Affinity Designer Beta for Windows Available for Download

Remember Adobe Creative Suite? It was a bundle of applications that Adobe launched in 2003, with its main elements being Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Rewind to a few weeks ago with the release of Creative Cloud 2015.5 and what did it offer? As we reported, some significant new functionality for Photoshop but nothing for Illustrator or InDesign. Is that okay? Does that really meet the needs of most of us?

Perhaps, although the growth in CC subscriptions is apparently leveling off. Quark, of all developers, seems to be making up for lost ground with its latest release. And other developers are working hard to provide alternatives to the subscription-based juggernaut of Creative Cloud. Amongst them is Serif, which via its Affinity brand has committed to providing feature-rich, affordable applications that in effect replicate the core functionality once provided by the Creative Suite via image editing, vector illustration and page layout applications. What a concept!

Serif had been a Windows developer for decades but failed to find significant traction and instead created the Affinity brand for launching its three apps for OS X. Affinity Designer, for vector illustration, was launched in 2014 and was followed up with Affinity Photo in 2015, with Affinity Publisher slated for 2016. The apps use a common file format, making it easy in principle to move work between them. As Tony Brightman, head of Affinity development, said at the time, "We directly targeted professionals when we dreamt up the Affinity range, making performance, reliability, pro-level tools and a slick workflow our top priorities." Reaction to the OS X versions of the first two apps has been very positive, so it's no surprise that Windows users have been vocal in their request for some love.

The good news for them is that today they can download a beta version, with the final product expected to be available within three months. Pricing will be on par with the Mac version at $50, free of an onerous subscription. Serif claims that Designer is "the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available," and comes with the usual vector tools, layer handling, mixed-media raster tools, 16-bits per channel support and professional color models. Serif was wise to set the bar high and keep the needs of design pros in mind, and this emphasis shows up in many places, not least of which is Designer's speed, along with things like virtually unlimited zoom, extremely smooth gradients, real-time pixel preview, export to multiple resolutions, instant undo history, real-time embedded document editing, live filter effects and non-destructive booleans.

Add to this text on a path; a corner control tool; a pixel alignment mode; solid PSD, PDF and SVG import/export; customizable 2-axis and 3-axis grids (isometric) with snapping; a polygon creation mode; and support for per-channel blend ranges and per-object blend gamma with customizable ramp. You'll find a complete feature list here, albeit for the Mac version. Well, what are you waiting for? If you have a 64-bit Windows 7 or later system, you're good to go. Download it and let us know in the comments what you think.

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