Affinity Designer: from iPad to Windows 2-in-1 laptop

Ross Hall

May 12, 2021
(Updated on October 27, 2021)

Mid-century modern style illustration of a man sending hearts from a mobile phone to a woman in a black dress

Whenever I get new software or kit, I’ll play around with it for a week or two on a throwaway project. After a couple of years using Affinity Designer on an iPad Pro, I’ve moved over to a Windows 10 2-in-1 laptop with a Wacom Bamboo stylus. It’s been an interesting few days.

They are quite different apps and used in different ways. Overall I’ve found the fully featured, laptop version far superior to the iPad one. For context, I used an 11 inch iPad Pro, and am using a Fujitsu Lifebook with a 13 inch, 1960 x 1080 resolution touch screen.

My main complaint has been the size of menus and icons. In default resolution they’re incredibly small and difficult to accurately touch. I solved it by changing the display scale to 125%. The unintended side effect of this is to make the Lifebook a lot easier to use.

Screenshot of affinity designer on a Windows laptop with small icons and text
The cover image, as seen on the default 1920×1080 display.
Screen shot of Affinity Designer seen on a Windows laptop with the display scale increased
With the display scale increased to 125 percent the UI is more touch friendly.

The keyboard has been problematic. In laptop mode everything works fine and the pixel level fine tuning is far easier to do than it was on the iPad. However, in tablet mode the onscreen keyboard often refuses to stay open when I need it.

Another issue in tablet mode is the screen doesn’t know when I’ve placed my palm on the edge to steady my hand. It was annoying at first, although I’ve found I’m touching the screen directly far less.

Other than these problems, the full feature version is much better. Everything’s saved directly to OneDrive (instead of being shuffled around between local storage and Apple’s godawful-will-it-sync-in-the-next-hour iCloud. The ability to drive with the keyboard makes the fine tuning and some editing a lot faster. Then there’s the ability to split screens, so that fine tuning can happen on a full resolution monitor, not the compromised mirror that comes with iPad.

Affinity Designer was the last iPad app I was holding out on. I think I’m ready to cut the apron strings and complete my migration to Windows 10.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

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