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4 Ways to Fill Fonts with Sketch Pens

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial
Perhaps the most frequently asked question we get here at Silhouette School regarding sketch pens is how to get the pens to fill in a font.  The answer isn't nearly as simply as I wish it was, although this lesson will show you a few different ways to get font that appears filled.

Let's take a step back first, though. When you think about sketch pens, it's easiest to think about them the same way you think about the blade.  Just as the blade only cuts around the edge and leaves the negative space solid, the pen is only going to sketch the outline of a letter.  It's not going to act as a crayon to color in the inside of the letters.  That being said...I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

The most straight forward - and least labor intensive - way to get sketch pens to fill in a font are to buy sketch fonts specific for this. However, most are thin handwriting-style fonts and they're not 'filled' in as much as they are just a single solid line instead of an outline.  Sketch fonts can be purchased at the Silhouette Online Store the same way you purchase designs.  Use the search box in the SOS to search for "Sketch Font".

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial

There are a few fonts out there that would make terrible cutting fonts, but they would be great for sketching.  'Return to Sender' is a great example - and it's a free download! As you can see from this screen grab in Studio is that the font is 'filled' by the simple design of the font. All of those red cut lines in the middle will be sketched by the Silhouette sketch pen making the letters appeared to be colored in.

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, return to sender

Here's how it looks when I sketch it with my DIY Sketch Pen on my Silhouette.

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, return to sender

But let's say you have your heart set on using some other font that isn't available as a sketch font and isn't conveniently 'pre-filled.'  Here's where Plans C and D come into play..

Plan C works if you have a relatively thin font and if you're up for using the character markers that we told you about in our little $1 Sketch Pen Hack instead of a sketch pen.

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, markers
The thickness of the marker tip fills in thin fonts automatically just due to its size.  This works if the font size is relatively small and if the font is narrow, but not too narrow.  As you can see it can get a little 'thick' and almost illegible if the font is too thin.

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, markers

And now to the fourth way to fill in fonts with sketch pens....Lets say you want to use a font that's a little more bold so even the marker wouldn't fill it in, or you want to use the actual sketch pen and not a marker to write your text. That's where Plan D - the offset option - comes into play.  More accurately - the internal offset tool.   Start by typing out your text.  Pick your font size now because after you do the next step you won't be able to adjust the actual font size.  You'll only be able to resize by dragging the corners in and out.

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio

After you have your font ready zoom in really, really close using the zoom tool. Closer!

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, zoom in, icon

With your font highlighted click the 'Offset' tool button (circled).  Then select 'internal offset.'  You'll see the offset appear inside the letters. 

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, offset

The inset is a little too far away from the original outline. We need to reduce the distance so drop that value down a bit.  Adjust the distance, using the up and down arrows so the internal line is very close to the original font outline.   My first inset is at a distance of .09.  Click apply.   Now it looks like this...It's almost hard to see that there are two lines there...but that's what you want. You want them very close together so that when you repeat this over and over again it 'fills' in the font.

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, offset

Repeat this same process again with an inset at a slightly further distance. My second inset is at .19 the third at .29 and so on. Be sure to click apply after every inset.  After a few insets, my font looks like this.

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, insets

I repeated the internal offset about 5 or 6 times until all the letters appeared to be filled in. The size of your font and the distance of your internal offsets will determine exactly how many times you need to create the offset.  Now remember you are zoomed in really close so you can see the tiny gaps between the lines. But watch what happens when you zoom out....

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, filled text

Pretty cool, huh?!

Before you move or resize the text, be sure to highlight the entire design and group it so all the insets stay together. Now when you send it to sketch on the Silhouette the font will appear to be filled in.  Even cooler, huh?

Fill, fonts, sketch pens, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I received a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine! 

Thanks for coming to class today at Silhouette School.  If you like what you see, I'd love for you to pin it!


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