Saturday, August 20, 2011

More on Tracing Graphics Directly in Silhouette Studio

One of the Silhouette Yahoo group members asked me for a video on how to make a 3D graphic usable. One look at the graphic told me it would be pretty much impossible to trace directly in Silhouette Studio because it had primarily light areas on the edges. You can, of course, take a graphic into Photoshop and make a blackout of it and other things but I realize most people do not have the program and/or don't know how to do this.

The only real option is to learn to trace directly in Silhouette Studio. It really is not hard to do. It does take time though and you have to have some patience...but it opens up the opportunity to use a lot of files available on the internet for free and for a very reasonable cost. I have personally used a lot I have purchased from CraftsUPrint which has fabulous files for the 3D layered look on cards. To the right is a card I did a few days ago from a graphic purchased from them. It is sort of hard to see the layers but the cross and message are raised on popdots and then the butterflies and the bow on the message are raised another layer.

Anyway the graphics are opened in Silhouette Studio and the first thing you need to do is to cut the multiple images apart using the knife tool. You can also trim off the excess "white" space at this time. Then you just have to start tracing around an object. I usually go in VERY close to do this and just start clicking and placing nodes. I am not really all that careful when I do it. One reason I'm not that careful is that I know I can't do a great job as my hand shakes sometimes and I know I'm going to have to go clear around it and adjust the nodes when I I might as well just click around quickly and then spend the time adjusting the nodes up to the edges of the graphic.

This is a case of "how badly do I want to use this graphic." If you want to use it then you have to spend the time to make it work. The detail the Silhouette is able to cut makes it oh so least to me.

Below is the video showing how to get started on a project. Be sure to watch it on YouTube if you want to see it on a larger screen.


  1. I stumbled across your videos while looking for instructions on Silhouette Studio. I love the format - quick and to the point. I'm a quick but impatient learner and don't have time to play with software to learn all the ins and outs. Thank you.
    I am posting this comment as I have a great knowledge of Photoshop, which you mentioned briefly in this video. I have not tried this technique with the images you are working with (CUP) and I see they have a drop shadow, making the following a little trickier.
    This is how I trace an item - I open the graphic in photoshop and create duplicate or copy of the image and work on this one; I select the white background (in this case you would need to play with settings and also select the drop shadow if you don't want it to cut); Under Select,choose reverse; Create a new layer and fill the selection with something bright (I use red). Save this as a PNG or JPG. Bring both into Studio, size them together and layer them to make sure they are identical; Trace the solid red one and use this cutting line to cut out the image. Some steps in are omitted and assume knowledge of Studio print and cut features.
    I find this much easier than hand tracing in Studio and it works for any graphic regardless of colour, as long as you can fill the correct shape in Photoshop.

  2. Carol...I also do most of mine in Photoshop and a lot of things I do videos on I do in Illustrator...but trying to aim the videos at some friends who do not have the two programs available. I usually do a duplicate blackout in Photoshop to trace which I get by doing a color layer or changing the levels. This particular file was as much of a pain in Photoshop as it was to hand trace in SS with the shadow and broken light edge. Thanks for you input. I am NOT that good with Photoshop so appreciate the input.