dominik wagner

Affinity Designer iOS App Icon Template and my Love of Vector Graphics

Last week marked a big milestone for the fantastic people at Serif - the release of Affinity Designer for iPad.

I immediatly put it for a spin, and it is really fantastic. I have been using the desktop version for a while to produce nice app icons for my own prototype projects. So of course I wanted to try if this works nicely on the iPad as well. My test subjects were the following 3 icons:

iOS App Icons - Mail - Mail Old - News

In case you were wondering, these are already the result as nice SVG export. It took me just few hours to produce them, all on iPad and half of it on a train ride. I intentionally put in a more nostalgic icon with more details to have more variance.

I created this hopefully helpful artboard (which has the examples as turned off layers in them) for your free use: Monkeydom iOS App Icon Template v1.afdesign iOSAppIconTemplate

Note the v1 as I probably haven't used all the features to the max yet, and I might update that here. However, with the symbol feature, pixel preview, export persona, layer effects, easy grouping and masking, great bezier tools, it is an powerful template for me already.

One sore spot is, that the "global color" feature is missing from the iPad version currently, which I tend to utilize a lot to be able to adjust my color schemes after the fact.

tl;dr: I like vector graphics, I hate most vector packages, I've used an Acorn for far too long and Affinity makes me very happy.

Vector graphics and system support thereof have been dear to my heart since the beginning of my personal computing time. I started out using CorelDraw on Windows 3.1 in the early nineties, which introduced me to the subject, but otherwise was not a great experience.

After my short Windows/PC exposure I took the rather unusual turn to the Acorn Archimedes and Acorn RiscPC. RiscOS, its operating system, has system wide vector graphics support. This includes a data format, as well as anti aliased vector fonts. It was put to great use in the desktop publishing and word processing products on that platform, which were way ahead of the curve for a very long time.

What blew me away though, was Computer Concepts's Vector graphics package, ArtWorks. Their raw speed, live-antialiasing, and simple direct manipulation interface (as far as I know this is where the now standard direct line for gradients came from). Sadly even before the demise of Acorn, this package was discontinued (interestingly over the lack of a great C++ compiler). It went on to be PC only as Xara, then was bought by Corel to become CorelXara and later Xara again. The technology is still great, but it was mangled through so much marketing hotchpotch (just look at the current website) and windows interface paradigms, that it's quite a mess.

So I stayed with my little RiscPC for as long as I could stand it (2000), and eventually I moved to the Mac with the first white iBook. And while MacOS X was slow as a dog at that point, the deep integration of fully anti aliased Fonts and Quartz2D/PDF were so promising to me (and I was doing web development, so a unix on your laptop didn't hurt either) that I made the jump. Although in the early 10.1 times I did use the iBook more as a server for my web development driven by my RiscPC.

And while there was a great charting tool with OmniGraffle, somehow, nobody really took up the bait to provide a real alternative to the IMHO still horrible user experience of Adobe Illustrator. Even the more bearable tools like Freehand did get killed over time.

For a while I used Lineform and tried to be content with it, sadly Freeverse did not really maintain it and it died. Sometimes there were other short term contestants. Most of the apps never really got anywhere, or had humongous bugs and speed problems with big documents, etc. The last one I could slightly stand before Affinity Designer was Sketch. However, I did have my fair share of fighting with the interface and bugs there too.

This is why it makes me unbelievably happy, that Serif plays the long game, and that it created an engine that doesn't make me afraid of working with my apps, or wait to a response. And while I'm not in print or professional asset creation, these suite of apps (and I'm looking forward to Publisher), is what drove my private creativity with computers, and helped me generate semi-professional to professional looking things.

With the fantastic displays and devices, and these apps, I'm having a blast doing that again. This for me, is part of the joy of using computers, when they just are a great tool to help me create what I want to create, and couldn't without them.

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