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A designer on a mission: Isabel Aracama’s quest to teach the world about Affinity Designer

Creative non-conformist and design maverick Isabel Aracama shares her wealth of experience to help others get the most out of Affinity Designer.

The Affinity community is full of passionate content creators who share their skills through tutorials. Isabel Aracama has decades of illustration and design experience and brings that to her YouTube channel where she uses time-lapses and tutorials to help other creatives make their best work.

Time-lapse of Taipei Nights.
How long have you been creating art, and what inspired you to begin making content?

I’ve been working as a professional designer and illustrator for twenty years now. Ever since I started I’ve been creating content in one way or another. First, I needed to create a portfolio of work and it wasn’t long before I found myself creating vector illustrations that were well received and often showcased on design websites and in magazines. I also started to get requests to teach people how to create the pieces I had made. Now, I spend quite a good amount of time doing so in different ways, be it tutorials, articles, presentations and workshops.

Why do you prefer to create your work digitally?

There are several reasons. The obvious reason is speed (time is money) but also the ability to reproduce your work as many times as you want and a very nice one: being able to ctrl+z!

Game art time-lapse.
Why did you decide to create tutorials?

First, lots of people were asking me for tutorials, even before I started using Affinity Designer. Second, I absolutely refuse to use anything less than the best tools to create my work, so when it comes to good software I like to do all that is in my hands to help people get to discover/learn it.

From the very beginning of my career I’ve always been a bit of a maverick when it comes to the tools I use to make my work. I was one of those “crazy” designers using things other than the ‘industry standard’ tools to create design and digital illustrations. I never conformed with what I was supposed to be using as a professional. Instead I used what I felt the best options were to develop my work.

I have always thought that no designer or artist deserves to use anything less than the best tools, despite the widely spread mantra of “oh, it’s just tools”. As I always say: if athletes need the best equipment to perform better, so do we as designers”.

Vector image of a bubble created by Isabel.
What are your favourite tools to use in Affinity Designer?

This is a hard one, as there a lot of tools I like in Affinity Designer and I like how easy it is to use them. But if I have to pick just one, I enjoy using the Corner Tool a lot. It makes my ‘vector life’ so easy, but also because it makes a beginners life much easier by helping them to smooth the segments of their drawings.

“I enjoy using the Corner Tool a lot. It makes my ‘vector life’ so easy,”

What’s something you discovered you could do using Affinity Designer that you hadn’t seen done by anyone else?

Definitely Snapshots. Such a brilliant and helpful idea that works so well! They allow me to keep different versions of my work in the same one file. Doing this before was only possible through workarounds and in wonky ways.

Isabel Aracama teaching vector design
A lot of your content is centred around getting a specific look such as neon lights, are you drawn to any specific styles when you create your tutorials?

I have no preference for any aesthetic approach when I talk about learning to use software. Truth is that I draw lots of cars and vehicles, but I enjoy producing many types of illustrations. I create tutorials in order to show how to go about creating certain effects and styles with the tools Affinity Designer has. I create the tutorials in such a way that I can show users how much potential these tools have and what they can achieve with them other than what is most obvious.

Isabel Aracama vector desk.
How do you decide what tutorials to make?

Ultimately the inspiration for my tutorials is often to try to teach the viewers interesting tools they need to know exist, and how to get the most out of them. Also how to look at things, and make them understand that there are many ways to achieve the same result, some ways are more efficient, faster, or cleverer than others.

I believe it is very interesting, for example, to demonstrate that Affinity Designer has some pre-made or primitive shapes they can use, but I also like to tell them how to use them in different ways so as to broaden their understanding of how they can “think outside the box”. It’s more beneficial to have understanding and not just be lead to create something they might like aesthetically, although this is obviously also an important part. I also create tutorials based on subscriber’s requests.

What is the overall goal of your channel and why should someone check it out in addition to the other that have tutorials?

I’d say the goal of my channel is to teach people in a simple, clear way how to really use Affinity Designer in practice, in order to learn how to create the things they want to achieve. I try to create my tutorials in such a way that they add value regardless of whether you’re a complete beginner or you have been a designer for the past 20 years.

Time-lapse of a landscape in Affinity Designer.

I want designers and illustrators to be aware that Affinity Designer is a professional tool, modern, up to date with the needs of professionals and offers such good possibilities. With a very competitive price, and with a community that is really helpful as well as a team behind it that listens to its users.

“I want designers and illustrators to be aware that Affinity Designer is a professional tool, modern, up to date with the needs of professionals”

Another thing I am aiming for is to help make Affinity the new standard, a leader on how vector software should work and be conceived and is making it possible for us users to have more than one option in the marketplace. Providing help, resources, tutorials, etc. makes people able to use it in a much easier way, thus, enticing them to choose it over other options.

I have been working not only as a designer and illustrator for all these years, but also developing software myself, working with other vector software companies where I was shaping the tools for a better experience, addressing everyday issues and problems as a professional. I have always been a pioneer in discovering and using the next amazing tool for professionals. When I recommend Affinity Designer I believe these are valuable credentials that anyone interested in the software should consider.

“I have always been a pioneer in discovering and using the next amazing tool for professionals”

Is there anything you’d like to share about your channel?

You can always drop me a comment or ask your questions below my videos and I’ll try my best to help you. So far I have replied to each and every question, doubt, request and suggestions I get. I intend to keep doing so, as long as it’s possible for me. Also, it is very beneficial for users to interact with me and other users through the comments section in the channel, much better than via email, or via private message, as this allows other users to also get to read them.

“So far I have replied to each and every question, doubt, request and suggestions I get”

Also, for someone who hasn’t found one of my tutorials useful, I’d ask them to comment too and let me know what it was they didn’t like or how I could improve it. This way content will be much better for all of us. Whenever someone has a suggestion that makes sense, I find it really valuable and it helps me a lot to create new quality tutorials.

You can check out Isabel’s tutorials for Affinity Designer on YouTube. You can also find her online at on Twitter and Dribbble.

Artist relations

Charlotte is an illustrator and arts lecturer who is passionate about the creative industries and is now part of our artist relations team. Her interests include mid 20th century inspired design, comic books, board games, movie memorabilia, baking cakes, feminism and yoga. She shares her 1960’s home with her graphic designer husband and her toddler son who likes to hide her iPad. Get in touch with Charlotte if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.