What is it? It’s a software-driven cutting machine that lets you cut your own stickers and die cuts for Bible Journaling (among countless other applications!).
Can I just say that the people at Illustrated Faith keep getting me deeper into the craft world?!? Last summer, I heard Shanna Noel talking about printing and cutting images from the Revival Camp digital bible journaling kit with her Silhouette Cameo. She showed off some adorable, perfectly cut feathers.
My husband surprised me with one for my birthday in August. It’s a pretty incredible machine. The only trouble: Every time I use it, I have to revisit the instructions to remember how it all works! I’ve written the following tutorial for myself as much as anyone!!! I was inspired to use the machine again by the “Doodles to Live by Supplement.”
Here’s a step by step guide:
Step 1: The very first step is to get an image. Go to the Illustrated Faith Print and Pray Shop (or your favorite spot for digital art) and place an order. Download the file to your computer.
Step 2: The Illustrated Faith downloads are often PDFs, which don’t work with the free version of the Silhouette Studio software. It’s pretty easy to convert a PDF to JPEG. There are any number of free online image converters that you can find with a simple search.
The Silhouette software can be upgraded to the “Design Edition” for $50. My understanding is that this edition of the software can handle PDF files. I haven’t tried it yet.
It’s worth noting that the basic Silhouette software is free regardless of whether you have a Silhouette Cameo or not. If you don’t have a Silhouette Cameo, it might be worth downloading the software to see how you like it before buying the machine since the software is a huge part of the overall experience. There’s a bit of a learning curve to the software, but it’s powerful yet relatively simple and easy to use.
Step 3: Once you have your images and they are in the right format, you can create a new file in Silhouette Studio. As soon as you open a new file, set the page width to the size of your sticker paper under design page settings…
Step 4: Then open the image in your software. The particular image I am using was designed to be printed landscape on a regular piece of paper, but when cutting, it helps to leave space for the registration marks. I decided to work with these as two separate portrait pages: The doodles and the word strips.
Step 5: The next step is to add registration marks to the page. These are marks on the page that help the cutter know that your page is aligned correctly. Your image should fit within these marks. Mine still clearly does not! I uses the Type 1 registration marks with the default orientation.
Step 6: Now that all the key pieces are in place, it is time to cut off part of the image (all the word strips). Curiously, the Silhouette Studio does not give you the option to crop a picture. It does have a knife tool, however. The knife tool works just like a knife: You drag it across the image and the image is separated at the knife line. If you hold the “shift” key as you use the knife, you get a nice straight line parallel to the side of your screen. At first, it’s hard to see that anything changed. Don’t worry.
As soon as you make the cut, you have to switch back to using the pointer. (Don’t keep making more cuts! If you make more cuts by accident, just “undo.”) You will be able to pick up and move part of the image to the side and delete it. You can move the main image to the middle of the page.
Step 7: Next go to the “Trace” dialogue box; the icon looks a little like a slice of bread with jam. (See the green arrow.) First you select the trace area. Then you choose “Trace Outer Edge.” Orange lines will appear on the outside edge of the individual pictures. The orange lines sit on top of the image as a layer, and do not appear when you print the documcent. The cut lines tell the machine where to cut relative to the registration marks.
Step 8: Next you simply print your project. I have a Brother color inkjet printer. I used some matte white sticker paper that I picked up at Staples.
Step 9: Place the printed sticker paper onto the cutting mat, which is slightly sticky.
Step 10: Then it’s time to get ready to cut. Go to the “cut settings” dialogue box and select “cut edge” and “white sticker paper.”
Step 11: Once you’ve set the type of paper you are using, the software tells you how to set the Silhouette Ratchet Blade. There’s a little grey tool that comes with the machine that helps you set the depth of cut.
Step 12: After you put the cutting blade securely back in its spot, you load your mat into the machine. Make sure that your Cameo is connected to your computer with the USB cable and plugged in.
Step 13: Then the fun begins. If I were a better blogger, I would take a video of the next step! It is seriously cool to watch the Silhouette Cameo cut. One tip: Leave plenty of room behind the cutter for the mat to come through!
And that’s all there is to it! It’s amazing that the machine can cut through the top layer without going through the sticker backing. And the best part is that once you’ve gone through the set-up, you can save the project and keep printing stickers again and again.
One more tip: I also wanted to make stickers from the word strips. I found that the tracing tool did not work well with this project. It picked up on the black font, but not the edges of the colorful rectangles. Not to fear! There is a solution. There are drawing tools along the side, which allow you to freehand draw the cut lines. It’s a little bit tedious to do, but it worked great. I used a rectangle around the whole thing. Then I drew one horizontal line and copied and pasted it down the blocks. Then I drew the smaller vertical lines, sometimes copying and pasting, sometimes just drawing more little lines. There may be an easier way but this got the job done.
I have the new “Doodles to Live by” devotional kit, the supplemental materials, and some paints. I can’t wait to get started!!!
If you are new to the Silhouette Cameo, I hope this quick tutorial helps. If you have any tips for me, please comment!