Affinity Photo vs Autodesk Sketchbook



Affinity Photo

Autodesk Sketchbook

My thoughts

I’ve been using Sketchbook for my art since 2017 and it is a solid platform for digital painting. I honestly can’t recommend it enough for those wanting to get into this part of the hobby or just test the digital art world. It’s free, intuitive, and full of features for what it is. However, as I continue my quest to bring my projects into a professional quality market, I find it lacking in some key areas.

Foremost, Sketchbook is not Photoshop. I think the program is fantastic for digital art, but editing art for publications is a chore. It also has severe limitations for customizing art pieces. Don’t get me wrong, it works well for about 85%-95% of what I do art-wise, but it’s that last piece that makes me want to bite the bullet and get PS. However, PS is crazy expensive.

Enter Affinity. It’s one of the closest programs to being a true PS replacement out there, is cheap, a one-time purchase and more crazy, has an iPad app. Its low price point ($10 right now) allowed me to get it for testing if nothing else, and, well… you can see the difference in what I can do with it. Both pieces are in the Same stage of development, making them an ideal comparison.

Some major advantages of Affinity are the quality and additional tools it has over Sketchbook. It can also import PS files and brushes, something sketchbook can’t do. It has a massive brush library and full control on customizing brushes. Affinity Photo also works with both raster (what you see in both pics, basically digital painting) and vectors, which opens new worlds of possibilities. Affinity has unlimited undos and a cloud storage that keeps your entire history on all devices. However, for the moment there are some things Sketchbook does better.

Sketchbook is designed from the ground up with one purpose: digital painting and artwork. It has rulers, a pre-made copic color library, tons of tutorials on digital painting methods. It’s simpler. And it’s free.

Tl;dr, I prefer Affinity over Sketchbook for production quality art. Sketchbook will probably still see use for quick idea sketches. I think Affinity is well worth the price, given it’s capabilities.

So my question, if you’ve read this far, is what different programs do you use?


My needs have kind of turned towards backwards compability (hello, many years of Photoshop) and advanced features (time saving layer and clipping masks, editing groups of layers), but also an increased focus on simplicity and experimentation. I just want to create fast and fun art.

My current main program is Clip studio paint, because it imported my old Photoshop files better than what Autodesk could do. It also runs well on weaker devices and has options such as layer and clipping masks, which I just don’t want to live without. It has the raster/vector options, which can be useful for smooth lineart. Custom brushed can be clunky to make, but they have some interesting presets and a market full of patterns, textures and brushes; perfect for my current lazy needs. You can select groups of layers to transform them, and you can set your eraser to erase on all visible layers. There are many more small details like this to notice and fall in love with.

Example of my Clip Studio Paint “style”

I’ve also been playing around with Rebelle 3 for more “natural” style art, and I’ve noticed it brings out my hand drawn style in a completely different way than any other program I’ve tried. It has a water simulator which makes it super interesting to play with the watercolor and blending options.

Example of my Rebelle 3 “style”

Autodesk is nice, but it just never really hit a chord with me. Probably because of the psd compability I was looking for when I tried it.

Same with Affinity Design, the brushes just turned me off as they felt clunky to use, making my process feel limiting.

I hope my contribution here can serve as further ideas for programs to try out. But in my opinion, you just have to try the various software yourself to figure out whether they are useful to you or not. What kind of workflow you want to achieve.


I’m a huge fan of Krita myself, I might post some artworks in the morning. Krita’s free, built from the ground up for drawing, and is simple to use but has a lot of depth.


I think if I weren’t using photoshop, I would use Clip Studio Paint or Krita.


I am not an artist, but I use Sketchbook for old school room layout that I can drop in Roll20…


Due to career choices, I have leaned deep into both the Adobe Creative Suite and the Affinity Studio over the last 6 years or so. In the end, I find Affinity to be better and since switching over, I haven’t looked back. I haven’t used Sketchbook or other software of that nature, just because I have always had access to Adobe or Affinity.

I do think that Adobe has the edge when it comes to features and sheer power as a collection of creative tools. They’ve had years to bake and plenty of time to incorporate lots of neat features to meet the needs of almost every artist or creative individual. But with that comes a lot of baggage. There are a ton of features and tools that, frankly, most of us don’t need or will ever use. But they’re still there, causing bloat. You then add on the price of subscribing to any of their programs and it becomes hard to justify. The only reason I was able to maintain a subscription to their software was from the student discount they offered while I was at school. After that expired, I just couldn’t afford it. Enter Affinity.

Affinity is new to the game, which means they don’t have years of features built-in, but they really have done a lot of work on the basics. I have found that Affinity has really polished many of the core tools the majority of artists need and the biggest complaints I see about them come from the exceptions or outliers. Things that would be nice to have in certain use cases, but not in the average workflow. Combine that with the one-time price, a lifetime of free updates, their regular discounts, powerful mobile apps, the studio link system which allows all three of their applications to be run from one place, and it’s general ease of use. To me, there was no question. When I found Affinity, I dropped Adobe like a sack of potatoes who had insulted my mother and have been using it ever since. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t manipulate a photo, mess around with some form of a vector, or need to format something in a digital document. Affinity has done it all for me, both professionally and as a hobbyist.

Here is some of the stuff that I’ve done in a variety of Affinity applications:

Digital Painting in Affinity Photo

Battlemap made using 2-Minute Tabletop Assets and the Asset Panel in Affinity Designer. Makes for a great drag-n-drop system

Business card for my local fencing group using vector shapes in Affinity Designer

Page from THE GAR TASTES FUNNY formatted using Affinity Publisher


I feel you on Adobe’s pricing, and I have to say that the affinity costs look super reasonable. I get it. Adobe’s tools are expensive. That being said, Adobe cut me a huge break on the pricing. I called and haggled, explaining that I was a hobbyist and really only wanted photoshop and Indesign, noting that I would never get the full benefit of the programs. The end result is that I ended up with all the programs for just the cost of photoshop. Their customer service was impeccable, which goes a long way.

And as for complexity, I like discovering new tools or new processes for work. Adobe is a giant, fun puzzle for me, with lots to explore and discover. The learning never stops, as they say. And you can’t beat their industry leading features. Some of their image manipulation tools — content aware select and fill, background removal, and other smart features are unreal and make life super easy.


On numerous occasions have I stated that I use the Affinity Suite and from usability, design and coding perspective those tools are superior to those from Adobe.

I am 100% with @KaneDriscol and I have nothing substantial to add.

I have to stress on thing though: AFAIK free updates are until version 2.0 and then we’ll have to pay an upgrade price. After that updates will again be free for many years to come. Version 2.0 is at least two years away, it seems. Just so you know.

As for Sketchbook, it is a very cute and simple tool (but also reasonably powerful) for drawing and painting. It is a very good fit for maybe non-technical artists. Like @GmGrizzly said, it is lacking many necessary features but it is still a fun program to play in (and to create). You can always use it as a backup program like many of us do.

Krita is very nice as well but it is way more powerful and needs more of a technical mindset to use effectively. Krita is Linux first and Windows second. This may or may not be a problem but something to be aware of. Some features used to lag behind in performance on Windows for many years.

The bottom line is; for doodling and for non-professional needs any software mentioned under this thread will do so anyone can use anything they want and like. Most of these tools are either free or relatively cheap.

For certain professional needs, there is nothing but Adobe BUT if your workflow doesn’t need specific features that only Adobe has, don’t bother with it at all and go straight for Affinity. It is much more plesant to work with and its workflow is years ahead of anything Adobe offers. Also you don’t become a slave to their subscription bullshit. There is a reason people are abandoning the ship that is called Adobe in droves, at least those who can.


I totally agree.

Autodesk Sketchbook and Affinity Photo are a good combo!

I am currently using Procreate & Autodesk Sketchbook on an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. Love it!

Affinity Suite (Photo, Designer, and Publisher) on my PC, and the Affinity iPad apps (yes it has apps fully compatible for the iPad!) are a great combination for me.

I started off using Adobe Suite a few years ago, The price was killing me slowly. and I didn’t use half the software. I bought into Affinity last summer and its been great. I have not looked back ever since. Having apps on the iPad has been a godsend as it lets me be portable and more productive. The money I saved on stopping my subscription to Adobe, paid for a new iPad Pro!

Great tech for artists. I highly recommend them.

Game On!


Ditto… If you dont need all the fancy stuff in Adobe, go with Affinity.

The subscription model is what killed me. And you are correct, many others have jumped ship as well… mostly non-pro’s…


Affinity Publisher is supposed to come to iPad Pro sometime this year as well, making it the first app for indesign level publishing. I’m hoping it also means that Suite for iPad will drop at the same time


Yup… I can’t wait… I already have PHOTO and DESIGNER for the iPad… Publisher will really make my year… I am all giddy about it.

Paint On!


I’m using Sketchbook all the way. As an illustrator working on a tablet PC, it’s just amazing to have a good clean interface that gets out of the way. Its watercolor emulator is so realistic, and there are more brushes than you ever need, plus it’s super easy to do your own.
I tried Affinity, and while it may have more editing features like filters etc. I really dislike having to waste so much space on interface. I know it can be customized, but it still takes up quite a lot of real estate compared to Sketchbook.
Also, using a tablet, I can’t use shift and draw to get straight lines, so the rulers and guides in Sketchbook are priceless.
At some point I may decide to give Affinity a try again, but as it is… Sketchbook all the way. :grin::beer:


Can anyone who has done nothing but used photoshop explain what all the different affinity products are and what they primary purpose is?

or have a video or something that explains it?



In a nutshell, Affinity has made its own competitive versions of Adobe’s three core products. Affinity Photo matches to Adobe Photoshop, which are designed as primarily raster-based photo editing tools. Affinity Designer matches to Adobe Illustrator, which focus on vector-based designs. Affinity Publisher is their newest tool and compares to Adobe InDesign for document formatting and publishing. Obviously, each one has a ton of uses beyond just the basics, but there is only so much you can fit inside a walnut shell, specifically. :wink:

For fun, here are some videos from their respective YouTube channels.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Designer

Affinity Publisher


Thanks Kane, I had since seen those videos.

Affinity also have a free 90 trial for all their programs and also a 50% sale.

Seems like a great time to try it out