Affinity Publisher (Beta) is here!

Affinity, News, Software

The news so many of us have been waiting for, Affinity Publisher first beta is finally available and can be obtained at it’s website!

I haven’t been able to test much yet as it came out only a few minutes ago at the time I was writing this, but one thing already stood out, a sort of integration with Designer and Photo that will come in the future. You can see it in the top left of the window, but pressing it now only says it needs a compatible version of both software.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sure to test it out. No final release date was given yet, but I’d hazard a guess that it will be in beta for around 4 or 5 months.

EDIT: Turns out that Publisher does not support image anchoring or master page overrides, and according to one of the developers anchoring will not be coming to version 1.7 and possibly not even to 1.8.

Anchoring is an essential feature, and according to the developer it’s probably a year away, so for the foreseeable time you’ll need to stick with InDesign and QuarkXPress.

I’d still recommend buying as an investment, the application will launch with a 20% to 30% price discount, likely at 39.99€. It will have free 1.x updates for a very reasonable time, and when a 2.0 paid version does come out it’s likely to have a big discount for current owners.

So you’re not buying it to use right now, but as a price discounted way to use it in the future. That’s what I did with Designer and Photo and it’s been working out fine, as they’re now much more useful than when I first bought them.

40% discount on Adobe Creative Cloud

adobe, News, Software

Adobe is running an unbeatable sale right now in Europe! The full Creative Cloud subscription is 36.89€ (£30.34 in the UK) monthly, instead of the usual 60.49€. This for an anual commitment of course, and conditions apply. Main one to look out for, this is just for the first year, next is full price and it renews automatically.

If you want to take advantage of it you’ll need to hurry, it only lasts until August 27th, just 7 days away! Hop over to their purchase page and enjoy the savings.

41 new type families added to Typekit

adobe, News

Yesterday Adobe added 41 new type families to it’s font subscription service, Typekit. Reading their post you may notice they’re talking about over 600 fonts, that just means each family has a lot of weights, which is great as it greatly expands the usefulness and flexibility of a font family.

We’re not talking about shabby fonts either, these come from Monotype, one of the best type foundries in the world. We’re talking about timeless fonts such as Gill Sans, or the historic Avant Garde.

I’d say Typekit might be one of Adobe strongest, yet most underrated, Creative Cloud features. Sure, the main applications like Illustrator or InDesign are the bread and butter, but this “little” add-on can save designers hundreds. I mean, Gill Sans Nova alone costs 400€!

Xbox’s Adaptive Controller packaging is amazing!

Interesting, Packaging

Today Microsoft showed the packaging for the upcoming Xbox Adaptive Controller, and it’s something to behold for two reasons:

  1. It’s an engineering marvel, the whole thing was designed to be easily openable by anyone, even someone with disabilities, without effort.
  2. It reduces plastic usage to just a single tape sealing the box. No extra plastic anywhere inside the box, even for cables!

The amount of thought that went into avoiding wrap rage, especially in a product like this, is very welcome, which ties with the reduced hard plastic usage. Keeping in mind the gigantic plastic pollution problems we face, it’s imperative to reduce it’s inclusion in single use packaging as much as possible. It’s nice to see large corporations thinking about this.

Affinity Design for iPad released today

Affinity, Software

Today Serif announced the release of Affinity Designer for the iPad, mostly relevant for users of the Pro version of the iPad as it’s the one that supports the Apple Pen, although you can use it in any iPad since you can draw with your fingers.

Right now it’s 30% off, but since it’s reasonably cheap to start with (only 22€) you may want to hold off and see if the reviews are favourable. The desktop versions are also discounted by 30%, and that’s a much better deal.

Lastly, we finally have some news about Affinity Publisher! The first beta will come out at the end of August, meaning the release of version 1.0 must be sometime around Christmas I’d say.

Want an easier Blender? Try Bforartists.

Software

You know the drill. You want to show your clients the box design you’ve been working on, but this box has a specific size that you just can’t find on your favourite mockup supplier… you’ll need to do a… 3D model.

Your choices are:

  • Pay an ungodly amount of money for a pro application like Maya, that you don’t even know how to use anyway.
  • Use Photoshop’s built-in 3D that’s so slow at rendering that you will print, cut, fold, glue and photograph a real cardboard miniature before it finishes.
  • Use Adobe Dimension, that’s under featured and not that much faster than Photoshop anyway. And it ties you even further to your Creative Cloud subscription…
  • Or… use Blender.

Blender is kind of difficult pickle, in one hand it’s free, very fast, and clearly capable of rendering great quality stuff. It’s technologically impressive. On the other hand you can’t even begin to understand the first thing about interface. You try to use it, you span a gazillion of toolbars by mistake, breath deep and uninstall it while going back to Photoshop…

Enter Bforartists. This is a fork of Blender created with the intention of simplifying the interface and usability of Blender, while retaining all it’s capabilities. And it reached version 1.0 this month! So, how does it fare?

It is indeed easier than Blender, there’s a lot less clutter in the interface, icons to simplify the interactions, the default settings and panels have been tweaked to be more friendly. If you have to choose between this and Blender proper, the answer is clear, Bforartists it’s the superior choice for a designer, and you should go grab it here.

Does it mean you can pick it up without knowing anything about 3D or Blender and do the box rendering in a few minutes? Absolutely not.

Even with all these tweaks and changes, this is still a beast of software, with so many nuances that even achieving a simple 3D box is a big challenge for someone new to it. But if you dabbled Blender with (perhaps limited) success in the past, this fork will definitely help you.

There is a nice trick that can at least speed up part of the process though, by default a plug-in called Mini Lightlib is included. What does it do? It creates an entire photo studio environment inside Blender with a few clicks! Back drop, lots of lighting setups, and a camera ready to shoot (or render in this case).

As for a proper 3D tool targeting designers, just wanting to do a few mockups? Back in 2016 the developers started the Blender 101 Project with the aim of doing exactly that. The idea of this project is to provide selectable UI templates targeting just one very specific task, and one of them could indeed be doing mockups.

Where is that project now, 2 years later? While there are some UI changes coming, it doesn’t seem like it will come to full fruition anytime soon. Therefor Bforartists is your best bet for the time being.

 

How to hide Creative Cloud from Windows Explorer

Software

One of the annoyances with Adobe’s Creative Cloud offering is that it adds an entry to Explorer’s sidebar, normally above OneDrive and other cloud space suppliers, and there’s no way to remove it using any option supplied by the software…

There is a way to hide it though, but it requires messing with the Windows registry… you’ll need to navigate to key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\CLSID\{0E270DAA-1BE6-48F2-AC49-F4F1D1A9AAC4}

and change the value:

System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree

from 1, to 0. You should immediately see the change, even without logging out, by closing and reopening all Windows Explorer windows.

If you don’t know how to safely use the Regedit application I’d STRONGLY suggest that you don’t touch it. Making the wrong change will damage your Windows installation to the point it may need to be reinstalled from scratch!

But if you know how to use, and it’s reasonably simple to learn, this is a sure way to get rid of that annoyance. Be advised that it will reappear on it’s own from time to time, and you’ll have to edit that registry value again. In my experience this tweak lasts about 2 months, I get the feeling that every time the Creative Cloud application is updated it resets the registry value, but I can’t be sure.

Hope this helps all Windows based designers out there! 🙂

Trello’s new update revamps notifications and more

News, Software

A couple of weeks ago Trello announced a big revamp to their notification system, along with a new and centralized home page where you not only view the said notifications but also manage all cards that require your attention. That includes card you’re following, mentioned on, and with due dates coming up.

This is particularly useful if you have multiple boards to handle different aspects of your life, and of course different clients. This is update is live for all desktop users, I’ve been using it and it’s great. I don’t think it’s available in mobile apps just yet though.

Fun fact mentioned in their blog post, 2 hundred million cards have been created on Trello so far, if these were stick notes they’d require a wall 160.934 kilometres long!