Friday, March 1, 2013

DIY Silhouette Print and Cut Designs, and fun Laundry Room Project

Ever wonder how to make your own print and cut images on your Silhouette? Or how to take shapes offline and make them something you can cut?  That is one of the tools and functions that really sets Silhouette apart, allowing you make just about any cut image that you can find.  Recently, my sister came across some signs that she wanted to hang in her laundry room.  Rather than buy them for $10 a piece, she decided to call upon the power of the Silhouette.  Here is a quick tutorial on how to make your own print and cut images, in the form of a cheap and cute project to make to hang in your laundry room.  Just call it my spring gift to those of you still learning (like me!).  (And if you don't yet own a Silhouette, I'd really recommend getting one.  Check out our site for a great deal on this awesome machine.) If this is all old-hat to you, just hang that old-hat up in your laundry room and scroll on for a cute idea of what you can hang next to it. ;)  

First, find the image(s) you want (obviously) and save them to your computer if they aren't already.  It's best if they just have a white background, which isn't as hard to find if you search online. For example, all the images I use in this post and on my last post (Magnet Paper, Who Knew?) were found online with just white backgrounds. For these I just searched "Vintage Laundry Images". However, in order to get the picture "cut-away" from the white background and prepared so that it will cut out exactly around your image (and not just cut out a square around the white background) you'll need keep reading... ;)

Second, open your image in Silhouette Studio, and then open the "Trace" window, to the right of the screen. Click on "Select Trace Area" at the top, and then drag your mouse to draw a square around the full image you want to use.  It will then highlight portions of the image.  You'll then want to uncheck the "High Pass Filter" box in the Trace window, and then increase your threshold until most of your image is covered up by the yellow high-light.  I usually increase my threshold until about 97% to keep edges smoother.  I have included pictures below at each of these stages so that you can see the difference.

After just selecting the trace area.
After unchecking the "High Pass Filter" box.
After increasing my threshold.
Now the full outline of my image is highlighted clearly so I can detach what I'd like from the white background.
As I learn more about each of these items, I'll be sure to share them with you on future projects. :)

Third, after you have the yellow highlight over the part of the image you want cut out, click on "Trace and Detach."  Then drag your picture away from all that white background mess!  At this point I usually paste my new white-background-free image onto a new file/page so as to not have to deal with any of that background mess. You now have your own nice print image!  Now onto cutting.

Fourth, open the "cut" window (by clicking on the icon that looks like a pair of scissors cutting a long a stitch, up to the top of your screen).   Click on your image and then click the "cut" option under Cut Style.  This should create a red line around the outer edge of your image, which means this is where the machine is going to cut.  So far, I haven't figured out how to have it select areas inside an image, such as the portion underneath the handle of my iron image.  Instead, I had to use the knife function and create my own lines to cut out for some images, or used an exacto knife once the main image had been print and cut. For pictures or more info about this, see my previous post.  

Fifth, be sure you click on the box "Show Registration Marks" in the registration marks window.  This is crucial, as it positions the Silhouette perfectly and lets it know where to start its cuts so that it cuts out perfectly around your image.  Be sure your Silhouette is located in a place with good lighting, as the Silhouette uses an optic sensor to find these registration marks on your printed sheet.  Also, be sure to select 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper so that the registration marks are in the correct place for your sheet of paper, and so that you can be sure there is no overlap in your image and the registration marks.  (This is assuming your printer only prints to that size paper.)  

Sixth, send your image/page to the printer.  Once it's printed, send it to your Silhouette and follow the instructions.  (Click "Detect Registration Marks Automatically.")  

Turn on "Show Reg Marks". Use the knife to cut out inner portions of your image that you want cut.  Be sure your paper setting is the correct size, and the image doesn't overlap the registration marks in any way. Print and Cut!
You now have your own print and cut image, ready for the using!  Be sure to save your file, as less-craft-savvy friends may ask you to make them their very own!  Another reason to put off laundry for another hour?  ;)  We'll see.


(Note:  My printer was running out of ink when I made this--shameful, I know--so i chalked the edges of the letters and images using chalk-ink and then regular scrapbooking chalk.  This is a great technique for making letter's and images "pop" a little more, especially when they are light colors or on a busy paper, such as what we chose in this project.  It's a great scrapbooking accessory that's also great for making letters or images look antiqued.) 

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