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Review Guide to Beading Software Tools

Not too long ago, someone asked me what sort of beading software tools might be useful for creating your own patterns for both loom and off-loom work.  Well, there are a number, both free and paid. Which you choose will depend on not only how much you are willing to pay but why you need them. Here is a review guide to beading software tools for you to explore and consider.


This one is free to download onto your computer.  It covers peyote, loom, RAW, 2- drop, brick and interestingly, rosette. You have only 2 bead choices - 11/0 Miyuki and 11/0 Miyuki hex cut - but there are numerous colors in this size to choose from in order to create your design. The precision cut Japanese beads are best for uniform work.

You can specify the number of columns and rows. This software works best if you then select the individual cells (beads) and assign the colors of your design.  Later this week, you will see a tutorial where the designer used this software to create her pieces. The ability to see actual bead color combinations is very useful. Some combinations are clearly better than others. Experimenting on the computer is much easier than trying to use colored pencils on graph paper.

Ruby Lockwood demonstrates  how to use this software for peyote patterns.

If you wish to upload an image, stick with a simple 2 color design like the maple leaf one I tried (see top picture above).  It was not straightforward as I had to size the image just right to fit into the beading area I wanted i.e. no automatic image resizer!

This software cannot process a complex image like a photo.  What you see on the frontpage of the site is an image that has been painstakingly created via individual cell (bead) color changes.

I found the software buggy but hopefully, with more updates, the bugs will continue to be dealt with.

You can download and try this software tool for free. But you will need to purchase a BeadTool licence (US$49.95) in order to save print your patterns, palettes and layouts as well as receive free updates to the software.  There are also free instructional videos to help you get started.  You will have to go to Youtube to see the actual videos as the links in the instructional page are not working.

This tool can help you design with all kinds of beads (Miyuki, Preciosa Rocailles, Toho and even Pony beads)in different sizes and stitches (Loom, Square stitch, Brick stitch, Peyote,Tubular Peyote, Native American Gourd, Right Angle Weave.

Uploading a simple image like the maple leaf was very easy.  I could easily resize my image to fit the beading area I wanted. And then pick the bead colors and fill in the areas.  The Transfer function then allowed me to switch between bead sizes.  You can also control how many colors you want to deal with! And how detailed you want your picture to be.

Their transfer video tutorial shows how you can easily import photos and even combine them.

Adding text is a breeze!

Serious hobbyists and professionals will get a lot out of this software tool.  Considering what it does, the licence cost is very reasonable.

This powerful beading software is for those who wish to translate a complex image like a photo into a beading pattern. Definitely geared towards professionals who wish to create tutorials for sale. For example, it can output to a PDF, has file protection needed for selling, bead inventory management, desktop publishing tools for the creation of pattern books for resale and so forth.

The bead stitches covered are loom, brick, peyote (to 9 drop), RAW, fringe, sacred gourd and herringbone.

Watch the tour to see this software in action! Note that the software can also generate a text version of the bead color list as well as the word chart to work from.

This powerful program comes in two versions BeadCreator Professional (US$149), and Professional Plus (US$249). The latter includes over 20,000 copyright free images for use.  24/7 technical support is available.

If you wish to create diagrams showing thread paths through beads for written tutorials, I recommend you download this program. Inkscape is a powerful vector graphics/ drawing program like that of Adobe Illustrator but it is open source and thus free!  3Dbeading has a tutorial on how to use it.

Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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  1. I have purchased BeadTool. It is an okay program, but the customer support is non-existent. Today I contacted them with a question because I was having trouble getting BeadTool re-installed after my hard drive was reformatted. The responses I got from Christopher, the developer, were unbelievably rude and unhelpful. He wouldn't even answer my question directly. His last email to me said, and I quote, "You have all the information you need in the email that was sent to you. What you do with it is up to you. Good luck."

    And, of course, I didn't have all the information I needed, which was why I was asking for help. Their website claims that "Getting BeadTool customers the help they need is a top priority". I can tell you that this definately was not the case in my experience.

    1. That is too bad, Suzanne. Will you try the other programs I mentioned?

    2. Suzanne is incapable of reading the emails I send her. She had all the information she needed but refused to read it and then continued to ask questions that I had already answered. I seriously thought someone was pranking me.

  2. I have been using Beadtool for years and years! Christoher has always responded promptly to any email I sent him pertianing to his program. And always courteously!

  3. I have always received timely and accurate info from Christopher, and I've had the program for years now and gone through 3 computers. You get downloads for 2 with your purchase, but he reset my password for me within the hour so I could put it on my new computer. The only thing is, you can't transfer your data so make sure you populate & save the PDF files and keep them on a separate drive.

  4. I'm wondering if there is a program I can use to make my own 3D beaded star patterns. It would have to be able to use herringbone and peyote. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dianne,

      Check out this resource for 3D work Stars are just triangles!

  5. Hello!! just checking in about the beading software, thank you for this! its very helpful seeing time has passed..would you recommend anything else before i purchase the BeadTool. I heard of another one that mirrors your design for you, so you only have to do half the design?

  6. Yes, there is a program which I reviewed not too long ago which does mirroring in different geometric ways very well. Check my full review here :


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