I used the Paterek manual in conjunction with Frameforum.net, as well as littlefishbicycles.com and various other tidbits scattered around the internet. Then I got to work ruining tubing and lugs in my garage until I figured it out.
My experience has been that framebuilding isn't the easiest thing in the world, but that it isn't rocket science either. There's a quote from a top custom framebuilder to the effect that "It's just glorified pipefitting". You can definitiely learn it without personalized instruction -- but the learning curve will be longer and you're almost certain to waste some time, money, and materials while doing it.
As for chopper style frames, etc., I think you might be buying even more problems. I'm not familiar with any sources of information for non-traditional framebuilding. I'm afraid Paterek, et al., might be an expensive dissapointment for you, as they deal with classic designs and brazing pretty much exclusively. TIG welding your custom design, or whatever, puts you into pretty rarefied air.