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Silhouette PixScan Tutorial for Beginners: Part 1 of 2

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

In August, Silhouette announced the release of the new Silhouette PixScan Technoloy. The concept is cool, but to be honest I found the written directions and the video tutorial rather vague. Here at Silhouette School we like to spell.it.all.out. so it's baby steps the whole way.

First let's talk about what Pixscan is.  Pixscan Technology utilizes a cutting mat that has pre-printed registration marks on it which allows you to cut out pre-printed patterns or images. Think of it like you're doing a print and cut, but someone else did the printing.

To get started, you first need to download the latest version of Silhouette Studio. Yes, you need V3 and you'll need the most recent update (you do NOT need Designer Edition).  Still scared of V3? Don't be..here's all you need to know about upgrading to Studio V3. 

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial

Click on the Mac or Windows version to download onto your computer, then you'll need to find the download to install. Just follow the two or three prompts and you'll be good to go.

After updating to the latest version of Silhouette Studio, when you open Studio you'll notice a few changes in the software that you did not have in your previous version. There is now a PixScan icon along the upper tool bar and the PixScan mats are listed in the 'Cutting Mat' drop down menu.

May 2017 UPDATE: You no longer need to select a mat when using the Pixscan Mat. The Pixscan mat will not even appear as an option in the Cutting Mat drop down unless you are using a relatively old version of the software.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio, icon


Now that the software is set up, let's work on the mat.  The PixScan mat has a cover sheet and a sticky surface just like the regular cutting mats.  Make sure you remove the protective sheet before you go any further.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio, protective sheet

At this point you can grab whatever it is you want to cut and place it on the PixScan mat.  The entire material must fit inside the black border of the mat.   I am going to demonstrate using this very small and detailed cardstock just so you see how precise this PixScan technology is.  Any material that you could cut with the Silhouette can be placed on the mat: fabric, patterned vinyl, cardstock...

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

After you have your material on the mat, snap a picture of it with your phone or scan it into your computer.  You can take the picture straight on or at a slight angle. However you do it, the entire mat needs to be part of the final image like in the image above.   (The above photo is the actual photo I used.)

Download the scan or the image (I snapped a photo with my iPhone 5 >  emailed it to myself > opened my mail on the computer > downloaded image) to your computer.

Now go back into Silhouette Studio and click on that new PixScan icon along the top right bar.   You'll get this window along the right side.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

Click on 'Import from File' if you downloaded a photo like I did or 'Import From Scanner' if you're scanning.

Then click Import PixScan Image from File. 

A pop up box will appear. Navigate to the image on your computer and click 'OPEN'.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

Your photo will replace the image of that PixScan mat shown in the window as it loads into the software.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

Once it's into Studio, the image will pop up in your work area.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

At this point you're going to use the TRACE tool to trace the area hat you want to cut. I only wanted to cut two of these little branches out.  I traced them to get cut lines and then had to release the compound path to delete a few unwanted trace areas (ie the berries below the branches).

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio, trace

Here's a close up of the two branches that I'm going to cut with the cut lines around them.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio, cut lines

Before you send your work to the machine, make sure you go into the Cut Style window and select the material that you're cutting and adjust the blade in your machine.

Also, it's a good idea to double check in the Page Settings window that the software has automatically detected that you are using the PixScan mat. 

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio, page settings

And now you're ready to cut. 

Load the PixScan mat into your Silhouette and click 'Send to Silhouette' in the software and watch this thing of beauty.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

Isn't this amazing!?

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio


Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

This side by side of the digitized version and the hard copy really demonstrates just how impressive this PixScan Technology is.

Silhouette Pixscan, beginner, tutorial, Silhouette Studio

Next week I'll be sharing Part 2 of this PixScan tutorial mini-series to show you a few ways to customize your designs using the PixScan mat....like adding an offset or forcing other cut lines.

How will you use PixScan? Leave a comment below to share! 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive 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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