I thought it would be a good idea to have threads that help the whole community (because it felt good to help people with their designs). You can see they're helpful threads because they start with TIPS (using HELP could be confusing if a thread says "HELP, need yesterday's shirt").

I'm going to provide links to software that I use. This software is 100% free, because it's open-source. That means it's made by people just for the love of software development.

GIMP (works like Photoshop). Download it here.



GIMP is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It lets you tweak photos, or create artwork from scratch. I'm currently using it to design a shirt (I drew it on paper, scanned it in, and now I'm adding the special effects).

Photobucket

There is a huge library of help online with this software, both as instruction lists and as video tutorials. If you're good at drawing or painting and you have a scanner, this can get your artwork into the computer and tweaked to perfection.

Inkscape (vector art program that works like Illustrator). Download it here.



Vector art is what computers are best at. Unlike the image on a TV screen, made of individual dots that begin to look like individual dots when you zoom in, vector art is held in the computer as mathematical points. This means that visually complicated shapes can be created using simple repeating commands...



...and your existing bitmap graphics (in JPEG or GIF or PNG format) can be imported in a limited color palette, essential for TeeFury with its six-color limit. You can tweak hand-drawn curves to be smoother. You can stretch a circle into an oval without the lines becoming jagged. You can create a Spirograph background just by tweaking a few settings on a star emblem. And you can export your vector artwork as a JPEG or PNG image at any time to display it on the web.

---------------

Any other suggestions for great (100% free) software or tools, people?
23Comments
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    165 weeks ago
    I just kind of realized recently that I don't smurf horribly at drawing like I thought I used too. I've been toying around with the idea of designing some shirts, but as someone who has roughly zero confidence artistically, I had been putting it off.

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. I think, thanks to you, I'm actually really looking forward to toying around with this program and seeing what I can do.
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    165 weeks ago
    That freaking made my day. You're welcome.

    Anyoen have any other software / plugin / software-that-came-with-the-computer recommendations?
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    165 weeks ago
    How about a halftone and/or dithering tutorial because I can't get it to work properly for the life of me haha
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    165 weeks ago
    What suggestions would you have for a guy thats doodled his whole life but has never taken it to a computer before. I have the ideas. Its just taking my drawings to the finalized state.
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    165 weeks ago
    I think I will do a Halftone tutorial in GIMP in the next few days, using a small section of my WIP to add a little shadow. And then I'll use the same technique to produce a big splash behind the xenomorph.

    The way I do it will probably give actual graphic designers the fits, but it works for me and I get really professional looking results.

    Stay tuned for further developments...
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    165 weeks ago
    NinjoJaso said: What suggestions would you have for a guy thats doodled his whole life but has never taken it to a computer before. I have the ideas. Its just taking my drawings to the finalized state.


    I have a thread right here> where I'm taking a pencil drawing, inking it using a ballpoint pen, scanning it into the computer, and using free software to make it look good. I'm just a doodle bug that taught himself a few tricks.
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    165 weeks ago
    "You can tweak hand-drawn curves to be smoother" - if you could let me know how to do this I'd be incredibly grateful!
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    165 weeks ago
    I also use GIMP and Inkscape. I have a netbook and the screen resolution is too small to be compatible with Illustrator (makes Photoshop run kind of screwy too even though it doesn't say it has compatibility issues...) so that's another cool aspect to these programs (aside from being free!)

    Have you figured out any useful tips for Inkscape ... mostly, where to find some of the tools Illustrator users might be used to?
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    165 weeks ago
    khkcrimson said: Have you figured out any useful tips for Inkscape ... mostly, where to find some of the tools Illustrator users might be used to?


    I'm not that experienced with Illustrator (I have my methods of doing things) but here are a few things I've learned.

    A Few Tips For Inkscape (off the top of my head)

    1 - if you're importing a milti-layered image into Inkscape from a non-vector program like GIMP or Photoshop, do it one layer at a time. Save each layer as a separate SVG file, then use the Layers capability in Inkscape to Import the components together and reconstruct your image. That way, you can keep a firm control of the six colors as you go, you don't need to worry about odd effects where two colors meet (which happens when something is saved as a single image and imported in one go), and if you decide to shift something a millimeter to the left there's not a glaring gap.

    2 - If there's a line that looks too jagged, and you were after a smoother curve, don't be afraid to knock out a few Nodes. If you get the curve you wanted, great. If you didn't, Undo and try another tweak.

    3 - this one goes for most other programs... if you're tweaking an existing piece of artwork but it's just to see what happens, ALWAYS save the original version (which you can revert back to, if things don't go as planned), and ALWAYS Save as you go along (in case what you're doing does go as planned, because you never know when a truck might hit a pole and the power goes out for long enough that your computer restarts). Just pressing Control + S every two minutes, or after a set routine has been performed, means you only have to go back to the last point you saved. You should never have to say "well, there goes five hours of work down the drain."
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    165 weeks ago
    dangerskies said: "You can tweak hand-drawn curves to be smoother" - if you could let me know how to do this I'd be incredibly grateful!


    If you draw a curve on a piece of paper, scan it into your computer, then convert it into a piece of Vector artwork, you may notice a LOT of node points. The computer doesn't know that you were trying to draw the perfect Bezier curve, so it makes lots (and lots) of minor adjustments.

    If you use the White Arrow tool in Illustrator (or the Edit Path By Nodes tool in Inkscape), you can select dots along that path and delete them one at a time (or highlight a box around a few of them and take out half a dozen at a time). The program will try to compensate for the missing nodes by connecting the gap between them with the best curve it can calculate. Eventually, you can turn a ten-point curve into four-point curve ...or even better, a curve that just uses a start node and an end node.

    curves.jpg
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    165 weeks ago
    I found a page that details what Illustrator can do that Inkscape can't (and things that Inkscape can do that Illustrator can't).

    Also, a page that lists the names of tools in Illustrator (and what they're called in Inkscape). For example: to get the Illustrator Magic Wand tool in Inkscape, hold down the Alt key and drag over the area using the Selector (black arrow).

    Hope these links help.
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    162 weeks ago
    Thank you! Been wondering what to use because I am fine at drawing on paper but computer designing is not my strong point. Will certainly give this a go. :)
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    162 weeks ago
    Thanks so much Jackpot777! I missed this thread before, but I'm glad I found it now! You've given a ton of good information, I'm good at drawing on paper also but really inexperienced at converting them into vector or digital images.
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    162 weeks ago
    How do you scan an image onto GIMP?
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    162 weeks ago
    Surfercat35 said: Thanks so much Jackpot777! I missed this thread before, but I'm glad I found it now! You've given a ton of good information, I'm good at drawing on paper also but really inexperienced at converting them into vector or digital images.


    I'm a n00b myself when it comes to vector art. But I'm becoming quite good with Inkscape. There are certain things that the non-vector art packages do faster and cleaner (example: Halftone shading is so much quicker with pixels, so I am currently doing primary art in vecors and adding shading in GIMP). And we're at a Golden Age with Inkscape out there as a free open-source option because even users of both say Illustrator is "incredibly clumsy - awkward tools, cumbersome procedures to do simple things, a pain to use especially for basic things like paths and gradients" and "I felt like I was fighting with Illustrator" compared to Inkscape! Drawing on paper, then manipulating a scanned image in Inkscape is now second nature to me after just a month.

    MarshMan65 said: How do you scan an image onto GIMP?


    If you have a regular desktop scanner (or, like me, if you have a printer-copier-scanner all-in-one thing), just scan in a document as you normally would. Save it as a JPEG or a PNG or whatever your scanner software saves it as. Make sure you've named it something that makes sense, and you've saved it somewhere you'll remember.

    Then you just choose File --> Open (in GIMP) and select that image to open. More instructions are here, including sceenshots.
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    161 weeks ago
    THANKS!!!!
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    161 weeks ago
    nice post :)
    there's also mypaint which is free, i'm using it for sketching and inking but it requires graphic tablet to get the full advantage from it.
    note that mypaint focus is on drawing not editing so it lacks of layer editing features, but you can always open and edit your mypaint files on gimp.

    here's the link if you want to know more about mypaint
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    161 weeks ago
    frottle said: nice post :)
    there's also mypaint which is free, i'm using it for sketching and inking but it requires graphic tablet to get the full advantage from it.
    note that mypaint focus is on drawing not editing so it lacks of layer editing features, but you can always open and edit your mypaint files on gimp.

    here's the link if you want to know more about mypaint


    Looks like a great program for those of you that have a graphics tablet (I should put one on my Christmas list, a little Wacom Bamboo) to get those ideas down in digital. A welcome addition to the free tools we can all use to create a tee shirt.
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    161 weeks ago
    Maybe I'm just ignorant and missing something, but what tool do you use to convert your pencil/pen drawing into digital lines? I can't really think of a better way to say it, but for instance do you ever use the tool that Illustrator calls LiveTrace (I'm not sure if there's an equivalent in GIMP and I've never used Inkscape or Mypaint yet) or do you just trace over your drawing using the paintbrush tool? I understand how the tweaking your curves works, but how do you get to that point? I guess there may be multiple ways to reach the same goal but sometimes if I just try to trace an image it seems to auto-correct my lines and not do what I want. Maybe I'm going about it wrong.
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    161 weeks ago
    Surfercat35 said: Maybe I'm just ignorant and missing something, but what tool do you use to convert your pencil/pen drawing into digital lines? I can't really think of a better way to say it, but for instance do you ever use the tool that Illustrator calls LiveTrace (I'm not sure if there's an equivalent in GIMP and I've never used Inkscape or Mypaint yet) or do you just trace over your drawing using the paintbrush tool? I understand how the tweaking your curves works, but how do you get to that point? I guess there may be multiple ways to reach the same goal but sometimes if I just try to trace an image it seems to auto-correct my lines and not do what I want. Maybe I'm going about it wrong.


    The tool is in Inkscape, and it's the equivalent of Live Trace. Path --> Trace Bitmap. The trick is to turn down the setting for converting/correcting the lines.

    When using Inkscape's Trace Bitmap option, the dialog box has three tabs. The middle one has a Simplify setting of 0.020...

    Dialog_TraceBitmap_Options.png

    ...which I've said is like recreating your artwork with a wide paint roller, while wearing boxing gloves, in a dark room, during an earthquake. But if you tweak that number down to 0.04 or 0.05, it will take your design and treat it with a bit more care.

    There's also a way to set the default Simplify to something lower too. If you search for my 'Xeno' thread, I go into how to change those Miscellaneous settings.

    I should do a 'TIPS:' thread on it, because one site I was reading said the Inkscape function beat Adobe's Live Trace for ease.
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    161 weeks ago
    ...and I should have said 0.020 0.20 above for the initial Tolerance setting.
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    23 weeks ago
    Any one want to design T-Shirt yourself then just check it out Best Design Software
    It's nice to design T-Shirt yourself.
  • image
    11 weeks ago
    These are the good software for graphics design. First I will try it on the personal computer then print on the T-shirt with the help of ">digital garment printer. I hope it would good practice to develop my designing skills.


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