Affinity Photo – First Impressions: Inpainting Brush; Photoshop Plugins; Frequency Separation

Feb 10, 2015

Roderique Arisiaman

Roderique “Dracorubio” Arisiaman is a professional photographer, photoshop wizard, and artist, using photography as his canvas to create beyond reality imagery and stories. you can follow Dracorubio on his site, facebook and G+ account.

Affinity Photo – First Impressions: Inpainting Brush; Photoshop Plugins; Frequency Separation

Feb 10, 2015

Roderique Arisiaman

Roderique “Dracorubio” Arisiaman is a professional photographer, photoshop wizard, and artist, using photography as his canvas to create beyond reality imagery and stories. you can follow Dracorubio on his site, facebook and G+ account.

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Following up on the yesterday’s post about a possible Photoshop alternative in the works, named Affinity Photo (which is currently in Beta, and the Beta is free for download).

Calling an application an alternative to Photoshop is no small thing. Photoshop has been an industry standard for years, and has built up an enormous user base in almost every field of digital image creation.

I’ve been running Affinity Photo for a few hours now, seeing where it goes and how it holds up. Now keep in mind this is Beta software, so not everything works just yet or as it should be. But working with the software can certainly give a direction on where it is going.

the different Persona's

First thing I noticed is that it doesn’t support my RAW files from Olympus. Nikon and Canon had no problem loading into the Develop Persona part of Affinity Photo. (I did have to convert my RAWs to DNGs, but that worked fine).

From within Develop Persona we are presented with a Camera Raw-ish slider set for exposure, contrast, temperature,  the usual suspects. The sliders range from 0% to -100% and 100% and are too harsh in my opinion. Just sliding up 1 or 2% already gives a big change, so fine tweaking is out of the question. I also noticed the loaded DNG looks already auto adjusted compared to loading in Camera RAW. All in all it needs work, but when loading an image into Develop Persona, a notice pops up stating the Develop Persona area is in active development, so there is room for improvement.

Remember this is Beta
Remember this is Beta

Once you commit the image with all the first tweaks you’re presented with the Photo Persona, where all the photo editing will happen. It feels familiar yet unfamiliar. Tools and buttons are where you expect them to be, and it’s easy to find the function or buttons you need. There’s layers, adjustment layers, toolboxes. It’s all very Photoshop like. Tools are represented by colorful icons and are easily identified, hovering over a tool will display familiar names as well.

RAW file editing with a nice spilt view of before and after. The before is however not accurate.

The Adjustment Layers panel gives a small preview and different variations of the effect, which is a nice touch. The toolbox holds all the tools we’re used to have. There’s crop, fill, magic wand, clone stamp etc.

There’s also a tool called Inpainting Brush…it’s magic. It’s like the clone stamp tool combined with the healing brush and the spot healing brush in one. Not quite sure how it works, but it removes blemishes and spots and fills it in. Most of the times I hardly noticed any distortion, and it worked really well on stray hairs too. It had a hit ratio of 9 out of 10 I guess.

InPainting Brush is like magic, 9 out of 10 times

There is a filter list, which again has all the usual filters, and you even have the option to point the program to your Photoshop plug-ins which should work. I tried my Nik Tools, and they loaded in demo mode. It did have some issues loading the image in the plugin, but, well,  this is why it is called a beta.  I assume this will work fine in the final version and is a happy find. Some spend thousands of $$$ on plugins, so it is good to know you won’t have to throw that money away

There is a Frequency Separation tool/filter which is a helper tool to setup a FS layer stack for you to work with. Intuitive, but it crashed the program on two occasions.

Frequency Separation
Integrated Frequency Separation setup

Brushes are just are the same as in Photoshop, and sadly it doesn’t import .ABR files, which would be the smart thing to do. So all your collected brushes are useless until they develop a conversion of sorts. I couldn’t find any fancy new cool brush functions.

Liquify has its own Persona, and is what you expect it to be. Next to that there’s also a Macro Persona, which is also in development, but uses a LUT (LookUpTable) style workflow for making color corrections. Basically it now just shows you different color variations you can apply as an adjustment layer to your photo.

The Liquify Module has its own space and is very responsive
Different color previews in the Macro Persona
Different color previews in the Macro Persona

Like I said I’ve only tried the application for a few hours before writing this so I can only give a quick review of what I found.

  • The application is still in beta and that shows at certain points.
  • It’s kinda burdened by the fact that it looks too much like Photoshop, most functions and tools look the same and are located at the same place. This makes it easy for people to find what they’re looking for, but I found myself pounding my keyboard for shortcuts that didn’t work.
  • The application is very responsive and fast, I’ll give you that!

I don’t know if this application will hold its own against Photoshop, it would need a large user base to grow and provide it with its own ecosystem which Adobe already has. I doubt people are willing to make the switch and learn a new workflow. It’s not that the program doesn’t have potential, but for now it lacks integration with outside applications, an established user base and some really killer tools. Most tools are either already inside Photoshop or available as a neat plugins (like for example the Retouching Toolkit by Conny Wallstrom) If you’re used to Photoshop you’ll stick with Photoshop as everything else will feel cumbersome, but if you’re new to digital image creation this would be a nice alternative, especially for its low price (the Beta is free, and its estimated to cost $49)

Mind you, Adobe would be wise to look into this application as it addresses some features Photoshop is lacking and addresses them well!!

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Roderique Arisiaman

Roderique Arisiaman

Roderique “Dracorubio” Arisiaman is a professional photographer, photoshop wizard, and artist, using photography as his canvas to create beyond reality imagery and stories. you can follow Dracorubio on his site, facebook and G+ account.

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14 responses to “Affinity Photo – First Impressions: Inpainting Brush; Photoshop Plugins; Frequency Separation”

  1. Erdem Kayhan Avatar
    Erdem Kayhan

    Have a use for windows?

    1. Paul Haines Avatar
      Paul Haines

      It’s only available for IOS currently.

  2. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
    Gvido Mūrnieks

    My inner monologue:
    “That looks interesting.”
    “Dedicated software, for retouching images looks really appealing to me.”
    ”The price isn’t that bad as well.”
    “Where can I sign up?”

    ”Oh? Mac only?”

    1. JeanLuc LaBarre Avatar
      JeanLuc LaBarre

      MY inner monologue:
      “Price is irrelevant if it makes Photoshop irrelevant.”
      “Where can I sign up?”
      “Mac only? Perfect!!”

      1. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
        Gvido Mūrnieks

        Making software exclusive to single platform is stupid.
        Exclusive, by definition, means to exclude.
        There is absolutely no benefit, to consumer, to make software on a single platform. :D

        1. JeanLuc LaBarre Avatar
          JeanLuc LaBarre

          Gvido: That reply is partially why I actively seek out and support Mac-only software, and is reason #97 why devs stick to Mac.
          FYI: Serif was PC only for 25 years, did you know that?

          After years of pouring vast amounts of money into supporting thousands of amateurs all asking the same daft questions, it must be far more satisfying to provide tech help to Mac users, who actually know what they’re doing. I can only imagine what it must be like to spend hours answering people running Vista on $199 laptops.

          Serif as far as I know has no plans to even look at other platforms until the most important one is off do a good start.
          That makes them smart.

          I’m dumping Photoshop now, and Lightroom if and when someone comes up with a viable alternative.

          1. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
            Gvido Mūrnieks

            I understand, that some developers prefer different platforms. But, like I mentioned, it is pain in the ass, to a consumer.
            For example: I don’t dislike Macs. As the matter of fact – I am considering, buying iMac, but I still haven’t done it. The reason why is, that I need 3DS Max. Software, that only runs on Windows machines. And it sucks.


            I wonder, what could be reason #97, for Autodesk, to release most of their software on Windows. I guess, it’s because they take some sick pleasure, in dealing with commoners, running Vista on $199 laptops…

          2. JeanLuc LaBarre Avatar
            JeanLuc LaBarre

            It’s not really a pain, there are plenty of alternatives out there.
            If you did decide to get an iMac (which I highly recommend, you can get a used 27″ for not too much cash) you can run Windows on it too.
            Search: ‘run windows on mac’.

            Focussing on one OS makes the job of developing an app more quickly and far more fluidly. That was my point.

            Many businesses focus on mass market products, MacDonald’s, Walmart, etc. That is one way to make money. I could offer $499 wedding photography and be booked every weekend. Cool.
            But why do that when I could charge what my experience and skill level can command?
            Sorry to sound insulting.

  3. jason bourne Avatar
    jason bourne

    Mac only?


    1. albertkinng Avatar

      fail? LMAO

  4. Royi Avatar

    Does it have Multi Scale Detail Enhancement? Something like Wow! Tonal Equalizer Plug In for Photoshop? It could be very beneficial.

  5. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    I for one am quite happy to see someone challenging Adobe in this space. Photoshop and Lightroom are great, but Adobe’s become “too big to fail” and that has totally killed competition and innovation. Let’s see where this goes.

  6. Leo Falcon Avatar
    Leo Falcon

    I ditched OSX after the buggy upgrades wich left me using Windows for the extensive catalog of software and for the sake of my wallet. I cant think of a reason for not supporting windows if you want to be a rival of photoshop, you left more than half of the market aside.

  7. albertkinng Avatar

    Yes. people want to switch. Adobe really sucks now days. I mean it’s slow on a Mac pro!!! Seriously? Pixelmator and Affinity are more worried about running in Macs than Adobe.