When I found out that a plain ol’ every day shamrock was $0.99 in the Silhouette online store I scoffed at the price. A buck for a simple shape? I could get some insanely creative cut files for that buck.
So instead of handing over my dollar I decided to spend a few hours trying to make cut files on my own. (Did I mention this was my second ever project with my Christmas Cameo?)
Since I work with Adobe software almost daily, I figured it would be a snap and I’d just get it done and move on. I had hand drawn my shamrock shape and scanned it in and tried to trace on top of my scanned image in Silhouette Studio. Disaster. Total. Freakin’. Nightmare. I still have no clue how to draw with that silly thing .
After that epic failure, I decided to draw the shape in Illustrator and then try to figure out a way to work with it from there. Luckily, I did get something figured out and you may already know this, but if you’re new like me, this info could possibly save you a considerable amount of time! Today I’m going to show you how to take GIF or JPEG files you either create or download from the internet (Google Image search is a good place to start) and turn it into a Silhouette cut file.
For all things computer related, the lingo is going to work like this… As an example, if you need to save the file you click file, scroll down and hit save as and then fill out the pop up window and hit enter, it’s going to look like this File–>Save As. Good deal, Lucille? Let’s move on.
File–>Open. Scroll down in the bottom drop down menu the type of file you are going to be working from. For the first example I used a GIF.
All right, now. See our file is in the work area which is exactly what we want.
You’re going to need to select the trace icon to open up the options menu on the right side of the screen.
When looking at the icons across the top of the program you’ll notice a yellow icon with a blue butterfly inside of it. If you’re colorblind, however, note that it is the fifth icon from the far right.
Click on the top bit in the trace menu that reads “Select Trace Area”. This is a tool that you will use to draw a square around what you want to trace. The blue box you see above is me doing just that.
The section below “Select Trace Area” has different tracing options including Trace, Trace Outer Edge, and Trace and Detach. Now I can’t tell you the specifics of each option as I’m still a noob, but I’d assume that they do what they say they do – I just used the plain old trace option and it worked brilliantly.
See the red line that is now around the shape? That is my traced cut file. Delete the GIF image imported and you’ve got a cleaned up and absolutely perfect cut file!
File–>Save to Library.
Fill in the information in the menu that pops up for properties on your library item. Put in as much information as you’d like. If you plan on accumulating quite the library, I’d highly suggest tagging each image with as many keywords as you can possibly find helpful in the future. Hit OK when done and you are finished.
Now, just because I’m naturally inquisitive, I decided to see how working with a JPEG file with lots of colors would pan out. It wound up working really well, but needed a bit more finagling. open your file, select the area to be traced and choose the “trace” option.
Everything is going pretty well, but it isn’t recognizing everything. Those one dots are being completely ignored!
The bottom section in the trace menu has some sliders with other options. This is how we’re going to fix this baby up! First, write down all the numbers as they are before you touch anything. No matter what program you are using, it’s always a good idea to do this so you can always get back to the original starting point.
See that little slider that says “Threshold”? That that and slowly move it to the right. Just a few ticks over and now my image looks great and the cuts are going to be awesome.
Check it out! The file isn’t perfect but using the tools, can be easily cleaned up to be. Plus, you have a fancy cut shape that cost you absolutely no money, just a little bit of time.
For me, I’ll always spend time over money. I hope that this proves helpful for you, and even more importantly saves you a couple of bucks! Happy Monday…