Out of all the tools in my craft room, my Silhouette Cameo is my favorite.
However, I remember opening that big Silhouette box for the first time. I was intimidated, to say the least, and had no idea how I would ever harness the power that this little machine could create.
Are you feeling the same way?
I got your back, my friend.
I’m going to show you how to create a t-shirt from start to finish in a 3-part series. We’ll start today as I show you how easy it is to Create a Custom Design in Silhouette Studio using the Trace Feature.
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, though your cost does not change, I may receive a small commission. For more information, see our privacy and disclaimer page.
There’s no shame
First of all, I want you to know that when you own a Silhouette Cameo, there is absolutely no shame in purchasing designs from the almost endless amount of designers available to you online.
In fact, my favorite places to purchase SVG Designs and Fonts are
But to be honest with you, though I frequently purchase new fonts (#fonthorder), I rarely purchase SVG or Silhouette designs.
I prefer to make my own, and it’s not as hard as you might think!
Create a custom Design in Silhouette Studio
As I stated earlier, this post is the beginning of a new series teaching you how to create a custom t-shirt from start to finish using your Silhouette Cameo.
It may seem like a lot of steps as you work through it, but by the time you are done, you will be creating your own designs and applying vinyl to just about everything in sight!
Let’s pause and talk about Silhouette Studio for just a quick moment.
When you purchase a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, you get the basic edition of Silhouette Studio which is a great place to start and all you truly need for this tutorial.
However, you will notice in the images below that I have the Business Edition of Silhouette Studio. Even if you don’t own your own business, I highly recommend it.
It’s a one-time upgrade fee and includes everything you get in Designer Edition and Designer Plus Edition, plus it includes additional upgrades like my favorite of being able to export my designs in SVG, PDF, and JPG formats.
Seriously, Business Edition is worth every single penny!
For this tutorial, if you have one of these upgraded editions, then you can simply upload the SVG file right into your software, and move on to Adding Text in Silhouette Studio.
Now let’s take a quick moment to discuss licensing before we get into the tutorial because it is very important.
When purchasing files to use with your Silhouette Cameo, it’s very important to know what type of license they come with.
If it’s a personal license, you can create products using those designs for your personal use only.
To sell items you’ve created using the designs you purchased, you must make sure that it comes with (or you purchase) a commercial license.
You can never resell or giveaway a design you purchased, altered or not.
Suffice it to say that it’s important to check the type of license your design comes with before purchasing.
Now on with the show!
We’re going to keep it simple for your first design in Silhouette Studio, so today we’ll be using this cute little Arrow Set from The Hungry JPEG. (Don’t forget to apply your Rakuten discounts before checking out! You may know them as E-bates.)
- Once you purchase your design, choose your preferred arrow from the Arrow Set and upload the PNG file into Silhouette Studio. (I used arrow #7 for this tutorial)
- Open the Page Setup Panel at the top of the right-side toolbar.
- Choose the Machine you are using.
- Choose the Cutting Mat that you will be using.
- Choose 12” x 12” in the Width and Height.
- Check Cut Border. I choose to have this on so that I can easily ensure that my design is within the border.
Tracing your image
Since this is a PNG format, we have to turn it into a cut file and this is where the fun begins!
- Open the trace window on the right toolbar.
- Click “Select Trace Area,” and draw a box around the arrow.
Important Tip: The darker the image, the better the trace. This is one of the reasons I chose that cute little Arrow Set.
Your arrow will be highlighted in yellow.
Important Tip: If it is not completely highlighted in yellow, adjust the “Threshold” until the arrow is completely highlighted.
- Now click Trace.
- When you move the original arrow down, you’ll see the new arrow outlined in red. This is your cut file.
- We no longer need the original arrow, so you can select it and hit delete.
Adding Color to your design
I prefer to view my designs in color. It helps me see the designs better. So let’s remedy that now.
- Open the Line Style Panel and move it down slightly.
- Open the Fill Panel and it will show up above the Line Style Panel.
- Highlight your arrow and then choose your line color and fill color. As you can see in the image, I chose black.
Design Tip: This is the way I like to work when creating designs. I have the Line Style Window open below the Fill Panel Window. It makes it easier when I am working with multiple designs.
Since our design requires two arrows that face each other, we need to create a second arrow.
Replicating your design
(I made my original arrow smaller in the image below so that it was easier for you to see what I was doing.)
- Open the Replicate Window from the toolbar on the right and click “mirror right.” You will now have two arrows facing each other.
- Save your custom design to get it ready for How to Add Text in Silhouette Studio.
You did it!
I know it seems like a lot of steps, however, once you do it a time or two, you’ll be creating custom designs in minutes.
What I love about creating my own designs for personal use is that I can mix and match files I have and within minutes create one of a kind gifts that my friends and families love!
As I stated in the beginning, I remember how daunting it was when I first opened my Silhouette Cameo and even more so when I opened Silhouette Studio on my computer.
I didn’t think I would ever learn Silhouette Studio, but with a little practice, some patience, and The Ultimate Guide to Designing in Silhouette Studio, I was moving around in my software like I had been doing it for years. As a Footprints of Inspiration reader, you can get 10% off by using coupon code: FOOTPRINTS at checkout!
While you are here, be sure to check out all of our Free SVG Cut Files!
Thanks for joining me today. I’m truly honored to have you!
Until next time, my friend…..
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