Best "free" Photoshop style tool for custom designing?

gt alex

Been Around the Block
I usually set stuff together, stand back and squint and take my best shot.
But with the cafe racer build I'm doing, it just seems a bit harder to imagine the new tank, mufflers, Paint scheme etc. there must be a good tool out there but it will be all new to me.

Can others share what they are using and how they use it?
Maybe show us your work.


Coast to Coast
Not for "designing" per-se, but the free alternatives to photoshop that I have been using for photo editing are:

Gimp and photopea. (The latter just runs in your browser so super easy to try out)

I've had decent results with both, but again, not specific to designing


Been Around the Block
2nd thumbs up for Gimp as its available for most OS's.
If your using windows is also good and has a much easier learning curve


Over 1,000 Posts
2nd thumbs up for Gimp as its available for most OS's.
If your using windows is also good and has a much easier learning curve
Second that. GIMP will have a learning curve and power similar to PhotoShop. Paint.NET is quick to learn, has many plug-ins available, and can be used for simple crop, resize, rotate, etc. that take less time in it than the powerful tools. I'd rather draw in CAD, though.


Over 10,000 Posts
I used to use the original cut and paste technique. Print out a picture of your bike. Print pictures of tank, seat or other feature that you like. Cut out that tank/seat etc and literally paste it onto the picture of your bike. Simple as that.

I later graduated to two different versions of CAD.
Cardboard Aided Design for design of components and
Crayon Aided Design for trying different color schemes and simple shapes.

I still use all three, but if I want to develop a different look I use Microsoft Image Composer which used to be part of the Front Page suite years ago and is probably available as a download somewhere. It is not a fully featured photoshop or similar product. It's a very simple tool that allows a user to makes simple changes to an image.

It's not a print ready product but an easy way to add shape to sat a seat hump in stages and save each iteration for comparison.

But most of the time I just print out a picture of the bike and use pens or pencils or crayons to add shapes, change colors etc. If I have to remove part of the background or say a feature on the bike, I just use a plain white shipping (or other) label and then draw in the new shape.

Pros: low cost (zero)
Short learning curve (zero)

Cons: To "save" an image it has to be scanned in.
Not exactly high tech

Keep in mind that digital tools are just trying to copy what we all used to do before digital was even a word. :):eek:


Coast to Coast
If you know how to sail the seven seas you can just find a version of PS. Adobe is rather predatory, IMO, and that's why more sailors use PS than any other software in history.


Oh the usual... I bowl, I drive around...
If you have a tablet. You can get Sketchbook. It’s similar to photoshop but less powerful. It also makes drawing super easy as there is a predictive stroke function so drawing circles, ellipses, and even straight lines have never been easier. Here’s a doodle of mine from the other day


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irk miller

You've been mostly-dead all day.
I'd say the best options are the aforementioned Sketchbook, which is Autodesk software, Adobe Creative Suite, which includes Photoshop and Affinity Designer. Photoshop and the rest of the Creative Suite is my go-to, but I'm also a professional artist and teacher and have been using the stuff for over 20 years, so I'm entrenched. If I'm digging into the software now, I'd probably go to Sketchbook or Affinity. Affinity isn't free, but it's super cheap ($25, I think). I can't see Sketchbook being free forever. I imagine Autodesk is trying to expand their market past technical design software. For touchscreen tablet work, it's really awesome.

gt alex

Been Around the Block
That's great feedback, there's a lot to absorb I will try to research Sketchbook to start with.
I will let you know how I'm going
thanks again

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