Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tutorial - Lifted Letters on a Silhouette

A few weeks back I posted this project for my This is Me album. I got a lot of feedback and quite a few people asked how it was done. I finally had a chance to sit down and work up this tutorial for everyone who asked.  I'm sorry I wasn't able to do a video, I'm sure it would have been easier for you but I've never made one so I'll just tell you step by step with photos.

Here's a look at my original piece, posted back in April.  Again, completely inspired by How About Orange's original idea that she did by hand that you can see here.

First let me say, I by no means want to imply that this is the only way to go about doing this with a computer and a Silhouette Cameo, its simply the way I got it to work with the software that I own and with my skill level associated with both items. It's possible that if you had the Designer Silhouette Cameo software it might be easier, the same goes for different graphics program.  The only thing I can say was it did take me a few hours to figure it all out and make the cuts as clean as I could get them. I'm happy with how it turned out and I'm happy to share with you the steps if you want to try it yourself.

I'm using Photoshop Elements 9 and Silhouette Studio Release 2.7.18 for this tutorial.

1. Create a new document in PSE the size you would like, mine is 8.5"x8.5" and make sure the background is transparent. Type your phrase or quote in the size you want using the font you want. A nice straight edge font is best, this is Novecento Wide Bold that How About Orange recommended in her post, my size shown here is 79 pt.

 2.  Next you'll want to add a stroke outline to the font, select Layer, Layer Style, Style Settings

3.  Select Stroke and change the size to 5 px and the color to black.

4.  Next you'll need to change the color of your text to white so the stroke outline shows. Select your text layer,


5.  over on the bottom left side, select the color changer and make sure White is on top, click okay through the prompts


6.  You should have a nicely outlined batch of text

7.  You can now delete the background layer. Select it on the layer pallet, right click and select delete layer.

8.  You will now have the text layer on a transparent background by itself. You'll want to Simplify the Text Layer for the next steps. Right click and select Simplify Layer.

9.  The next step is to delete the white area from the Text area. Select your text layer in the layer pallet and on the left side, click on the eraser and select the magic eraser tool.

10.  Click the white area only of each letter removing the white parts.

11.  You'll be left with the stroke outline only.

12.  For the next steps zoom in closely on the text.

13.  On the left side select the Rectangle Marquee Tool

14.  Click down and drag the areas of the stroke outline that need to be removed.  Remember we don't want to cut everything, we only want parts of the letters cut

15. Select the area of the letter to be removed and hit delete.

16. Repeat this step for every letter.

17.  Here is what my finished piece looks like after my deletions.

18.  You'll want to save this now as a .jpg file to your computer.  You'll then open your Silhouette Studio software, navigate to where its saved make sure to select show all files and open your .jpg file.

19. Now we need to trace it, select the blue trace button on the upper right hand corner.

20. Select the trace area

21. I found the settings that worked best were to first turn off the High Pass Filter, and adjust the threshold to 42%.  Any higher and the lines become jagged.  You may need to play with this a few times to dial in the correct number for your font choice and size if different.

22. Once it's traced you can remove your .jpg file to the side.

23.  Now you could certainly stop here and cut and you would be fine but I found that what was happening with my trace was it traced all the way around my line and not just the line. Here is where I struggled the most with this, it took me awhile to find out that the software cannot function the way I wanted it too and must trace with a circular motion meaning the lines must start and stop and join together.  You cannot have a cut line that has an open beginning and an open end.  I did cut my file at this point and it looked okay, there was just a gap between the edges of the letters and it didn't have quite the same affect as the original piece.

24. Therefore if you want what appears to be a single cut line you need to edit the points. What you'll need to do is select the text area and then on the left side at the top, click on the edit points button.  Once you do you see all these little dots on your lines.

25. This takes some time but you'll need to go point by point and pinch them together basically.

26. Here you can see where I started moving the lines together on the top of the D. The middle of the letters is much easier since there are two distinct lines you can just erase one.

27. By clicking on the right hand side, delete point and continue to do that until the line is gone.

28. Here you can see my letters with the lines pinched together.  There are clearly two lines still but they will be more snug and less of a gap between them when it's cut.

29. At this point you are ready to cut and gently bend your pieces back to create the fold.

I hope this helps, if you have any questions please let me know.

If you are a fan of the 80's and you'd like a copy of my completed file its available to download here.


  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this tutorial together! I just got a silhouette, and I'm still completely lost with the software, so this is a huge help.

    1. You're so welcome Kelli! I'm glad it helped!

  2. Neat tutorial. You probably could've also just rasterized the plain text instead of doing the stroke/white/clear/etc. steps. I may have to give this a go for some upcoming pages/projects! :)

    1. Okay awesome! I have no idea what that means but if it saves me some steps I'll check it out! Thanks so much for the tip!

  3. Amazing. I love this tutorial, and I snagged your cut. Thank you so much for posting this.

    1. You're so welcome, I'm so glad you liked it!

  4. I was so thrilled when I saw your beautiful page in the SC gallery. I love the song and the movie and they mean a lot to me. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful idea and file. My Cameo is just cutting it and it will be displayed in a frame. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks so much Tanja! The 80's sure have a lot of great classic movies that we all look back on so fondly. I'm so glad you liked the cut file, enjoy it!