Leaving the Adobe ecosystem?

Do you know anyone that’s left the Adobe ecosystem and continued to prosper as a graphic designer using alternatives such as Corel or Affinity?

Personally, no.

There are some niche businesses that have always used Corel software for graphics, but I personally don’t know of any general graphic designers focusing only on Corel.

Recently, I’ve been splitting my time between Adobe and Affinity. Over the summer, I put together a complicated 100-page kids book with tons of photos and illustrations — all using Affinity Publisher, Designer and Photo. The client requested Affinity because that’s what they were using in-house.

Once I got used to the Affinity applications, they were fine. Once I got really used to them, I started noticing quite a few things that Adobe software did better, quite a few things that Affinity software didn’t do at all (without extra steps), and several things that I liked much better about Affinity than Adobe.

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Me neither.

I have done one or two small jobs with Affinity and I do want to do more, but it needs, as happened to Just-B, a job that requires it to force you to find the time to learn it.

Moreover, I don’t think there will be an industry sea change anytime soon, especially when you consider how long it took InDesign to take over from Quark, combined with the fact Affinity is not quite there yet. I think it will get there and there is every chance it can come to the party with just a rock and a sling and at least have a good pop at Goliath.

However as larger organisations have invested so much into Adobe, they are very likely to be both unwilling or unable to reinvest for very little difference in return. These organisations – and I am specifically talking about publishers and print here – drive the industry standard. If, like me, you are involved in book design, you have no choice but to work in indesign, firstly because they need the native files delivered on completion. In addition all the editors working on a project will be using it. It really is deeply entrenched in the publishing ecosystem.

Of course, it is far easier for small design companies to make the change and deliver pdfs to the printer created in Affinity. It is a whole different thing to disentangle and reconstruct the licensing deals larger companies have – and that’s without going anywhere near the costs of retraining staff and the risk of workflow errors as a result. There has to be a very compelling reason to change for them.

In addition, Adobe are actually really very good at what they do. It may seem pricey and you may not like the subscription model, or one of the many other issues levelled at them on a regular basis.

I don’t particularly like the monopoly and control they have, with all the ensuing flaccidity and lack of customer service that comes with organisations once they reach a certain size. However, I do love the fact that it includes anything I may ever need, from print design, web design, UI/UX, to sound editing, to 2D character animation, even some 3D modelling. The only thing it doesn’t have is full-on vfx flame-type capabilities, but this is a whole different industry, that is extremely specialist and outside the realms of most generalist designers anyway. It’s definitely outside of my capabilities – and ambition.

When you look at it like that, even if Affinity did manage to make significant inroads into the design for print, illustration and image editing markets (and I think they may well do and a bit of competition wouldn’t be a bad thing to stiffen up the monopoly flaccidity a bit and drive innovation), designers would have to find software to replace all those other capabilities – or just stick with Adobe. Hence my original thought that I don’t think it will happen any time soon.

… and I was just going to write, ‘Nope’!

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I’ve been a graphic designer for about 25 years. I remember the day that we threw Quark out and brought in InDesign. The changeover was massive. The work to recreate everything in InDesign was a huge overhaul.

I don’t know if the industry is ready for that again.

I work on the Adobe Forums - I don’t work for Adobe.
I have CC subscription - for me it’s very cheap, I appreciate that everyone is in the same boat. But for £60ish a month, I have PS, IL, ID and Acrobat Pro constantly up to date.

I think that’s a pretty good deal, and I price accordingly, which means that my subscription is paid for by the clients that I have. Basically, if I am not making £60 a month - then there’s something seriously wrong. Truth is I need to earn a base line figure of £5,000 a month to cover all my bills… so £60 is just a drop in the ocean in that regard.

But I don’t want to start a Adobe is greedy debate. Adobe workers are just like us - they are software engineers, and developers, and designers, and they need to be paid too.

We constantly bang on this forum how we hate crowdsourcing and people getting things done for cheap using almost nefarious contests … yet when it comes to the Industry standard software we are looking to go elsewhere for cheaper… to give someone else the money.

I understand it, you used to be able to buy Adobe software and keep it working for years without upgrading. But that didn’t help their employees - their designers - their developers - their engineers - in fact a lot of people would steal the software (pirate it) and that isn’t nice.

Considering the fact that is the number one complaint from a designer - NOBODY WILL PAY US - WE ARE UNDERVALUED - and we cry and spit our dummys out!

The thing is - Affinity is really great. The Designer and Photo apps are top notch. I almost went the route of starting a tutorial website based on Affinity software, especially when Publisher was released.

Here’s why I didn’t - the more I dug into the software the more I realised it wasn’t suited to my industry - printing.

Publisher especially, they have it down as a challenger to Indesign - however, it’s missing many long document features. And I mean huge amounts of long document features.

Do I know anyone who has moved outside the ecosystem - yes I’ve seen hobbyists move to Affinity - but I have yet to start receiving any files from any design/company etc. with the Affinity file system.

I work with about 15-20 different printers, as I outsource all my printing and use print partners, hey it’s cheaper than buying an Epson printer, laminator, boards, etc. to do 10 pull up banners a year, right!

Anyway, I generally know them well and they haven’t received any artwork in Affinity or other software.

In fact - most are in PDF centric workflows so they woudn’t know if the file was made in Affinity or Powerpoint, or InDesign, or Keynote etc. it’s a PDF, it prints!

Then there’s another avenue I look down - I subscribe to Job Alerts in my area. Why? Because if they are hiring a designer, they probably need design work, right? That’s where I come in, I’ll swoop in and do their design work while they are hiring someone, get some work and new clients that way.

Of all the job alerts I get, not one specifies Affinity. Actually, just this morning, someone is looking for an office manager to manage things including brochures, floor plans, and they want the person the be familiar with Canva.

Canva! I’ve been down this road before, PDFs from Canva are not suitable for prinitng, at least the last time I received any. I had a printer friend who contacted me as the PDF they got from another client couldn’t print there was something wrong with it that completely failed in their RIP.

He asked me to take a look - and I discovered it was made in Canva. I managed to fix up the PDF as I know how to fix PDFs, but that took 4 hours. And I had to charge for it.

The client then had a 4 hour job to pay for to fix those Canva PDFs. Not a nice experience for the client to have to pay for 4 hours work to fix files.

For me, leaving the Adobe eco-system is impossible. Not because I’m tied to it from any sense of loyalty. But simply that it works, Adobe are the leading software company - and yes you pay for it.

Usually the ones I see moving away from Adobe are the ones that moan that they have to pay for a typeface (sorry font - little joke in a cross over thread :slight_smile: )

At the end of the day - you can go with any software you like. I once designed a book in MS Publisher (not Affinity) because a client wanted to that was back in about the year 2000. They only had Publisher. But I was able to do it, because I’m a nice guy and it was interesting, and most of all it was do able. I could have done it 10 times quicker in Quark. But the client was paying, so it was on them.

Yes, move away, but be prepared that if something is wrong with your final files for web or print, and they are causing issues, that supplying files in other software like Affinity, Corel, Paint, Powerpoint etc. will incur extra charges from the printer/web developer as they will need to recreate the artwork/designs.

There are plenty that use Corel though, signmakers typically are in that eco system and all their hardware is hooked up to that system, so it would be pricey to replace a system that works.

Move away from Adobe if you wish. It’s completely understandable. But be prepared that other softwares are not there yet in terms of offerings, and you may end up costing your clients more by having files fixed in the background. That is a huge concern of mine.

If all the files are for yourself, and you have no clients, then go nuts! Use what works for you!


Couldn’t agree more. Adobe gets a lot of bashing (and there are issues with it – there are always going to be with such complex software), but I think you get an awful lot for your pennies and, as you say, constantly up to date.

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Thing is when InDesign came along it became more popular than Quark as it did everything you could do in Quark, but it could do more.

I remember being mesmorised by the fact I could do a drop shadow without having to go to Illustrator or Photoshop! It was amazing.

As @Just-B touched on is that Affinity can do a lot and it’s great - I really like it, but lacks features that InDesign has, that I would be used to - and simple tasks take a bit longer.

I think if you want to offer a rival software, it has to do what InDesign did to Quark, and be very similar but much better.

And I haven’t come across any piece of software better than InDesign.

But there are still plenty of places still using Quark. It’s just not as mainstream any more. And if a Quark designer has a problem with their PDF and provides source files in Quark for the prepress to sort out - it will probably mean a recreation in InDesign - or costly prepress fees to fix the PDF.

Either way Quark users are in danger of the same problem.

Adobe have the print industry completely sown up.

What Affinity has going for it is price and the absence of Adobe’s monthly fees. Affinity’s (or Serif’s) marketing has successfully positioned the software with a certain cool factor that Adobe lacks (from my perspective). For the most part, Affinity’s apps are still in their first iterations, which suggests their 2.0 versions will be much better.

Adobe certainly is in a very dominant position — at least for print publishing — but I wouldn’t necessarily assume that’s a permanent spot.

I think Affinity might have a window of opportunity, but, as you mentioned, the software needs to be competitive or better than Adobe’s to succeed over the long haul. Success doesn’t necessarily mean overtaking Adobe, though, which I doubt will happen. I have no idea what their cash flow is like, though. I’m skeptical they can continue charging as little as they currently do.

If Affinity moves forward as fast as they moved out of the starting gate, they might do well. On the other hand, it’s hard to compete with the amount of cash and talent Adobe can invest in their products. At the very least, competition is good, and if a competition with Affinity (Quark or Corel) results in better, sleeker, faster Adobe software, I won’t complain.


Yes, there’s more things going on out there digitally these days, online, and there is cheaper software out there that gets similar results.

You don’t have to use Adobe. But I am in print, and it’s pretty much ingrained.

Adobe authored the PDF - and anything else that doesn’t come from Adobe is in fact a 3rd Party PDF, and this means that it might not necessarily adhere to all the PDF modules and syntax - and that’s why RIPs can have trouble with them.

But that can be very technical and anyone outside of Print probably doesn’t give a crap.

In terms of delivering digital content - I don’t know enough about it to say whether there’s anything particular Adobe can do in this area that’s different/better/worse than other software.

If you’re not producing material for print - I think it’s pretty safe to move away from Adobe - although I say that loosely with limited knowledge of that side as said previously.

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It’s kinda ironic that the creative industry is so homogenous when it comes to software, I guess it makes sense though from a pratical point of view.

Do you think that Adobes subscription model raises the gates on new designers starting out, that perhaps don’t have the financial runway or cashflow well established designers do?

I feel if they have money for the laptop / computer or worse an expensive Mac, then they can easily afford the softwares.

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Adobe has always been a love-hate relationship for us. Being in the wide format print industry it can often feel as though Adobe forgets we exist, even though, with Indesign 2.0 they totally blew Quark out of the water simply by having an artboard larger than 48". LOL. A lot less to deal with when not working in a scale limitation that Quark handled badly and clunkily for far too long once the competition showed up. At the top end of my industry, I haven’t seen a Quark file now in well over 7 years.

If a Quark file pdf won’t rip, but the source files are provided, there is never any reworking in InDesign. At least not with us. Since I, and my outsource vendors, have only ever dealt with Quark natively, most of the rip issues are already known. Maybe as us old guys die off the workarounds will be forgotten but until then I’m not sure why anyone would rebuild anything created in Quark.

I have never seen an Affinity file. But that is likely to change, I’m sure, and I keep telling myself I really need to get up to speed on that group of software.

Most of the more custom-oriented wide format printers out there are Native File driven. Because of all the different machines, inksets and media we have available, there is no possible way for the designer to have the custom profiles available to apply to their PDF output. To get the best possible result, we highly suggest sending native files and letting us do the profile application.

So while Adobe can be a total PITA, their software actually is very very capable of doing what needs to be done in the most efficient way possible. As an output resource, it’s part of my job to be able to do what clients need to have done. If that means adding Affinity to our workflow, it means adding Affinity to our workflow. Just like we keep Quark around and to some small extent Corel, though I’m pretty sure my license on that will lapse in a few weeks when we update PC it’s sitting on. We’ll probably re-up it though.

If it wasn’t Adobe, we’d find something else to curse.
Pantone anyone? :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

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I should have really stated it’s the last resort to rebuild the file in InDesign, when all else won’t work.
I did enough of the old rebuilding files back in 2004 when we first adopted InDesign to the workflow and dumped Quark, everything had to be redone that was done in Quark. It was arduous.

I think part of the problem with the industry right now is that there is a very low point of entry. It doesn’t cost much to start a graphic design business. So we have an industry that’s flooded with freelancers with entry level skills, and that depresses the fees everyone can charge. I think Adobe’s subscription model is probably keeping some people from joining the ranks, and that’s a good thing for the rest of us.

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As long as they stay away from me with their Canva crap. I probably won’t ever see it, but I’m sure my industry cohorts in crime probably have. For a printer, the quote “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die,” is really very apropos. We aren’t going to turn away work, and most of us are gonna do our darnedest to deliver something at least close to what the client is expecting. But to me, if someone is willing to put up with the level of yuck that comes out of Canva, I’m not sure I want to die trying to make it print any better than what plops out the other end of the print machine. GIGO rule definitely applies.

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Its impossible right now to leave the adobe ecosystem, my yearly subscription is due on the 30th.
I’ve recently experimented with Affinity and I like the colors that update in real-time and the brush tool seems to be slightly more effective for illustration.

I feel illustrator is very clunky when I’m trying to do any illustration. I can see people draw illustrations on ipads and tablets faster than I can on a desktop even with my wacom. Maybe I’m just bad at illustration.

So I’m up for trying a new program but I can leave adobe it does everything else well and I can get everything I need done.

Think I’ve said it before, I get all the Adobe Apps for €60 a month. If you’re not making €60 a month or more then the Adobe software is not for you.

I’d spend €60 in a weekend at the pub, with some grub.

It’s really not all that expensive. But there are alternatives, but I prefer the Adobe software over anything I’ve tried.

And for €60 a month it’s a good deal for every App they have.

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It’s like buying gas to get to site visits, or something similar. Client fees need to cover expenses or your business fails.

One of our owners used to joke about how getting a new computer would let me do my work so much faster. Time = Money. That used to be a truism up until quad-cores came out. We’re having a bit of trouble justifying a $6K expense to upgrade my desktop mac coozie to a new tower though. Partly because most of the graphic work we do, the designers are NOT using those high-end pricey machines because they don’t fit into the designer’s budget, so they can’t produce artwork that requires the system power. I may be downgrading to a Mac Mini :frowning_face:
And besides, if I did my work faster, I’d become a part-timer. LOL!

Well the new Mac Mini with M1 chip are limited to 16gb. I won’t be delving till that is at least doubled.

Yeah, well, it’s already been decided to at least wait for the M1 (whether tower or mini is still open to debate) and to run it in tandem with my current desktop until Adobe gets up to speed and most of the production bugs get ironed out (they’ll never get all of them, we already know that.) Only Photoshop is currently ready to be ported to M1 native. The rest is emulated. I can work with 16gigs of ram (doing it now) but it has to be updgradable at the very least. For me it’s more about hard drive scratch space anyway.

I’m not saying the price is an issue actually. I just wish the software had some of the things Affinity is doing but I imagine its the limitations with updating a program thats been around 20+ years.

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