16 November 2019
Professional work with Affinity Publisher
I stopped using Photoshop and Illustrator a few years ago and with the release this summer of Affinity Publisher, it is time to start replacing Indesign in my workflow as well.
I started slow, replacing some poster work which is always given to the printer as a PDF file and that went pretty easily. Next was transitioning the monthly invitations I do for a client to the 4 colour press we use. Normally I would package the Indesign project and send it out to them so moving to Publisher meant having to discuss options with them. It went much easier than I anticipated. I don't send them Publisher documents, they don't have the software... yet. We had to work together to figure out the best configuration for the PDF files. I should say that at first they were horrified, thinking I meant Microsoft Publisher which is NOT professional layout material, but after I sent them a link to the Serif software website, they were relieved I hadn't lost my mind and I had found something of professional quality.
Aside from exiting the aggravation and controversy of the Adobe subscription cloud fiasco, are there advantages to doing this? Yup, plenty. Even though Publisher is, in effect, a version 1.0 release in many ways - working with it has been very productive. There are features I would love to have implemented and many will, I'm sure, eventually - but missing features or not - my work is getting done much easier and faster. One huge advantage is the workspace, it's always in what Indesign would call full resolution mode. There isn't another mode and there doesn't need to be, Scrolling and zooming is fast and effortless and being able to see everything clearing and as it will look in the final print version. I like how fonts and text are handled much better, though it takes some getting used to after a couple decades of Indesign use. One of the biggest changes and improvements from my old workflow is how editing of exterior files works. Indesign lets you open Photoshop or Illustrator, make changes, then update the files in your document. Affinity Publisher has an all in one approach - you literally just press a button and you are in the photo or vector app, no need to reload and update or have another program taking up screen space. It's a very fluid way of working. Importing images is different as well, and now that I have a grasp on the basics, it's so simple and fast I can't imagine going back to the old ways.
Some of the problems I saw on the horizon have been resolved. Blurb, the online book publisher has a plugin directly for Indesign but not Publisher, making it harder to design and send a project to them. Today, however I discovered they have a PDF calculator and set up page so if you are not using the Adobe product, you can still prepare your work confidently. It is not as easy, but it is workable. I will be experimenting with that soon. Speaking of PDFs, one thing I did not think about was that by sending in only a finalized PDF, I can work 100% on Affinity format with images and illustrations, meaning I don't have to format them as TIF or EPS files for the printing process, making it super easy to make changes and saving more steps than I realized it would. *This would work with Indesign too if I wasn't sending in a packaged project.
My just published book, Indifference, was trial an error making Kindle and print versions but formatting mistakes I made at first were quickly corrected and I am very happy with the results.
I guess the best part of this has been I was able to do it and my clients never even noticed the change. I look forward to the iPad version next year for those times I am away without use my laptop since the entire, fully functional Affinity suite will be on iPad and for now I can use Photo or Designer to edit multi page documents to a large extent already.
All and all I would say I made the right choice to switch both financially and artistically.