After three years of writing Silhouette CAMEO tutorials for beginners on up, I admit I sometimes think to myself "Is this information too basic?" Turns out...when it comes to learning Silhouette...usually the answer is no.
So today I'm going to tell you 10 things no one will tell you when you're getting started with Silhouette Studio and your cutting machine.
1. You can download Silhouette Studio free before you get the machine.
That's right, you can actually go to the Silhouette America website and download the Silhouette Studio Software program for either MAC or PC for free and you don't even need to have the machine! While you're waiting for your Silhouette CAMEO or Portrait or Curio to arrive you can start learning to use the software program. Or you can test drive Silhouette Studio before you decide if you want to buy a Silhouette cutting machine...
The Silhouette Cutting mat is a gridded mat with a sticky side that allows materials to stay in place on the mat while cutting. In order to expose the sticky area, you need to remove the blue cover sheet from the cutting mat. Re-cover the mat with the cover sheet when it's not in use.
The 12x24" Silhouette cutting mats and the Silhouette Pixscan mat also have a cover sheet on the adhesive area - but the cover sheets are clear.
And while we're on the subject of cutting mats, if your Silhouette cutting mat is too sticky, use a clean cotton t-shirt to de-stick it somewhat before your first time using the Silhouette Cameo cutting machine.
3. Use the Test Cut in Silhouette Studio.
Silhouette Studio gives you the option to test cut the cut settings you have selected in Silhouette Studio before you commit to cutting your full sheet of material.
The test cut is a 0.5" x 0.5" square with a triangle in the middle that will allow you to see if the settings you selected will work correctly for the material you are cutting. The default test cut location is at the top left corner of the mat, but you can move the test cut anywhere by using the directional arrows.
4. Use the built in ratchet to adjust the cutting blade depth.
There's a built in ratchet to adjust the cutting blade right on the front of every Silhouette machine..including the Silhouette Curio, Portrait and all the CAMEOs. Just insert the blade and twist.
5. Lines and unfilled text won't print without a line weight.
If you're printing a design from Silhouette Studio to your printer for print and cut or as a printable, unfilled text and any lines that do not have a line weight (or a line weight of 0) will NOT print.
All lines must have a line weight to print. Change the line weight in the Line Style tool.
6. You can re-use your transfer tape
Don't throw out your transfer tape after you transfer vinyl, you can re-use it. If you're using my favorite Oracal transfer tape, you can stick the piece of clear transfer tape back on the backing and re-use it over and over again.
By the way if you're wondering what transfer tape is used for, it's the adhesive material that will allow you to easily pick up vinyl decals and move them onto another surface without hand placing each piece of vinyl.
7. Weld your script fonts
If you don't weld your script fonts the individual letters will cut separately instead of as a solid word. To weld, select the text box by clicking it > right click > weld.
8. Use the Silhouette Studio keyboard shortcuts
The last page of the Silhouette Studio manual includes a complete list of Silhouette Studio keyboard shortcuts for MAC and PC.
These are my 7 favorite keyboard shortcuts in Silhouette Studio.
9. Check for updates directly from the website, not through the Silhouette Studio software
Do not check for updates to the software program by using the Check for Updates feature in Silhouette Studio. It's rarely reliable.
Instead, go directly to Silhouette America's website and check to see if the latest version of Silhouette Studio matches the version you are currently running.
This tutorial will walk you through how to check what version of Silhouette Studio you are running.
10. When you export your library, it will be an exe file that can't be previewed
I would highly suggest you back up your Silhouette Studio library monthly and always before you upgrade your software. When you export your Silhouette Studio library to move it or back up, it will save on your computer as an .exe file which is NOT pre-viewable. If you attempt to view it, it will look like a bunch of computer code. The only way to open the file is through a Silhouette Studio library import.
BONUS #11: And the last thing no one is telling Silhouette CAMEO beginner is..that first project you're trying...it's not beginner level. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news....
There's a reason so many people put the cutting machine back in the box to collect dust. Just like with anything if you try an advanced technique before you know the basics you're setting yourself up for disappointment, frustration and failure! Honestly it's most often that beginners don't know what's beginner level. Lucky for you, I have collected my beginner Silhouette CAMEO tutorial projects here and invite you to pick one, work through it and learn the basics before you move on. I promise you working through beginner level projects will help shorten the learning curve!
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!
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