Let’s Explore v4 – Modify Panel – Compound Paths Explained

So last week we talked about the differences in welding, subtract, subtract all, intersect, divide and crop in the Modify Panel – Tab 1. This week we are moving on to something that I think is very often more confusing than it should be – Modify Panel – Part 2 – Compound Paths.

First, if you are just joining us, the Modify Panel is on the right side of the Silhouette Studio v4 software.

Modify Panel copy

Last week we dove into the top section of the panel under the Modify header and this week we are going to look at the bottom section – Compound Paths and Detach Lines.

Modify Panel details copy

So first, what is a compound path?

A compound path is a way 2 shapes interact with each other.

For example – let’s look at the letter ‘O’.

Compound path explaination.

The letter ‘O’ is made up of 2 ovals on top of each other that are a compound path (left). If you release the compound path, then you have 2 ovals stacked on top of each other (right).

Both of these will still cut the same, but a compound path design when filled with color, will look more like the end result of what you are cutting.

Let’s take another look:

Compound path example

I have used the USA State Dingbat Font by Sandi Idleman in the Silhouette Design Store, to create my state shape. Then I used the Text Tool to write out Montana and placed it across the design.

On the top, the 2 designs are layered on top of each other, they are treated as 2 designs.  The middle design is still just 2 designs that have been filled with a color. And the bottom design I selected both shapes and choose Make Compound path. This has taken and cut the Montana out of the bottom state shape, now they are one design.

Now, let’s look at them on the Send Panel.

Compound path Send panel

They all have the same bold cut lines. All of them will cut the same, the difference is how they look in the software when you are designing.

Now that we know a little more about how the Compound path works, let’s finish the Modify Panel.

Modify Panel details copy

7. Make Compound Path – This will take 2 or more designs and combine the paths making them 1 design.

For instance, some files from the Silhouette Design Store will open and you will notice if you fill it will color, that it looks odd. This is a Camera design by Amy Tangerine – Design #181402.

Make Compound Path

All of these camera designs will cut the same, but how they look on the design screen is affected by choosing Making Compound Path.

8. Release Compound Path – This will take 1 design and releasing it into multiple shapes.

For example, if I wanted to use this Fish Mandala design by Zigi Design Studio but I just want the outline of it, I can choose Release Compound Path.

Fish compound path demo

This will take the design from 1 layer and release all the layers. You may need to Ungroup the Design at this point, it just depends on how the Designer created and saved the file.


Now, you can see all the selection boxes that are highlighted. The Compound Paths have been released and it is now in many layers.

Note: When you do this on such a complex design, it increased the amount of data in that file because each piece is now an individual layer. So keep that in mind when you do this, in case your computer seems sluggish or with a really complex design, you may get a Not Responding message. It’s a lot of date, so be patient.

Outline pulled away

There are many reasons why you would want to do this and it can be helpful to know how to “break up” a design by releasing the compound paths.

With these tools, you can make the designs you have go farther.

Make compound path fish copy

For example, after I released the Compound Path and moved the outline away, then I could add text in the middle of the design, select both and choose Make Compound Path and it would then cut the Montana text out of the center of the fish.

9. Detach Lines – If the image is filled with color, this option will separate the colored parts of the design from the lines of the design. This is a Spring Butterfly Set by Sophie Gallo – Design #56994.

Detach Lines

You could use this option when doing a Print and Cut project versus changing the line color on each design.

If you click on the Send tab, you will see that they both have Cut lines on the design, but one is the lines and one is the image with the fill.

Detach Lines Send tab

Here is the same idea but the Butterflies were filled with a pattern and then detach lines was chosen.

Detach Lines pattern

And there you have all the tools in the Modify Panel. Check out Part 1 of the Modify Panel HERE.

Modify Panel - Part 2

Now, the best way to learn is to play, play, play. Go find a design and see what compound paths do!

Share with us what you create with your Silhouette – post photos on my Facebook group at Silhouette Secrets+ with EllyMae.

Enjoy !

THANK YOU for your support! How can you help? Click HERE & buy a coffee. Every little bit helps with the cost of running the site.

Looking for more in-depth, step-by-step classes, check out all of my online Silhouette classes on my Teachable site HERE.

SS Logo snip it

**This post may contain affiliate links. What that means is that I may receive compensation if you purchase through the links I have provided. The price you pay for the product or service is not higher but I may get compensated for sharing.

33 thoughts on “Let’s Explore v4 – Modify Panel – Compound Paths Explained”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.