Whether you’re starting a new business, looking for a new hobby, or looking to add a heavy-duty tool to your crafting arsenal, the Silhouette range of machines may be just what you’re looking for. The electronic die cutting machine can cut a wide variety of materials, making it easy to create professional looking crafts and crafts.
What is a car silhouette?
For those of you unfamiliar with these products, the Silhouette line of die cutters makes it easy to cut shapes, images and text from cards, vinyl, foam and more. You can use it to create gorgeous posters, greeting cards, and custom t-shirts, just to name a few. With additional additional tools, you can also use the Silhouette for sketching, engraving, and with the newer versions of the machine, for embossing, etching and drawing.
There are three Silhouette machines to choose from:
original Cameo Silhouette can cut material into a 12″ x 12″ mat. You can cut items that are longer if the material is in a continuous roll, but is limited to a width of 12 inches. Cameo can cut material up to 0.08 mm thick. The machine will cost you at least $270 on Amazon, but there are plenty of other kits for sale.
This is a smaller extension Portrait Silhouette limited to a standard American 8 1/2″ by 11″ letter cutting mat. Aside from the size of the machine itself, the only real difference between the Cameo and Portrait is the price, with the latter available on Amazon for just $150.
latest version, Silhouette Curio runs on an 8 1/2″ x 6″ cutting mat and has additional smoothing and embossing features. It has two carriages so you can use two blades or tools in your projects (but not at the same time). It can cut material up to 2mm thick and costs $170 on Amazon, but also comes in a variety of kit configurations.
If you’re just getting started with this type of machine, Portrait offers a much better entry price that won’t break the bank, but if you can afford the extra $20, Curio opens up more options if you buy the add-ons needed to get these features.
If a large cutting space is key, Cameo is probably best for you. This video gives a good analysis of the differences between the new Curio and Cameo:
The silhouette should come with a blade and two mats, but other items that can be purchased include the following:
Putty knife: The spatula makes it easy to scrape intricate patterns off the rug.
Hook: The hook makes it easy to weed out the shapes that are still holding on to your cut out design.
Drawing pens or pen holder: There are two ways to draw shapes with a silhouette. One is to buy Silhouette sketch pens that fit into the carriage where the blade goes. Sketch pens cost about $12 for a pack of 24.
It would be a better deal to buy a Silhouette pen holder, which costs up to $10 depending on where you buy it. Using a pen holder means you don’t have to worry about running out of ink and you can use any pen that fits. You could even try making your own Silhouette pen holder if you’re so inclined.
Engraving tool: the tool itself is a bit pricey, almost $30 on Amazon, but it allows you to engrave thin metal like metal dog tags or stamping blanks. You can learn more about how to use it here.
Cloth blade: Silhouette machines can also be used to cut fabric for sewing projects. They sell a blue blade specifically for cloth, but really the only difference between a blue blade and a black standard blade is the color. This ensures you don’t use a cloth blade on paper or vice versa, but since a cloth blade is a bit more expensive, just buy a regular blade and be sure to mark it so you can tell it apart from your paper blade.
Silhouette certainly tries to use its starter kits and extra tools, but you can get a lot out of your machine without buying any of those tools. Anyway, I would recommend getting a spatula and a hook, whether from Silhouette or elsewhere. And you should also definitely look for the best deals on Silhouette instruments. For example, the Spatula is half the price on Amazon that you’ll find on the Silhouette website. You can also find bundles that sell spatula, hook, and additional tools in one purchase.
How it works?
Regardless of which machine you have (or choose to buy), they work pretty much the same. Using the free Silhouette Studio desktop application, you can create images, shapes, and phrases to cut out on your computer. You can import existing vectors created in Illustrator or downloaded from standard websites and convert them into cutout files that the Silhouette machine recognizes. Shapes and cutout files are also available for purchase through the Silhouette Studio software.
If you’ve used Illustrator, you’ll find Silhouette Studio extremely easy to use. If you have no experience with Illustrator there’s a slight learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an easy-to-use program with huge potential. The best way to learn how to use the software is to follow tutorials of various types that use text, images, vectors, and other options.
Some tutorials for the Silhouette Studio include a guide to using the software’s text tool and this list of videos from Silhouette that explain the various features of the software.
The best advice I can give for learning how to use the software is to follow project-specific tutorials. Some tutorials are included at the end of this post and they will give you a good idea of how to use the software for various projects. This is the best way to find out how much he can make.
There is also a paid version of the software that costs $25 on Amazon. Silhouette Studio Designer Edition allows, among other things, the use of SVG files. Personally, I haven’t found a good reason to upgrade yet. If you want to use the SVG file with the software, you can use the online file conversion service like Zamzar to convert it from SVG to JPG. (However, you will lose some quality in the process.)
There are a few other differences between the free and paid versions of the software, which you can learn about in the video below:
Once you’ve created the image you want to cut out, you’ll place the material on the sticky cutting mat that comes with the Silhouette and flatten it out in the machine. The silhouette comes with a small blade that is inserted into the machine to cut through your shapes.
This video shows how to load the mat into the camera.
In the Silhouette Studio software, you can tell the machine what material you are using and it will tell you which blade settings you should use. As you get more comfortable with your Silhouette and start experimenting with different materials, you will likely play around with these settings to get the best fit. The Silhouette Blade FAQ also contains some helpful tips on understanding how the blade works with different blade thicknesses.
The video below gives you a great idea of how to make your first cut:
When you start using the mat, don’t be alarmed by the marks on it — this is completely normal. However, the blade should never cut through the mat.
What can you do with the silhouette?
With the Silhouette you can cut a wide variety of products: paper and cardboard, heat exchangers, adhesive vinyl, craft foam, parchment and more. And the designs that come with it are endless.
In addition to the obvious paper crafts, if you find yourself overworked, you can create custom vinyl t-shirts. water bottles, mugs and anything you can stick vinyl on too. If you have your own small business (like an Etsy store), you can use this machine to create tags, boxes, gift card holders, and other little trinkets that add a touch of personality. And if you don’t, then Silhouette is a really great way to create crafts that you can sell online. (And don’t forget to list your handicrafts on Amazon. handicrafts on Amazon. handicrafts on Amazon. .)
You can also use the Silhouette to create temporary tattoos or stencils, and with a special starter kit you can create a design for glass engraving: