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Cutters & Design Programs - Beginner's Guide

Discussion in 'Open Bar!' started by somewhereman, Jan 24, 2019.


  1. somewhereman

    somewhereman Double Actioner

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    hopefully this is the right sub-forum, as i could not find a truly appropriate one (feel free to move)

    just a catchall thread of thoughts and ideas for entry into the world of designing and cutting,
    especially for stencils, but also for design mock-ups pre-airbrushing, and straight-up artwork

    Cutters

    - silhouette cameo: great cutter with many tutorials online (video and written), comes with a very nice free design/cutting program

    there are other starter/craft cutters like the brother scan & cut (lacks the depth of knowledge/troubleshooting of the cameo),
    and the cricut (you are tied to working online only, design program pales next to silhouette cameo's)


    Design Programs

    silhouette studio
    obviously you will have silhouette studio if you get the cameo cutter, and it is a surprisingly deep/effective program
    it is well worth the upgrade for ~$30 for the designer edition, esp. for stenciling via the enhanced knife tool,
    and the ability to import svg's directly
    (check here for more info on the upgrade, i got mine here, seems to be the cheapest/reputable)

    studio is not just for cutting but designing as well
    the learning curve is friendly and there are many, many video/written tutorials out there
    (this one is good for written, us ethe search when troubleshooting)
    silhouette studio is free to download and try without the cutter
    if the version 4 of studio is a little intimidating,
    try starting with the last version 3, look under legacy (click the little blue arrow on the left) on the download page here

    studio is obviously not really meant for full-on designing/artwork,
    but it is good with text/basic shapes
    for a little more depth and abilities without breaking the bank:

    serif
    starting free for a taste, download the starter edition of drawplus form serif
    it is a legacy version, so no more updates
    but for a free program to play with and learn on, it is hard to beat
    coupled with silhouette studio it may be all you need, i upgraded to the full drawplus version for about $20
    plus if you ever want to upgrade serif's new design program, affinity designer will only set you back $50,
    and you will be familiar with their terminology/basics because of the drawplus learning
    affinity designer is also a hybrid raster/vector program, which is nice to have in one program

    xara
    xara does not seem to get the spotlight as much as others, but they have been around since '81
    one of the big selling points of xara is its speed, to which i can attest to
    if i bring the same large design into any graphics program and manipulate it, xara has the least lag
    this too is a hybrid raster/vector program

    starting free for a taste, download their legacy version xara xtreme 5
    click the link labeled download, then fill in email for serial number when installing
    this link is bundled with their photo editor as well for a complete raster/vector setup
    helpful if you decide to upgrade to their newest photo and graphic designer (about $50 on sale),
    scroll down the linked page for more info
    the learning curve is a little deeper than serif's drawplus, but not bad at all for a beginner
    and there are video/written tutorials out there (check here, here, here)

    inkscape is also free and a deep graphics program, but it has always been buggy/crashey for me
    save your documents every 5 minutes or you will freak out when all your work is gone
    it is also a ram hog, i've had simple text and shapes hang there for minutes when just moving them
    i have an older cheap laptop with windows 7 and not alot of computing power,
    and inkscape and illustrator tax my system and my nerves

    speaking of illustrator, there is really no need to be sending a monthly payment to adobe
    it is a horribly un-intuitive system to start with and the cloud service is a disaster

    for a raster program gimp is free and very capable, but the learning curve is steep to start with
    thankfully there are a plethora of tutorials out there
    i would recommend partha's build here, it comes bundled with g'mic (a sweet suite of plug-ins)
    scroll down until you see the 'downloads' on the right-hand side
    i have the first one the 2.10 standard

    gimp has many brushes available, but if you would like more depth in that area,
    then download the free krita
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  2. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    Thank you for sharing this. There’s some excellent info and the links are always super helpful too.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. somewhereman

    somewhereman Double Actioner

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    designs & fonts/typography

    another aspect of having a more robust design program is to modify shapes/fonts to bridge your islands
    sometimes it is as simple as moving shapes so they have a slight overlap and then 'welding' them together to create one shape
    or it can involve creating custom bridges that enhance, instead of detract, from the aesthetics of the design

    for fonts it can be difficult to find decent 'stencil' fonts for your projects without paying for a whole family
    with silhouette studio or the other design programs you can create your own bridges in any font you have installed (see pic of a quick example i did in drawplus)
    save them and use them for later projects pre-bridged and ready to roll

    or you can take those bridged letters, export to svg, and save as an actual ttf (true type font) or otf (open type font),
    and install it like any other font on your system (ready to be used in any program)

    online the free glyphr studio is pretty straight-forward and quick
    for desktop the free bird font allows importation of your svg's as well as a nice design from scratch option
    font forge is free too, but it has been abandoned for awhile, but may be worth a trial



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  4. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    I’ve bookmarked this thread to come back to when I have a laptop and some software in front of me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  5. huskystafford

    huskystafford Needle chucking Ninja Very Likeable!

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    somewhereman helped me a lot when I started with cutters. You are in safe hands. :thumbsup:
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  6. Joe T

    Joe T Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    Great info! Does any of it work with a Mac? I have a Graphtec ce-6000 and the software it comes with is not too good. I was using illustrator but can’t afford that game anymore.
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  7. Squishy

    Squishy Queen Clown Slayer Mod

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    I wish I wasn't such a thickie. Think this is all too much for my lonely brain cell. But would be good skills to have and play with.
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  8. huskystafford

    huskystafford Needle chucking Ninja Very Likeable!

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    It just take some time to get familiar with. The same as airbrushing. Time,help from community,tutorials and bunch of mistakes.

    You can do it!
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  9. Squishy

    Squishy Queen Clown Slayer Mod

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    Hmmm, me and tech are not so much a match made in heaven, as an actual match lol. One bit of friction and whoosh - fire breaks out lollollol Shouting at inanimate objects in genuine rage makes people wonder which institution I escaped from.
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  10. huskystafford

    huskystafford Needle chucking Ninja Very Likeable!

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    my old ones are around 70 years old. Old man is actually more then 70. In the last year they learned how to use computers, how to use anti virus protection and firewall-bit defender and bunch of other stuff , and my old man learned how to dissasemble and assemble computer. They learned more then if they would attend some class about how to use computers.

    But I was pissed off one day and I told them if they don't show their interest and will to learn, I will stop coming to them for each crap. They are close, but sometimes they expected from me to come to close the friking browser...

    From that day, my I am pissed off day, they started to rock. Now they are almost half pro :D It can be done, you just need to lose being scared that you will destroy internet if you press weird key on your keyboard :D

    no guts no glory

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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  11. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    I don’t know for sure Joe, but often a download page has one tab for windows and another for Mac. Maybe worth taking a look Buddy.


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  12. Squishy

    Squishy Queen Clown Slayer Mod

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    @huskystafford pmsl, don't know about destroying the internet, but more my local vicinity. Reckon the neighbourhood might not survive the fall out. lollollol

    Seriously though, I just can't retain that kind of information, won't remember it from one session to the next. Just not wired that way. Then frustration, nuclear level explosion, and inevitable fall out follows.
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  13. huskystafford

    huskystafford Needle chucking Ninja Very Likeable!

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    I bought personal organizer to my old folks, so they don't have the same excuse :)
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Genuine-Le...48451270&sr=8-3&keywords=organizer diary 2019

    The one I bought was more girly like, cause mom is the one writing stuff inside. To be honest, when I started I wrote all important stuff as well. I even translated in to frikin Slovenian language...So you have easier job then me :p
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  14. somewhereman

    somewhereman Double Actioner

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    you can run affinity in mac (~$50 usd for the whole program)
    it was originally a mac program, so it has years of development behind it
    this is a full meal deal, and with it comes a learning curve that will be higher than drawplus or silhouette studio
    but you are already familiar with illy, so it will mainly be terminology and having raster/vector in one program
    there are many tutorials/troubleshooting/videos for it
    download the trial and see what you think, once you input your email they should send you a discount to acquire the full program

    there is also sketch, they have a free trial as well (the program is $99 w/one year free upgrades)

    if you happen to be a mac user and are buying a cutter then i would recommend silhouette cameo,
    the silhouette studio program is for mac as well, and is free
    then if you feel you need something more robust for designing check affinity or sketch links above
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  15. somewhereman

    somewhereman Double Actioner

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    one of the stencil design aspects to contemplate is seamless tiles/vector fills
    you will see this on purchased stencils (see pic below)

    here are some tips below to whet your whistle:

    drawplus x8 (you should be able to do this with the free version, i can't remember what all is missing in there)

    gimp 1 & gimp 2
    (simply bring in your design from elsewhere as a transparent png, make your tile/fill and then trace in your design/cutting program)

    silhouette studio 1

    more to come in the way of some tutorials....

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  16. Joe T

    Joe T Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    Thanks for the link, I’ll try the demo and see how it goes. I already have a plotter the Graphtec CE-6000 now to find a way to get my designs to the cutter from affinity...hmmmmmmm that’s the hard part
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  17. Tocean

    Tocean Needle-chuck Ninja Very Likeable!

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    I just posted this on another thread but I'll paste it here -

    I learned originally off a dinosaur vector program called Anagraph back in the 90's, then went to Illustrator and FlexiSign, Flexi had a pretty user friendly platform once you got working with it, last I heard they went to a monthly subscription like Adobe, I still have an old cracked version on my old laptop on it's last dying breath, but the disk wont load up on the newer windows. It's a shame as it's way easier to use than Illustrator.

    I downloaded the trail of Affinity as it looked a lot like flexi, it wasn't really, but I didn't get a lot of time to sit down with it either, for 50 it's worth a try.


    I may just buy Affinity and learn it even though I don't have a plotter, it's always good to have a vector program around, and for the moment I'm not getting into a monthly payment, nor do I feel like trying to re-learn Illustrator.

    If I did buy a plotter I'd be tempted to spend the money on a graphtec.
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  18. huskystafford

    huskystafford Needle chucking Ninja Very Likeable!

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    I wen't cameo route and I didn't regret it. I learned a lot, made bunch of mistakes, which were cheap and when I will need something more power full I can still use cameo as a backup.

    Not to mention, there are bunch of chicks with tutorials about cameo. lol
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  19. somewhereman

    somewhereman Double Actioner

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    for a starter the cameo is tough to beat and it is made by graphtec (see pic for comparison of the two cutting programs),
    but the larger graphtecs are quicker and accept wider material


    i just downloaded the free graphtec studio for ce 6000 here, and saved one of my sun designs from drawplus as an eps
    opened it up in graphtec studio ready to cut/manipulate (see pic showing original eps opened in studio and a copy/pasted version showing nodes)
    should not be an issue from affinity either, download the graphtec studio and save an eps design from affinity and see if it cuts ok

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  20. somewhereman

    somewhereman Double Actioner

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    this is for squishy and all others who want a learning curve that begins at the very start and builds very simply one brick or two at a time

    download the free silhouette studio here
    get the current version 4 as all the lessons use this,
    there are some version3 lessons scattered in there so click the second ink (version 4) in the lesson

    even if you never plan on buying a silhouette cutter, this will build a very nice design foundation for you
    there are written and video components and the lessons are separated into sections so as not to overwhelm

    don't let relevancy of the lessons now allow you to gloss over parts of or the whole lesson,
    remember we are building the foundation, the strength for all that comes after
    and like huskystafford said, play, play, play

    where do we start?
    at the start
    when do we start?
    we have already begun...

    silhouette studio boot camp
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