How to make custom templates in SVG format with Ideogram

Ideogram has had a big upgrade and now generates SVG templates. Also added to the tuck boxes and envelopes are pillow boxes, shadow boxes, stars, milk cartons, boxes with polygonal cross sections, gift bags and more, all to your exact specifications! If you’ve ever tried to trace a template or design one from scratch I know you’ll be excited about these new free online tools. Let me show you how easy it is to generate custom templates for Silhouette Studio Designer Edition as well as  Make the Cut ,  Sure Cuts A Lot or Cricut Design Space with it.

- Go to http://www.ideogram.nl/boxmaker

Custom templates in SVG format!

- Scroll down the page to find the shape you want. Lets try the new truncated cone shape and make a wrap for a votive holder as an example. (You MTC folks can indulge the rest on this choice and even though you don’t need a conical shape generator and don’t need a scale factor, the other steps may be helpful for the other templates)

- Click More Options

cone2

- Enter your units, the two diameters of your object and the height (to the “table”). The order of the 2 diameters doesn’t matter.

votivemeas

- Leave the others measurements as is. They don’t seem to be working yet.

- Click the SVG button

cone2

- You will see the wrap shape on the next page. It may say “pdf” but this is actually the SVG.

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- Right click and Save or Select File >Save Page As (may vary depending on your browser)

cone3

- Select a location and click Save.

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- We need to check/change a couple of things in Silhouette Studio preferences to be sure this works as expected. Click on Import Options on the left and at the bottom under “When Importing SVG” click As-is and check both boxes.

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- From a blank document in Silhouette Studio Designer Edition select File>Merge and navigate to the location where you just saved the template, (if you are using Windows, choose SVG or All Files from the File Type pull down at the bottom of the window), select your file and click OK.

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- You will see the shape on your mat, but it is obviously not the right size. File>Select All and Object>Group before doing anything else.

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- Through experimentation, I have determined that the scale factor needed is either 125% or 250% so we will try 125% first. Click the Scale button and enter 125% in the first box and click Apply.

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- Turn on the grid and eyeball the size to see if it looks realistic to you. Since my votive holder is 2.6 inches high, I know that the straight side should be about that dimension. Clearly this is still too small. With boxes and envelopes there will be at least one side you know the dimension of so this is an easy process once you get used to it.

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- Click 200% in the Scale window (to bring us to a total scale of 250%)

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- That looks like the right size so now I can, remove the text and work with just the template. I want to set the line widths to zero. Select all, then slide the slider to the right and then back hard left. (It may erroneously show zero with multiple objects selected but this will make sure they all zero out.)

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- in the Cut Style window set the shape to Cut. I can also use this shape to crop a pattern, or to wrap text, add cutouts, etc.

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- If I want to remove or change the score line, I simply select the line, remove it, or change to solid or a different dash style.

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I am hoping there will soon be an option to generate the template without the tab, but until then, if you do not want the tab,

- Draw a rectangle on top of the shape as shown, select both shapes and Object>Modify>Subtract.

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Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 3.46.19 PM

Hope this helps you make the most of ideogram and your cutter. So now geometry shall no longer stand between you and a fabulous project!

February 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm 11 comments

Distressed HTV Technique

Get a distressed look with heat transfer vinyl without tedious weeding.
I’ve been experimenting with a new technique for getting a distressed look with heat transfer vinyl and while it may not be ready for widespread adoption, I wanted to go ahead and share it with you.

What you need:
heat transfer vinyl with mylar backing (I’m using Siser Easy Weed)
a cutting board or other hard surface you don’t mind damaging
a new or clean Ped-Egg
optionally, a new cheese grater like the one pictured from Dollar Tree

IMG_3870

Cut and weed your HTV as usual. It’s a good idea to practice with scraps so grab some of that HTV you forgot to mirror!

IMG_3880

Place it on your surface sticky side up and begin to scrape across it with the Ped-Egg. The goal is to cut through the vinyl layer without lifting it, and to do minimum damage to the mylar. Start slowly and lightly and increase your pressure until you get it right.

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It helps to extend it over the edge of your cutting surface for better contact with the cutting teeth.

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After a bit, brush the excess away from your design onto the surrounding sticky area and see what your design looks like from the mylar side. Continue with several more cycles until you reach the desired level of distress.

IMG_3881

Inspect the vinyl surface and remove or tamp down any larger flaps or tears that would hinder the vinyl from laying flat.
Press as usual or a little shorter on time, then remove the backing and repress with just the teflon sheet for a few seconds to be sure all the vinyl is secure.

IMG_3868fs

Because the teeth on the Ped-Egg are small, it produces small scale distress (the letters above are 1 inch tall). For larger scale images, try the large round holes on the Dollar Tree cheese grater. This will result in more flaps and damage to the vinyl and backing, but you can use the Ped-Egg in a subsequent pass to help clean it up.

IMPORTANT: Let me emphasize that this is experimental. This technique obviously does not allow for optimal adhesion of the vinyl across 100% of its surface and especially along the distressed edges. Some of the tiny pieces will not adhere at all because they will be upside down. I do not have long term wear or laundering experience with this. Use this technique at your own risk. And of course, use appropriate caution when handling sharp objects.

January 29, 2014 at 1:02 pm 7 comments

Print and Emboss Cards

Its been over 3 years since I first tried matching print files to embossing folders and it was such a pain that I left it alone after that. But now that Darice is publishing nice black and white previews of their embossing folders, I decided to brave it again. Each of these is a lot of work up front, but once the template is done, you can crank out a lovely, customized card in minutes.

The Banner folder from Paper Studio (Hobby Lobby house brand) is so versatile, and I love using it with this technique. Graphics are from the Bicycle Craze collection by Lettering Delights.

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Print and Emboss Cards
Here are a few more I made with the same folder while I was experimenting

bannercardsw

You can make a simple template just for positioning text between embossed areas, as I’ve done here with the Darice Grass folder and still get a stunning look.

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Or you can go all out and print the entire embossed area like this. The photo just does not do this one justice, but even so don’t expect 100% perfect results because the paper deforms as it goes through the embossing process.

IMGw_3836

Changing colors only take a few clicks.

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Once you have a template, you can pick out just one key element to print if you like, as I’ve done here with the Darice Butterfly on Flower folder.

IMGw_3843

I used the same idea here, with the Darice Bird on Branch folder except that I used the sketch tool in Silhouette Studio to give the bird a hand drawn look.

IMGw_3841

And I think this card I made with the Darice Boot Tracks folder is my favorite. This is an unusual, inverted folder so the boot prints are indented instead of raised. Wouldn’t this be great for Operation Write Home?

Print and Emboss Card

I will be my sharing templates soon, but wanted to go ahead and get this posted, so please check back. And if you can help me spread the word with a pin, tweet or FaceBook post, that’d be most appreciated.

January 18, 2014 at 3:31 pm 33 comments

To all the new Silhouette owners

Congratulations to all those who got a new Silhouette machine for Christmas. No doubt you are anxious to get started…or maybe you are just anxious. Either way, here are some things I wish I had known from the get-go.

-Every machine is different. The settings in Silh Studio or that you get from others are suggested starting points. You should do your own test cuts to determine what is right for your machine, blade, material, climate, etc.

-The mat starts out waaaayyy too sticky and it WILL eat your paper or the backing on your vinyl. Then it quickly goes to not sticky enough. This is frustrating but you will learn to keep several mats on hand at different levels of stickiness for different things. Before the first cut on a new mat, “de-sticky” it by patting it with a clean t-shirt. Then use heavy card stock for the first few cuts because it is easier to get off the mat.

-There is a button and/or indicator on your machine for Load Mat (or Carrier) vs. Load Media. Pay attention to this and check it before every cut, even if you didn’t change anything! This is the number one source of cutting errors, and is easily prevented.

loadmat

-The Cut Styles window (horizontal scissors with red line button) gives you a sort of cut preview and you should check it before every cut to avoid surprises. Often you will need to turn cut lines on here. This is another source of easily avoidable errors.

Cut Styles

-Pens are a great way to test “cut” and just to learn how the machine works. The character marker sets in the dollar section of Target, Michaels and Walmart (also Dollar Tree) fit the Silh machines perfectly with no adapters necessary so they are perfect for this. You can use a piece of card stock with no mat so you are not wasting paper, blades or mat adhesive while you experiment.

dollarmarkers

-The designs from the Silh store are regular cut files UNLESS they have a small S for sketch or P for Print and Cut beside them. You will not be successful cutting a sketch file, and probably not a print&cut file either. Pay attention to the codes until you get to the point where you can tell them apart just by looking at them.

filecats

-When you want to remove the lines between overlapping letters or shapes, that is called “welding” and there is a button for that on the Modify panel or you can right click.

welding

-If you want to fatten up letters or make layered “mats” that is called “offset” and it has its own button that looks like a square with an arrow. The size of the offset is adjustable with the slider or by entering numbers or toggling the arrows.

offset

-If you are unable to move objects smoothly on your mat, then go to the Grid window and uncheck “Snap to Grid”

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-You can set a shape to any dimension using the Scale window. The button has diagonal arrows on it.

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-All Youtube videos are not created equal. Seek out recommendations for the best ones, or stick with reputable channels like Under A Cherry Tree , Doodling Debbie and of course CleverSomeday.

-Vinyl is easier to cut than paper, but people are scared of it because it is more expensive. Do not be afraid of vinyl (except maybe Silhouette brand, which is junk), but do learn about kiss-cutting and transfer paper. You will quickly be addicted. Contact paper (adhesive shelf liner) is a type of vinyl and can be substituted for many vinyl tasks like practice cutting and stencil making. If you can get scraps from a sign shop, that is perfect, too.

-Try some easy projects first like simple cards or single layer vinyl. The following are NOT easy projects : Split letters, lettering on ornaments, layering on cutting boards, many-layered paper piecings, designs by Kim Bright, tracings of photographs, double-sided print and cut or anything very detailed that is cut very small.
Think of it like diving. You would start with a jump and then a simple head first dive and work your way up over time before attempting a triple gainer.

December 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm 65 comments

Power tips for text to path in Silhouette Studio

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If you’ve only been using “text to path” in Silhouette Studio to curve words into a circle, then you have barely scratched the surface of what this fun feature can do. Here’s a video that will start with the basics and move on to the techniques that will make you a power user.

And be sure to grab Border Bits, the font I demo in the video, here.

December 11, 2013 at 11:27 am 38 comments

Free fall sketch file

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Here’s another fall image I converted to a sketch file with Adobe Ilustrator. Hope you enjoy using it. The Silhouette file also has a path to wrap text on.

Download the .studio file here or the .svg version here. Please remember that this file is only for sketching, and is not suitable for cutting.

The original was a free vector from Vector Graphics Blog so if you like this file leave them some love, too.

October 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm 17 comments

Adding thumbnails to your .studio files on a Mac

One of the shortcomings of the .studio file format is that there is no file preview. For Mac users, there is a relatively quick solution, although not an automatic one. I have a video to show you the process.

And for those of you who prefer written steps:

-open your .studio file
-hold down shift + command + control + 4 (this is kinda like twister so feel free to use both hands)
-let go once you see the “crosshairs” cursor
-drag from one corner to the other to select a roughly square section of your file that includes its contents or a representative sample
-go to the folder where your file is located and click to select the file
-press command +i to open the Get Info window
-press the tab key or click on the icon at the upper left of the window. It will highlight in blue.
-press command-v to paste your screen capture as the new icon
-close the Get Info window

Your new icons will show in all views in the Finder, and via Quick Look (press spacebar in Open dialog or in Finder).

iconcover

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QuickLook

There are two caveats. First is that is that the “Date Modified” for the file will change to reflect the date you changed the icon… just something to be aware of if you later search for a file by Last Modified date instead of by Date Created. Secondly, you will lose your custom icon when you open and resave the file. This is some sort of Mac glitch I haven’t found a workaround for. If you know how to prevent either one please let me know.

And no, there is not a way to create a custom icon for a file in Windows. What you can do in Windows is create the screen capture with the Snipping Tool (Win Vista and later), give it the same name as your file and place it in the same folder as your file so the preview image is then paired with the studio file when browsing.

October 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm 21 comments

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