Today we are looking at the Silhouette Studio software that comes with your digital cutter. (There is a different software, called Silhouette Studio Designer Edition, that is an upgrade to the standard software that ships with the cutter. We’re just looking at the standard software.) Once you learn some of the ins and outs of the software, using your Silhouette gets much easier and quicker. And more fun!
One of the most helpful features is Group/Ungroup. It does just what its name suggests: lets you separate and/or group objects together. As you use this feature you'll find it makes your workflow much faster.
When you open a cut file that has many different parts, they are always grouped together. For example, I just downloaded this "Life Card Words" cut file by Michelle Curie:
When I click on the image, I can move, size, and rotate every card at the same time. Keeping them grouped this way is helpful if I want to cut them all out at the same size and on the same color of cardstock or patterned paper.
But since I just want to cut the "she said" and "happy life" cards right now, I need to get rid of the rest. To do that, click on the image so that it’s selected. Right click, then chose Ungroup. Click somewhere outside of the image to deselect it. Then, click on the things you don’t want to cut. You can either do this one at a time, or you can click and drag to select multiple objects. Then just press delete:
Now I can move and size just the cards I want to cut. Ungrouping is helpful for may different types of cut files. Since ungrouping lets you work with individual parts of the object, you can cut things out in different colors or patterns. Take a butterfly for example: if you want the wings to be one color, the body another, the spots on the wings something different and then the antennae something else, you'd have to cut it out four different times without the Group/Ungroup feature. With it, you just ungroup all the parts, then move them to different places on the cutting mat. You can also modify things—maybe you want a larger border around that journaling card than the cut file originally designed, for example. So you could increase the size of the base while leaving the card the same size.
I use Group/Ungroup a lot in my Silhouette workflow.
Remember that when I am using my Silhouette, I try to cut out extras to have in my supplies? That means I’m often adding objects to the file I’m preparing. To keep this simple, I always have two studio tabs open at once. The first one is the main one, the screen I’m adding objects and words to and the one I will send to be cut. The second tab I think of as the "working" tab; it’s the one I use to open cut files from my library. That way I can ungroup cut files, then move only the objects I want to cut into my main screen, without accidentally moving the objects that are already there.
As an example, here is what my screen looked like the last time I used my Silhouette:
See on the bottom left corner, those two "untitled.studio" tabs? The white one is the main tab, the one I’m using to put together a mat’s worth of stuff to cut out. The greyed out tab is the working tab. Before I open another cut file, I switch to that screen so I can ungroup and then select just the items I want to cut.
Group/Ungroup is also useful when you’re cutting out letters. In this layout:
I wanted the title letters cut out from different patterned papers, but I also wanted the letters of each word to be the same height. Here’s how I did that:
1. I typed the word "silly" as a piece of text in my working tab.
2. I created a different piece of text for the word "pumpkin." (I used the font Verb Black for both.)
3. I sized each word to 5.25" wide.
4. When each word was the correct size, I used ungroup to turn each letter into its own object.
5. I cut and pasted random letters into different spots in my main tab, then organized them so they would be cut out of different patterned papers.
Another helpful function in the Silhouette Studio is the Weld feature. Weld connects individual objects into one object, blending the objects where they are touching. For example, in this layout:
I wanted the word "hug" to be mounted on three connected circles. So I drew three:
Then I lined them up:
Weld is the tool you use when you want to connect letters into one piece, like Amy Coose did in this layout:
1. Type your text. If all of the letters will be the same size, you can just make one text object; if you want different sizes (or fonts), type each size as its own object. I usually set less-important words in a smaller font, like Amy did with the words "to have" above.
2. Ungroup the text so that each letter is a separate object.
3. Line up the letters in the design scheme you want. Make sure that each letter is slightly overlapping another letter. Sometimes you have to very slightly rotate a letter to make this happen.
4. Once you are pleased with the arrangement of letters and words, select the whole piece by dragging a box around everything. (Make sure everything is selected! the red line indicates it is selected.) Right click, then choose Weld.
5. Position as necessary on the screen, then cut.
Welding words is one of the Silhouette features I use the most. Words and letters in general, in fact, are the main reason I bought the machine. Tune in tomorrow for a day dedicated to all the wordy stuff you can do with the Silhouette.