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Silhouette Curio: First Impressions

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions
As you may know if you follow along with Silhouette School on Facebook, Instagram, or Periscope I got my hands on the Silhouette Curio on Tuesday.  I've had about a full day to play with it and so I thought I'd give you my first impressions.
By no means should this be considered a Silhouette Curio review - it's not. I haven't had nearly enough time with it to offer that - yet. I will. For now this is me as a new user, just like you will be, if you decide to get a Silhouette Curio. This is me knowing the Silhouette Studio software inside and out and this is my honest first impression of the Silhouette Curio. 

First off - you should know the biggest differences in the Silhouette CAMEO vs Curio are the Curio's focus is in embossing, stippling, and etching all with larger clearance for thicker materials, a dual carriage for tools with a much smaller cutting area.  The CAMEO's focus is more on cutting a wide variety of materials with a larger cutting area. 
If you watch me on Periscope and saw my live unboxing you know that I literally had no idea what I was getting into. I had no idea what all the plates and mats and gadgets were for.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions

Where did I turn first?  The Silhouette Curio user manual that came with the machine.  It's a decent getting started guide - it explains all of the stuff that comes with the machine including the new software CD that is necessary to activate the Curio features.

I popped the Silhouette Studio V3.4 software CD that came with the machine into my computer and installed the software.  Then I read a little further into the book where it discusses how and why the platforms are necessary.  The guide book states the Silhouette Studio software will suggest - in the Cut Settings window - the recommended platform level depending on the material you are cutting.  I'm not even kidding when I tell you I poked around Studio for at least an hour looking for wherever these suggested platform levels were.

Turns out - the software CD that comes with the two week old machine is already outdated and does not include the platform levels as the guide book says. Instead, you actually have to go onto the Silhouette America website and get the newest version which was released on August 13.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions

After I installed the new newer version, the platform settings were in the cut settings as the booklet states that would be.   I'm not sure how many Curios will be received with the wrong version of Silhouette Studio, but I would suggest you just skip the CD installation and go right for the online download which can be found here.

The machine comes with a regular ratchet blade and two embossing tips - a wide and a fine. Along with the tip you want to use, you'll need to decide on the material and if you want to emboss or deboss or score and emboss.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, ratchet blade, embossing tips

The software gives you two options for embossing - embossing or debossing. One (embossing) is where the design is raised up and the other (debossing) is where the design is recessed. What the machine does is actually the same for both - where the difference comes in is in how you position your material.  

For vellum type papers the emboss or deboss tips works well.  On the green vellum sheet I attempted a score and emboss where you have the blade set at 0 pass through first and then emboss. You can see however that the score cut through the vellum. 
 Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions

I've also noticed that the fine embossing tip gives a deeper/brighter embossing than the wide embossing tip. You can see the difference here with the same settings and material - just using the different tips. Depending on the look you're going for, one may be better than the other.   Again, this is vellum.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, embossing tips, vellum paper

For thicker papers, such as cardstock I found the score and emboss function (rather than emboss alone) worked better.  If you're looking for a deep embossing effect for thicker papers, I'm not sure you're going to achieve with the Curio. Again, my first impressions left me somewhat underwhelmed with the overall embossing capabilities on paper. 

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, cardstock, embossing

Here's a quick video of the Curio at work embossing paper...

Now comes the part that I found the most confusing...setting up to emboss. If you select to 'Emboss' your design, you must flip your material on the mat so the wrong side is up. When the embossing tip presses down onto the material while 'cutting' it will be embossing (giving a raised look) on the right side.  However, the software will also automatically mirror the entire page when embossing.  This is different than mirroring an object in Silhouette Studio.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions

I found this difficult to wrap my head around to be honest. You'd think Silhouette Studio would mirror the design directly next to the original design so you'd get the red example, but instead it mirrors the entire work area, which leaves you with the blue and the worst part is - it still only shows the pink design in the work area.  Ahhhhh how's a girl to know where to place a scrap?!

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, Silhouette Studio, Curio emboss mirror

Without full length grid lines on the embossing mat and no preview of where the flipped design would be in Studio, I found it nearly impossible to know exactly where to position my material on the mat and therefore more than once cut off the material and onto the mat.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions

For me, I found it easier to mirror the object myself (from the Replicate window) and then score/emboss on the wrong side of the paper so I knew exactly where the machine is going to emboss. Not being able to see the placement before you emboss or score and emboss is where you can run into trouble and I'm sure I won't be the only one who goes bonkers trying to keep it all straight in my head.

And one last thing to think about when embossing -  just like sketching if you're embossing text you'll get an outline of the characters instead of a single line so if you want a single line look go for a thin font like Mr. Moustache.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, embossing

Now let's talk about the software changes.  While there are only two new icons along the top tool bar for the Curio, I can say this: they contain a lot of powerful options.  The Embossing window and the Stippling window now have icons that are accessible only when the Curio is plugged in.  The menus and settings within each of them are many - some more straight forward than others.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, Silhouette Studio, design page settings

The Page Settings and Cut Settings icons looks the same, but when you open each of them, now they will appear differently.

In the Design Page Settings window, you'll have options to pick the Curio page size as well as the Curio cutting mat or embossing cutting mat at each the 8x6.5 or 8x12" size for a total of four new mat options.  In the Cut Settings window, you'll now have options to pick which tool is in which holder and which material type each tool is cutting/embossing, etc.   Yes your head will spin for a hot second....or perhaps longer.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, Silhouette Studio, design page settings

One thing that struck me as odd (and rather annoying) is you must have your Curio connected to the computer to have access to the Embossing and Stippling tool windows. That means you won't be able to fully edit designs using these features unless you are physically connected to your machine. I don't know about you, but I often design on my laptop some place differently than where I cut.  I like to get my design all ready to cut (say while sitting on my comfy couch) and then just go plug in to cut/emboss (in my office).  With the way the options are grayed out in Silhouette Studio - that's not possible.

Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, stipple

If I'm completely honest with you - I do not find the software changes for the Curio very user friendly. I know there's going to be a learning curve and I'm sure Silhouette America will get feedback on some of these thing and make changes in future updates.  I'm also sure that the more I use the Curio the easier it will become.  However, I'm confident in saying that some consumers are going to struggle through because it seems kind of clunky and not completely straight forward at this point - again I refer back to the embossing mirroring, for example.
Almost two years ago when I got my first Silhouette Portrait I considered it a plug and play machine. The Silhouette Studio software was pretty intuitive for me and I find it relatively easy to explain to all of you.  Unfortunately, I can't say the same at this point at the Curio.   By no means am I saying I could have explained the functions of the Portrait/CAMEO the way I do now on day 1 or 2, but I certainly felt more confident and less frustrated while trying to work through CAMEO projects at the same point.

Again, I've only been using my Silhouette Curio for 10 or 12 hours - however knowing the Silhouette Studio software and knowing how quickly it all came together on the CAMEO I am comfortable saying my first impression of the Silhouette Curio is that it will take a lot of getting used to.  Once we all get over the learning curve, creativity will take over and we'll be finding new and innovative ways to use the Silhouette Curio!
Silhouette Curio, review, first impressions, embossing

Finally, if you're wondering why I'm not giving a full review on the Silhouette Curio a lot of it has to do with the fact that the deep cut blades and stippling/etching blades meant for the Curio are not yet available.  When the rest of the blades become available and I can test them out then I will share a full Silhouette Curio review for you right here on Silhouette School.

In the meantime I'll be sharing a Silhouette Curio set up and getting started tutorial on the blog in the next few days so be on the lookout. 

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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