My First Cut with my Silhouette Portrait

I received a Silhouette Portrait as a gift from my parents at Christmas this year, along with some accessories.  Here it is about a month later, and I’m finally getting around to unpacking it and starting to learn to use it!  I took the first steps last weekend, and theoretically even made a small amount of progress on my Liono cosplay for Megacon.

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In addition to the machine itself, I got a ratchet blade for it, a fabric cutting blade for it, a spare cutting mat, and some sketch pens, which can be used in place of a blade to draw custom designs with the machine.

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First thing was to install the software that came with my Silhouette, which is called Silhouette Studio.  This was easy enough, as was entering the code for the $10 Silhouette store cad that came in the box with the machine.  I found and purchased $10 worth of designs from the store easily, too.  Next, I thought I would sit down with the Silhouette Instruction Video DVD that came with it.

Boy, was I wrong on that one.  My laptop flat out refused to play it.  I spent a while trying to fix this, Googled solutions, tried downloading some other software that would let me view the files on he DVD, but to no avail.  I gave up, pretty frustrated, and just started trying to use the software instead.

I decided I would attempt to make the Thundercats logo, potentially for Liono’s belt when I get to that costume in a few weeks.  So I started trying to create this using ellipse tools and the freehand line tools.  Sure, I could make a red circle.  But my line drawing left a bit to be desired.  I tried plugging in my WACOM Bamboo and skteching with the pen instead of my mouse, but that actually seemed to make things worse.

IMG_0770Furthermore, I could not find a layering ability in this software.  I pulled up the manual and began reading a bit, and even though I did read mention of a layering tool in it, I still have yet to find it in the program.  Upon looking again just now, it says it is only available in the “Designer Edition Only”?  Anyway, I couldn’t erase any of the messy black lines above without also erasing the red circle.  Time to start over.

I read more of the manual.  Turns out I did not actually need to draw anything.  I could download an image from the internet and import it into my Silhouette file.  Once that was done, there was a tracing tool that could break up the image and draw the lines for me.  I did that and pulled the circle onto a separate file since they would be different colors of vinyl.  Then I went to work modifying the lines that the tracing tool made of the cat.

IMG_0771You can see that the tool actually made a double outline of the cat.  Since I didn’t want the Silhouette to cut out an outline of a cat, I had to remove one of the lines.  I did this using a combination of the eraser tool and the point editor.  Next it was up to the sewing room to cut vinyl with my Silhouette for the first time!

I did the red circle first.  I placed it on the sticky cutting mat that came with my Silhouette, and pressed the load mat button on the machine.  Then I sent the drawing to the Silhouette from a button inside the software, and off it went.

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I was not expecting the noises it made.  It sounded like an old school video game with all the different beeps, buzzes, and yerps it made.  When it was all done, I unloaded the vinyl, and peeled it off of the cutting mat.

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Peeling the vinyl off the mat leaves it a little bit curled up, but when I finally go to stick the vinyl down somewhere, I’m sure it will be fine (Note: I left the backing on the vinyl when I attached it to the mat for cutting).  Then I put down the next piece of vinyl and sent it to the Silhouette.  Here is what it looked like before I peeled it off the mat.

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For whatever reason, the matte vinyl didn’t cut as well as the shinier kind.  So I did a second cut after adjusting the blade to one higher number.  Here are what both of my pieces looked like after I was done cutting.

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I put some pattern weights down on them to try to flatten them out after I took this.  But ultimately, I was pretty happy with how this went.  There were some frustrating things about it at the beginning, but the tool has a lot of promise.  I haven’t tried the fabric blade yet, but I will do so soon, probably with the same design, as I am not certain how well vinyl will stick to fabric.  But I bet I can use some heat transfer stuff on some fabric.  🙂

If you have a Silhouette, let me know if you have any tips or tricks that will help me out as I learn to use it!

 

 

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