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How to Create a Perfect Shape Template (without PixScan)

We all know how versatile our Silhouette machines can be, but one of the more difficult tasks is to create files for custom objects.  This is what I found out when we attempted to work on one of these amazing tile Christmas ornaments that have been floating around the crafting world lately. Although a few different templates are being passed between friends, what do you do when a template isn't available? Create your own, of course!

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template

Silhouette School contributors Becky and Glenna from My Paper Craze are back today to show us how - and they're sharing a method everyone can do - even if you don't have Pixscan.
Okay, so to get started, take your tile (or other object - this would also work great for acrylic key chain shapes!) and trace a good outline on a white piece of paper with a pen or pencil. Get as close as you can to the edge.

Scan this into your computer (yes scan, not a photo, you'll need this to make it proportionate). Import the image into Silhouette Studio.

Once imported, you'll go to your Scale menu (in blue along the top tool bar below) and enter the exact dimensions of your scanned paper. We used a normal letter size (8.5" x 11"), so it was easy.

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, scale menu

Next, zoom in on the shape outline image and trace it using the Trace menu.

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, trace menu

Normally I would suggest unchecking high pass filter and upping the threshold to avoid the double line trace, but if the software has issues tracing the thin line like that, just leave on the defaults when tracing...and carry on.

After the outline is traced, you'll see that the software has traced both sides of your line, giving you double lines. Examine the traced image and correct any issues you see.  (At this point, you can move your imported (scanned) image off to the side.) Don't delete, you'll need it again later.

When you have two complete lines, select the cut lines > right click > release compound path.

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, release compound path

Select and delete the outside line. Usually the inside will be smoother and it's more true to shape. 

NOTE: If you want your design to go straight to the edge, skip this next step. 
But if you want a slight border between the vinyl and the edge of the tile, select the cut line and choose the Offset menu. Create an Internal Offset. Use the Distance tool to decide how much border you want between the outside of your vinyl (or other medium) and the edge of the shape (a tile, in this case).  Remember, the larger the distance, the larger the border will be.

Don't delete the original outer line, just move it off to the side again.

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, offset

Once you are working with a single outline, decide on the cut-able pattern you want to fill your image. I chose a quatrefoil pattern.   To turn a fill-able pattern into a cuttable pattern check out this Silhouette School tutorial

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, align tool, cuttable pattern

Once you have the cut-able pattern, layer it OVER the pattern.  To do so just select the shape > right click > bring to front.

Now select both objects, click on the Modify menu and choose the Crop tool to get the pattern into the shape.

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, modify, crop

You'll want to go ahead and group the smaller pieces together before they get accidentally separated. Below you can see that left is ungrouped and right is grouped.  You can group by selecting all of the individual pieces >  right click > group.
Ungrouped image by My Paper Craze for Silhouette SchoolGrouped image by My Paper Craze for Silhouette School

Technically, your template is done if you only need a pattern.  Before you make any further changes, make a duplicate of this and slide it off to the side (this is just insurance...but you may thank me later). 

I took it a step further and decided to add a little wording.  To add a circle in the middle of your template for names, years, etc., draw a circle, size appropriately and layer it ON TOP of the design. Use the Align tool if necessary to get it in the exact middle. Again bring the circle to the front by right clicking > bring to front. 

This time you're going to select both the patterned template and the circle and click the Modify tool (in blue along the tool bar below) and then select Subtract. 

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, modify tool, subtract

Don't forget to regroup your pieces...then add in your text using the text tool.

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template, fill color tool

After you cut on vinyl, apply it to the tile with regular transfer tape. 

If you're interested in making a few of these beauties yourself, you can pick up tiles at you local hardware store (these are from Lowes: American Olean Vaughn Gloss White Glazed Porcelain Mosaic Indoor/Outdoor Wall Tile (Common: 10-in x 13-in; Actual: 10.87-in x 12.87-in). 

The vinyl is our go-to product, Oracle 651 (permanent/outdoor). 

To add the ribbon/hangers, there are three options:

Silhouette Pixscan, Pixscan, create shape template, shape template

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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  1. This is so cool! Thanks for another fun thing to do with my Silhouette. Love it.
    I'm so grateful to all of you creative people that figure out these fun projects.
    Judy D.

  2. you cut that pattern out with vinyl or is that a pattern vinyl you can buy?

    1. We cut this pattern in the vinyl. It would technically work with the pattern vinyl too.

  3. I use this method to make templates of my cookie cutters. Use the templates to make edible images that fit exactly on the cookie.

  4. THank you I am loving this. I am making the mini ones for my 178 students this year. One question what is the font/svg that the m with the heart is?

  5. I posted this yesterday, but cannot find it today! I want to sketch a solid black letter. I fill the inside space of the letter and it appears as solid on my monitor, but when I do the cut (sketchI) it sketches the outline only. What am I doing wrong?


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