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Serif's Affinity V2 apps includes a full creative suite for the iPad

Serif

Serif is determined to make its Affinity suite a more practical alternative for creatives who'd rather not pay for an Adobe subscription — or use a conventional PC, for that matter. The developer has released Affinity Version 2 apps that not only include major new features (more on those shortly), but the first edition of Publisher for the iPad. You now have all of the Affinity bundle on your tablet, and won't have to split your attention between your computer and iPad when it's time to design a page layout.

Regardless of platform, you should see some meaningful upgrades. Affinity Photo 2 now includes non-destructive RAW development, saved layer states, compound masks (that is, joining multiple masks together), live warping and live masks for elements like hue and luminosity ranges. Affinity Designer 2, meanwhile, adds non-destructive vector warping, a "knife" cutting tool, a shape builder and even tools for measuring lengths and areas. Affinity Publisher 2 now helps you add academia-friendly footnotes, endnotes and sidenotes. You can also create automatically repeating layouts and use a style picker. There's even a way to stitch multiple documents into a single book, although that's only available in desktop versions for now.

Some improvements are iPad-specific. A new radial menu provides access to common keyboard modifiers like Command and Option, while a quick menu offers clipboard options and nine customizable shortcuts. And if you're feeling the limits of your tablet screen, a compact mode keeps the brush and layer panels open while making more room for the image you're editing.

The one-time price may be more of a draw than before. You'd normally pay $170 for the entire Affinity suite across all platforms, but a launch sale drops that price to $100. That makes it relatively affordable compared to Adobe's Creative Cloud, which will keep you paying indefinitely. You can buy the individual Affinity Version 2 apps for $70 on the desktop ($41 on sale) and $20 (currently $12) on the iPad.

This outlay might not thrill you if you recently bought Affinity V1. You may likewise need to consider rivals like Adobe if you need further apps for animation, web design and other aspects of the creative pipeline. If these tools fit your workflow, though, the price is low enough that they should be reasonably easy to justify.