Crossposted to my blog. I hope some of you have had a different experience:
Iím a traditionalist painter (some might say reactionary). I only do digital painting once in a while, and itís usually just to enhance a photographed image. But right now Iím working to create good comps for my book cover illustrations, and Iím keeping digital finishes in mind in case Iím unable to get my gouache technique under control in time (which seems all too likely). So I picked up Affinity Photo
, as it looked like it might finally be the Photoshop alternative some of us have been waiting for. The features looked great, and with the special they were running it was less than 40 bucksócertainly a reasonable price for a full-fledged photo editing and digital painting application. Especially when you compare its free-upgrades-for-life
deal to Adobeís pay-us-every-month-of-your-life
But when I tried Photo out, I immediately found some serious issues with their brush engine. To begin with, it periodically justÖ stops working. That is, I make a brush stroke (with either the drawing tablet or the mouse) and nothing happens. This goes for the Eraser tool as well. Sometimes you can restart the engine just by zooming in or out or rotating the canvas, but other times you actually have to close and then reopen the document
to get it to work again. Needless to say, this is unacceptable.
There are other, weirder things going on with the brush engine. Sometimes the eraser tool will work only if I begin the stroke over existing layer pixels. If I start the stroke over transparency and then move the cursor over the layer pixels, nothing happens. This odd behavior is fixed when I zoom in or out. This is called weird.
On one notable occasion (actually, the very first day I tried out the application), the paintbrush antialiased to white instead of transparency, leaving jagged halos that showed up when I tried to paint a background on the layer underneath. This wasnít because of any brush or layer setting that I could find; it started doing that and then stopped again, all on its own.
I initially thought this stuff might be a problem with my limited CPU or RAMóPhoto is currently hogging about 1.8 gigs of memory on an open file with many layers. But Medibang Paint Pro is using almost that much with the same file open, and I havenít had similar problems with its brushes.
Photo does have some really cool features, especially the live preview of both gradients and layer blending modes (hallelujah!), and Iím sure Affinity Photo is a decent tool for photo editing. But I think the application just isnít ready for digital painting, even with the low price tag. Iíve got the thing now, so I suppose Iíll keep playing with it from time to timeóand with the free upgrades, I can hope these problems will be fixed in future releases. But in the meantime, for projects that matter, Iíll use a free app like MediBang Paint Pro (or even Krita or Fire Alcapa), even with its relative paucity of features and slightly clunky interface (the wretched type dialog!). Photo is much richer, but until they fix that brush engine Iím afraid I wonít be using it much.
Iíve seen some great work done in this applicationómaybe others have had better luck on their machines. Iím genuinely sorry about this review. Iíve been waiting for years for a credible contender to knock Adobe off their horse. But as of now, from the perspective of this artist at least, Affinity Photo isnít it.