Sunday, May 31, 2009

Free Software I Use To Create My Designs & Patterns -- Part 1

I have purchased the software I use to actually create my counted cross-stitch and quilt patterns and translate for my Chinese Symbol/Kanji patterns. However, to clean up the design and to create and edit the patterns to a final excellent product, I use several free software programs. During the next week or so (or until I share all of them), I will be blogging this subject.

If you are like me and either new to or thinking of starting an online business creating items which can be delivered by email, I hope this information is helpful to you. There are so many freeware programs out there, it is sometimes overwhelming to choose. However, if like me, you don't have hundreds to thousands of dollars to spend on software, these programs may be exactly what will help you move to the next step in your goals.

Even though my translation software creates good quality symbols, the resulting graphic is raster and I can create a cleaner pattern from the start using a vector graphic. To read more about raster vs. vector graphics, Wikipedia has an excellent article.

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and CorelDraw do this but cost hundreds of dollars. Vector Magic used to be free but is no longer and if you create lots of design graphics, can also cost in the hundreds of dollars. I found that Inkscape does a more than adequate job of vectorizing a raster image.

Of course, a poor quality image is not going to give a good result no matter what software is used, but Inkscape also has many of the options available in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to trace and add layers to correct a poor quality graphic to better quality or to redraw it from scratch. One can save graphics in SVG format to edit or create different sizes later and also export to "raster" image formats.

The downside to this software is that if you have never used a professional graphics program, learning to use Inkscape can be challenging. There is no one "simple" manual available and a lot of what is written for the user from the site is more understandable by an experienced user or "techie". There are, however, lots of mini-tutorials available free on the web to learn how to create different graphics and text options which will teach one how to use the program. Google is our friend!

NEWS FLASH!!: There are two new "how to" Inkscape books available for pre-order from The Book of Inkscape by Dmitry Kirsanov was published May 28, 2009, and Beginning Inkscape by Donna Benjamin, is scheduled to be published November 1, 2009.

I have not been able to view any of the contents of either book though I will be ordering The Book of Inkscape next payday. I will write a review once I do receive the book and have an opportunity to see if it is easy for a novice designer to decipher. If you are a book author and have written a help book for Inkscape, please email me so I can share this with others. The more options available to users, the better!

Tomorrow I will share details about another graphics freeware program I use to create my finished patterns.

Have a blessed Sunday!