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Design Software Comparison

These thoughts and statements below are my own personal opinion and are not sponsored or influenced by anybody or any company

Tracy Stephens-Wood

These are all the Pieces of software I have brought, or use for free, I have not purchased any pro versions yet.

  • Silhouette software Business Edition
  • Sure, cuts a lot (scal) (received as a birthday present from my daughter Kirsty) 
  • Cricut Design Space did purchase Cricut access for a few months but then quickly realised I didnt need it,
  • Gravit (web browser) pro version trial now a free version 
  • Affinity Designer
  • Affinity Publisher
  • Word comes with the Microsoft office package that I purchased years ago and continue to purchase every year 
  • Canva free version 
  • Photopea (web browser acts like a version of photoshop but free)
  • Affinity Photo
  • Canvas workspace(downloaded)
  • Canvas workspace (online web browser)
  • Procreate (app for iPad only) purchased along time ago 

These are all the different programs I use for all of my different projects I make. Let me take you through each one: their benefits, their issues and their costs.

Procreate

Cost Aus $14.99 Usd $9.99 Uk 9.99  

The program I like to use the most is Procreate

Reason for this is, I can get the exact sizing I need for my projects that I have to upload to the places that I sell my designs to

Example Merch by Amazon basic t-shirt your size must be 4500 x 5400 px with 300 dpi (dots per inch) and it is to be a transparent png file. Now that doesn’t mean every single inch of that has to be filled with the design. It means the surrounding box shall we say has to be that size.

Graphical user interface

Description automatically generated
Designing in Procreate with images and fonts

A picture containing text, screen

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Transparent backgrounds quickly and easily
Upload designs accurately for print-on-demand services and platforms

Now this doesn’t mean I use procreate for all my designing; I have lots of different programs I use 

Silhouette Software (Business Edition)

Cost Aus $119.99 Usd $99.99 Uk 92.75  

I Love to do my designs in Silhouette software (Business Edition)

Because I have a better know how with this program, I have been using it for a long time now and love all the different features. One of which is the eraser, so many programs do not have something so simple as an eraser.

The downside I find is the layers panel, don’t get me wrong it is there but I find it not as easy to navigate as some other programs. But luckily for me they also have an undo button, I think mine is wearing thin, it’s one of my most used features.

So, when I finish a design in Silhouette, I save it as a transparent png and save to the cloud on my desktop computer, then go to my iPad and open procreate and set the size and pixels (px) for the project i am making, then when it’s open, I import the file, from the cloud and then add extra elements if needed in this case I added text to the finished project, then export it back to the computer or save it to my iPad files.

Silhouette Software Business Edition
A picture containing text, blackboard

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Finished Design with text added in procreate

Designs on Redbubble.com

Then I go to the website that I am using for my design at the time, example in this case is Redbubble.com. And then I upload the design to the website, I just do some minor adjustments to position and size for each item that I decide to put my design on. 

I’m not going into the process of description and keywords and all other things related to selling, because this blog piece is about the designing process only that I use. The other info can be for the next blog piece if anyone is interested 

Feel free to leave comments below if you are interested.

Cricut Design Space

Cost Aus $13.99 Usd $9.99 Uk 7.99    

Cricut design space was the very first program I learned and that was before I even had a machine, which was great because by the time I got my machine I knew what I was doing.

I had to learn this program because my mum had brought a Cricut for herself and had no idea what to do, So I taught myself through lots of YouTube watching and I must say I think out of all the programs I use I think this one is by far the easiest to work with. But in saying that it is also the most frustrating to work with sometimes, there is no save option to use your designs for anything outside of the program, except you can screenshot but that really doesn’t help much. So basically, you need a Cricut machine to produce anything, but you can’t use your Cricut made designs anywhere but in the Cricut program

The Cons are also with the print and cut feature as well, the maximum image size for Print Then Cut is 9.25″ x 6.75″ 

A common bug in design space

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Design space Contour Feature

mandala broken up into coloured layers
Finished Mandala

Sure cuts a lot

Cost Aus $80.66 approx. Usd $59.99 approx Uk 43.29 approx.

Ok next program which is one of my favourites is Sure cuts a lot, it’s called scal for short, this is another one that I had to learn by watching YouTube videos. My favourite features in this are the rhinestone feature and the ability to make my own QR codes which link up to whatever I want it to. Try this Qr code below and tell me what you think in the comments below. But I use it more for the print and cut feature.

I can print to my sublimation printer from scal then I can create cut lines and I save those as a svg and then send them to canvas workspace downloaded version then export as fcm to my brother scan and cut machine. Then I scan what I printed on the machine and then line up the scan and svg cut lines up for the best scan and cut result and there are no size limitations like with the Cricut print and cut feature.The only limit I have is how big my printer can print.

Heart Magnet Sublimated on and Added Rhinestones
Check out My Qr code to my linktree that has all my links to all the places i sell my designs on.

Click this link to Download the Qr code reader from the app store for

Affinity Publisher

Cost Aus $79.99 Usd $59.57 Uk 42.97  approx

I self-publish books on Amazon to sell with kdp publishing, now for this I use Procreate again for sizing for the book cover template.

But for the interior of my books, I use Affinity Publisher, this program I only recently started using as this is a recent project I have only been doing for a short period of time. Affinity publisher is great because you have a master document that you create that can be added to all the other pages you create. I use this mostly to add page numbers to each page, it is a big-time saver and they do say work smarter not harder and that is definitely true in this case. I don’t use this to design graphics, but I do design my book layouts for each page, this is then saved into a PDF format and uploaded to the kdp website along with the book cover and the website combines them together for a finished book, which if you want more details about this process leave comments below and I will get back to you with another blog on that subject.

This also can be done in Microsoft word it depends on which program you prefer to use, but the result is the same you save as a PDF to upload.

The Cute Red Cat Book I wrote in Affinity publisher
The Finished Product For Sale on Amazon

Affinity Designer

Cost Aus $79.99 Usd $59.57 Uk 42.97  approx

Affinity designer is a great program if you know what you are doing, I’m going to be honest with you, it’s my least favourite program but it’s because I have so many other programs that I have and know so much better that I really don’t use it as much. I watch Natalie in all her tutorials and feel like I’m learning something new each time, so with more time with this program I feel I could find it very useful to have. But so far, I think I’ll leave Natalie to explain this one better than what I ever could.

This Is a Design I made a very long time ago and I gave to Natalie to play with in Affinity designer didn’t she make it so much nicer.

 

Affinity Photo

Cost Aus $79.99 Usd $59.57 Uk 42.97  approx

Affinity photo is the 3rd and last of the Affinity suite

This seems to be mostly for photo editing I thought, So I haven’t used this before but on further looking into it, I think it’s much more than a photo editor.

With support for limitless layers, Affinity Photo provides a full library of adjustments, effects and live filters, all of which can be grouped, clipped, masked or blended to create incredibly complex image compositions.
There is Unlimited layers that use Layer effects with Live blend modes and Mask & clipping layers, and it uses Vector and text tools just like in Affinity Designer.

Affinity Photo is the first professional photo editing application with full editing power and 100% file format compatibility across Windows, Mac and iPad allowing you to work with the same file across iPad and Mac and windows computers.

It can also handle photoshop files. As with all 3 of the Affinity programs there is no subscription fee. Once brought you own and that includes all updates at this stage. When you buy all three, they link up using Publisher as the central app. Meaning you don’t have to have photo and designer open as well.

This is a big-time saver

            Affinity Publisher                                  Affinity Designer                                            Affinity Photo

Affinity Publisher Link to download is above
Affinity Designer link to download is above
Affinity Photo link to download is above

Open publisher first then click on each to change the interface to that program without using extra drain on your computer.

Canvas Workspace Download and Online versions

Free to download and use

Because I have the cutting machines Cricut and the Brother scan and cut, the programs that come with them are great for designing things that I can physically make. 

I’ve talked about Cricut Design space above so now I will talk about Canvas workspace the download version and the online web browser version.

The differences between the two programs aren’t just the fact one is on your computer, and one is online but there is a lot more differences to the programs.

                                                                                                                        

Downloaded Program
Emma’s kitchen Emma’s rules A design we modified in Canvas Downloaded Version
Online version on ipad

The first program I will talk about it is my favourite out of the two and that is the version that is on my Mac computer. The reason this one is my favourite against the web version is the layers panel. There is no layer’s panel in the online version, and I really can’t stand that, so I hardly use that version if not just for that reason alone.

In the downloaded version you can use whatever font you like that is on your computer whereas the online version you are limited to a few fonts you can use. In my opinion I don’t think there is any feature in the online version that I would need over the downloaded version to be honest, as I said my opinion only though and everyone has different needs and wants with their programs, so give them a go yourself to find what programs you prefer.

Word

Part of Microsoft office package click link for prices

Microsoft word is a part of the Microsoft office program. People can design with it, but I use it to write blog pieces such as this one.

Canva, Gravit, Photopea,

These are some online programs I work with as well, Canva, Gravit and Photopea.

I won’t say these are any better than any other program I use already but they all have pros and cons. They all have free versions and paid versions

Photopea

Free in web browser does have ads on the page but they don’t interfere with the program

Photopea is an alternative to photoshop and that is a big deal. Because photoshop is an expensive program and is supposed to be one of the best programs for designing, and to have a free alternative is great. It also works with a layer’s panel, it can open and save as a photoshop file 

Which is a big plus because you can use photoshop files that you may have downloaded from sites that you buy from.

Photopea Free Web Browser

Gravit Designer

Cost Aus $70.00 Usd $49 Uk 37.60. at this stage reduced by 50%

Free and easy to use for beginners and powerful enough for professionals.It is a FREE full-featured vector app that lets you create drawings, logos, icons, typography, and illustrations across ALL platforms.

This description above is straight from there website 

Online iPad version

Gravit designer is great because there is an online version and a version for your computer, but they can link to each other using the cloud storage system, and if you have the pro version that cloud, is unlimited space.

Another great feature of this program is the ability to import and edit Adobe illustrator files, which is great if you have those file types but no illustrator program like myself, so that is helpful in saving you having to buy illustrator. It can be linked to your google drive to save space on your computer if you have the pro version.

The opening page has been improved upon since last time I used it, there is now option sizes available, in the print on demand section in the landing page at the start. For example, if you are making a shirt size for Redbubble you can click on that, and your size is already created for you. There is one downside I have come across you cannot save it as a transparent png unless you have the pro account.

This is not a sponsored ad but during my research about this program I have noticed they have reduced the pro version by 50% for one year access.

Reduced by 50% deal as of the 19/7/21

Canva

Cost Aus $9.99 for 3 months then $17.99 a month after, Usd $7.44 then $13.40, Uk 5.37 then 9.67    

Canva another online program there is a Free and pro version. 75 million graphics and fonts to choose from with a lock feature on the layers panel just like canvas workspace downloaded version, works with videos and images, you can create clipping masks just as you can in scal, record videos and edit them. I think there is going to be to many things to list on this one (Natalie I see a book coming on the way with this program)

Go check it out for yourself 

Canva.com

Canva Pro 
 Canva Free Version

That concludes this blog piece on Software comparison, I have included links for you to each of the programs so you can try them out for yourself if you wish.

I also gave you a link for a Qr code reader so you can read the Qr code I have given you and any other Qr Codes you make using sure cuts a lot. 

If you have any suggestions or comments leave them below and I will respond

Take care

Tracy Stephens-Wood 

DT Member of Plannercraft 

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