There are a few BIG reasons it's important to understand how compound paths work in Silhouette Studio.
- Compound paths influence how a design is filled with color, therefore are important for print and cut designs
- Compound paths limit the designer's access to sections or pieces of a design so releasing compound paths becomes important when manipulating shapes.
- Compound paths make it possible to weld into a frame
When you think of compound path just remember it means the lines or pieces of a design are "compounded" into a single layer. For example, let's look at the letter P.
But if you release the compound path, as shown in the P on the right, the single layer letter will become two separated layers: 1) the main part of the P and 2) the counter. In some cases, after you release the compound path you will still need to ungroup (right click ungroup) to be able to separate the paths.
So why are compound paths important for Print and Cut?
Compound paths determine how a design is filled with color and it all goes back to that hollowed out effect we discussed above.
Let's say you have a tie design that you want to print and cut. If it's a solid tie you can simply fill it with color and the entire thing will print this way in the single color.
But if you want your tie to be on a white shirt and have white polka dots you want to make the tie and the dots a compound path. That will 'hollow out' those polka dots and essentially you'll be be able to see right through the dot so you'll be seeing white of the shirt through the tie.
Even if I do nothing but change the color of the shirt, the dot color would change as well. Again, because you're seeing through the dots. They are punched out.
But what if you want the polka dots on the tie to be a different color than the tie and a different color than the shirt? Well then you need to release the compound path (select > right click > release compound path) between the tie and the dots. This is what you'll get...
THEN select ONLY the dots and fill them with a new color.
At this point, you may want to group everything together so it stays together. If you attempt to make it a compound path again you'll lose the different colors because the paths will be 'hollowed out.'
Compound Paths and Manipulating Shapes
Compound paths are also important because they give you access to every piece in a design. As we've touched on with the counter of the P and the dots in the tie. Without releasing the compound path you can not gain access to either - even ungrouping will not work. That's because grouping is simply moving layered pieces together so they stay in the same relative spot, while forming a compound path is literally joining the shapes together to form one new shape.
Since this tie is a compound path if I right click on it I am not even given the 'ungroup' option. That's because it's not a group it's a compound path.
If I release the compound path, however, the 'hollowed out' areas of the dots disappear and the dots take on their own layer to the design which allows me to move them away from the tie shape and/or manipulate them to my liking.
Compound Paths and Welding into a Frame
When you make a make a compound path you are essentially creating a frame. Just as a picture frame is hollowed out in the middle, so is a compound path. In order to weld into a frame you must make it a compound path first.
Let's use these two rectangles as an example. Right now it looks like you have a black frame around a red rectangle.
However, if the two boxes are not a compound path, the below image is what you actually have...just two boxes layered on top of each other. This is best demonstrated by slightly moving the top box so you can see the boxes are not 'hollowed out' into a frame.
If you make them a compound path, by putting them on top of each other > selecting both designs > right click > make compound path. You'll get this...which is a frame! (The white is not a white box but a 'window' that you can see through.
It's now able to be welded to....you can weld more boxes to it or even text.
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