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Roland BN-20 Software: Why Silhouette Studio and Affinity Designer Are the Best (And Cheapest)

If you're considering investing in a Roland BN-20A you're probably also thinking about what the best graphic design software is to use with the 20" Ecosolvent Print and Cut machine.

Roland BN-20, Roland BN-20A, Roland Bn-20 software, Roland BN-20 Contour Cut Lines

The Roland BN-20 and BN-20A come with Roland VersaWorks software, but the free Roland software lacks in its ability to easily create contour cut lines.  Therefore another software program is used to prep art.  

There are three or four main options to create contour lines for the Roland BN-20A ... and here we'll explore why Silhouette Studio and Affinity Designer are the best...even if you don't have a Silhouette machine (and especially if you do!) 
The three main Roland BN-20A software options are: 
All three are powerful graphic design programs and all three can create the Roland Contour Cut Lines that can be read by Roland Versaworks.  But each has pros and cons. 

Adobe Illustrator vs Affinity Designer vs Corel Draw for Roland BN-20

Adobe Illustrator is a monthly cloud-based subscription program that will run you about $30 a month. The on-going expense is the biggest negative especially if you don't actually design, but just need a program that can create the Roland cut lines. If you already have Adobe Illustrator, you can find tutorials on how create Roland VersaWorks contour cut lines in Illustrator here.

Affinity Designer is a one time paid software program that will run you about $50 total. Its biggest downside is the inability to to vectorize (aka trace) PNG and JPEG designs (it has no problem with SVG designs). This step is needed prior to adding cut lines.  

Corel Draw is a one time paid software program that's a lot more expensive than Affinity Designer but less expensive than Illustrator long term. However, the ability to trace images in CorelDraw to create the cut line is a pro over Affinity. 

Best Roland BN-20A Software for Contour Cut Lines

My recommendation, after using all three programs, is to combine Silhouette Studio Business Edition with Affinity Designer for a total one-time cost of $130 if you have neither program already. 

Roland BN-20, Roland BN-20A, Roland Bn-20 software, Roland BN-20 Contour Cut Lines, Affinity Designer

It's important to note, you do not need a Silhouette machine to use the Silhouette Studio software. 

If you need to buy just one of the software programs, it will cost you between $50 and $99 depending which software program you need to add on.  Make sure if add on Silhouette Studio, you get the Silhouette Studio Business Edition license which gives you the ability to export the file types you need to work with Roland and Affinity.

Using Silhouette Studio and Affinity Designer for Roland

The reason you need both Silhouette Studio Business Edition and Affinity Designer is because neither program can completely create the Roland BN-20 cut lines. Silhouette Studio can't name a spot color and Affinity can't trace a JPEG or PNG which is needed to vectorize and create the cut line. Together though they create an easy and fast workflow at a relatively low, one time cost. 

If you're a Silhouette Studio user already, the learning curve is almost next to none so this makes the Silhouette Studio + Affinity option even more ideal.

Creating a BN-20A Contour Cut Line Around a JPEG or PNG with Silhouette Studio and Affinity Designer

Here's a brief overview of the workflow to create Roland BN-20A Contour Cut Lines. I have other step by step tutorials that go more in depth, but hopefully this will give you a good idea of the process. 

Open Silhouette Studio 
File > Open PNG or JPEG Image 
Use the Trace tool to Trace the Image to Remove the Background 
Give the Line a Color
Export as SVG 

Open Affinity Designer 
File > Open > SVG File 
Export as PDF

Roland VersaWorks 
File > Open PDF

Once you get this process down to create Roland BN-20 contour cut lines it takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish. 

Create BN-20A Contour Cut Lines on SVG Files in Affinity Designer 

If you have an SVG file you do not need to use Silhouette Studio at all and can open the SVG file directly in Affinity Designer to set the Cut Contour line and/or the Perf Cut Contour Line. 

Decided Silhouette Studio and Affinity Designer are the right option for you to use as Roland BN-20 software? Here are some additional resources. 


Get Started With Silhouette Studio When You Don't Own a Silhouette Machine

Tutorials on how to use Roland BN-20A with Adobe Illustrator


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