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What’s Up, Graphics Software?

I have used Photoshop since forever. My first copy of it came with a printer I bought, many, many years ago. It took time to learn, especially since I was new at digital art.

I’ve enjoyed using it for years. And now I’m searching for other products to use instead. I know there will be a learning curve, but getting to know new software will pale against the frustration I experience on a daily basis while using Adobe products.

Photoshop 22.x (2021) is slow, slow, slow. Previews are slow, moving the cursor is slow, zoom is slow. I bought a kick-ass Alienware desktop. There’s no reason for this lag in tool use. I’ve read complaints about the lag from people who work on $30,000 machines. I feel certain that, if you work on a $30,000 machine, it has enough power to manage Photoshop. So please, Adobe, stop telling us it’s our outdated computers and drivers. If that is so, why do Affinity products and Clip Studio Art still manage to work? And pretty please, stop telling us we have unsupported or incompatible GPU. GPU worked fine while using 21.x (I say that, but it took months for the lag on that version to be fixed, too). The final update of 21 is not exactly breathtakingly different from new version 22.0.

A couple months ago Illustrator had a hissy fit to the point I stopped using it. The cursor would jump around everywhere and I couldn’t use anything in the program. Then, when I came back to it after an update, the cursor would jump to the upper left and maximize the window, making it twice as large as my pen display. It would be half-on my second monitor, and half-off the bottom, which, of course, I could not access. I was messing with preferences before I discovered the “Use Wacom” checkbox was checked. I don’t use Wacom products. I never have. This was checked by default? I unchecked it and low and behold, Illustrator went back to semi-normal–for that session. The next time I opened Illustrator, the same problem occurred, except that, instead of resizing the window to two monitors, it resized it to all three. I discovered that if I managed to resize the window to 1/2 the size of my pen display, it seems to behave better (on my desktop. I still have difficulty using the pen tool on my laptop. The nodes refuse to move, then jump around. Super great, if you love trying to coax one into place for hours on end). Reset preferences, etc. doesn’t work.

Image by Chau Nguyen from Pixabay 

Why not work on some video to get over the frustration of slow Photoshop? Premiere Pro update 14.9 wouldn’t allow me to place video clips in the timeline. MP4s or clips just created in After Effects or ones created with the previous version of Premiere Pro would dump their sound into the audio part, and refuse to display the video part. So I had to reinstall the previous version to get it to work right. When 15.0 was ready to go, I really didn’t want to install it because I anticipated problems, like with every other update I have done in the past few months. So far, so good.

A few people on Adobe forums have suggested that the lagginess is due to Adobe changing to all-cloud servers. Because they don’t have enough capacity to run what they need to, the access to the servers is slow because too many people need to access them at the same time, which means the apps are slow. So, so slow.

What’s going on? I don’t know. What do I know? Photoshop and Illustrator are a mess, and while Premiere Pro seems fine at 15.0, I’m not holding my breath for the viability of future updates. (And please, “save all previous versions so you can migrate back when things don’t work” doesn’t, well, work that well. We only have access to a few past versions, and if we change computers in that time, those previous versions from years ago are GONE.)

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 

Truthfully, I don’t want to have to learn new software to be able to do things I used to be able to do in a few moments with Adobe products. But if I can’t accomplish those things using Photoshop or Illustrator anymore, I have no choice but to find alternatives. I have purchased all three Affinity products, Clip Studio Paint, and am looking for a video alternative. I pay hundreds of dollars a year to Adobe for a working product, and since October, “working product” has been a pipe dream. It’s beyond disappointing.

I count myself lucky. My sole income doesn’t rely on Photoshop or Illustrator. Reports of late work and unhappy clients due to Adobe’s product aren’t part of my routine, of which I’m grateful.

If you’re thinking about graphics software and can choose which to use (sometimes clients want art and designs in a specific program), Affinity is a far cheaper alternative to Adobe. They have Photo, Designer and Publisher. The products are professional and are a one-time purchase. If you wait for a sale, as of this writing, you can get them 1/2 off. The best thing about the one-time purchase is that you own it outright. You won’t lose access your work if you can’t make the monthly payment.

Clip Studio Paint is great for digital painters and comic/manga illustrators. It’s designed for comics and manga creation. To purchase the standalone, standard version outright is about the same price as the monthly fee for Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Or you can look at monthly plans based on number of machines you need to install it on, staring at around $5.

And, of course, there’s GIMP and Inkscape. Both are free and while there’s a bit of a learning curve, both produce amazing stuff. I haven’t used them much in the past few years, but they were my go-to programs when I was creating promotional materials for my old job. GIMP has had problems with the GUI being too small to use on 4K screens, and changing preferences to xlarge icons didn’t help. I don’t know if the new version has fixed that (I hope so!), but it’ something to look at if you are using a 4K monitor.

There are a lot of other alternatives out there, depending what you need. Check out this article at Creative Bloq that lists a ton of free graphics software you can use in lieu of Creative Cloud. And there’s Corel Painter (that’s a bit more spendy).

I like the artwork I produce with Adobe products. I want the apps to get better. Until they do, it’s clicking through a new program and getting my bearings.

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Shiobe Rising: The Wellspring Dragons Book 1 and Trouble in Tindrel: The Wellspring Dragons Book 2 are available in Kindle format. Lapis of Nicodem, a serialized dark fantasy, is available for free at World Anvil. Follow me, Kwyn Marie, on Facebook and Instagram. Check out my author website, and the Wellspring Dragons book site as well as the Lapis of Nicodem book site. And if you like what you see, buy me a KoFi!

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