Affinity and beyond

I recently bought Affinity Photo, a graphics app that costs just £50 and will accept many Photoshop plug-ins.  As with most software this means a learning period during which novel combinations of swear words can be heard echoing from Miller Towers.  But thankfully this has been minimal with Affinity Photo, which is well designed, pretty intuitive, has all the tools and power I require and can do almost everything Photoshop does and some things better.  I’m a quite experienced user of this sort of software having been publishing stuff since the BBC Micro days of the 1980s, on several hardware platforms (including the beloved Amiga 500 and the 1200).  Affinity has emerged from the old Serif  (parent) company and seems to have a similar fair-price philosophy. 

 

So having tried it for a few weeks along with a freebie, the beta version of Affinity Publisher (a desk top publishing app) and been pretty pleased with the results I decided to dig into the usually hermetically sealed wallet and bought the third of the trilogy of apps, Affinity Designer.

Affinity Publisher beta, free for now

The motivation for all this is financial, to get away from the rapacious Adobe and their over-priced products.  Adobe have a near-monopoly in UK art schools and elsewhere, as well as with designers, photographers and artists, and a few years ago they began exploiting that to the max.  They did this with subscription pricing which forces customers to pay them forever, and pay them plenty.

Serif have spotted an opportunity and produced three fixed price products which will do everything most users want, for less than one years payment to Adobe!  Adobe are not the only ones at this racket, Microsoft exploit their monopoly with out any check even though other products, such as the free Open Office, perform just as well for most users.  But it seems that the big companies and their lure of cheap software – cheap for the school –  has got the educational institutions in a fierce grip somewhere below the waist.  Time that grip was broken.

Affinity Designer is a vector drawing app and seems to have some cross-over functions into the raster graphic area.  Like the other apps it is available for Windows, Mac and the iPad.  I have a Win10 Surface Pro which I use with as a tablet and docked as a desktop, so I will be testing these apps with a pen as well as mouse/keyboard.  Plenty of blurb on the Affinity site about Designer, but it is the things that are missing – there’s always something – which will be most revealing I expect.  I will write more fully when I have tried it out.

 

Modeling with foamboard

I love using foamboard, cheap of course but it’s main attraction for me is the speed at which I can work – I am an impatient person, at times.

One of the laser-cut plywood construction models I make is a helicopter and as a flat pack it fits on a 30cm square.  But this is too big for letter boxes and the rest of my model/toys fit on three or four A5 sheets.  So a bit of remodeling is called for.

I started with a new blade in the Stanley knife but the tip was quickly blunted on the cutting board.  I was using 5mm foamboard but the actual model is 3mm ply so some of the dimensions are a little off.  Luckily foamboard is very forgiving and can be trimmed easily or just squeezed into the space.  The small pieces are not really needed to prove the changes but it is nice to see the thing as it will look.  Now to get to work in Inkscape, a free vector drawing app, and make the changes to the .svg file.  Once that is done I will print out the revised file on thick card, cut out the pieces and check for fit,  then, if all  seems good send the file to Cut & Burn in Exmouth and get the prototype in a day or two, hopefully without any mistakes on my part.