas model. I support both, since paying for software you use daily seems the the proper thing to do to me, and both pricing models are quite reasonable.
You can definitely use Affinity Designer for UI design work, but it’s predominately focused on illustration, and that shows in the product choices they’ve made.
Is Affinity Designer good? Yes. It’s even a pretty capable Photoshop replacement for some tasks. I’ve found Affinity Designer quick and stable, with very few bugs. It’s a well made piece of software, with impressive masking abilities.
On the downside, I find the user interface of Affinity Designer far harder to use, with some very strange choices. In comparison to Illustrator, it’s not as good or fast or as full featured for heavy vector work (by “fast” I’m talking about workflow speed, not software performance). For drawing a bunch of rectangles, circles and styling type (AKA UI design :P), Affinity Designer isn’t as quick to use as Sketch.
I like AfD pricing model
I believe the model will stay as is (no subs, but version 2 could be a paid upgrade).
If you can afford it, I think it’s worth having Affinity Designer even if you don’t use it as your main tool.
☝️ What he said.
I've also started to use Affinity Designer explicitly for icon or logo work and for the most part it's been really good. But last week I ran into a pretty big bug where expanding the stroke resulted in inaccurate results.
Edit: Ok… Seems as though DN doesn't like the video camera emoji. I wrote a message and it didn't publish everything below it and I can't be bothered re-typing it.
I've made peace with Sketch being terrible at icon work because it's clear that's not where they want to focus (and I'm ok with that). But if Affinity Designer is going to be my go-to tool for icon and vector work, I don't need every feature Illustrator has, but I do need to be able to rely on the accuracy of the fundamental features that it does have (i.e. Expanding Stroke really shouldn't change the shape of my icons, no matter the size).
Yeah, that’s a pretty gnarly issue. :/
As someone who has both Affinity Designer and Sketch, I agree that Sketch's user interface and shortcuts make a lot more sense than Affinity Designer.
I've been using Affinity Designer more and more for Web/UI (coming from PS > Sketch/XD).
I find it extremely customizable (shortcuts, views, panel positions). I will share some of my research on this app and what I like (specifically for Web/UI work):
Text styles are unlike anything I've seen in any other design app. Works like CSS inheriting. You can change all fonts project-wide in one click, but retain overrides from other styles. More on this here.
Assets panel is a lifesaver for any UI designer, more here.
Symbols work quite well, more here.
Constrains for responsive design are quite potent, more here.
The Continuous Export is just plain awesome. You can work on artboards or assets like SVG icons, for instance, and have them update in real-time in their specific saved locations (even on Dropbox, Drive, etc.), more here.
Solid color management, with a built-in tool to extract palette from any image, more here.
Superior vector tools at your disposal since AD is a pro vector drawing tool.
Excellent crop tool that crops anything in place (images, vectors). I find it handy since you might need to quickly cut off a portion of an image or shape or entire group, more here.
Built-in pixel environment to work on images (not a full-blown Photoshop but quite potent for web work).
The transparency tool is quite useful and I find it easier and more intuitive than alpha masks in Sketch, more here.
Erase blend mode is something else, as seen here.
There are so many other cool UI features that you won't find in other apps. I recommend this playlist for a general overview of AD for UI.
Moreover, you can copy/paste any element from Sketch into AD. Groups, components, entire artboards, just copy/paste them. Any Sketch assets can be used in AD in their vector state.
You can also open PSD files or any other vector files so really there are countless asset libraries (made for other apps) that can be brought into AD.
Finally, at a one time fee of $30 or so (currently on sale at 50% off - May 2020) Affinity Designer is a no-brainer imho. https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/designer/
And it's available for Mac, Windows, and iPad.
Have you considered Figma or Adobe XD?
I don't want to fall anymore into Adobe oblivion. Figma, so far I'm aware is sub mode too.
Figma has free accounts for personal use. Try it out!
On the downside, I find the user interface of Affinity Designer far harder to use
Indeed. I've been playing with AfD and the UI is dizzy. I had to search for things on Google before starting to use them (symbols) and snap to grid wasn't easy from start. This told me AfD isn't an easy software as Sketch is.