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How to cut by layers in Silhouette Studio
Learn to prepare complex designs for cutting.
In digital design, we use layers to separate different elements of an image. Every layer hosts a single component of the complex composition. This system is frequently associated with software like Adobe Photoshop.
If you are crafting with multicolor cut files, you must learn to differentiate and edit layers. It’s key to avoid wasting vinyl or cardstock by cutting elements that won’t have a specific color in the final craft.
In today’s guide, we are going to show you how to adapt your designs before cutting them by layers. We’ll also take a look at how to cut by layers in Silhouette Studio.
On this article:
How to edit shapes to cut by layers in Silhouette Studio
If your craft has different layers, it’s crucial to prepare the design first. This way, the layers will fit better once we are pressing or pasting them together. This procedure is essential if your model has several colors or if you are crafting with different materials.
Let’s start by creating a design from scratch. For this tutorial, we have decided to write the words “happy days” in two different formats. The first step is to create two text boxes to host these words.
Once you’ve written the words, it’s time to modify their aspect, their size, and their placement. If you’d like to learn how to edit texts in Silhouette Studio, you can check this article that we have included in our Ultimate Silhouette Guide.
In Silhouette Studio, the texts are not processed as shapes unless you convert them. To turn words into shapes, you need to create a compound path. This step is crucial: otherwise, you’d turn every character into an independent shape. Having many elements wouldn’t be bad itself (sometimes it can be convenient), but having to edit every letter would take extra time and effort.
To turn a word into a compound path, select it with the mouse. Press the right button and click on the “Make compound path” option. You have to repeat this procedure with every word in your design.
After you create a compound path, these words won’t belong in a text box anymore. If you double click a word, you’ll be able to see all the vector points that integrate the new shape.
It’s time to prepare the shapes to be cut in layers. First of all, make a copy of your design and place it outside of your canvas. This way, if something goes wrong, you can always start again. Also, it’s an excellent way to appreciate the difference between the initial design and the final result.
Open the Offset panel. You can find it on the right toolbar. The icon is a star shape with an offset around it. It’s highlighted in blue on the image above.
Select the word that is layered on top. In this case, it would be “days.”
Adjust the offset distance by moving the arrow on the grey rectangle. If you move the pointer to the left, the offset distance will decrease. If you move it to the right, it will increase. You can also write a number on the squared box on the right.
Select the “round corners” option by pressing the icon on the right.
Press “Apply.” Now you can see an offset line all around the shape.
Once you’ve created an offset, it’s time to subtract the top layer from the background one. This way, you will avoid wasting cardstock or vinyl on cutting parts of your design that you won’t need. Also, you won’t have to overlay the words, and the result will be more professional.
Open the Modify panel. You can find it in the right toolbar. Click the icon that is highlighted in blue on the image above.
Select both elements.
If you move the upper layer, you’ll see the changes on the lower one. The part of the shape where both words used to be overlayed does not exist anymore.
As you can see in the image above, some parts of the blue layer have been cut out after subtracting. To make them part of the shape they belong to, select the shape and all the small pieces (press Shift to select them all). Click the right button of your mouse and select the “Make compound path” option.
How to cut by color and layer in Silhouette Studio
As we said before, working with layers is essential if your designs have two or more colors. In the second part of this tutorial, we are going to show you how to select every layer to cut separately.
First, you need to go through all the steps that we have explained before. Here’s a checklist.
- Turn every text box into a compound path.
- Create an offset for every overlaying element.
- Select the overlaying elements and press Subtract in the Modify panel.
After you’ve done this, you are ready to start cutting by layers.
Once you are done with editing, open the Send window. You can find it on the top right corner of your screen.
Open the Fill tab to have an overview of all the color layers of your design.
To cut them separately, you have to mark the checkbox of the layer you want to cut. Unmark the rest of the boxes, so your Silhouette machine will know what is precisely what it has to cut.
Repeat the process with every layer. This procedure allows you to use a different material for each color.
Once you’ve cut all the layers, you can join them together again.
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