Silhouette SD Tips & Tricks
Here are some helpful tips and tricks when using the Silhouette SD digital die cutting tool. This machine can cut all types of material and connects to your computer. The Silhouette is made by Silhouette America. Here is a video below to watch how it functions. To read about this machine click on the link: Silhouette SD
UPDATE: The Silhouette SD has now been replaced with their NEW machine called the Silhouette CAMEO that can now cut up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long with a very quiet motor. This is truly an upgrade. To see a video and or purchase this new electronic cutting tool click on this link: SILHOUETTE CAMEO
How can I cut different custom paper sizes?
To cut a size other than the default 8 ½ X 11, when opening a new document you will be prompted with a box labeled “Document Settings” asking for your paper size. You may:
1. Click on the drop-down arrow next to the “Document Size” box
2. Select one of the “User Size” options
3. Click on the button marked “Specify User Size”
4. You may first assign a new name to your size for future reference (i.e. “QuickStripz)
5. You may also assign the “Width” and “Length” of your paper size (i.e. 4 Width by 8 Length)
6. Click on “OK”
This will define the correct area on your computer screen to work with. When you’re ready to cut, if your paper size is smaller than 8 ½ X 11, make sure your paper is placed on the cutting mat correctly.
If you have already started a document and want to change your document’s paper size in the middle of a project, click on the “File” menu and select “Document Settings”.
How can I cut letters best to easily apply adhesive once they’re cut?
Some of our designers have mentioned they like to cut their letters out backwards so they can apply adhesive onto the backs of the letters after they’re cut and then simply pull them off the cutting mat and have them ready to place on their layout or card.
To do this, after you have placed your desired text onto your screen, right-click on your text and select “Mirror” and then “Horizontal Mirror”. This will flip your text to a mirror image and cut your letters out backwards. After the text has been cut out, take your preferred adhesive (prior to pulling the cut letters off the mat) and apply as desired. You may now take your letters that already have adhesive applied on the back and transfer them from the cutting mat directly onto your project.
When using this tip with textured cardstock, you may wish to place your cardstock textured side down onto the cutting mat prior to cutting so that your letters have the textured side on their fronts. Please note that this tip is only for papers or cardstocks that do not already have their own adhesive backing.
How can I manipulate text to do different things in the Silhouette software?
You’ve probably already noticed that there is more to just typing words in the Text box. Here are a few tips when using the Text function:
Previewing Font Styles – Instead of knowing the font name, or having to select each font name individually to see what it looks like, you can view the “ABCabc” character preview by doing the following:
1. Open “Text” box
2. Highlight the name of the first font style listed next to “Font”
3. Use your mouse scroll wheel to move up and down through your fonts OR press your up/down arrow keys to browse fonts.
You should be able to see a preview of each font as you do this to find the font you are looking for that best suits your needs.
Spacing – When you click on the Text button and select your font style and type the word you want to cut, you can choose to space your letters closer together or farther apart depending on the space you’re working with, or if you’re planning to use the negative space on your page and want the letters to be specially spaced. To do this, after clicking on the Text button, locate the box that says “Space”. Positive numbers will make your letters farther apart, while placing a negative (-) in front of the number will squish your letters closer together.
Angling your words – From our previous tips on rotating, you’re already able to do this, but if you know in advance you’re going to want to rotate your text to an angle, click on the box that says “Use Mouse to Set Angle” prior to clicking on “OK”. Once you drop your text, it will swivel around until you find the angle you like and click your mouse. To turn this off next time, just uncheck the same box when you re-visit the Text features.
Sizing fonts – You’ll notice a “Font Size” and “Height” box. These are great for use when you may have done journaling in the same font style and want to size your lettering in the same manner or slightly larger for titling purposes. You’ll only need to do one or the other. Please note, however, that the actual height of your letters will vary from font to font. The “Height” refers to the blue outline of the text box you are creating rather than the actual letters themselves. While you are getting a good starting point for sizing your letters exactly, you may also wish to turn on your grid, as described in the sizing images tip.
Styling fonts -At the very bottom of your Text settings right above where you type your letters or words, there are several style options: “Italic”, “Bold”, “Underline”, and “Outline”. IMPORTANT: “Outline” must remain checked in order to cut. Un-checking the “Outline” option changes your text from cut format to print format to enable you to print solid letters from the Silhouette software to your printer. “Italic” may be selected in cut format. “Bold” and “Underline” are reserved for print format only.
Drawing text instead of cutting – When using the Pen Holder as described in the drawing tip section, you can draw your text. Note that the “Outline” box needs to be checked when cutting or drawing.
How can I size shapes to specific measurements?
You can measure your shapes to your exact desired measurement using the Grid function. To view the grid:
- Go to the “View” menu and select “View Grid”.
- The grid is defaulted to measure a half inch. If you would like to adjust the measurement to make it a smaller or larger measurement, go to the “Edit” menu, and select “Grid settings”.
- If you’d rather view your measurements in millimeters, go to “File” menu and select “Preferences.”
With the grid turned on, you can see how big or little your shapes and letters are as you are re-sizing them. Remember that when resizing images, if you click on any of the corner boxes, your shape will be sized proportionately. This is especially important when sizing fold-together objects such as boxes and templates. If you resize using the side or top arrows, your shape will simply be stretched or squeezed in whichever direction you’re going.
How do I change the lines in an existing drawing in the Silhouette software?
Let’s say you want to cut the butterfly, but you don’t want all of the circles and inner intricate details, or you’ve purchased our incredibly cute gorilla, but want to alter his smiley face to a ferocious frown.
1. Select your image after you have sized it to your liking so that a blue box surrounds your selected image
2. Click on the “Ungroup” button found along the top toolbar icons OR go to the Edit menu and select “Ungroup” OR right-click on your image and select “Ungroup”
3. Click outside of the shape so that the blue box disappears and your entire shape is no longer selected
4. Click on any desired line in your image you wish to alter. Selecting a line will make it turn into a blue line showing you what is selected. Note that pressing the “Tab” button will move you from one line to the next if you are having problems selecting the right one.
5. Either delete, move, or rotate the selected part of the image as desired.
This effect is great if there are slight alterations you wish to make or get rid of. Keep in mind, however, that you cannot delete portions of lines. If it’s connected, it’s all or nothing!
How do I create glass etchings with the Silhouette?
To perform glass etching with the Silhouette and Silhouette vinyl, please do the following:
1. Clean the surface of your glass thoroughly.
2. Use the Silhouette Digital Craft Cutter to select and cut out your design or phrase from Adhesive Vinyl.
3. Use the Universal Hook tool to carefully remove the design from the vinyl, creating a stencil from the negative space.
4. Peel away backing from Transfer Paper and apply it over the negative space of your design.
5. Peel away back of vinyl. Place the stencil on a table with adhesive side up.
6. Carefully apply your stencil with the adhesive side to the glass.
7. Smooth the vinyl over the glass using the Universal Scraper to press out all of the bubbles.
8. Slowly and carefully peel off the Transfer Paper, making sure all pieces of the stencil remain on the glass.
9. [Warning] Etching cream is a caustic substance. Pay close attention to safety labels on container of etching cream.
10. Using a cotton swab or craft brush, apply a thick coat of etching cream to the exposed glass, making sure the cream is evenly spread.
11. Consult the etching cream label to determine the amount of time required by the brand for the cream to set – usually 5 to 10 minutes.
12. After the appropriate time has passed, thoroughly wash off the etching cream with paper towels.
13. Peel vinyl off of surface. Use the hook tool to remove small pieces.
*Remove fingerprints with cleaner for best results.
How do I create matting or shadowing effects for my text or image?
Shadows or matting effects may be performed from directly within the Silhouette software at this time with the latest software version.
HOW TO: Create Shadow or Mat Effects
1. Create your desired text or select an image.
2. Once you have sized your text or image to your liking, create a copy and place it off to the side.
3. Select your copied image and click on the “Offset” button.
The “Offset” options will appear.
4. Select your desired settings. The following options are available:
Offset Value: The greater the number, the farther away the traced shadow or mat will be
Direction of Offset: “Outside” should generally be selected. This traces your shadow or mat outward. “Inside” will give you a reverse mat and trace your image inward.
Method of Join: This is the style of shadow or mat you wish to create.
Miter – This will provide sharp edges, There is an optional “Miter Limit Value” which will determine how sharply the traced edges bend
Round – This will provide smooth edges
Bevel – This will provide blocked edges
5. When finished setting your options, click “OK”.
How do I cut an image with separate color layers rather than as nested shapes?
If you wish to cut an image out in multiple layers, you may be able to do so with select images by performing the following steps.
1. Select your image after you have sized it to your liking so that the selection box surrounds your image
2. Click on the “Ungroup” button OR right-click on the image and select “Ungroup”
3. Click outside of the shape so that the entire shape is no longer selected
4. Click on any desired line in your image you wish to alter or move.
You can now move parts of the iamge off onto the inactive grey area and simply but those parts you want to keep in your first selected color. Continue on by then moving to the next selection of image parts for your other color(s) of paper and place them into the active cutting area to cut.
How do I draw my own shapes to cut?
So maybe you’re not a master artist, but you can draw your own ready-to-cut art from within the Silhouette software. On the left-hand side of your Silhouette software window, there are various lines and shapes that you can use to create some fun images.
To use these tools select the line or shape that best fits your needs and move your cursor to start drawing inside the red cutting area. Open line tools inclue Line, Polyline, Spline, and Arc. Closed line tools include Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Polygon, Circle, Elipse, and Closed Spline.
Drawing with open lines: If this is a line, click once at your starting point, and drag your line to the next point you wish to drop it. Do this as many times with the same line as you wish. Lines and Arcs will be very simple, while Polylines and Splines will continue drawing from each point until you release with a double-click of your mouse.
Drawing with closed lines: If you are using closed shapes, Rectangles, Rounded Rectangles, Circles, and Elipses will be very simple, while Polygons and Closed Splines will continue drawing from each point until you release with a double-click of your mouse.
When finished with a particular tool, remember to click on the “Select” button on the left-hand side of your screen to stop using that particular drawing tool.
If you don’t like the shape you’ve created but don’t want to start over from scratch, you can use the “Edit Point” button to move select points around to your liking, or right-click and select “Delete Anchor Point”.
How do I duplicate an image to cut multiples times on the same sheet of paper?
To duplicate an image to cut multiples on the same sheet of paper, please do the following:
1. Once you have sized your image to your liking, select your image by clicking on it
2. Right-click on your selected image and select “Copy”
3. Right-click again on your image and select “Paste” — this will change your cut lines to yellow, indicating that multiple lines are overlapping
4. Grab and drag your image to another desired location on your screen ensuring that your images are still within the cutting area.
5. Repeat as necessary
If you wish to replicate multiple images at the same time (for example, if you have duplicated your image several times already and want to duplicate all of them at once to double what you have already created), you may do the following:
1. Unselect any currently selected images — Selected images are those surrounded by a blue box.
2. Draw a box around your desired images by clicking your left mouse button toward the top left corner of the images, and dragging the box being drawn toward the bottom right corner.
3. Release your mouse button when all images appear to be surrounded by the box you are drawing.
4. Once all items are shown to be selected by one large blue outline, Right-click on your image and select “Copy”
5. Right-click again on your image and select “Paste” — this will change your cut lines to yellow, indicating that multiple lines are overlapping
6. Grab and drag your image to another desired location on your screen ensuring that your images are still within the cutting area.
How do I import and cut other images with my Silhouette?
You will first need to go to the “Help” menu in the Silhouette Studio program to check the version number under “About Silhouette Studio”. If you are not running the latest version of Silhouette Studio (V1.3.0) you will need to obtain the latest version.
The Trace feature in Silhouette Studio may be found by clicking on the “Home” icon in the upper right-hand tool bar. A panel should open on the right and one of the options listed should be called “Trace”. This will allow you to create cut lines for your imported image. You may open common image file types (such as JPG and BMP files) through the Open feature. If you are on a PC, you will need to select “All Files” from the file type selection in the “Open” window. Further information on using the Trace feature may be found in the User’s Manual (found through the “Help” menu in the Silhouette Studio program) on page 37.
Please note that Silhouette American cannot support or guarantee results from files not offered by our company.
How do I rotate/flip an image in the Silhouette software?
There are a few ways you can rotate images.
If you are working with Text, to rotate while creating your word (if you know the angle of rotation prior to making your word), select the “Angle” in the Text Settings window prior to clicking “OK” and placing your word.
To rotate text or images by hand:
1. Select your image so that the blue box is selecting your image
2. Click once on the any of the black rectangles in the corner of your shape – you should see a curved arrow now when you place your cursor over any of the corners OR click once on the shape. Doing either of these actions will change the boxes in each corner of your shape or text box to circles. Boxes are for resizing, and circles are for rotating.
3. Hold your mouse button down on one of the circled corners and drag your shape to rotate it around to your liking.
If you have already placed your text or image on the screen and want an exact angle and don’t wish to manually adjust, right-click on your image and select “Position Settings”. In the “Position” window that comes up, you may select to alter the “Angle of Rotation” entry field to rotate your image to your exact liking.
To flip shapes or text to mirror image:
1. Right click on the image you wish to adjust
2. Select Mirror and determine if you want your image facing the other way (Horizontal Mirror) or on its back (Vertical Mirror)
How do I transfer vinyl onto walls and other surfaces?
When using vinyl and looking to transfer your cut-out design onto a wall or other smooth surface, you will also need to have transfer paper. Transfer paper is used to transfer vinyl images from the vinyl’s backing onto your desired wall or other surface without having to manually remove each cut-out vinyl piece by hand and try to align them perfectly.
Once you have vinyl and transfer paper, you may proceed with the following steps:
1. Cut your vinyl design with the Silhouette.
2. Leave the vinyl’s protective backing in place and carefully peel away excess vinyl that is not part of the design.
3. Place the transfer paper over your vinyl image and rub firmly over the top of the cut vinyl design.
4. Carefully remove the backing from your vinyl, exposing the vinyl’s adhesive while leaving the transfer paper in place.
5. Arrange the design on your desired surface. Press down firmly with a flat-edged tool (such as the Scrapper Tool) over the entire design to affix and remove any air bubbles.
6. Peel away the transfer paper. Your design will stay put!
How do I zoom in to work with smaller images?
When working with smaller cut lines that are difficult to work with, or see well on your screen, you can zoom in to get a better look.
You can right-click and select “Zoom In” OR click on the “Zoom In” icon on your top bar with the image of the magnifying glass that has the plus sign.
Moving your page around when zoomed in
To move your page around as your screen is enlarged, click on the “Move” icon on your top bar with the image of the hand and arrows.
To zoom out step by step: You may right-click and select “Zoom Out” OR click on the “Zoom Out” icon on your top bar with the image of the magnifying glass that has the negative sign.
To zoom out all at once: You may right-click and select “Fit” OR click on the “Fit” icon on your top bar with the image of the white box with arrows.
How should I feed different sizes of paper into the Silhouette?
Printer Friendly Version Print
When cutting smaller (than 8 ½ x 11 inch) sizes of paper with the Silhouette, you will need to ensure you are placing your paper correctly on the cutting mat. Placement for smaller papers will depend on the Orientation selected in your “Document Settings”
Portrait: Place your paper along the top of the cutting mat and justified against the right yellow strip on your cutting mat.
Landscape: Place your paper along the top of the cutting mat and justified against the left yellow strip on your cutting mat.
*Please make sure you are continuing to load your cutting mat with the left side of the mat lined up with the raised guide mark on your Silhouette machine, as you normally would when cutting other paper sizes, so that both white rollers are gripping the cutting mat.