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Scanning & Tracing in Silhouette Studio

Silhouette & School Projects

*this post was created using v4.3.353 of the Silhouette Studio software

My daughter came home from school and said, “Mom, I have homework and it says to do it as a family.”

Gingerbread homework copy

Permission granted. Silhouette to the rescue!
Note: affiliate links may be present in this post

The hardest part of this project was getting my 6 year old to decide what she wanted to disguise the gingerbread man as.

We went shopping in the Silhouette Design Store for disguises. She thought about a reindeer, an elf, Santa, a boy elf, a girl elf, and about a hundred other options. Guess what she settled on? A reindeer – the very first choice. Of course!

Of all the designs we viewed in the store, she chose one that I had already collected in my library. Santa & Friends Photo Props by Kolette Hall – Design #35760 was perfect.

Santa props file.JPG

Sometimes picking out the design is the longest part of a project.

But, once she settled on the reindeer she said, “But he won’t have a costume on the rest of his body.”

Well, we can fix that.

I took the Gingerbread man page, slipped it into my scanner and clicked scan. This saved the file to my computer as a PDF document. Then my little one was amazed when I used File > Open and found the PDF file and it opened up in my Silhouette software.
To open a PDF file, the Designer Edition upgrade or higher is required.

Gingerbread Scan copy.jpg

Once the design was in my Silhouette Software, I used the Basic Trace feature to trace around the outer edge of the Gingerbread man.

Basic Trace copy

I increased the threshold on the trace to get the design to show as much yellow on the outer edge of the design and keep it as smooth as possible.

Keep in mind that each design you work with will be different and there is no magic number for the threshold or adjustments to the features under the Trace Panel. Adjust it until you feel you have the best yellow around the area you want to trace as you can get.

Then, I clicked on the Trace Outer Edge because I only needed the outside edge of the Gingerbread Man.

Trace copy

Now you may notice a few extra things traced. This will depend on the image you are tracing. These artifacts should be removed or they will cut with your image. Again, each design you trace is going to react a little different. This image is a photocopy of a design, so it picks up the little shadows and such on the paper.

Right click on the design and choose Release Compound Path. Now, you will see each artifact in this design is now broken into separate objects.

Release Compound Path copy

While all of the pieces are selected, hold down the Shift key on the keyboard and click on the main part of the Gingerbread Man. This will deselect him and all the other artifacts will remain selected. Press the Delete key on the keyboard and the artifacts will be no more.

Delete artifacts copy.jpg

Next, I told my daughter I was going to cut his head off. She gasped and then started laughing.

I double clicked on the Gingerbread Man to bring up the Edit Points. These little gray dots may look intimidating when they show up, but they are very useful.
Check out the “Let’s Explore v4 – Edit Points” post for more information HERE.

The first thing I noticed is that there are a lot of edit points. This can happen on any object you trace. In the Edit Points Panel, click on the Simplify option and see if it helps decrease the edit points without changing the shape of the design too much.

Edit Points Simplify copy

Again, each design is going to vary in how it reacts.

Simplified copy.jpg

Keep in mind a few things when you trace. First, it traces each design around the edges of the yellow that you have on the screen when you do a trace. This means if the image is pixelated, then will trace all those pixels.
And, each of those edit points is a data point that the Silhouette machine has to hit when it is cutting. It is how it tells the machine how to cut around the design you send to it. If there are a lot of edit points, it can sound odd cutting and take a long time as it makes it’s way connecting all those dots.

Now, that I have fewer edit points, I can move the edit points, delete the ones not needed, and adjust their directional nodes to bring the neckline down on the reindeer costume.

Reindeer neckline copy

And there is our reindeer/gingerbread man body.

Next, we discussed that reindeer have a white stomach. I tried using the Line Drawing tool – Draw a Polygon to draw my own ruffly white belly, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

But, the Santa beard from the Santa & Friends Photo Props was ruffly. I copied it from my other file and pasted it into this design.

Knife tool copy.jpg

I then held the Shift key down and drew my knife across the beard to cut the mustache off. I selected the mustache and deleted it. Then I double clicked on the beard to bring up the edit points and deleted the ones in the center as those are not necessary.

To select multiple edit points at the same time, hold down the Shift key and drag the mouse across all the ones you want to select. This will select multiples at a time and you can then adjust or delete them.

Santa beard edited copy

Now, let’s add this to our reindeer.

Reindeer white copy

I used the bottom middle bounding box to elongate the white of the belly.

Next, I wanted the neckline to match with the brown reindeer part of the costume. Select both the brown and the white of the reindeer and make a copy. Drag this copy off the design mat. Select the brown and white reindeer on the design mat again and open the Modify Panel and choose Crop.

Modify - Crop copy.jpg

The new shape has taken on the color of the bottom layer. Change the color back to white using the Fill Color Panel and you have 2 pieces that will fit back together.

Reindeer body copy

Want to see how it will look as a finished design?

This is what is commonly referred to as a “mock up”. Taking the design you have creating and layering it on top of the original photo.

Mock Up copy

We cut all the pieces out of cardstock and my 6 year old helped with each part. She enjoyed taking the mat off the cardstock.
Tip: To help the cardstock to release from the mat, flip the mat over and peel the mat away from the cardstock. This will help the adhesive release, keep the paper from curling, and keep the adhesive on the mat.
Check out this post “Tips to Get the Most out of the Silhouette Mat” for more tips.

IMG_20191205_102446498 copy

Then my daughter used her scissor skills to cut out the gingerbread man and I asked if she wanted to go find a glue stick to attach the pieces and she says, “Mom, can you just use your good glue?” I had to laugh at that as I pulled out my Scrapbook Adhesives EZ Tape Runner. Of course, I’d much rather use that than a glue stick.

Check out this video below to go through the same steps I have walked through above.

And we had our cleverly disguised Gingerbread Man that we created together. I am amazed at the Silhouette software all the time. While I am no designer, once in awhile I may have an idea or two. And you never known when you will want to take a Santa beard and turn it into reindeer fur.

So for a recap of the tools used in the Silhouette software:
Basic Trace
Release Compound Path
Edit Points
Line Drawing Tool – Draw Polygon
– Knife Tool
Modify Panel – Crop
Fill Color Panel

It didn’t seem like that many as we worked through the project, but we covered a lot. The best way to learn is to continue to create and do things in the software.
All of the above features are linked to detailed posts in the “Let’s Explore v4” series. When you get a chance take a look and then play with something new that you learned.

I would love to see what you create, feel free to post on my Facebook group at Silhouette Secrets with EllyMae.


SS_Signature copySS 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.

6 thoughts on “Scanning & Tracing in Silhouette Studio”

  1. Thanks for this tutorial. Learned several little tips. The best one for me was to hold the shift key and select main article to deselect and easily remove all those pesky artifacts you don’t want. I have spent a lot of time removing them one by one. 🙂


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