Silhouette – Make Your Own Shape

Here are Part 1 and Part 2 of my basic tutorial for the Silhouette SD.

Now we’re getting into the reason that I ultimately decided to go with the Silhouette over a Cricut machine – custom shapes! Not only can the Silhouette cut any font on your computer, you can make shapes with it too. At the time I bought it (November!) I didn’t know what custom shapes I might want to make, but I knew I’d want that ability. When we got the first drafts of our invitations, I fell in love with the H <3 P that was on the top of the bookcase, and suddenly we had a wedding ‘logo’. If not a logo, at least a motif! I decided to see if I could make a cut file for that shape.

First I opened a copy of our invite file in Photoshop, and cut it down to just the H <3 P. Then for good measure, I changed the background to white – I’m not sure if doing this made a difference or not, but it made me feel better. Then:

1. I opened Silhouette Studio, clicked File > Open and opened the new little graphic I’d made.

1 open file

2. Then click on the ‘Trace Shape’ button which is the blue butterfly-ish one at the top. Their website said to hit ‘trace shape’ but gave no clue what it looked like, and it took a long time to find! I put an arrow in so you can see.

2 open trace window

3. Now click ‘Select Trace Area’ on the right hand side. Your cursor will change, and now you can draw a box around what you want it to trace.

3 Select Trace area

4. After you’ve drawn the box, click one of the 3 options in the right hand panel – it is easy to experiment here, just click undo if you don’t like the result! To get my outlines, I clicked the middle one, Trace Outer Edge.

4 trace outer edge

5. Now you’ve got a shape! Drag your graphic away, and you can see the nice red cut lines.

5 you have a shape

Now you’ve got a cut file like all the ones in the Silhouette store, you can re-size it up or down, un-group it if you want, put it inside other shapes, anything really! This particular graphic was fairly simple, I probably could have figured out what font it was and just typed it in Silhouette Studio, but I wanted to keep the spacing and everything proportionate.

I’ve only used this file for one project so far, but I’m sure it’ll make more appearances at the wedding. Did you end up with a “logo” for your wedding? Was it on everything?

Silhouette Studio Tutorial Part 2

The first part of this tutorial can be found here.

Step 10: Make it small! I don’t need a book half the size of an 8.5″x11″ sheet, so I grabbed one of the group’s little corner squares and dragged to make it smaller.

11 resize

Step 11: Make it safe! To know where I could place it on my page, as I’m printing and cutting, I clicked on the ‘Registration Marks’ button (second in from the right on the top) and checked the ‘show Registration Marks’ box. Don’t place anything over the red lines, or in the greyed-out areas.

12 show reg marks

Step 12: Make text! The text icon is the little A on the left-hand side. Type your text, changing font and size on the right.

13 type text

Step 13: Fill text! This step eluded me for a while when I was first learning the machine. First, if you want your text to print, make sure you make it ‘no cut’ (see step 6). Does your text show up as an outline of the letters, like the photo in step 12? Click on ‘Fill Colour’ (it looks like a paint bucket) and click on a colour – I used black. Now the text will print like proper text, not outlines.

14 fill text

Step 14: Make it cut! To check your settings and send it to the Silhouette, click on the little icon that looks like the Silhouette’s blade cartridge (3rd in from the right, where the arrow is pointing). Just follow the prompts from there! Remember to tell it what type of paper you’re using, and change the blade cap if you need to.

15 send to sil

You don’t get to see that particular finished shape, because I was lazy and didn’t clean all the old bits of paper off my sticky mat before putting the new sheet on (I cut a really intricate shape as a test, which left hundreds of tiny pieces stuck). That made some parts of my cardstock higher than others, and not adhere completely, and the book cover popped out once it was cut and jammed the machine. Oops! (Step 15: pick all the bits off your cutting mat!)

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And that is how the Silhouette works!

I’m so glad I purchased this instead of a Cricut, because I don’t need cartridges and it can use any font on my computer. That said, Cricut’s newest toy is the Cricut Imagine, which prints and cuts, but there is the cartridge problem. I prefer the freedom of Silhouette Studio for creating my shapes, and the shape store where lots of different designers have shapes for me to buy. I think I will get more use (for wedding things, and hopefully other things too) out of the Silhouette. I had researched the machine before getting engaged after all. The impending wedding just gave me the kick to buy it. I’ve promised myself it won’t be a wedding-crafts-only purchase!

Would you consider buying a tool like this just for your wedding? Maybe sell it used afterward? Make holiday cards from now until the end of time to justify the purchase?

PS: If you want to see larger versions of any of these images, they can also be found here.

Silhouette Studio Tutorial Part 1

After all your great comments on my last post, about figuring out what our jam labels are going to look like, I thought I’d put together a little tutorial for my marvelous machine. Cinnamon Buns calls it the crazy-cutty-machine. :)

All the screenshots were taken on my Mac, and I’m using the software that comes with the Silhouette, Silhouette Studio. I actually downloaded the software from their website before my actual machine arrived, so I could play with it… aaand so I could take advantage of the Black Friday shape sale that was going on – I bought most of the shapes in my library for $0.50 instead of $0.99 because of that sale. It’s almost as addicting as the App Store on my iPhone!

Step 1: Open up Silhouette Studio. It opens up with blank page, ready to go! Their default view is landscape, but I prefer working in portrait. You can see the ‘Page Orientation’ choices on the right-hand side. If you’re ever confused as to which menu is open on the side, check up all the little icons running along the top right – one will be bordered in black.

0 blank page

Step 2: Go to your Library (the open book icon on the left-hand side). Pick a shape! The one I picked for our labels is highlighted. Double-click and it opens in your workspace.

1 Library
2 fullsize shape

Step 3: Ungroup! This shape is a collection of lines that are ‘grouped’ together. I want to be able to edit some of these lines separately, because I don’t want the page definition lines to be cut out, and I don’t want the spine line there at all. Select your shape, right click, and click ‘Ungroup’. Now each line is selected in its own box.

3 ungroup all

4 ungrouped

Step 4: Delete! Select the spine line (or whatever else you want to delete). Press delete, and away it goes!

5 select spine

Continue reading

Label Jammin’

So we’ve talked about what is going to be on our jam favour labels. Time to show you a few test labels I made! I’m all about testing and prototypes, and I’m so glad I didn’t dive into this with my first idea! You’ll see why soon. :)

I bought something I’d been coveting for a while back on Black Friday. I’ve never really made scrapbook layouts like Miss Lox does, but I have always been a huge fan of scrapbook supplies. I finally gave myself an excuse to start buying them by making greeting cards. You should see my stash! No wait, you shouldn’t, it’s a mess. Anyway, I’d been wanting a Cricut for a long time until I heard a card-making blog mention the Silhouette SD. It is similar to the Cricut in that it is a digital cutting machine, but unlike the Cricut, you don’t need cartridges to get new shapes! It comes with software, and once you’ve installed it you can use any font on your computer. They also sell shapes for about $0.99 in the Silhouette online store, which I think is way more convenient than any cartridge. So on Black Friday I found the best deal I could, and the Silhouette SD became mine. I’ve tested it out a few times, but this is the first project I’ve started.

The other great thing about the Silhouette is that you can set things to print or cut. It isn’t a printer, you print on your regular printer then feed it in the Silhouette to cut. The Silhouette software prints registration marks so the machine can find where it is on the page and cut everything perfectly. This feature is great for getting text on shaped pieces of paper!

I took all the following photos of the process myself. :)

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The scene: My compter/crafting desk, with the Silhouette in the centre. Here you can see the paper I printed the words on. You can see 3 L shapes on the corners of the paper – these are the registration marks. The transparent thing to the right of the cardstock is the cutting mat. It is sticky, and you stick your paper to it before it goes through the machine. There are different ones for paper and for cardstock. Do not stick paper to the cardstock one – the adhesive is so strong it rips printer paper to shreds when you try to take it off (ask me how I know!).

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Paper going through the cutting machine. Each of these labels is a combination of 2 different fonts – I wanted to test out a few to see what Cinnamon Buns and I liked best.

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I made a small mistake when setting up the document – I sized up a copy of the shape so I would have a mat, but I forgot to take the mats out of that document before sending through the cutter. That just meant it cut a separate ‘border’ that it didn’t need to, but otherwise it didn’t affect anything.

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The Silhouette doesn’t come with it, but I totally recommend buying a spatula by Cricut or Slice (that’s the brand of mine). They’re made for other similar machines, and really help for getting the paper off the sticky mats without bending/ripping/curling.

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I cut the larger shape out of a page from a theatre reference book I bought from the library for $0.50. **No great works of literature were harmed in this project.

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Then I stuck the label to the mat, and got these! I used gluestick on some, and my Xyron on the others. The Xyron ones turned out way better, but it was also a really old gluestick.

Awesome! Punny labels! When Cinnamon Buns came home from work, I showed him. He said ‘they’re a little big….’. I said ‘Really?’ and then CB went and got me a jam jar from the kitchen.

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Yup, bigger than the jam jar (you can just see the rim behind the upper right of the label). We also realized that we should use cardstock instead of printer paper, so you can’t read the book text through the label. I went into my library of shapes to show CB what other scrolly labels shapes I had, and he pointed at a shape I hadn’t even considered and asked if I could try that one. He had pointed out an open book shape! Smarty-pants!

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Etc etc etc, same process, and we had this! Not only is it smaller than the jam jar, it is book-shaped! We also picked our favourite fonts out of the ones I’d used: American Typewriter and Ahnberg. I’m not too worried about matching fonts with our invites, but will try to keep venue stuff to the same ones for continuity.

Once again, we wondered if this size was a little big, so today I sat down and made a few sizes of book labels. I cut everything out of one sheet of cardstock to save paper, but knew I’d have to do something to make the ‘covers’ different than the ‘pages’ because it’s awkward to see white-on-white. Enter Glimmer Mist:

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An awesome tool, and friend to scrapbookers and paper crafters the world around. It is basically sparkly spray ink that comes in tons of colours. You bet I have some in our wedding colours! Again, this isn’t what we’re planning on doing for the actual favours, I just needed to make my white test-covers a different colour, and it was either this or scribbling with a Sharpie.

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Labels ranging from 2.25″ to 3″ across. After seeing these, I’m toying with the idea of Glimmer Mist-ing the book paper, but I’m not sure about that yet. I tucked these all into the jam jar so they’re handy to show Cinnamon Buns when he comes home. I think the tiniest is a bit too tiny, but they don’t need to be as big as the biggest. I guess I’m with Goldilocks on this one.

And then, because I had out the book and the Glimmer Mist, I made this:

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I used both Dragonfly and Lilypad Glimmer Mist and made a Kusudama flower.

Do you take a few runs at your craft projects, or jump in with both feet and cut out 60 of the first idea you had?