Posts tagged ‘MTC’
New owners of digital diecutters often ask what are the best fonts for welding (or “connecting” if they haven’t been indoctrinated into our odd vernacular yet). We may give a few suggestions but usually brush them off with something about personal preference. It turns out that there are some fonts that are inherently weld-friendly thanks to their attentive typographers.
I set out to find a dozen or so that are nice looking, fool-proof for welding (as in, type and go; no tracking, kerning, nudging or schooching required, at least for the letter combos I tested) and, best of all, free. Here’s how they look typed out and then welded in preview. Gorgeous, aren’t they?
So here they are, for your welding enjoyment.
Once you have typed your word or phrase, the letters should already be overlapping properly, so all that is left for you to do is click on the word or phrase so that the selection box appears around it and activate welding as follows:
In Silhouette Studio : Press the Cut Style button then press “Cut Edge”
In SCAL : On the Appearance section of the Properties palette click the Weld checkbox (unless it is already checked)
In MTC : Click the Weld button or press CTRL + W
It is recommended that you always do a cut preview to verify that any welding is as expected before cutting.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of March 14, 2011, MTC no longer supports Cricut.
With new official releases of SureCutsALot and MakeTheCut finalized in the last few days, I have been busy updating my comparison chart. So click below for the latest on who does what, current for SCAL 2.038 and MTC 3.2. By the way, both MTC and the comparison chart are celebrating their first anniversary this week.
Update: MTC 3 is out of beta. Download MTC 3.2 to take advantage of these and many more features.
I played around with the beta version of Make-The-Cut 3 last night and I am amazed at the results. 2 issues have been standing in the way for reliable print and cut on the Cricut. One is being able to print at a specific size and position on the page and the other is the inaccuracy of the Cricut, especially its tendency to get further off course as you move away from the starting point. Somehow Andy (MTC’s developer) has magically overcome both of these problems to create a simple, flexible and accurate print and cut process using any printer and a Cricut machine.
Here’s a quick video
And here’s the step by step because I go really fast.
1) Open MTC and click on the Pixel Trace button and navigate to where your graphic is stored and click open. (I recommend you start with a simple graphic with a well-defined outline for your first try). I picked one from Lettering Delights, of course.
2) Set the threshold to 254. You want to be sure you capture the entire outer edge of the graphic.
3) Check the “Set Image as Texture” checkbox and click Import.
4) Click on the imported graphic to select it and click on the Blackout button.
5) Uncheck “outline shapes” at the bottom of the Visual Mat tab.
6) Choose File>Print and print to the printer of your choice. I used the default settings on both a Brother and an Epson printer, but you want to be sure anything that would change the size of the print (such as shrink to fit, etc.) is deselected. You also do not want it set to borderless printing.
7) Place the printed paper on the Cricut mat carefully aligned along the outlines in the upper left hand corner (as shown in photo above).
8 )Select Cut with Provocraft Cricut and cut using settings appropriate for your type of paper.
That’s it you’re done!
Note: If you don’t get satisfactory results using the simple process above you may need to make adjustments to your printer or cutter. I’ve put together a step by step process for finding and fixing problems here.
Buried in the update notes for Make-the-Cut 2.3.0 was a feature to “take in to account” the DPI of imported files. I hoped this would simplify the print and cut process and did it ever!
Here are the steps I used to get the results above in minutes:
1. Open a .jpg (.png, or .bmp should work, too) file in the program of your choice (I used PSE) and print it, being careful to select settings that will result in a 100% print size (uncheck shrink to fit, etc.). This image is from an ancient PC Crafter ClipArt CD.
2. Import the same .jpg file that you used in step 1 into MTC (if you made changes to the file before printing, be sure to save it before importing) or for a preprinted image scan directly into MTC. Adjust threshold until you see a solid outline (the internal details don’t matter) and click “Import” to trace.
3. In MTC, with the image still selected, click Break followed by Weld to create a solid outline (also called blackout).
4. In MTC, create a shadow layer at the desired size and turn off the original outline so that only the shadow layer will cut (click the corresponding eye icon in the layers palette).
5. Here you have a choice to:
a: Use the carrier method to print onto your cutout with an inkjet printer. Print a black and white draft copy of your image on scrap paper (to save ink). Cut the file prepared above and attach the cutout lined up over your draft printout using repositionable adhesive, load it into your printer and then print the final image in high quality color. This method has been in use for many years (see excerpt from my 1998 book) and is the first choice for those with a top loading printer and for less detailed shapes. I would not use this method with a laser printer.
b: Use the hinge technique to position the printout on the mat for cutting, and cut.
If you are not familiar with the hinge technique you can look at steps 12-15 on this page. I also have a video here. (Of course, if you are using MTC you can ignore the part in the video about the coordinates since MTC will cut your outline in exactly the same location on 2 successive cuts automatically.)
A beautifully cut out printed image is achieved without noting or entering a single measurement! Can you tell I am psyched?
c: MTC does a pretty good job of correlating the virtual mat to your actual mat when cutting, so if your file is forgiving (can tolerate ±1/16in.), you may prefer to simply position it on the mat using the guidelines (image aligned with same guidelines on both virtual and real mat, for instance).
Regardless of the method you choose, keep in mind that the Cricut’s “creep” will come into play with larger images and wreak havoc on your efforts to print and cut page size images.
Another note: The MTC steps above work great for making mats for your rubber stamps, too. Instead of step 1, stamp the image cleanly on a white piece of paper (or use the image from the back of the stamp). For step 2, scan the image into MTC and continue with the rest of step 2, step 3 and step 4. Then duplicate the mat shape as many times you like and cut out of blank card stock. Now you have custom cutout shapes to stamp on.
Use code MTC327 to order Make-The-Cut for $58.36 … the lowest price available.
Craftedge released on update of SureCutsALot that brings Mac users up to parity with their Windows counterparts and also adds such features as text on a path, open path cutting and line styles.
Make the Cut also released version 2.2.0 which features a rebuild of the interface, layers capability the ability to cut to a number of other cutters besides the Cricut through a full color print function. This version of Make the Cut also features the long promised and somewhat controversial feature that allows owners of Cricut Design Studio to back up the images in the carts they own to SVG files.
My comparison chart has been updated. Get the PDF version here.
Both MTC and SCAL have released new versions over the last couple of days. Both of these programs now have most of the features we previously had to use Inkscape for! Please see the link below for the latest version of my comparison chart.
I am so excited, I just found a free print driver that will print to svg! Here’s how to use this technique to change a printable vector into a cut file.
1. Install PDFCreator version 0.98 or later (Windows only). This is a free open source utility.
2. Choose a suitable vector image in a program or applet that has a print command (see pre-screened suggestions below) and click Print.
3. Choose PDFCreator from the list of printers in the Print Dialog window and click OK.
4. Click the Save button at the bottom of the PDFCreator dialog.
5. Choose SVG from the pull down list of file types at the bottom of the window, and choose a name and location for your file, and click Save.
7. Once imported into SCAL2 or MTC, resize your image so you can see it well. If extraneous items appear (like a rectangle around your design or buttons from the Flash application), select all, break your image apart and delete the unwanted items. If letters or shapes overlap, you have to break apart the graphic and weld them.
Note: MTC has recently added path simplification and you may want to use it at this point in the process to reduce the nodes in your design.
8. Resize your image as desired and cut!
Here are things that I’ve tried successfully so far. I suggest you start with one of these to make sure you know it works:
- WordArt from MSWord (black outline, no fill, if using SCAL1 be sure no letters are touching.)
- ImageChef Word Mosaic (use black background, white text and right click on image to find Print command. Once SVG is imported, break it apart and remove extraneous items in SCAL2 or MTC)
- silhouette graphics in PrintMaster
- custom graphic generated in PrintMaster
- silhouette clip art from MSWord
- Hugware clip art in black and white .wmf format opened in default clip art application (works great in for making paper piecings)
- Coloring book pages from ColoringPlanet.com
- Image created in Funtime Scrapbooking Lite (contains way too many nodes, not recommended without simplifying)
- Tuckbox Creator
- Ideogram Box and Envelope Maker
- Vector PDFs such as paper crafting templates, etc. Tip: Look for crisp lines at a high zoom level to identify vector PDFs.
You should be able to “print to svg” anything you were getting vectors out of before using a PDF and Inkscape. Some things are a little too complicated to make it worth it to work with in just MTC or SCAL2. For instance, I was able to get a valid SVG with vectors from a stick figure generator, but it was too “busy” to clean up, at least with my patience level.
I was going to be excited to report that SCAL2 for Mac was out in a form I would now call stable. I’ve been cutting with it for a week or so with no issues and looking forward to doing a full review once the Christmas rush was over… and then, without even a whispered rumor in advance, a SCAL competitor emerges.
The first version of Make-the-Cut software (for Windows only) has been released by an independent developer. First reactions are positive, at least at the introductory price of $78. Andy has taken pains to address the most painful aspects of SCAL and it is obvious from just a couple of screen shots that the interface is more polished than its predecessors. Will be interesting to see where things head with this in the coming weeks as lots of people find Black Friday Cricuts under their trees.