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Serif Affinity Designer revealed as Adobe Illustrator rival, free beta available until October

Serif's free beta gives illustrators and graphic designers a significantly cheaper alternative to Adobe's Creative Cloud

Serif has launched Affinity Designer, the company’s first native graphic design application for Mac OS X. The public beta, which is now available to download for free directly from, signals the start of Serif’s intentions to rival Adobe’s Creative Cloud – currently the undisputed software suite of choice for media professionals.

Until today, Serif’s products have been exclusive to Windows – a deal breaker for many creative professionals working on Apple’s OS X. Affinity Designer is the first of three planned OS X native applications, with Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher planned for release over the next twelve months to take on Photoshop and InDesign. According to Serif, vector graphics drawing program Afinity Designer was built from the ground up for OS X, with full 64-bit and multi-core processor support to ensure fast performance – even when working on huge, multi-gigabyte projects.

“Working in Affinity products is always live,” Tony Brightman, Serif’s head of Affinity development, explained. “Whether it’s a 100 megapixel image or the most complex vector drawing with thousands of curves, you still pan and zoom at 60fps, move objects in correct z-order and see live views of all adjustments, brushes and effects as you’re working with no compromise.

“Considering the strength of Apple’s hardware nowadays there’s no excuse for software developers to achieve anything less, but until Affinity these fundamentals have been sadly lacking in creative software.”

Affinity Designer is fully compatible with Adobe AI, PDF and EPS file formats, with the ability to import Photoshop PSD files too, which Serif hopes will help attract anyone that has previously used Creative Suite but can’t justify a monthly subscription.

We’ve only had a day to familiarise ourselves with Affinity Designer, which is still very much a work in progress with many features carrying bright orange beta labels, but the program has so far been stable, smooth and has a significant number of the features we’re used to seeing in Adobe Illustrator. By default the program opens in a windowed mode, but Adobe veterans can enable a separated mode if they prefer. It has all the familiar vector design tools, including the pen tool, swatch palette and vector effects, and although it lacks some of the more in-depth abilities of Illustrator it’s a great tool for pure graphic design.

Affinity Designer is due to launch on the OS X App store in October, with the full version set to cost £35 – significantly less than Adobe’s monthly subscription plans. For now, you can download the beta for free to try the program out for yourself.

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