What design software do you use?

Hi. Brand new to GF. Been an artist all my life, and very computer literate, even create my own websites, but I’ve never used ANY kind of design software. What design software would you recommend that I start with (preferably free)? Also, when making things out of wood or acrylic, what kind of paint do you use to color images on the project? Thanks!


Since this isn’t a concern with your actual Glowforge, I’m going to move your post to the Everything Else category. While a search will bring up tons of posts about this, I will say that many people use Inkscape, which is free. Personally, I use Affinity Designer which is not very expensive at about $50, and others use Illustrator and Corel to name a few. Take a look at any of them that interest you and just dive in…that’s the only way to get started.


I agree with @Xabbess. i started with Inkscape and bought Infinity Designer…still going back to Inkscape. A bit of a learning curve for me since i had never worked in the vector world, but it’s not horribly difficult with the help of the community here.


I tried Illustrator, Corel, and Inkscape at the same time to see which one I prefered. I stuck with Inkscape, mainly because it’s free and constantly updating. My versions of the other softwares were standalone and older since it was before they required a monthly fee. So they didn’t have the features that Inkscape had.

I’ve heard people use GIMP for photo editing, but I just couldn’t get into it. But that is also free. I know there is a free art program called Krita that I used for a bit because it’s cool, but I actually bought Clip Studio and use that instead of Photoshop or anything else, so I can’t suggest anything there, though Clip Studio is a standalone software that gets updated constantly, and I think it was around 100.

I use acrylic paint pens to color things. Or spray paint, because I’m lazy.


It’s probably no great surprise that you’re not the first to ask… here are a few threads that you might find interesting:

As you can see, it’s been really thoroughly discussed!


Inkscape. It’s what I need for 2D and it’s free. I use Onshape for 3D design and it really does a great job slicing models I make for 3D work using Kiri:Moto extension for making SVGs.

I have observed that folks who want to dip into vector design for the first time find that Affinity is a bit easier to manage for starters on the wallet. But then there is also that program that someone on the forum came up with but I can’t thing of the name right now. I’ll search, but someone with more wits about them at this time might come up with it.

Ok. The penny dropped: Cuttle:


Inkscape and Cuttle. Your needs will be met by both. Then, if you really want to get fancy - fusion360.


I use Inkscape myself for many of the same reasons listed above. Regardless of which program you pick, if you need help there are tons of YouTube videos about the different functions and how to use them. Otherwise I’d say just snag Inkscape cuz it’s free and play around with all the buttons.


I use Inkscape for vector work to produce the final SVG to print but Inkscape is terrible to do more than place a raster image. For that I use Gimp and as Inkscape is weak at rasters, Gimp is weak at vectors, but it does great things with what it calls “Paths” including things like drawing a pen, eraser, or even something like a lightening tool along a path, or to warp the image, etc. in ways that Inkscape cannot, and by turning masks into paths, the paths can be very complex and then exported as SVGs to drop into Inkscape as well.


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