Print and Cut with the Silhouette Cameo Tutorial

Yes folks, it’s that time of the year again! It’s SHARK WEEK! So to celebrate this wonderful shark-y goodness, I’ve made a Silhouette Cameo Print and Cut tutorial that you can really sink your teeth into!

1. Open your image by going to File > Open.

2. First, you need to set up your page settings. When your document appears, the Page window will pop open on the right. Adjust these settings to Letter (or whatever size you need), Portrait, and Cutting Mat to 12×12 (or the size that you have).

Now, since your image is likely not already a vector file and instead a JPG, BMP, PNG or another type of raster file, you will have to trace the image to create a vector version of it. It sounds much more complicated than it is. Basically, a vector is an image composed of paths rather than pixels. Because it is made of “paths” rather than pixels, it can be scaled up or down indefinitely with no loss of detail. In cutting programs such as Silhouette Studio, these paths are also used as the cut lines for the cutter to follow. A raster image on the other hand is composed of pixels (small squares filled with color), and cannot be resized larger without some loss of detail. There is also no data in a raster image for a cut line — there must be a vector component to the image for it to be cuttable.

3. Select your image by clicking on it with the ‘Arrow’ tool — you will know your image is selected when the bounding box and transform controls appear.

4. Go to Object > Trace, and the Trace box on the right should appear.

5. This Trace box will take you through the steps of the Trace tool. First, click on Select Trace Area at the top.

6. By clicking and dragging from one corner to the opposite, drag the blue Trace box across your entire image.

7. Once you release the mouse, some parts of your image may fill with yellow. This yellow coloring shows you where the computer detects the image that you want to be traced by the settings that are set. The objective of this is to fill your entire image with yellow (you can work around not getting the entire image filled though, with some ingenuity).

8. These settings on the side can be a little confusing to figure out. In an image, there are “frequencies” of color — darker areas with more saturation, detail, and color are considered areas of “high” frequency. Areas with little color and detail are considered “low” frequency. The High Pass Filter reads more or less ‘high’ frequencies in your image (like the darker shades and the more concentrated areas of color), whereas the Low Pass filter would read more or less ‘low’ frequencies in your image. You will use the High Pass Filter much more often than the Low Pass. You will use these filters for multi-color images.
However, another when using single-color clip art, the easiest way to trace is to just uncheck the High Pass and the Low Pass, and just work with the Threshold. The Threshold is the setting that determines what color is considered your image, and what color is not. Adjust this very slowly!
Scale will almost never be used — it’s used to adjust the size of the pixelation in the tracing output to match the image in case the image started very small and is pixelated after resizing it.

9. For this particular image, since the colors were very simple, it was easier to just uncheck both Filters, and adjust the Threshold to 99%. I left the Scale at the default 10.

10. At this point, you would choose HOW you want to trace your image. Trace will create a vector path along every edge in your image. It will also trace out interior areas that may not be filled with yellow. This is useful in situations where you have gaps in the middle of letters, such as for o’s, a’s, etc. This is not useful if the inside of your image’s design IS white — for example, like a penguin belly. Trace Outer Edge will only create a trace line for the outside of your design — this would save your penguin. Trace and Detach is when you have multiple images traced, say three different words, but you want to work with them separately from one another. This would not create any vector result, but would allow you to position different objects individually.

11. One thing you need to watch for is a situation like in this image, where there was white on the inside (the highlight of the shark’s eye). This means you can’t use the Trace function, but instead need to use the Trace Outer Edge so that part of the eye is not removed when the Cameo goes to cut.

12. You will know that the tracing was successful when you can see a faint red line appear at the edge of your image. This line will not print out, it is your vector path.

13. By clicking and dragging with the Selection tool now (the Arrow) select both the vector path AND the image.

Now we need to set the registration marks. The optical eye on the cutter does not read your actual image but instead the registration marks, and compares them to the file. By mapping out where the marks, it is able to find where your image is to cut. Setting the registration marks should be the absolute LAST thing you should do, do not edit your image once these are set or it will not cut correctly.

14. Click on the Registration Marks icon on the top icon bar to open the Registration Marks tab. To set the registration marks, check the box next to “Show Reg Marks.” You can adjust the margins throughout those settings below, but mostly I leave them alone.

15. At the very bottom in the Reg Mark Format box, select Cameo.

You’ll notice this cross-hatching occur once the registration marks are shown,  and a slightly smaller red margin will appear inside. This cross hatching is a margin for the registration marks so that they have enough space from the image to be clear. If your image does appear in this margin, you must move it or orient it a different way. When using registration marks, you will never be able to print images as large as your page will fit — they will always have to be trimmed down to some extent to allow for the registration marks.

16. And of course, my shark is outside that margin. So he will have to be moved and the registration marks reset before we can continue.

17. Select both the vector path and the image by clicking and dragging around the entire area. Then, go to Object > Rotate by 90* Counter Clockwise (or Clockwise, it doesn’t matter).

18. To reset the registration marks, just Uncheck and reCheck the box that says Show Reg Marks. This should reset them for the image.

At this point, you are ready to go through the steps of printing and cutting the image.

19. Go to File > Send To Silhouette…

20. At this point the software will pretty much walk you through the steps. You can click “Click Here” to print, or you can also print by going to File > Print. It doesn’t matter if you do it through the tool or through the File menu and then skipping it in the first step.

21. Follow along with the steps listed to the right.

22. Load the paper exactly as it is shown on the page; same area on the mat and orientation.

23. To Load the cutting mat, butt the front edge up against/underneath the rollers. The mat must be perfectly aligned to be under the outermost lip of the white roller for the mat to load correctly.

24. Press enter when the bullet on the screen is next to “Load Cutting Mat” for the rollers to begin pulling the mat and media inside the machine.

25. On this step, click on Detect Automatically. Nine times out of the ten, this will work without a problem. Sometimes, the Cameo hiccups and it won’t read them automatically and you have to use the manual feature. I’m not going to cover the manual detection at this time, because it’s pretty easy and the next windows to it will explain exactly what to do, and odds are you won’t need to know it for this operation. Once you click on that link, the Cameo’s cutting head will read the marks one by one, and then return to it’s original position. At that point, “Detection of registration marks was successful.” will show on your screen below that step.
Note: If the mat and media need to be unloaded for whatever reason and then reloaded, you will have to repeat this step once the media is loaded back in.

26. The software then prompts you to double-check your cut settings. Review them carefully, and click Change Settings if a change needs to be made. We will need to change a setting or two here.

27. In this box you can select the TYPE of media that you are using — it gives you a ton of options, but unfortunately, they’re mostly suited for Silhouette’s craft materials. I’ve never found it to be accurate when using the commercial heat transfer papers and vinyls, so if you do look to it for advisement, take their suggested settings with a grain of salt and be prepared for doing a little of your own testing.

28. Make sure Cutting Mat is checked. The cutter needs to know that your paper is a little higher than it would be if you were not using the mat.

29. For heat transfer paper, I recommend a speed of 3 and a thickness of 10. Thickness settings can vary, but I always keep every cutter I use to a low speed — it’s not a race, and the quality of the cut could be worse if it’s moving too fast.

30. In the software, it will show you a picture of your blade and says, “Adjust your blade to the following setting.” Word of caution, these are almost never accurate either, AND, you have to manually set this blade. Scrolling through the settings in the software will not adjust the blade depth. I would suggest ignoring this setting completely and doing your own testing. Here’s a couple of general starting points for testing out new materials and the necessary blade depths:
Heat Transfer Paper (opaque and light) Setting 1 — you want to cut through only the top layer, the transfer only, not the entire page (transfer and backing paper).
Heat Transfer Vinyl Setting 3-4 — you want to cut through only the vinyl, and not into the plastic carrier.
Rhinestone Template Material Setting 8-10 — peel the material up a little to check the back and make sure that the pattern appears in complete on the backside of the material.

Since I am using Red Grid paper in this, I have set my blade to 1.

31. To adjust the blade, you must open the lid of the Cameo and locate the cutting head. Twist the blue knob counter clockwise just a little bit to open up the blade holder. You can pull the blade holder and blade out from the top. You will see numbers listed around the unit and a white cap outside that the blade will show through. Place the blade side down into the little station on the far right side of the unit as shown, lining up the red line with the arrow, as well as the grooves in both pieces. By twisting the blade holder top, you can change the depth of the blade to the different settings (the arrow on the station will point to the setting that it is on). Once this is set, set it back into the blade holder, and turn the blue knob clockwise to lock it back into place.

32. You are ready to click Cut and the machine will begin cutting!

23 thoughts on “Print and Cut with the Silhouette Cameo Tutorial”

    1. It’s possible that you could use photocopied registration marks, but you would have to be able to make sure that the marks are in the exact same spot and have not changed thickness at all, otherwise the Cameo would more than likely experience difficulty reading the registration marks.

  1. I have bought laser 1 opaque from you, please what is the best setting to use with my cameo, and is it necessary to use the mat with it, since the paper is sticking to it.
    Thanks in advance

    1. It’s much easier cutting the transfer paper with a cutting mat underneath so you don’t risk the blade cutting completely through the transfer paper. The cutting mat will be extremely adhesive at first (which is why it’s difficult to remove the transfer paper from it), but it will become more mild the more you use it. The setting recommendations would be the following: blade – 1, speed – 3, thickness – 8. You may need to play around with these settings a bit to find the best for your job, but we’ve found these settings to work quite well.

  2. Hi, i am brand new in the Silhouette World and this wonderful tuto has unveiled one of the depeest mysteries i had found.. So far: the trace area settings! Nobody could explain me their function or when to Check / uncheck one or the a other filter, etc.
    Great tuto, clear explanations! Congrats excelent work Shark, i am very thankful for it!
    Have a lovely day

  3. Can I cut on black paper with the cameo? Do I need to change the ink colour of the registration lines to something light? How would I do that?

    1. You actually wouldn’t be able to cut on black paper since the registration marks will also be black. The cameo will not be able to differentiate between the paper and the registration marks. Even if you were able to turn the registration marks into a lighter color, the lighter color would not be visible on the black paper.

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for the tutorial. I have used this process when cutting paper and it worked great but I am wondering how I would do it for vinyl? I couldn’t run regular vinyl through the printer to get the registration marks and If I used printable vinyl then I’m limited to the size. The design I am working on is for a large car decal so printable vinyl isn’t the best option anyway. I’m new to all all this so I’m just trying to wrap my head around the process. Can it not be done with a raster file?

    1. If you are cutting vinyl you don’t have to worry about registration marks. The Cameo only uses them to locate a printed image on heat transfer paper. With car decals all you need to do is open it in Silhouette Studio and use the trace tool (which is the 4th option from the right) and using the Select Trace Area option drag a selection box over the image. We then recommend to uncheck the High Pass Filter so that it picks up all of the edges. If there are still some edges it hasn’t picked up use the Threshold option and increase the slider till it fills in. Once it looks good to you simply send it to the Cameo to cut your sign vinyl. If you any further questions, please feel free to contact our technical support staff at (800) 562-7760!

  5. I have watched many tutorial videos and struggled and struggled with the print and cut option to no avail. This is the best tutorial I’ve found; so well written and explained. Thank you so much. I expect great results now. 🙂

  6. After I print from cameo with my printer, I load my paper into the machine, my cameo doesn’t read the “Registration Marks” and start cutting wrong. Why?

    1. There could be a number of reasons this is happening – if the registration marks weren’t printed with the image or if the image was changed after you applied the registration marks, the Cameo could have an issue finding the registration marks. It would probably be best for you to call in and speak with our tech support department to determine what may be happening – you can reach us at (800) 562-7760.

  7. Wow! What helpful explanations! I have researched online, checked out Silhouette manuals, looked at a gazillion YouTube videos and not one of them comes close to explaining and detailing information they way you have. Thanks so much.

  8. I designed a tshirt that has a graphic image and text. how do I get it to print the entire image as one? Right now it cuts the picture as well as the letters individually when i send it to cut. thanks!

  9. Hi. When I try to print and cut an image from google it works very good, but when I try to print and cut a design from silhouette store doesn’t work. The machine don’t read the reg. marks. After I send it to cut it say “failed”. I don’t know what to do anymore. Once it works and then it doesn’t…please help me.

    1. Make sure to use a cutting mat and have the cutting mat selected appropriately in the Design page settings. Then make sure to place the paper facing the direction that Silhouette Studio shows. We printed and cut an image from the Silhouette library successfully after making sure everything was carefully lined up correctly. If even a corner is off or if the registration marks are too close to the design, the Cameo will have difficulty reading and will show a failed error. If it tells you it fails to read the marks automatically, give the “Manual Registration Mark Detection” a try!

      If you’re still having issues, give our tech support a call at 1-800-562-7760!

  10. My images when imported don’t show up in color. Is there a setting that needs to be changed. I can’t get it to print. The printer shoots out a blank page. Please help

    1. Hello Omar,

      You may need to adjust your registration mark placement. Try to get them as close to the image without overlapping parts of it. Also make sure you are loading the paper in as the software has indicated. This will insure that the lines are orientated properly. Finally make sure you make any adjustments such as mirroring and rotating before tracing and adding your registration marks.

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