Recently, one of my blog readers emailed me and asked if it was possible to use Silhouette files on other electronic die cutting machines. The Silhouette Online Store sells thousands of die cutting files for only 99 cents each. I decided to go ahead and try it for myself. The results were excellent, at least for the three files I tried it on. I have a Sizzix Eclips that I use with eCal software, but the method also seems to work in the Make-the-Cut software. (I did not try any other software.) (Note that these instructions are for the standard Silhouette cutting files, which are by far the most common type of file sold in the Silhouette store. The store also sells Print & Cut files, rhinestone files, and sketch files. These other file types are denoted with a little gray box near the “add to cart” button, with a P, R, or S in the box. )
More detailed instructions are below, but the basic method is to (1) download the Silhouette Studio software (free), (2) purchase the shape, (3) Use the Silhouette software to fill the shape and its outer line with black, (4) take a screen capture of the blackened image and save it to a file, and (5) trace the image in the software that you normally use.
Here is a scan of a shape I cut using a file from the Silhouette store. The first butterfly was modified in the Silhouette software and then traced in my eCal software. The second butterfly was cut from the file directly, without any conversion or tracing. I could not tell the difference between the traced version and the original file.
This is how I did it:
Step 1: Open Silhouette Studio software. I already had this on my computer, but for anyone who doesn’t have it, it is available as a free download on the Silhouette website.
Step 2: Go to the Silhouette Online Store by clicking the mouse icon on the left-hand side of the Silhouette Studio screen.
Step 3: Choose the shape that you want and go through the purchase process.
Step 4: Find your new shape in your Silhouette software library. You do this by clicking the book icon. It is located immediately above the mouse icon that you chose in order to access the Silhouette store. You should now be looking at a screen that looks like the one below, except yours will only have the shape that you purchased.
Step 5: Double click on the shape that you just purchased. A screen like the one below should automatically pop up. The shape that you purchased should be in the middle of the screen.
Step 6: Click on the shape that is in the middle of the screen in order to make that shape active. You should see a box drawn around the shape as illustrated in the picture below.
Step 7: Click on the paint can in the top right of the screen.
Step 8: You should now be able to see the fill palette on the right hand side of the screen. Click on the black square in the palette.
Step 9: Your shape should now be filled in with black “paint.” There will be a red line surrounding the outer part of the shape.
Step 10: Click on the group of horizontal colored lines that is 3 icons to the right of the paint can you clicked on in Step 7.
Step 11: You should now be able to see the line color palette.
Step 12: Click the black box in the color line palette.
Step 13: Your image should now be filled with black with NO red outline.
Step 14: Now you need to do a screen capture of the image on the screen. I do this by using the snipping tool that is available under the accessories program menu on Windows 7 computers. ((start » all program » accessories folder » snipping tool) If you have an earlier version of Windows, there are free snipping tools available on the internet.
Save the snipped image to a file on your computer in jpeg format.
Step 15: Import the saved jpeg image into your software.
For eCal users – You want to use the “Trace Image” feature.
For Make-the-Cut users – I imported the image using the “Pixel Trace” feature and it seemed to work. I’ve only used MTC several times, so this may or may not be the best way. If anyone can suggest another way, please leave a comment in the comments section.
If anyone has another method for using Silhouette files in eCal or MTC software, please leave a comment. I’m guessing that there might be multiple ways to do this.