How to use Silhouette Studio to design your own T-shirts

If you want to start a small business making vinyl shirts, it is essential to come up with as many unique designs as possible.

Mastering the Silhouette Studio Design software is crucial to successfully transfer your ideas onto vinyl.

In this article, we will go over several Youtube Silhouette Cameo Studio tutorials and give you a quick summary so that you know everything you need to get started.

Silhouette Studio Basics

In this video, Laura gives us a quick 14-minute explanation of the basic features and functions of the software program. In the majority of her video she explains how to make text and adjust it exactly to your liking. Read the bullets below for a quick summary.

General Silhouette Studio Settings

  • Go to the Design Page Setting tab and make sure that your page size doesn’t exceed the size of your cutting mat. Making the page size smaller is, of course, no problem.
  • In the same tap, you can also reveal or hide the cutting mat. If you opt to reveal it and use the lines as a guide to position your work. Or you can simply choose to hide it.
  • There are several ways you can reduce the amount of vinyl you waste and reduce your cost. First of all, you can go to design page settings and adjust the width and height to fit your text exactly. Secondly, you can use the rotate function to fit several designs of different sizes onto the same sheet of vinyl. Afterwards, you have used your Silhouette to print and cut them, you can heat transfer them individually.

How to Make Text and Basic Figures using Silhouette Studio?

  • You can adjust the size of your text and figures by dragging and dropping from the edges. But if you want to prevent it from stretching unevenly, go to the scale tab and select the Lock Aspect button and then specify the dimensions.
  • There is a Text Style window that every Microsoft Word user is probably familiar with. It will let you change the font or make the text bold, italic, etc. Additionally, you have the option to adjust the spacing of the letters.
  • If some letters are too close and overlap, you can weld the letter together. To do this select the text, right click and ungroup, open the Modify window and click weld, and finally right click on the text again and make it a compound path.
  • In case you are using a font that uses very thin lines, it might look nice in the Silhouette Cameo studio software but the machine might have a lot of trouble cutting it out successfully. Use the offset function to slightly thicken the lines and it will be much easier for your Silhouette to cut and trace the design.
  • Some basic Silhouette Cameo shapes are built-in to the software program. You can easily draw circles, squares, rectangles etc. To draw perfect circles and squares, simply hold the shift key.
  • In the Line Style window, you can find many different lines you can experiment with. Don’t forget to play around with the Line Thickness for some original effects.

Things to Check before Cutting

  • If you plan on using a heat press to transfer your design onto a T-shirt, keep in mind that the design will be flipped. To counteract this, use the mirror option in the Replicate window. Or simply right-click the text and select Flip Horizontally.
  • Before you can hit the send to silhouette button, pay a quick visit to the Cut Settings tab. Here you can select the cutting style you want (cut edge, perforated edge, cut, etc.). More importantly, make sure that the material type is the same as the one you are using.

How to Use the Silhouette Studio Trace and Cut Functions?

If you want to cut out an image instead of some text, it is crucial to master the Silhouette Studio trace function. This will let you import your own images or pictures from the web and use them in your own designs. This video by JoDee Mason’s Youtube channel takes us over the basic steps required.

  1. First find an image you would like to use and remember where you saved it on your computer.
  2. Import the image by clicking on File -> Import -> Import to Library.
  3. Go to the Trace window and drag a selection window over your image.
  4. If your image is relatively simple and connected throughout, click the trace button.
  5. If the trace is successful, you can send it to the machine to cut it.

Preventing Double Trace Lines

Very often the trace function will give you double lines. This means your Silhouette will cut both lines. Although you might want this for some projects, it’s not what most people want. To prevent this, follow these steps:

  1. Follow step 1 to 3 above.
  2. Adjust the High Pass Filter, Low Pass Filter and the Threshold until the entire image is highlighted.
  3. Click the Trace Outer Edge button.
  4. If the trace is successful, you can send it to the machine to cut it.

Depending on your image you will have to play around with the filter and threshold parameters a little bit to make the Silhouette Studio Trace function do exactly what you want.

Basic Silhouette Studio Software vs. Silhouette Designer Studio Software

If you bought a Silhouette vinyl cutter you the Silhouette Studio software with it for free. The software has several features that allow you to make and edit some basic designs of your own.

If you want even more control and versatility, you can update to the Silhouette Studio Designer Edition for a small fee. After updating you will have an additional eraser, knife and file import options and gives you the ability to design rhinestone and sketch patterns as well.

This video shows you what most of these additional features do, such that you can judge by yourself if you need them or not.

  • The new Shear tool will allow you to skew your images horizontally or vertically. This can make your design pop out more and make them look more 3D.
  • If you enable the Guide option (also known as crosshairs) in the Grid settings window, you will see a horizontal and vertical line appear from your cursor. This is useful if you are trying to make two different elements line up perfectly straight.
  • Although you already had the knife and eraser tool in the basic software, in the Silhouette Designer edition you get many additional options. Now you can cut not just straight lines and erase with a circle, but make wavy or zigzag cuts and use differently shaped erasers as well.
  • After updating you can import images that are .gsd, .dxg or .svg as well.
  • You can now easily convert shapes into rhinestone patterns or sketch patterns that you can then manipulate with the other tools.
  • The eyedropper tool will let you transfer the properties from one shape to another. This way you can easily color different shapes with the same color fill and line color.
  • Adjusting the pivot point lets you rotate your images not just around its own center, but around any point you set.

Click here for an easy overview chart of all the additional features of Silhouette Studio Designer Edition.

If you have a Circuit vinyl cutter and are thus using the Cricut Design Space software, things might look a little different. Check out this video on the Basics of Circuit Design Space or this video Guide to Cricut Design Space.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Making Your Own T-Shirts!

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