Posts tagged ‘Sure-Cuts-A-Lot’
It’s been over a year since I visited the details of each software package available to drive a Silhouette cutter. There’s still no clear winner for everyone, because so much depends on what you want to do, how much learning curve you are willing to endure and how much you want to spend, not to mention personal preference. I have made a radical update to my comparison chart to help you choose what’s right for you among Silhouette’s own software, Make the Cut or Sure Cuts a Lot. Funtime Pro is also an option now, but I’ve not had a copy to compare so the items on the chart in that column are provisional at best. Hoping for some input from Funtime users on this. I know many of you are like me, and already use more than one of these software packages. In that case, I hope this chart will help you find the best one for the task at hand.
In addition, I’ve added a detailed chart on file formats. Most of you can probably skip this, but if you are interested in being able to cut a particular file format (or a lot of them) then this may help you make a decision. This information may also be helpful to designers choosing which file formats to offer.
(Click each image to open/download the corresponding PDF)
Note: this chart was revised 3/24/13 to include new features in Make-the-Cut v4.6.0
With the popularity of the Cameo (and earlier SD model), and the introduction of premium software from Silhouette, there are lots of questions about which software is best. There’s not an easy answer, because it depends on what you want to do, and how much you want to spend. I have prepared a comparison chart to help you choose what’s right for you, Silhouette’s own software, Make the Cut or Sure Cuts a Lot.
Update: For the latest comparison click here.
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.
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.
Note: This process is no longer needed since because the latest versions of SCAL2 can save directly to svg. This post does show how to trace a screen shot so I will leave it up.
Ever since SCAL2 came out and more people are using it to design, rather than resorting to Inkscape, there’s been a need for a way to go backwards and change those SCUT files back into SVGs. This is because SVG is a more universal format, compatible with SCAL1 and MTC, for instance. You can also use the SVG to print your design in high resolution. Today I played around with this and got some great results so I wanted to share my steps.
1. Open the SCUT file in SCAL2 and fill the screen with the image you want to trace, either by zooming in or by resizing the image.
2. Click the Preview All button to create a solid preview. (If you have other layers in the way, click the appropriate eye icon on the layers palette to toggle off the unwanted layers.)
3. Take a screen shot of the solid preview, cropping fairly close, and save it as a .png or jpg. If you don’t know how to take and save a screen shot, click here for resources.
4. Click the Image button in SCAL2 and navigate to where your .jpg or .png screen shot file is saved to open it in the autotrace window. Set Brightness to 49 and leave the other settings at their defaults. If the trace does not look satisfactory, adjust settings and try again. Pay special attention to rounded shapes and to corners when evaluating the trace.
5. When the preview looks good, click the Save button. Name and save your SVG. It is now available to use in other programs or to share.
6. The new SVG will also be placed on your SCAL2 mat so you can compare it with the original. (Size is not maintained)
That’s it. I fully expect Craftedge to add a feature to render this unnecessary, but until then, hope this helps.
I have seen so many questions and there is so much information to slog through, that I put together a chart with as many relevant parameters as I could think of. I anticipate frequent updates in the near term so please send others to this page instead of sharing the file. Thanks for your cooperation.
You may also be interested in the 4 part series on this blog
or a short comparison article from Darcy
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.