Vectornator vs Affinity Designer
Battle Rounds: Vectornator VS Affinity Designer
We are living in the digital age wherein life is pretty much run by technology (next to money, of course).
We often hear such terms as graphic design, illustrations, Photoshop, and vector art, and unknowingly use them interchangeably.
To get started, especially for beginners out there, let’s take this short graphic design class 101.
Let’s get to know the two basic types of digital graphics: vector graphics and raster graphics.
Raster art has elements that are made from small squares we commonly refer to as “pixels.”
On the other hand, vector artworks are images created from mathematical formulas translated to points connected by vector paths in the form of lines and curves.
The strongest attribute of vector art is its versatility in whatever size of medium the art is viewed with.
This could be a web page on a small phone screen to a desktop computer, a logo on a little business card, or blown up to be shown on gigantic billboards.
The vector image produced is easily scalable without having to worry about affecting the image quality.
Pixel art, on the other hand, loses image quality when you expand its scale size.
So, you see, it is more practical for designers to work on vector graphics.
This is especially beneficial for marketing products in the form of illustrations, typography, web designs, billboards, etc.
For this article, we are going to compare and contrast two platforms that are applicable to vector graphics.
Those would be Vectornator vs Affinity Designer, and determine which one is much better.
To give a brief background, Vectornator is owned by a German company by the name of Linearity.
The company was created by then-17-year-old Vladimir Danila.
He had a mission to “revolutionize the way people design in the world.”
There could be a lot of mundane activities or worse, wayward vices that a teenage boy could do.
But this young man was out there, giving solutions to recurring problems at that time.
He launched a graphic design software called Vectornator to solve the problems he and other graphic designers experienced.
Their aim is and will always be to make the process of design creation easier with new and original features.
As a result, their software is trusted by big reputable companies like Apple and Disney, to name a few.
As they were starting in 2017, they sold their app for a price of $7.99.
But a year after that and up to the present, Linearity made the app free!
This is because Linearity has sturdy financial backers.
Most importantly, their investors share their belief in creating a great product that everyone loves.
The other milestones they have yet to reach are to introduce the convenience and ingenuity of real-time collaboration when working in the app.
In the long run, they aim to dominate graphic design in the global arena.
As of this writing, their app has garnered over 1.5 million downloads.
It has raised $5 million in funding and launched Vectornator in MacOS.
In contrast, previously, it was just available for iPhone and iPad devices.
This app was built for use with an iPad.
Therefore, users maximize their experience when they use the app with the iPad compared to other devices.
Unfortunately, this app is not available for Android phones and on desktop computers run by Windows.
Let’s start with the graphic designer’s most reliable friend and where the magic begins to materialize: the pen tool.
Some of the basics you could do with the pen tool are drawing straight lines, curve paths, editing, and close paths.
A single tap on the canvas will add a corner, while multiple taps will produce a straight path connected by sharp points, called anchor points.
Use the Snap to Grid feature to help you create horizontal and vertical pathways.
To draw curved paths, simply tap and drag the pen tool on the canvas, and it then creates a default asymmetrical direction handle.
Because of its interactive interface, you can easily make other types of paths by holding the canvas and dragging using your fingers:
You create a node with one finger.
This enables you to move the handles independently of each other.
You create a 45° snapping on both handles using two fingers, while you create a 45° snapping on a single stem with three fingers.
Moreover, you can edit handles.
For example, tapping an anchor point and changing the node type in the Style tab could instantly change the curve to a straight path.
Moreover, double-tapping, the last node, will automatically close your path.
With the pencil tool, you could draw a freehand style.
Then, you could adjust the smoothness after drawing.
You do this by merely sliding the slider to change the pencil’s smoothness if you want to achieve the appearance of a smooth curve.
Vectornator offers two types of grids, the typical square grid, and the newest isometric grid, just by choosing in the Canvas tab.
For the isometric grid, you can input values directly to adjust the grid spacing and grid angle.
Touch screen sensitivity may be annoying, especially when you are working on small screens like those on iPhones.
Fortunately, Vectornator has joystick controls to allow you to move the objects point by point.
Artboards are pages you are working on that are laid out on a single document to give you a very flexible workflow.
This is especially useful for organizing the work of graphic designers into one single document.
This makes it easier for them to shift to different artworks at a time.
The Vectornator is the first app to introduce the Autotrace feature to help designers save time contrary to manually tracing images.
How does this work?
- Simply import the photo
- Unlock the image layer
- Open the Style tab to access the Autotrace panel
- Tap the Autotrace button
- Preview of your vectorized image without editing anything yet
A lot of control range is given to text lines such as:
- Changing the height, kerning, tracking
- Converting text lines to curves
- Many more
Most importantly, you can import your custom fonts.
Boolean Operations, Masking, Grouping
Here are some of the boolean operations you could execute in the Vectornator app.
You can watch this video to see the execution of each operation.
Furthermore, you could group, mask, and order objects efficiently.
All of these features, as well as those mentioned previously, are available in Vectornator’s Learning Hub.
Aside from the app given to you by the creators for free, they also provide online tutorials to get you familiar with the features.
Follow their blog and stay updated with their latest news and timely updates.
Support is also available in the online community, particularly in Spectrum chat and Reddit forums.
Lastly, you can download the Apple Manual Book to know the basics, controls, tips, and tricks.
In this way, you can maximize your Vectornator experience.
- No need to pay because Vectornator is free for iOS and macOS
- Can open and work in Vectornator wherever you are
- Has a user-friendly interface so that beginners can easily navigate
- Helps you multitask by making use of the Split View
- Free access to more than 80,000 vector icons without any attribution
- Faster tracing compared to other Mac apps
- Import and export activities are only applicable to a short range of file formats
- Import SVG, AI, and PDF files, while you can export SVG, PDF, PNG, and JPEG
- Still has to build more strength in the online support community
- Only available for Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, and Mac
Serif is the name of the company that created this graphic design software.
This came to be after they encountered problems with their apps becoming bloated and hard to maintain.
This is because they were not at par with the latest hardware developments.
This company from the United Kingdom has been around since 1987 developing creative software for Windows.
Their approach to their problem was a revamp, meaning they overhauled everything and started from scratch.
After five long and hard-working years, they released the Affinity Designer app in October 2014.
It can be used in various operating systems: Windows, iOS, and macOS.
The company’s focus is to push the boundaries and create possibilities with these innovative apps.
In normal circumstances, Affinity Designer is available in the Apple store and Microsoft store for $19.99.
This is for a one-time payment without subscription fees.
To alleviate the hardships the world is facing, Serif has offered a 90-day free trial until May 20, 2020.
As of this writing, a 50% discount will be given to people who are sure that they want to buy the product.
There’s also a pledge to commission more than 100 freelance creative designers to provide support to those who lost their means of living as a result of this pandemic.
Avail of the free trial now before it expires.
Best of Both Worlds: Windows and i/MacOS
Whether on iPad, an iMac, or a Windows computer, the file format is universal.
That means that you can work on the same file across different devices without any glitches.
However, do note that you cannot use the license you bought interchangeably on different platforms.
If you have a personal Mac laptop and a Windows office computer, you would have to buy the product twice to install one for each.
But rest assured, the apps would synchronize across different devices.
You may view the full feature list for each device applicable here.
Instantaneous Navigation and Feedback
True to their word, Serif has designed the app strategically so that it now works at a pace that is at par with the latest computing hardware.
As a result, Affinity Designer helps its users save time on atomic operations to mainly focus on materializing artists’ creative ideas.
For example, real-time and live previews are shown when you curve edits, transform, blend, and adjust effects and gradients.
It allows you to zoom at 60 fps by a whooping maximum of 1 million percent!
No matter how large the document you are working on, Affinity Designer can handle complex documents with thousands of objects without lag.
Expect smooth organization of layer groups and color tagging.
Toolbars will automatically hide when you start working on the canvas, which works best for smaller screens.
Affinity Designer has thought of a seamless way of shifting between working on vector or raster workspaces by what they call, persona sets.
There are three to choose from: designer persona, pixel persona, and export persona.
The Designer Persona is the default tool for vector graphics like those operations along with:
- Drawing shapes and curves
- Editing with vector brushes
- Setting transparency controls
- Other image editing processes
The Pixel Persona is similar to when you use Photoshop wherein you can use:
- Pixel brush tools
- Freehand selections
Lastly, the Export Persona allows you to export particular areas in the canvas as new graphics, which also has a live preview.
You see, with just one click, you can seamlessly shift between vector or raster!
It truly embodies what the company says: they push boundaries and explore all the possibilities.
Feel free to imagine combining both kinds of art into one, say, using the pixel brush to your illustrations, then masking and adding grain to your vectors.
One of the unique features of Affinity Designer that outstand itself from others is its wide range of color control.
Affinity Designer can work in RGB or Lab color spaces, even up to 32 bits per channel!
It also has a good printing ability thanks to the built-in full spectrum of CMYK and ICC color management, as well as Pantone support.
You don’t have to switch to Photoshop to incorporate more vibrant colors because Affinity Designer makes up for it through the Pixel Persona Set.
Reliable Vector Tools
The vector tools in Affinity Designer cover more than the basics.
These tools are undoubtedly reliable since the creators have made sure that they would boost high productivity without compromising the accuracy of geometry.
With the one-time payment that you have invested, you get your payment’s worth with the:
- Comprehensive vector toolset
- Best pen and node tools with pressure editor
- Pencil and brush stability
- Creative Boolean operations
Bountiful Grids and Guides
A lot of choices are available for grids, from standard grid patterns to more sophisticated isometric grids with multiple planes.
Auto-alignment tools are available, but you can also have full control of a lot of aspects like spacing, angles, pixel snapping, and many more.
As mentioned previously, artboards are very useful for designers to organize their work.
In Affinity Designer, you can create artboards of varying sizes in any format, or choose from default device sizes.
You can also export in varying resolution sizes (1x, 2x, and 3x) in just one operation.
This feature also helps save time by serving a purpose similar to copy-paste.
As long as you have the same base object in a project when you edit one symbol, the rest updates immediately.
Affinity Designer incorporates sophistication when it comes to typography.
This is done by adding advanced styling while still having control over aspects like kerning and tracking, among others.
Enjoy access to artistic text and frames, as well as character and paragraph styles.
Advanced File Type Support
Affinity Designer speaks in different languages for inclusivity.
Collaboration, printing quality, and screen viewing are made easy and of high quality.
This is because the app supports significant file types for both vector and raster images.
These are EPS, JPEG, PDF, SVG, PSD, PNG, TIFF, and GIFF.
The app is able to handle complex documents of large file sizes without any lag
Moreover, it could also store up to 8,000 history steps so you could undo or redo them to your heart’s content.
Even if you work on the project the next day, you can still undo steps because it saves history across different computers.
Thanks to the Cycle Futures feature, it prevents history loss after editing from several undo later on.
When push comes to shove, you need not worry in case of unexpected shutdowns, because Autosave remembers all your hard work!
All these choices and customizations can be overwhelming when you start.
But an online community is readily available to provide support.
Online video tutorials are available for both desktop and iPad devices.
Resources like user manuals, start-up guidelines, and keyboard shortcuts are readily downloadable on their website.
Aside from that, you can also roam freely in their online forum to see:
- Frequently asked questions
- Feature requests
- One-time payment only without subscription fees
- Available for desktop computers (Windows and Mac) and iPad devices
- A wide range of file types is supported during import and export operations
- The full spectrum of CMYK and ICC color management
- Smooth transition between vector and raster workspaces
- Fast zoom in 60 fps and live previews are available
- The product is not for free
- Not available on cellphones
What is the Verdict?
So what’s the verdict of the battle rounds, Vectornator vs Affinity Designer?
Who came out as the champion?
Sorry to offer an ambiguous answer, but the answer is: it depends.
Well, it always depends on the hierarchy of needs of whoever is using it and for what application.
But the important thing is, both vector graphics software cover more than the basics, so you are good to go with whichever you choose.
Both software were made by companies with the sincere passion to offer pragmatic solutions.
This is not only to make the creative process more comfortable and straight to the point but also to discover possibilities with their ingenuity.
Features and Functionality
Choose Vectonator If You Are/Want
- A beginner that wants a more straightforward user interface
- Annoyed with touch screen sensitivity and prefer to use the joystick control to move the objects precisely point by point
- A skeptical person that needs to know what you’re getting without shelling out money beforehand
- Instant access to more than 80,000 vector icons to directly incorporate them into your project rather than start from scratch
- A person full of creative ideas and need to work on them as soon as possible on your cell phone anytime and anywhere
- Particular with saving time when it comes to tracing
- To make the team or client collaboration real-time and efficient(the feature is still being worked out by the creative team
Choose Affinity Designer If You
- Do not mind paying for a product license if it means you get your money’s worth
- Work on different desktop computers run by Mac and Windows and also on iPad
- Work interchangeably with vector and raster graphics
- Have different kinds of file types to import and export in your projects
- Work with large complex documents and hope your device doesn’t lag because of it
- Are particular with working on blown-up images to work on the extreme details
- Are more efficient with keyboard shortcuts and don’t mind customizing some