Affinity Photo From Serif Looms On The Imaging Horizon

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Affinity Photo From Serif Looms On The Imaging Horizon

The image shows to split view feature of Affinity Photo and the application interface.
Affinity Photo interface.

Having been a Photoshop user for the past 25 years I have always found claims that is application or that application is poised to become a “Photoshop Killer”. Then the buzz dies down. The application winks out of existence and couple of years later another “Photoshop Killer” arrives. Though I don’t think the latest contender – Affinity Photo from Serif - will be the much awaited “Photoshop Killer”, it has the potential of becoming even more important: A potential Photoshop replacement. By that I mean, for users who don’t necessarily need all of the Photoshop tools and features, Affinity Photo has the potential of becoming the app they purchase instead of Photoshop. This application is positioning itself as a pro-level editor with a ton of high-end unique features and filters that may cause Adobe to do a double take.

That was the good news. The bad news is the application is currently a Mac-only beta though there are rumours a PC version is in the works. In this How To we are going to kick the tires and look at a couple of features in the app that have caught my eye.

Let’s get started.

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How To Get The Affinity Photo App.

The Home page for Affinity photo is shown.
The Affinity Photo beta is open to anyone.

The application is in open beta. If you head here, all you need to do is to enter your first name, last name and email address. After you submit your request for participation you will shortly receive an email containing a link to the download. Once you have installed the application, open it.

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The Affinity Photo Interface

The full application interface is shown.
The Affinity Photo interface uses colour to make tools and panels easier to identify.

Though Affinity Photo’s Interface uses the dark grey of Photoshop, that is where the resemblance ends. One of the first things about the interface that you can’t help but notice is the use of colour in the various tools. I found them to be easier to locate than those in Photoshop. Also the splashes of colour in the various buttons along the top and the scarcity of panels on the right side  gives one the “perception” of  more room to work. Roll over an icon and a tool tip appears which means ,if you are a Photoshop user, determining what a tool does is not different.

One major difference, and one I suspect quite a few people will use, is Window>Separated Mode. Select it and the interface does just that … it separates into four floating panels. The neat thing about this is the panels can be moved around the screen.

If you are not a fan of the interface’s look and feel, the User Interface preferences let you change the interface witch choices ranging from the Background Gray and UI Gamma to the size and frequency of the Tooltips.

Finally Affinity includes support for CMYK colour, 16-bit editing, Camera Raw, ICC colour management and 64-bit Photoshop plug-in compatibility. For those wondering, Serif is on record in saying that it is in discussions to have the plug-in vendors add support for Affinity Photo in their installers

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Afffinity Photo Personas

The current personna is shown in the upper left corner of the interface.
Personas are more than workspaces. They answer the question: "What do you want to do?".

Though the first impression of Personas is to regard them as being similar to the Workspaces found in a number of Adobe’s applications, that would be a bad assumption. In many respects they answer the question: “What do you want to do?”

There are currently four Personas in the beta: Photo, Liquify, Develop and Export. They are the four icons found in the top left of the interface and, when you select a Persona, the editing tools and panels change to reflect the task at hand. In the current beta the Develop tool only works if a RAW image is loaded. Also Serif has plans to increase the number of Personas over time. 

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Affinity Photo Filters and Effects

The Lighting Filter dialog box is shown.
Filters are applied in real time and a fully adjustable.

When you apply a filter to an image in Affinity Photo, the first thing you will notice is it is applied in real-time. There are no Preview or Apply buttons and the inevitable wait to see the result.

For example, in the above image I applied the Lighting filter. The default was immediately applied to the image and a Panel with all of the filter’s properties opened. I could move the handles associated with the light to adjust the lighting and I could even change the colour of the ambient light. What I really liked was the Before/After check box. Click it and the screen splits into before and after views of the effect. Best of all you can slide the divider across the image to see where you started and where you ended. Once you are happy, click the Apply button and the filter is applied to the image or click cancel to remove it.

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Is Affinity Photo A Photoshop Replacement?

A Camera raw image taken in Hon Kong and the camera raw dialog box are shown..
Correcting a Camera RAW image using the Develop persona.

Is Affinity Photo a Photoshop killer? Not by a long shot. The installed user base for Photoshop is too massive to even consider this possibility. Even so, web designers, photo pros and graphic designers looking for a tool that is fast and somewhat feature-rich really should take a look at the application and see if it fits their workflow. Casual users will also find this application to be rather appealing. Though the beta is free, Serif has said the price for Affinity Pro will be around the $49.00 U.S. mark in the Apple Macintosh App Store.