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Could I please ask you for your opinions for a complete beginner which of the free external software design programs is the easiest and most straightforward to learn - out of – Gimp - ink spscape - vectr or another. I want to use a free one at first to see if this is for me as I am very good at designing things.

Also are vector or transparent files absolutely necessary for T-shirt, mug , hoodie or other similar products to put designs on?

Thanks Craig
 

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depends on the method you are using to add your designs to the garment

vinyl cutter you need vector
other methods are ok with raster

gimp is great and you should have that with g'mic anyways,
inkscape is ok if you have mucho memory and a dedicated offsite nitrogen-cooled logical pool facility

if you are just starting try a free trial of some of the hybrid programs (they do both raster and vector)
both of the ones below can be purchased on sale for about $50 (one-time payment, not monthly)
affinity designer
xara photo and graphic designer
 

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which of the free external software design programs is the easiest and most straightforward to learn - out of – Gimp - ink spscape - vectr or another.
They are not any easier to learn than Photoshop, illustrator etc, and difficulty is differs from person to person.
Some people learn faster than others. If you start with zero knowledge (which is obviously the case) it will be a steep learning curve.

Also are vector or transparent files absolutely necessary for T-shirt, mug , hoodie or other similar products to put designs on?
This is actually the indicator of zero knowledge.
the need for transparency depends on the design, but it's not something hard to do.
Transparency is basically a color, and you can even print it with the right printer (clear ink or toner).
 
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