Posts tagged ‘pen’

Canvas sketch project and a share

Sketch on Fabric with a SIlhouette machine

I’ve been playing around with drawing on fabric for a while, but haven’t been able to pull it together into a project until now. Pretty excited about how this turned out and about the potential here. The rough texture of the canvas really makes this piece work.


Here’s how it’s done (measurements are for an 11 x 14 canvas):

– Cut and iron a piece of canvas fabric (cotton duck) at least 13 x 16 inches.

– Cut a slightly larger piece of freezer paper and iron it wax side to wrong side of canvas.


-Trim neatly to 13 x 16 inches (rotary cutter preferred). The leading edge should be especially clean and straight, other edges not as critical.


– Load fabric pen into pen holder. I am using the Marvy Ball and Brush pen with the ball end. I used the new style Silhouette pen holder because this particular pen fits at the proper depth. You can also use the Chomas marker holder.


– Set rollers at 12 inches apart. This is the slot second from the right.

– Load 13 inch edge of prepared fabric into Cameo centered on rollers (1/2 inch fabric extending outboard of each roller)


– Load pen holder into Cameo.

– Open sketch file in Silhouette Studio.

– From the Cut Setting Panel choose settings for Sketch Pen.

cut settings

– Press Cut.

(You can see in the photo below that I used 12 inch wide fabric in my sample. It worked but was too nerve-racking so that’s why I specify 13 inch wide.)

Sketch on Fabric with a Silhouette machine!

The most complicated part of this project is finding a suitable sketch file. At small sizes you can get away with a standard trace of a line art, but at 11 x 14 a true sketch file with open path strokes is going to be needed.

Here’s a comparison of what a normal trace versus a proper sketch file looks like in Silhouette Studio to show you what I mean. Click to enlarge.

trace compare-1

Here’s how I went about creating the file (not for the faint-hearted … Adobe Illustrator, intermediate graphic design skills and lot of patience required):

– I selected a vintage image of an anchor. I have zero artistic ability so I needed something with just enough detail that I could handle.


– I printed it out at full page size.


– I taped a piece of tracing paper on top and hand traced it  with an ultra fine pen. The idea here is to recreate the drawing with pen strokes that do not touch each other.



– I scanned my hand trace into Adobe Illustrator.


– In AI, I performed a center line trace (unlike the normal trace that finds both edges of a line, this attempts to find the center of the line and returns it as an open path.)



– I then point edited to clean up messy areas like this where the strokes overlap and can’t be traced as intended. This was the most tedious part.

cleanup close

– Saved as SVG. (You can export to DXF if you don’t have DE.)

– Merged the SVG into a blank 12 x 16, no mat page in Silhouette Studio Designer Edition.

– Applied sketch effects to the anchor SVG to give it a little more natural look. This step was optional, and the effect was subtle, but I recommend it if you have DE.

sketch effects

– Added text (I used Always Here font and added 1 internal offset at 0.010 as fill)


– Arranged layout and centered in 11 x 14 rectangle. (In my original I did not draw the rectangle, but in the future I will as it would help for final trimming of the canvas to fit the frame).

file preview

I found creating the sketch file to be a long and tedious process and I don’t recommend it unless you are very determined. No worries, though, because I’m sharing my file with you. Personal use only, and please share the link to this post, not the file itself, and whatever you do don’t try to cut this file with a blade, it’s for sketching only. Click here for the .studio file and here for the SVG. Thank you.

Now in case you are wondering why the sudden inspiration to complete a project, I am participating in a challenge. If you’d like to see more great fabric-related (our theme this month) projects, take a look below.


  1. No-Sew Valentine’s Day Pillows by A Tossed Salad Life
  2. No-Sew Interchangeable Fabric Bunting by unOriginal Mom
  3. Monogrammed Burlap Garden Flag by The Turquoise Home
  4. Crawl, Walk, Bike by It’s Always Craft Time
  5. Freezer Paper Stenciled Tote Bags by Weekend Craft
  6. DIY Bleach Spray Shirt by Practically Functional
  7. Stenciling Sherlock by Please Excuse My Craftermath…
  8. Felt Star Wands by Cutesy Crafts
  9. Yoda Kid’s T-Shirt by Architecture of a Mom
  10. Mark Your Territory- Dog Flags by Black and White Obsession
  11. Nautical Pillows by Lil’ Mrs. Tori
  12. Big Sister Gift & Silhouette Cut File by Creative Ramblings
  13. Nerdy Baby Onesies + Free Cut File by Essentially Eclectic
  14. Easy Easter Bunny Onesie – Silhouette Cameo Craft by Adventures in All Things Food & Family
  15. Fabric Envelopes for LEARNING LETTERS! (& cut file) by From Wine to Whine
  16. “Good Morning, Sunshine!” Memo Board by Tried & True
  17. Hearts-A-Lot Burlap Pillow Cover by My Paper Craze
  18. Baby Quilt by Dragonfly & Lily Pads
  19. Surprise Holiday Banner by Whats Next Ma
  20. “Team Betty” Tote Bag by The Thinking Closet
  21. DIY Sock Minion by Create it. Go!
  22. Pretty Up Some Organza Bags by Getsilvered
  23. Easy Heart Appliqued Onsies by Create & Babble
  24. Bleach Pen Gel & Freezer Paper Stencils Made with the Silhouette Machine by Bringing Creativity 2 Life
  25. Valentines Baby Onesie & Boy’s Shirt + Free Cut Files by The Frill of Life
  26. Valentine’s OWL Always Love You T-shirt by My Favorite Finds
  27. DIY Screen Printed Curtains by Chicken Scratch NY
  28. Fabric Painted Quilted Wall Hanging by Terri Johnson Creates
  29. Glitter Iron-On Top by Simply Kelly Designs
  30. DIY Monogrammed T-shirts with Silhouette Heat Transfer Material by Pitter and Glink
  31. Birthday Challenge by Fadville
  32. Machine Applique with SIlhouette Cameo by The Sensory Emporium
  33. Fabric Applique Valentine’s Day T-Shirt by DailyDwelling
  34. “Cute as Cupid” shirt by crafts, cakes, and cats
  35. Sew Cute Applique by Life After Laundry
  36. Rhino Onesie by It Happens in a Blink
  37. Upcycled Birchbox Cameo Accesory Organizer by Cupcakes&Crowbars
  38. Customizing textiles with Heat Transfer Vinyl (working title) by feto soap
  39. Easy Fabric Art by McCall Manor
  40. Lady Bug Tote Bag with Silhouette Rhinestones by Ginger Snap Crafts
  41. Mommy and Em’s Coordinated Aprons by TitiCrafty
  42. Canvas sketch project and a share by Clever Someday
  43. Foxy Lady Pajamas by Mabey She Made It
  44. Teddy Bear by Work in Progress

February 10, 2014 at 10:00 am 32 comments

Free fall sketch file

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 6.10.00 PM

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

Christmas sketch freebie


Here’s another sketch file I was able to centerline trace with Adobe Illustrator for machine sketching. The scan above shows what it looks like sketched with a Sharpie pen in my Silhouette SD.

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.

December 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm 12 comments

Freebie for sketching

I’ve been trying to learn to convert different kinds of images to sketch files (single line/open path) with mostly disappointing results, but here’s a pumpkin border I was able to successfully centerline trace in Illustrator. The scan above shows what it looks like sketched with an orange Sharpie pen. I know you talented folks will make some lovely cards with this one!

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 23, 2012 at 9:13 am 9 comments

How to sketch a photo with your diecutter

Ever wished you could sketch a photo with a pen in your diecutter? Well, I found a way, if you’ve got enough patience. The general steps are as follows: simplify photo, posterize photo, vectorize posterized photo, hatch fill each section with density corresponding to color, randomize the hatching, save as svg, send to cutter.

It’s a simple idea, but tedious to execute. I am surprised I wasn’t able to find software to do this automatically (that’s a big hint to you programmers out there). Anyway, here is my tutorial. It assumes you have at least an intermediate comfort level with Inkscape, and some basic photo editing skills as well.

To do this you will need:

  • Inkscape
  • Eggbot extensions for Inkscape installed. Click here for download link and installation instructions.
  • some sort of photo editing software that has a Posterize command or ability (I used Photoshop. You could use Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro, Gimp,,, iPhone apps like ToonPaint, etc.)
  • large clear photo with good contrast.
  • diecutter and software that can read vector formats output by Inkscape. (Cricut users may be disappointed as its drawing capabilities are inferior to other consumer machines.)
  • method to hold a pen in your cutter. I use the adjustable marker holder from Chomas Creations.
  • suitable pen for drawing. I am using a Sharpie retractable pen.

Before you get started, it is a good idea to draw out the sample file I put together to help you see how the different fills will equate to the grays in an image. I have an SVG version and a .studio version for you to download. For best results, use the pen, settings, paper, any type of mat that you will be using for your final portrait.

It should look something like this when you are done:

Here’s the photo I started with

Using Photoshop, I:

-deleted the background

-changed the photo to black and white

-adjusted brightness and contrast

-posterized to 4 levels

The great thing about using Photoshop for this is that you can set up adjustment layers so that you can change the brightness and contrast and see the effect on the final posterization in real time.

-I also used the Dust and Speckles filter to smooth out the image

If you don’t have Photoshop, PSE or a similar program, the key here is to obtain  a 3 or 4 tone image that is relatively smooth (this is for the sake of efficiency, it doesn’t have to be as smooth as for cutting) and at least medium resolution. You might even try some of the web apps that produce an “Obama Poster” as these produce a similar effect, albeit in fairly low resolution. Another possibility is to do this directly in Inkscape concurrent with the Trace Bitmap step (take advantage of the Options tab). My original photo was too dark and lacked contrast so I did not have good results with these alternate methods, but I think better photos would work fine this way. There are dozens of methods for and tutorials on posterizing. Find one that fits your software and skill level.

Update, no make that News Flash: The online tool, Stencilizer,  is a useful online tool for the posterization and smoothing. See my video tutorial here.

Another update: Make the Cut has added a feature for this under Pixel Trace>Color>Grayscale.

-Next bring the image into Inkscape using the Import command and with the image selected choose Path>Trace Bitmap.

-We will be autotracing using the following settings: Grays checked, Smooth checked, and Stacked unchecked. The number of scans will depend on the number of colors in your image, more or less. Start with the same number as your posterization levels and experiment up or down a notch if you aren’t satisfied with the results.

And here is my result, shown ungrouped and split into the light, medium and dark layers for reference. There was an additional lighter layer, which I deleted.

-Size your image to the approximate size you will want the final sketch to be. If you change the size later it will affect the shading and might not appear the way you want it to.

-Make a copy of the trace to use as reference and drag it off to the side. Ungroup the working copy one time. You will have 3 or 4 paths, each representing one brightness level of the image.

You will probably find it easier to work with the pieces separately, but it is important to be able to bring them back together in exactly the right orientation. You can either paste each piece in place onto a separate layer or use shift-arrow to move the pieces in large discreet increments that make it easier to backtrack later. I put each piece on its own layer, titled light, medium and dark, so that I could toggle them on and off as needed, but also make frequent use of the shift-arrow technique for interim moves.

-Start with the darkest section and apply a hatch fill by selecting Extensions>Eggbot Contributed>Hatch Fill

-Choose an angle you’d like the strokes to lean with 0 being horisontal and 90 being vertical. In my case, I chose the angle to match the tilt of the subject’s head. You can choose any angle you like.

-You’ll want to refer to your sample swatches to help you select a setting for the hatch spacing. Smaller numbers mean the lines will be closer together, and the effect will be darker. Looking at my swatches for reference, I used 1.5 for black because I wanted the pen strokes to still be visible, but barely.

-It may help to switch to outline view (control- 5 on numeric keyboard to toggle) so you can see the hatching take effect.

-When the Hatch extension finishes, you will have a group of 2 objects: the original path and the hatched version. Ungroup them and move the original out of the way. (I sent it back to another layer for safekeeping.)

-Choose the next darkest color and repeat the steps above, using a larger setting for the hatch steps. I chose 2.7 and 3.5 for the medium and lighter colors respectively.

-To get a better idea of what your sketch will look like, select the entire hatched version and set the fill to none and the stroke to a width of 1 px.

-If you are satisfied with the relative shades of your hatching, its time to add some randomness to give the sketch a more hand-drawn look. Select one section and choose Extensions>Modify Path>Jitter Nodes.

You will want to experiment with settings to see what you like as results will vary depending on the size and composition of the image. The settings I used for my sketch are shown in the screen capture below.

-Repeat the Jitter Nodes process for each shaded section. You can use different settings for each one if you like. Longer strokes lend themselves to more displacement without distorting your image.

-Save a copy of your working document for safekeeping. Select the completed hatched and jittered sketch portion of your drawing and copy it to a new document and save it as SVG. If you are using Make the Cut or Sure Cuts a Lot, this SVG should be ready to import and draw as is.

Silhouette Studio DE users may also use this SVG version, however, if you have the standard version of Silhouette Studio, save the sketch as DXF instead.

-If you use either version of Silhouette Studio, you will need to set all the line widths to 0.0. Do this by going to the Line Style pane and sliding the slider all the way to the left.

-You will also need to go to the Cut Styles pane and set everything to Cut Edge.

It’s also a good idea to zoom in closely to verify that the cut lines are single, open paths, as that is what we want for pen sketching.

-It’s time to sketch your masterpiece. Choose the appropriate settings and find something else to do for the 15-30 minutes or so it will take this complex of a file to draw.

Here’s a scan of my sketched result, drawn with a Sharpie pen in my Silhouette SD. I think maybe I would like the middle tone a little darker next time, but you get the idea. Up close you can see the marker strokes and it really has a hand drawn look to it. From a distance, it looks even more like the original photo.

October 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm 14 comments

Still more pre-filled gel pen fonts

All of these are available at As with the last post, each is rendered at the largest size that will still appear filled in. I’m only printing a few letters of each now for these samples so as to save time and preserve ink.

May 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm 3 comments

More filled in fonts

Another batch of pre-filled fonts for your gel pen enjoyment. Be sure to test a letter or two with the font, size and pen you want before committing to the long drawing process. Take this from someone who has run out one gel pen in the process so far. When you look at the regular printed version of the font, you will see how very different they look rendered with gel pens, and this will help you learn to spot good candidates yourself.

Where to get them:
Scanografia (my fave!), YoYo and Needle are available at (free registration required).
Debonair Inline
Aria Penci Roman

HV Stripe ExtraB

May 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,051 other followers

Follow me on Twitter


Cricut and Sure Cuts A Lot Top 40
Silhouette Top 40
Sure Cuts A Lot Top 40
Make The Cut Top 40


Posts on this blog may include affiliate links which reward me for purchases you make from here. This allows me to defray the cost of providing this blog to you. Though there is sometimes a financial incentive for me to recommend products and services you can trust me to only steer you towards those I personally use and am satisfied with.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,051 other followers