Spoonflower Bootcamp: Free Design Tools You’ve Got to Try

JUL 15, 2015 updated Apr 27, 2021

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We’re in week two of our SpoonChallenge: Creating a Fabric Collection with our friend and fabric designer Bonnie Christine. As a part of this series, we’re focusing our Bootcamp content on design tips and tools. Today we share our favorite design tools anyone can use to create beautiful textile designs!

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While professional designers frequently use Photoshop or Illustrator to whip up designs, Spoonflower is not just for pros! Here is a handful of our free favorite tools and apps.

Sketchbook

Sketchbook is a great mobile tool for freehand drawing and creating designs from scratch that is available for both Android and Apple devices! Both SketchBook Express and SketchBook are free, and they offer add-on tools you can purchase.

Nifty Features:

  • Lots of brushes, pens, markers and other drawing tools.

  • You can create custom canvas sizes up to 2500 x 2500 pixels which prints at 16.7 x 16.7 inches on fabric.

  • Ability to create layers and use blending modes.

PixlrPixlr is perfect for photo-editing and sprucing up your pictures. Pixlr is available for both Android and Apple devices and can also be used on a desktop computer! There a few different free versions, but the “Free Photo Editor” has the most tools.

Nifty Features:

  • Many overlays and effects to choose from. You can even add text!

  • Create collages or blend photos together.

  • You can’t enlarge an existing image, but you can decrease the canvas size.

Colourlovers

COLOURlovers helps you create your own design, or you can explore templates for inspiration. Currently this tools is only accessible via a web application – no mobile app available yet!

Nifty Features:

  • Your design is always seamless! No more bad repeat issues.

  • You can enter in specific hex codes from your trusty Spoonflower color map.

  • Upload your design right into your Spoonflower account, directly from their website! Just enter in the inch dimensions you need your design to be.

Picmonkey

PicMonkey can edit your photos, or you can use their clipart and text to make something brand new. Right now, this tool is only accessible through a web application — no mobile app available yet!

Nifty Features:

  • Start with a blank canvas and add text, effects and borders, or upload your own pictures and customize them.

  • You can adjust the canvas size up to 18 x 21 inches.

  • Collage maker with flexible layouts.

Gimp

GIMP is a flexible web application that can be used for a variety of design projects. This tool is very similar to Photoshop!

Nifty Features:

  • Create designs at a high resolution – great for large-scale layouts, and photography.

  • Perfect for both freehand drawing, painting and photo-editing.

  • Retouch and enhance photos with its sophisticated toolset.

Bonus!

Text

Click here for a YouTube channel with lots of how-to textile design videos!

This is just a small sampling of design tools we’ve used ourselves, but a quick web search will bring up many more design program tutorials and videos. Please share your favorite tools with us in the comments below. Happy creating!

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  • Am I the only one who finds Pic Monkey useless now that flash is (google?)browser blocked? Even if I allow \”flash\” to get through PM does not function right. Is there another browser that works instead? Maybe it is a Windows issue, I forget, but there was a change a few years back that made PM no longer a viable link nor even effective with workarounds for me. Thanks!

    • Hello and thank you for your question. Spoonflower no longer supports a PicMonkey integration. Adobe Flash is no longer be supported by any updated browsers after Dec. 31, 2020, and without Flash, our PicMonkey integration will cease to function.

      You can still upload high-quality images to Spoonflower from PicMonkey, however you will need a paid subscription to PicMonkey to download your image to your computer and then upload it to Spoonflower. We have a list of other suggested image editors that you might consider here.

      If you need help with uploading your artwork, we have a Designing & Upload section in our Help Center.

      I hope that helps, but please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • I just have to be honest and say, Bonnie Christine is an AMAZING teacher!! Oh, yeah, AND an AMAZING Designer! I am a self taught graphic designer (hope to one day be) and two of the MOST AWESOME classes I have taken were both of Bonnie’s fabric design classes (one on Skillshare, one on CreativeLive)! She covers EVERYTHING you need to know in such bite sized pieces that I never felt overwhelmed nor discouraged. Spoonflower teaming up with Bonnie Christine = SO MUCH FUN!!! Looking forward to FINALLY creating a fabric as a result of this!