Using Monograms with Silhouette Studio Basic Edition

Using DXF Files in Silhouette Studio Basic Edition to Build Monograms

March 19, 2016 12:10 pm Published by

So you’ve got a Silhouette machine and you’re eager to get monogramming – congratulations!

If you’re just getting started, you may use Silhouette Studio Basic Edition, the free software that comes with your machine.  It is important to note that this version of the software cannot use SVG files, which are full color cutting files.  Instead, you will be using the DXF files you purchase here at SVG Salon, which show only the cutting lines and no fill.

What exactly is a DXF file, you ask?  Well, DXF files are unique.  Unlike JPEG and PNG files (raster images composed of pixels, which are individual colored blocks that make up a picture) or SVG and EPS files (vector images constructed using mathematical formulas), DXF files are binary code, comprised solely of the numbers 1 and 0.  The information they contain is different, too.  While raster files contain a flat image, and vector files contain layers, DXF files will load into your software as lines without any fill information; just the cut lines.  Because of this, we sometimes need to tell your machine which lines are related to one another and which aren’t.  It’s quite easy when you know how, but it can be frustrating as heck if you don’t.  We’re going to clear all that up today!

One of our most popular monogram designs is the Interlocking Vine Monogram, which you can purchase here.  It has lots of pretty swirls which are gorgeous to the eye, but can be confusing to Studio in DXF format.  We’ll use these files for today’s tutorial, building a three-letter script monogram.

Let’s open Studio and get to work.  For demonstration purposes, I’ll be building a monogram that reads “SVG”.  Of those three letters, two of them, the S and the V, have closed loops within the script.  This shows up on my design mat as a main outline for the letter with shapes inside, representing the outside and the inside of the loop.  Take a look below – I’ve colored the outside shapes green, and all of the inside shapes purple.  As you can see, the G is just one simple outline, while the S has one shape inside of it, and the V has 8!

DXF Interlocking Vine Monogram Files Compound Shape Released in Silhouette Studio Basic Edition

If we were to try and position our monogram and weld it together like this, Studio would do just that – weld all of the inner and outer lines together indiscriminately.  It wouldn’t know that that loop in the top of the S was actually part of the outside shape, but rather, a separate piece altogether.  By welding, it would amalgamate it into the larger overall structure.  The same goes for all of the little shapes within the V.  This would be our result:

DXF Interlocking Vine Monogram Files Welded With Compound Shape Released in Silhouette Studio Basic Edition

 

Eek!  Not what we’re going for.

Instead, we need to tell Studio that those inner shapes actually belong with the outer shapes.  We do this by creating Compound Shapes.  Here’s how:

First, open the first letter of your monogram.  If you’ve already imported all of your DXF files to your Studio library, you can access them that way.  Alternatively, simply press File, Open, and select your letter.  Then, click and drag your mouse around the entire letter, making sure you select everything – the outside and all of the shapes within.  Once it’s selected, right click on it, and select Make Compound Shape:

DXF Interlocking Vine Monogram Files Making A Compound Shape in Silhouette Studio Basic Edition

Now Studio knows that everything you’ve selected is all one shape, so when you move it, all of the pieces will move as one, and when you weld it, Studio knows that it should all weld as one piece.

Now you can scale your letter down to the size you wish to cut, or simply make it smaller to give you room on your mat to add the other letters.  I usually scale the first letter down by 50%.  *Note: if you try to scale down prior to making your image a compound shape, you might end up just scaling down one portion of the letter, so always remember to scale down after the compound shape step.*

Next, and add your second letter by pressing File, Merge, and selecting the appropriate DXF file.  Repeat the process of selecting the entire letter, right clicking, and making it a compound shape.

DXF Interlocking Vine Monogram Files Making A Compound Shape in Silhouette Studio Basic Edition

I usually scale down the second letter by 75%, and position it nicely in relation to the first letter.

Now you can add your third letter.  Again, press File, Merge, and select your DXF file.  Select the entire letter, right click, and make it a compound shape.  Because I scaled my first letter down by 50%, I also scale my third letter down by 50%.

You can now position your monogram exactly how you want it.  How you decide to do so is entirely up to you.  Some people like them wider apart with the letters barely touching, while others prefer to have them snuggled up tight so they appear deeply interwoven.  Play around and see what you like best!

Once you’ve got the monogram positioned, you’re ready to weld.  Select all three letters, right click, and select Weld:

DXF Interlocking Vine Monogram Files Welding Compound Shapes in Silhouette Studio Basic Edition

Voila!  Your letters are now all one piece, and you have a gorgeous monogram ready to cut:

DXF Interlocking Vine Monogram Files Welded in Silhouette Studio Basic Edition

I hope this tutorial helps you as you begin your monogramming journey!  Have fun, practise lots, and remember to share your completed projects if you’d like them featured on the site by sending them to info@svgsalon.com.  I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Happy Crafting,

Jennifer

 

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This post was written by Jennifer Milliron