This year, I made the switch to Affinity Publisher for making my printables. Before I explain why I switched I thought it would also help to show you some of the things I’ve made in Affinity Publisher so you can see the variety of things you can make in this easy to use software!
To enlarge the screen of the video, click the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video (it will say ‘full screen’ when you hover your mouse over the icon).
Affinity Publisher is basically a cheaper (and in my opinion better) version of Adobe Indesign. When I tried Indesign I found it clunky and overly complicated to use. Given that I had already spent a few years learning how to use Adobe Photoshop and the cost of Adobe software isn’t cheap, I stuck with using Photoshop for making printables for quite some time.
However Photoshop has become more and more expensive over the years and there were certain types of printables I wanted to make that I couldn’t do easily in Photoshop (e.g. 2 page spreads, automatic page numbers, seeing the spreads side by side when designing, multiple pages in one document, a combination of both landscape and portrait page orientation in the same document etc.). Photoshop is great for other things (I still use it to make pattern backgrounds for my printables, oversized wall calendars and a few other things), but I have now switched to Affinity Publisher for making planner printables.
Here are the main reasons why I switched:
Making printables: 10 Reasons Why I switched from Photoshop to Affinity Publisher
Affinity Publisher was only released mid 2019. Photoshop was first released around 1990 and has had many new versions come out since then. I started using it in 2012 (Photoshop CS6). Back then you installed the software using a disc (I wonder if the younger people reading this blog have ever used a computer disc?!) and the software used up so much storage space on your computer.
So when I upgraded my laptop to the 3rd one that I have today I had a slight problem: no disc slot. Newer laptops don’t have them… because they no longer need them. The support for older versions of Photoshop disappears when a new version comes out, and it’s a needle in a haystack trying to find a way to download older versions of the software from Adobe (let alone find your product key if you still have it). So they basically force you to upgrade to the latest version and there was no discount when upgrading from CS6 to Creative Cloud (CC).
Photoshop Creative Cloud (CC) 2021 costs $343 AUD per year on its own, and you only get this price when you pay upfront. Otherwise it’s $46 AUD per month (which works out to $552 per year). It’s cheaper to purchase Photoshop with Adobe’s photography plan which works out $171 AUD per year. I don’t use cloud storage anyway so save money by storing files on my computer and external hard drives.
Many years ago back when I first start using it in 2012, Photoshop used to be a software you purchase outright and there was a discounted price if you were a student. For that reason I made the most of it and used Photoshop CS6 for 8 years until 2020 when I switched to it’s subscription based service. The cost of the subscription service per year isn’t much cheaper than what it cost to outright purchase Photoshop CS6. I felt that the price kept increasing but there weren’t many new features coming out each year, or at least not many new features that I would use for making planner printables.
Affinity Publisher is very affordable. It’s only $85 AUD! And it’s a one time purchase not a subscription.
Both software are discounted for Black Friday sales at the moment.
2. Multi-page documents
The biggest downside to Photoshop was the inability to do multiple pages in the one document. It made it more time consuming to design and harder to align a 2 page spread. In Affinity Publisher you can add multiple pages and you can also see a 2 page spread at once which is extremely helpful when making weekly and monthly spreads.
3. Table tool
I always liked the table tool in Microsoft Word, but Microsoft Word lacked the design features I needed.. which Photoshop had. The table tool works basically the same as Microsoft Word (and is very quick to create printables).
4. Portrait & landscape page orientation
You can do both page orientations in both software. However Affinity allows you to have both page orientations in the same file. So if you wanted, say, a landscape habit tracker for each month you could intersperse that between the portrait orientation pages.
5. Automatic page numbering
So much easier to find things in your planner when all of the pages are numbered and especially handy for designing notebooks. This was never an option in Photoshop.
6. File size is smaller
In Photoshop when I would save a file as a PDF it would turn that Photoshop file into PDF. I could get the Photoshop file back, I just had to remember to go back and re-open the original file, make edits and then re-save again. It was easy to forget this extra step and sometimes I would end up making further design changes in the PDF file without realising it.
The file size when exporting out of Photoshop is big. I never wanted to choose the compressed option as I didn’t want to lose image quality. File export size is much smaller from Affinity Publisher, without loss of image quality.
7. Open files in different Affinity software
Affinity has a cool feature where you can transfer designs between their software. E.g. if you make something in Affinity Photo, you can open it in Affinity Publisher and vise versa.
I can select an Affinity Publisher file and it will open in Affinity Photo. I can open a 2 page spread made in Affinity Publisher in Affinity photo as well.
2 page monthly calendar I made in Affinity Publisher
The same file opened in Affinity Photo.
The only con with this feature is that if you have multiple pages in Affinity Publisher it will automatically select a page to import into Affinity Photo, there is no pop-up box allowing you to choose which pages you want to import. To avoid this, you’d need to have a separate file in Affinity Publisher with only the 2 page spread you wanted to open in Affinity Photo.
When you open the file in the other software, all of the layers, colors, fonts and formatting are maintained.
This is a convenient tool if you wanted to make patterns in Affinity Photo (the equivalent of Adobe Photoshop) and transfer them straight into Affinity Publisher to use as backgrounds for your printables.
As I already have all of my pattern templates created in Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Publisher can open Photoshop files (.PSD file format), I don’t need to open them in Affinity Photo and resave as Affinity Photo files which is just going to take up unnecessary space on my computer.
Affinity Publisher also allows you to import and export a wide range of file types – you can even import Adobe files into Affinity (Photoshop PSD files and Illustrator EPS files).
8. Both software have a layers menu
Both programs have a layers menu which work the same way. It’s easy to change multiple design elements at once e.g. recolor, resize and rearrange the order of things e.g. move a pattern to the background i.e. bottom layer. You can click on a design element and Affinity Publisher will automatically highlight that design element in the layers menu, just like you can in Photoshop.
Photoshop is a large software and it takes a few minutes to start up. If I’m working on a file that has lots of layers it takes a few moments for Photoshop to save it and I cannot do any work on the file while it does this. Affinity Publisher has much faster initial start-up and saving load times.
10. User friendly
Photoshop can be intimidating when you are a beginner. There’s many hidden menus you only find when right clicking or double clicking on the layers menu. All those secondary menus in Photoshop are helpful for it’s intended purpose: graphic design. However I only need about 10 – 20% of Photoshop’s tools to make a planner printable.
The icons are so small on my 15.6″ laptop screen and no matter what I try, I cannot figure out a way to increase the size of the Photoshop’s tools menus.
When I was teaching myself how to make things in Photoshop I had so many notes of the order of things I had clicked so I could undo if the finished result using a tool wasn’t what I wanted, otherwise I’d forget the whole process I’d used to get the design to that point. Example: how to make glitter in Photoshop. And let’s not even talk about memorising all the keyboard shortcuts!
Affinity Publisher has a lot of tools, but they’re organized in a way that I think is easier to find and there aren’t as many secondary menus.
In summary, this is why I now prefer Affinity Publisher
- Far cheaper and one time purchase, not a subscription
- Faster load time
- Quicker to learn
- Can open Photoshop file formats (and plenty of other file formats too)
- Can open files made in other Affinity software and formatting will be maintained
- Menus are easier to use
- Has a tool that allows you to create one template and apply the same pre-written text, formatting etc. across as many pages as you like
- Can add automatic page numbering (and you choose the position, font size, style of the page numbers and which pages the numbers appear on)
- 2 page spreads (great for monthly calendars and weekly spreads) – which you can see side by side (you can’t do this in Photoshop unless you use e.g. US letter size template, divide in half and make half US letter size printables). I used to make the left page in one folder in the layers menu, then duplicate and make the right page.
How does Affinity compare to other software?
Apart from Photoshop I also frequently used Microsoft Word for making printables. Affinity Publisher is the perfect mix of the two software. In Microsoft Word you can do multi-page documents and automatic page numbers, but it’s design tools are basic and most of my printables ended up looking the same. Margins, the table tool, adding graphics and rearranging things in Microsoft Word is time consuming. In Affinity I can now make printables quicker and easier than I did in Microsoft Word and add the design elements (such as pattern backgrounds) that I would normally do in Photoshop.
In Affinity Publisher you could make
- Dated planners
- Multi-page spreads e.g. 2 page monthly calendar, 2 page weekly planner
- A mix of portrait and landscape page orientation printables (and in the same design file if you want to)
- Graphic heavy printables e.g. if you want to use pattern backgrounds
- Daily planner, weekly spreads, monthly calendar, checklists, graph paper, planner covers, recipe pages, budgeting printables, habit trackers – any type of planning printable you like!
- Party printables
- Classroom organization and decorating printables
- Organizing labels
Want to give Affinity Publisher a go? Enroll in my ecourse and I’ll teach you exactly how I use it for making printables
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