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Silhouette Pixscan App: Tutorial and First Impressions

The new Silhouette Pixscan Mobile app was officially released today. The Pixscan mobile comes with no instruction so hopefully this quick tutorial on how to use the Silhouette Pixscan app will help you get started and shorten the learning curve.

You all know I love my Pixscan mat..and the technology is a solid "A" in my book. The app though didn't fare as well in my book.

I have to admit, I've had the app on my phone for quite awhile - that's what happens when you're a beta tester. When I tried the app out a few months ago I decided it was just easier to use my Pixscan mat with the ol fashioned way - with my phone and the Silhouette Studio software. But with the official release of the mobile app, I figured I'd try out the app again to see how the fully released version works.

An hour later I made my first cut - without opening the Silhouette Studio software on my computer.  I can't say it wasn't painful. many things that are new with Silhouette there is a learning curve and I'm sure the more I - and you - use the app the easier it will become.

Will I ever use it as a full replacement for the in-software version of Pixscan? Probably not... that being said - I can see ways in which it might be faster and easier.  Keep in mind as you read through this - this not review of the app, it's literally a crash course on using the Pixscan app along with my first impressions of the Silhouette Pix Scan App.

To start you need to download the free Pix Scan Mobile app from the App Store or Google Play.   You also need to make sure you have Silhouette Link downloaded and installed on your computer.  And of course you'll need a Pixscan mat.

I have been using my Portrait size Pixscan mat for problems. It's never NOT registered in the software.  Today - no such luck through the app.  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I took at least a dozen pictures of the mat through the phone and got the dreaded Registration Error message every.single.time.

So I conceded and broke out my new CAMEO size Pixscan mat.  What do you know - it registered on the second try.   That was the first hurdle crossed.

The second challenge is using the app -because there are no instructions. See that little User Manual category on the menu? Yeah - it's grayed out.

Lucky you have me!

So here's what I figured out.  You can use the pinch method to zoom in and out on the screen.

The arrow along the bottom - that's the selection tool. You can use it to point at any area on the image.  You can also use it to select areas that have been traced.

My goal was to cut these tags apart.

In order to make cut lines you need to first trace. That's the little 'magic wand' looking tool along the bottom. When you click it and then click an area of your material you'll get a bunch of blue lines everywhere. These are the tracing lines - just like the yellow area you see in Silhouette Studio when you trace.

Use the adjuster bar at the bottom to adjust the amount of area to be traced.  Once you get it how you like it... click the check mark. That will turn the blue areas into red cut lines. 

Traced areas that you don't want to cut, use the pointer/selection area to select and then click the X to delete them the eraser tool along the bottom and use the eraser to un-trace the areas.

I'm not going to lie - I struggled. It took a LONG time to get this to trace just the area that I wanted traced. I wish there was a way to pull the cut lines exactly where you want them or use your finger to literally draw around the area you want to trace.  Honestly, the trace feature wasn't sensitive enough for me...or it was too sensitive.

Now...I have to admit this a complicated material with a lot of different colors - many of them small, but I do think a few extra features and functions would go a long way!

I finally got it how I wanted - kinda.

When I was ready to cut, I clicked the Silhouette machine icon on the bottom right of the app. That brings up a window where you can select the blade and material types. It will also tell you if your machine is successfully connection.

The app found my Silhouette CAMEO 2 (because I am running Link on my computer and my CAMEO 2 was turned on and plugged in with the USB cord to my computer).  Then I clicked "Start" and the in-app instructions prompted me to load my Pixscan Mat into my machine and click start.

The registration marks were all found successfully, but on half a dozen attempts after finding the third mark the carriage just went back to the start position and never cut anything. I questioned whether the red lines I had created were in fact cut lines - they are!  (This Pixscan mobile app error could be as simple as a CAMEO 2 firmware update - but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.  I will report back!)

So...I booted the CAMEO 2 for the Silhouette CAMEO 3 and re-loaded the Pixscan mat.  The app found my CAMEO 3.'ll notice that the Pixscan app does not have an AutoBlade option (only a ratchet blade and sketch pen) so I had to manually adjust my CAMEO 3 Autoblade to account for the correct material.

I am happy to say after doing that my machine successfully found the registration marks and then cut out my tags.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the cut on the tag on the left - the lines are simple it's just a rounded rectangle. The design on the right, however, was a little more wonky.  The lines cut just as they appeared in the Pix Scan mobile app - which weren't as clean as I would have liked when I originally traced the design.

So...what do I think? I think I just spent an hour using the app and I could have done the same thing in about 5-10 minutes using Silhouette Studio and my Pixscan mat and ended up with a cleaner trace and therefore better cut line.  BUT....again LEARNING CURVE!  I am sure I will get quicker and more efficient with the Pixscan app and I'm sure it will see improvements, as well. 

I'm not sure, however, how much I'll use it. Perhaps if there were a few more features like the ability to draw basic shapes to create cut lines around the materials or inside the border of a material or the option to import shapes from the library so they could be cut on scraps....these are all features I can see that would improve the usefulness of the Pixscan mobile app.

I hate to say this, but I think right now for lack of features, very basic tracing ability, the need to manually adjust the Auto blade and errors on both the photo and registration mark steps...I have to give it a solid C+.

So what do you think? Will you use the Silhouette Pixscan App?

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