Many have discovered that Silhouette Studio is a great tool for designing print projects such as chalkboard art and other frameables. Silhouette Print and Cut enthusiasts also want to outsource their printing sometimes to save money or work around home printer issues. But its not immediately obvious how to get high resolution files saved out of Silhouette Studio so you can share them with others or have them printed remotely. I’ve prepared a series of videos to show how to do this.
For Windows to save for standard or large prints:
Staples, Office Depot, etc usually prefer PDF format while photoprocessors like Walgreens, Costco, etc. require JPG format (follow same instructions as in video but select JPG instead of PNG). If you are publishing a printable for home printing, PNG is the generally preferred format.
Update: When downloading PDF Creator use the red text download link for version 1.7 as shown below. Do not download this or any other software if your virus and anti-malware software is not active and up to date or if you are not familiar with safe downloading practices.
For Windows, to outsource your printing for print and cut projects:
PDF format must be used for print and cut. Any PDF printer will work. Be sure that you let the tech know to print at 100%, not fit to margins, etc.
For Mac, to save for standard or large prints and to solve the “grid problem”:
The above procedure would also be used for print and cut. All necessary software is built in to a Mac.
If you’ve been waiting for the lovely Samantha font by Laura Worthington to go on sale, now’s your chance.
For crafting you want the desktop version and whether you get the Upright or Italic is a matter of personal preference. Each of them come with the full set of alternate characters (the swirls), catchwords and ornaments. If you get the $37 package you also get the bold versions of each. These fonts are also licensed for use on items diecutters typically sell (words and phrases, not individual characters). For licensing details please see Laura’s FAQ’s.
In case you missed it earlier here’s how to use Samantha or other specially coded fonts in Silhouette Studio for Windows. Please see this link for written instructions and a couple of corrections.
and for Mac OSX 10.9 Mavericks and Silhouette Studio.
And don’t miss these other beautiful, specially coded fonts also on sale now…
Here’s the video I promised for how to make your own print template for Darice embossing folders and others that publish clear images.
Here’s a summary of the steps for those who like things written out:
-Choose a folder that lends itself well to this technique (open space for sentiments, clear shapes for coloring, etc.)
-Google a for large, clear image (newer Darice folders have these online, which is why I recommend them) and download it.
-Open the image on your mat and trace it with high pass off. Color it so it’s easily identified.
-Place your physical folder on your scanner bed face down, cover with black paper/cardstock and scan to a *jpg* file.
-Drag or merge the scan image to your mat.
-Draw a rectangle 4.25 x 5.75 (for Darice A2 folders only, you could also use any horizontal or vertical line)
-Use the rectangle as a guide to straighten the scanned image.
-Increase the transparency of your traced shape under Fill Color>Advanced and Bring to Front.
-Drag the traced shape over the scan and adjust the size of the traced shape until it fits the scan. Note: if you do not have a scanner you can use a camera and a PixScan mat or you can measure key shapes on the folder with a ruler.
-Print the traced shape, trim as needed and test the fit with the physical folder.
-Adjust the size larger/smaller as indicated and reprint/recheck until fit is achieved.
-Design your card or card front layout with the traced shape, taking care to keep it at the proper size.
Note: In this example, the knife tool was used to split the shape for multiple colors, but with most embossing folders the shapes are already separate and this step is not needed.
This video will show you how to emboss the printouts created from your template with its matching folder.
I know you want to know how to make templates for all your folders, and that video is in work.
My sample cards are here.
Don’t forget to share any cards you create with me and if you like this information, I’d appreciate a pin, tweet or link. Thanks!
Earlier this year, I reintroduced the “print and emboss” concept but seemed to stir up more bewilderment than anything else. So I’m uploading the first 2 parts of a 3 part tutorial series. (Don’t worry they are both short.)
Part 1 of the tutorial series shows how to use the template to create a customized printout to match the corresponding embossing folder.
Part 2 of the tutorial series shows how to line up the printout with the folder and emboss it.
Part 3 of the tutorial series shows how to create your own templates
I received my PixScan mat and have had a chance to play with it a bit. So here’s an update on what we know now about PixScan:
-The mat is thick. .019″ thick according to my calipers. Nearly twice as thick as a standard Silhouette mat (.010″) and almost as thick as a Cricut mat (.022″). This is important because some of us had come to the conclusion that using Cricut mats was what was causing problems when we cut vinyl without a mat. I for one, had sworn off Cricut mats, but obviously need to rethink that.
-The mat is opaque. This is an unfortunate design choice because it makes it impossible to backlight the mat to get a better photo.
-Taking a calibration photo can be a challenge. You need to light from the side so that you don’t block the light when you hover over to take the photo, which has to be from straight above. A great tip is to mount the calibration page on a wall and take the photo from a more natural position. Magnets on the fridge would be an easy solution if your kitchen is well lit. I am hearing from a number of people who simply have not been able to calibrate at all, receiving repeated error messages. The Silhouette Plus forum is building a library of calibration images so you might want to check there to see if you can download an image for your camera. Also don’t forget that some devices are precalibrated (see the list in this blog post).
-The PixScan software if pretty accepting of the image photos (different from the calibration photos), but since you still have to trace the images, a better photo (in focus, and brightly lit) will make the job easier.
-In terms of accuracy, results are all over the map. Some people are getting very impressive results, while others (even knowledgeable ones) have a good bit of “white sliver” showing. This doesn’t surprise me because there are so many variables. I can’t get my mat to lay perfectly flat, for instance, and I know that throws off the correction. I expect this to be a bigger issue as mats wear.
-PixScan, as we expected, is simply not as accurate as standard Print and Cut. SA recommends using an inner offset to eliminate white slivers. I would recommend either an inner or standard offset and a design that is forgiving of minor mismatches. If you demand pinpoint accuracy, PixScan is likely to disappoint you. And don’t spend a lot of time tweaking and point editing your trace because it isn’t going to be worth the effort.
-Mat loading position is essential for getting registration marks read. The left edge of the mat should not cover the mat loading guideline on your machine. Don’t be surprised if you have to try multiple times. Hopefully this will be corrected in a software update.
-PixScan works fairly to very well with a camera, but not with a scanner. It is difficult if not impossible to get a proper set of scans that will automatically stitch together and in the process you expose your scanner bed to mat adhesive and your mat to possible creasing from the scanner lid. Detailed instructions might help, but there are none available to date. Hint: set your scanner area to A4 and scan the entire right or left side of the mat first.
-The PixScan layer can not be toggled off to make it easier to edit trace lines. Another example of poor implementation of layers in V3 that I hope will be corrected in future versions.
-My advice, scan your image without the mat to obtain the cut lines as you would do without PixScan, then use PixScan to determine the correct position for those cut lines. This adds steps, but gives you the best of both worlds for an overall less frustrating experience and better results.
-In my opinion, Silhouette’s PixScan technology has rendered the Brother ScanNCut obsolete. Kudos for a great idea that makes Silhouette’s otherwise mediocre software a player again.
-Despite the issues mentioned above, I am excited about this technology and the ways it expands what we can do with our Silhouettes. I’ve already been putting it to use and will be reporting on the things I think it works better than existing methods for.
My image photo of scrapbook paper on the PixScan mat using precalibrated iPhone 4s. Note that the image photo needs to include the entire mat, but can be from an angle.
As imported and interpreted by PixScan
Cut lines added by tracing (no offset applied)
Can you explain what it is?
PixScan takes a photo or scanned image of a physical mat and places it on the virtual mat in exactly the right size, orientation and position. To do this, you need a specially marked PixScan mat and a software module that is built into Silhouette Studio v3.1 and higher. You put your image or item on the physical PixScan mat, snap a photo or scan it, and, once imported into Silhouette Studio, the PixScan technology resizes it, corrects for angles (camera) or stitches it together (scan). From there you can trace or otherwise place cut lines for precise cutting, drawing or designing. The example shown below uses a simulated mat since I do not have one yet. Pretty impressive.
What is it good for?
PixScan is for cutting out preprinted images that can’t be printed from Silhouette Studio with registration marks for standard Print and Cut. In other words, PixScan is for when you can’t print the marks on the same page you want to cut out of. Examples would be cutting out images from wrapping paper, greeting cards, decoupage sheets, or cutting out images you have stamped and even embossed.
You can also use it to cut from precut sheets, so, for instance, adding borders to or cutting out shaped windows from precut cards. You can also use it to position cuts with respect to the particular pattern on a page, or to cut from oddly shaped scraps.
As you probably already know, certain media don’t lend themselves to printing and/or reading registration marks on. Black paper, for instance, or transparency film or foil or any of the media that Silhouette machines have trouble reading the marks from can be put on a PixScan mat instead. Potentially big benefit here.
We can even combine standard print and cut with PixScan cuts. For instance, print and cut a page of shaped tags or bookmarks, laminate them, then use PixScan to cut around them with a margin so that the laminated edges stay sealed.
Another application would be for designing things at true size, when the original might not be convenient to scan. If you have a gasket to replace, for instance, use PixScan to help you design a new one for an exact fit. Similarly, you could design a cut file to perfectly match an acrylic keychain shape.
Many high end users have issues with the print colors out of Silhouette Studio and prefer to print from Photoshop, etc. That is another good use for PixScan.
Finally, PixScan gives you a way to print and cut a full 8-1/2 x 11 page (Cameo only) instead of having to leave room for registration marks as you do now.
Do I have to update to V3?
Yes, you have to update to V3.1.417 or higher to use the PixScan technology. You can get the update here.
Do I need separate PixScan software?
No, PixScan is built into Silhouette Studio V3.1.417 and higher.
Which machines will this work with?
The Silhouette Cameo and the Silhouette Portrait. The Cameo will only work with the PixScan Cameo mat and the Portrait will only work with the PixScan Portrait mat.
How much does PixScan cost?
The software update is free. All you need to buy is a PixScan mat, which retails for $14.99USD, the same prices as a standard Cameo mat. You will not want to use PixScan mats exclusively though, because the cutting area is smaller than a standard mat.
Do I need Designer Edition?
Do I have to have a smartphone?
No, all you need is a camera or a scanner.
Do I need a special app?
No, the PixScan technology does the photo processing.
Do I have to have a scanner?
No, you can use a camera.
What if my scanner doesn’t work with Silhouette Studio?
You can use any camera.
How do I get my photos from the camera/phone to the computer?
That will depend on your camera/phone or computer. Check online help sources for the most convenient methods for you.
How is this different from just scanning?
When you scan, assuming you save as jpg, you have the image at the right size; but with PixScan you also have it at the right position and orientation on your virtual mat for cutting.
How is this different from Print and Cut?
With Print and Cut, you start by printing your design, along with registration marks, on a blank, uncut sheet of paper. With PixScan, the material you will be cutting is already printed and/or your page is already cut. Both processes rely on having the cutlines in the same relative position to the registration marks on the physical mat as they are on the virtual mat. In Print and Cut this is accomplished simply by printing the marks on the page from within the software. With PixScan, the marks are fixed on the mat itself, and the software interprets the photo or scan you input to determine the correct relative position of the cut lines.
Is this better than Print and Cut?
This is not better or worse than Print and Cut, it simply extends Print and Cut to cover new uses that aren’t practical now.
Can I use this instead of the old Print and Cut?
You can, but there won’t usually be an advantage in doing that, and there may be some disadvantages. For instance, in standard Print and Cut, you may already have a cut line, whereas with PixScan you have to create one. (You can combine the two methods, of course, but that adds to the complexity).
Do I still have to trace?
Yes, you still have to trace to get the cutlines. If you need to brush up on tracing, make sure and check out my Tracing without Tears video series.
This video specifically about tracing stamped images may also be helpful
How did they get the cut line for the bicycle in the promo video?
In my opinion, that cut line was manually drawn. There is no line in the original to trace and no software that I know of can trace an imaginary line.
Can I use it with an SD?
Sorry, no, the SD uses different registration marks and there is no mat or programming to support it.
Do I have to calibrate my camera/phone?
If you are not using one of the smartphones/tablets that has calibration data already built in (see list below) to Silhouette Studio you will need to do a one time calibration of your camera. It involves printing a test page, photographing it and importing it into Silhouette Studio. Complete instructions can be found on page 35 of the manual (find the manual under the Help menu in Silhouette Studio). I recommend you visit this blog post from Debbie where she shows you exactly what a successful calibration photo looks like.
What smartphones/tablets are supported without calibration?
- Kindle Fire HDX
- Apple iPad mini
- Apple iPhone 4s
- Apple iPhone 5c
- Apple iPhone 5s
- HTC Desire 300
- HTC EVOV 4G
- Nokia Lumia 520
- Panasonic DMC-TZ55
- Samsung GT-P3113
- Samsung SM-T230
- Samsung SPH-L720
- Samsung WB250F, WB251F, WB252F
- Sony C6603
I can’t update, are there alternatives?
Yes, for cutting and stamping here, for cutting from scraps here. There are also a number of smartphone/tablet scanner apps such as Genius Scan and Turbo Scan that can correct photos for more accurate tracing.
A good video that shows the PixScan process