Affinity vs Photoshop



Hello everyone my name is João Pedro, 24 y.o. portuguese guy.

First of all, DISCLAIMER, I am totally new to this world of VFX and I might be missing something and someone might come in and say that I am totally wrong in what I am saying.

As programmer, my experience with a raster graphics is limited to Gimp with a few simpler projects I did in college and since I want to be part of the world of VFX the question of which image editor should I use arises.

The obvious standard that I see everywhere in this forum, in tutorials and even in Jason Keyser’s course to come is in fact Photoshop. However, for now, for me this is just a hobby and since I’m not a student anymore the monthly subscription of Photoshop weights a lot in my pocket.

That is when I found the existence of a similar software called Affinity who is “The smaller brother” of Photoshop. I’ve checked this article, as well as this and this YouTube videos. I don’t know if they are biased and I couldn’t seem to find a lot of information about how viable it is in the VFX industry other that this reddit discussion.

I know that Affinity does not support the 3D capabilities as well as the video editing features that Photoshop posesses, but since we manipulate textures for materials and custom shaders I don’t see much use in these features. And from what I’ve seen the move and resize tool are better in Affinity, as well preview feature where you can see the effect of the brush ahead of time. The biggest bonus however is the one time payment compared to the monthly subscription of Photoshop.

Essentially my question is Affinity a viable solution as a replacement to Photoshop? Is it a good first step? Is Photoshop really the way to go?

What are your general thoughts on this topic?


Hey, welcome to RTVFX :smiley:

I think you’re way overthinking this. You don’t need any fancy tools. I’d even argue that Photoshop is more pain than it’s worth sometimes to make tiling handpainted textures.

Check out Krita and Glad’s thoughts on tools and use the search function, there’s a lot of these threads around here!

And this image has been circulating a lot lately too

There’s a hundred open source alternatives for anything you want. You don’t need to spend a single penny to start making VFX.

Good luck :panda_face:


Thanks a lot for the advice! I actually searched in the forums for affinity and didn’t remember to check tools facepalm
I will take a look at Krita and see if it fits my needs. Looking to share a few effect later down the line!

Arigato :3


Just as a follow-up, I tried Krita out and can’t seem to find a way to edit separately the different channels (RGBA) and condence them into a single texture. I know you can take the currently filled channels and separate them into individual layers, however, I can’t seem to connect a layer to a channel and not have the editor mixing into the other channels, the other layers as well.

If this sounds confusing, what I’m looking for is a way to compress black and white textures into a single channel, so that the game I’m developing doesn’t have to store 4x as many textures.
Take this portal shader for example from Couch Game Crafters, the alpha clipping, the glow mask and the deformation are optimized into a single texture in R, G and B channel respectively. I essentially wanted to be able to copy these textures into the respective channels and then generate the resulting texture to then process it in the shader.

Anyway, I ended up asking for help to a friend of mine who had Photoshop and copied what I wanted to the alpha channel. I then followed Sirhaian’s tutorial, huge shout out to him btw, and made the fire in the tutorial and other versions with different colors. These are my first, decent at least xD, VFX. Feedback is welcome :3


Just in case, I’d recommend you read the replies to this post. Furthermore Mr.Programmer, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you over to Shader Toy so that you can see all you can make out of pure code (more or less).

For your future reference, this is called Channel Packing. Knowing this makes searching easier.


I tried affinity and it seemed decent, but there was a few things I didn’t know if it was capable of, or knew how to do and felt a lil bit frustrated. I feel that the open software alternatives we have right now might be more than enough for vfx work.
Since you’re coming from a programming background, you could also try and substance designer. I use substance designer as my main texturing tool, it has some painting and vector drawing tools in there, though a bit rudimentary, they work for simple stuff.
I do fire up photoshop every once in a while to do some quick n dirty painting or photo manipulation when necessary, but I don’t feel too attached to it to be honest.
Each VFX artist has their own approach to things and I encourage you to try out everything and see what makes sense for you. Also and can help in a pinch


Thank you so much! Have know the concept for a while now but not the name for it, thanks a ton! Now I understand why probably my approach didn’t work in Krita and it’ll be easier to search for it!
I do know about Shader Toy, the creations people make there are stunning! o.O Catlike Tutorials is also a good reference to know about.
I’ll check the responses in the forums as soon as I can as well. Thanks again for the feedback and references! :smiley:


Already worked with processing before, made some cool fractals with it. One of the videos that helped me do it.

Added the other references to my list to try it out later. The effect texture maker seems extremely useful in desperate times!

Thanks for the references and feedback! :smiley:


Happy to help. :slight_smile:

On that note one more thing.

:wink: Done.