Affinity Photo for iPad

I gave this app an extremely fair shake. Two solid weeks working on various projects. The bulk of my work is creating content for websites, fixing images, drawing comics, making book covers and writing and creating artwork for books. My usual work flow is draw in Procreate, vector images in Graphic and complete them in Comic Draw for adding text and/or export in high resolution PDFs or Pixelmator for resizing web images.

Affinity Photo does replace Pixelmator for resizing and exporting images. It does basic photo editing well.

I was extremely hopeful that Affinity Photo or combination of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer would be the be all end all. But regrettably, it is not. In fact it took longer to do any project due to all of the bugs. Many of the bugs you can work around, or undo, but after a while, some of the bugs just make the extent of the program unusable.

Now, Affinity Photo is an extremely young app on the market. I foresee many of these problems being fixed over the next few years, if you are patient enough.

First, there is a huge learning curve. There are five areas called Personas located at the top of the program, and you have to keep toggling between them to do work. For example, if you are drawing, and you want to select, you have to use the First Persona, go to the Second Persona to select anything, go back to to the first to continue working, and then go back to the second Persona to deselect. That right there makes the work flow very time consuming.

Not everything they show as a feature works. As of this writing, January 2019, there is still no split screen. This is kind of a big deal if you are working on a portrait and need the reference photos. You cannot have two items open at the same time with this program. I’m not sure why they do this, perhaps it is to save memory. You can still overlay a window, but it will block which ever side you have it on. Similarly, you can import the picture and have it as a thumbnail, but again, where ever it is, it is blocking the rest of your picture, and it being a thumbnail, you are not going to get the details. However, you can import a large picture and have it on a layer, and keep referencing that picture. It is useful especially when you have a customer who wants a portrait of a child in her Easter dress, but wants her curls from her school photo and her smile and pose from a completely different picture. People will ask this of you if you are doing this professionally.

The saving and export methods are awkward. There are several ways to do this, but it has many steps that I feel are unnecessary, since every other program on the planet allows you to autosave within the app itself. It does have an autosave, but it is meager, and you will lose much of your work if you choose to close the program too soon.

If you have to use the Affinity Photo manual, please note that it will turn off your music. Minor annoyance, but letting you know that it’s the program and not your iPad’s fault.

Another big grievance for the artist, is that there is no decent tilt feature for pencils. This means, no natural looking pencils to save your life. All of the pencils will act like technical pencils. (I just received an update stating that they are looking to do more features for the pencil, and add split screen.) If sketching pencil or colored pencil art is what you are looking for, I suggest also purchasing Procreate, which has phenomenal pencils with the Apple Pencil tilt feature.

With that said, If you can live without pencil tilt shading feature, and just have pressure sensitivity, Affinity Photo has much more goodies than Procreate. Such as photo manipulation and text. Of course, you can buy both and work with them together, nothing is stopping you! Just save either or in .PSD formats and they will work together.

Half of the FX in the layers do not work. Half of the hand gestures do not work. Half of the manipulation to customize brushes does not work.

Random lines show up out of nowhere when you are drawing, even if you use a designers glove. If you don’t spot the problem in time, you will have to do additional work by either scrubbing through the history and redoing everything, or painstakingly erase the area.

While there are many bugs and complaints about this program, there are many blessings too. One, resizing a document, exporting, and selecting are flawless, with the exception of the learning curve and aforementioned added steps. I love the test features. The blemish tool is old school, but it works well. Affinity Photo has vector tools, which is fantastic.

I did manage to make successful, albeit whimsical art with Affinity Photo, it just took bug work arounds and awhile to get used to the program.

This app is great if you don’t have any photo apps and want to invest in Affinity Photo. This is not a great app if you are looking for a solid Photoshop replacement. Now remember, Photoshop has been around for decades, and Affinity only for a handful of years, give it time, it is definitely up and coming.