Inspire Me Monday: Fussy Cutting Digital Images with your Silhouette Cameo

Hey Power Poppy fans! It's Nancy Sheads here with another fun Inspire Me Monday.

I'm here today with a tutorial on using your Silhouette Cameo to fussy cut a digital image. OK - I realize that for some of you, it's probably just as easy to fussy cut an image with a pair of scissors. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people - my edges are always ragged and frankly, I just don't enjoy the process. So my solution was to figure out how to use my Silhouette Cameo to do the heavy lifting for me. 

Here's an example of the Chickadee in Barberry digital stamp that I fussy cut using my Cameo.

Yep - I know it's only May and I'm showing you a holiday card, but aren't you just wowed with the level of detail that you can achieve by using a cutting machine? When I saw this image, I knew that I wanted to overlay it on top of a patterned cardstock to make it stand out and to give the card dimension. However, I’m notoriously bad at fussy cutting an image so I used my Silhouette to trace and detach the image from the background. It's a small cheat that saved my sanity, but then this versatility is the advantage of using digital stamp sets.

So how’s it done?

First of all, if you are just starting out using digital images, be sure you take a look at Julie Koerber's blog post I Just Bought a Digital Stamp ... Now What?? and then when you are ready, take a look at the step-by-step directions below to make your Silhouette do the work for you. I've made the assumption that your Silhouette is just out of the box so I've provided a lot of detail below. If you are more experienced, skip down to the section that you need.


Please note that these instructions were developed based upon the Windows version of Silhouette Studio which you can download HERE. The MAC version should have the same functionality, but the screens may have a different appearance. You may need to update your software to the latest version of Silhouette Studio. If you are unsure which version you have, click on the Help tab at the top of the screen. Select “About Silhouette Studio” from the menu. A new screen will appear with the version information.


To start, you will need to import your image to your Silhouette library, if you haven't already done so. If you are not sure, click on the Show Library icon on the left side of your screen. Your library will appear and you can check to see if you previously imported your image. If your image is available, you can skip to the next section. If not, follow the directions below to import an image to your library.
Select the File tab at the top of the screen and select "Library -> Import to Library" from the menu. Navigate to and select the desired image and click on the OK button. 

The newly imported image will be highlighted in your library.

Go to your user library and double click on the image you want to work on. The image will appear in your workspace. Your image may appear oversize and cover your workspace. You can resize the image as desired by clicking on the image to select it and dragging a corner inward to resize as desired. Since Silhouette Studio includes basic image editing tools, you can also rotate your image, erase portions of it, add text to it or modify it in other ways. Explore the tool icons at the top of the screen or check the Silhouette website for information on the editing features.
We need to trace the image to remove the image background. The tracing function is used to define the shape of the image minus the white or transparent background of the image. Open the Trace window by selecting the Trace icon on the upper toolbar.

The Trace window will appear on the right side of your screen, displaying all the trace options. To start, click on "Select Trace Area."

Using your cursor, draw a box around the area of the image you want to trace. The lines in your image will be highlighted in yellow.
In the Trace window, uncheck the High Pass Filter and check the Low Pass Filter. Adjust the Threshold setting until all the lines of in your image are clearly and thoroughly highlighted in yellow. You want to make sure that the outer line of the image is completely highlighted and unbroken. In the Trace window, select "Trace and Detach."

If you move your image off the workspace, you'll see that the background has been cleanly removed from the image. If this is not the case, you'll need to reopen the image and experiment with the Threshold setting (and possibly the Value and Scale settings) until you get the desired result.

SAVE YOUR WORK! Select the Save icon on the toolbar at the top left of your screen. Navigate to the location where you want to store your Studio projects and save the Studio file.

Open the Cut Settings window by selecting the Cut Settings icon on the upper toolbar. 
Make sure that your traced image is located on your workspace. Click the image to select it. In the Cut Settings window, select "Cut Edge" to set the cut style for the shape.

Your traced image will be outlined in red to show the expected cut line. If the line is not smooth and continuous, you may need to retrace the image.

Before you can cut your image, you need to add registration makes and print your image to onto your cardstock. The registration lines are important because they clue your Silhouette where your image is printed on the paper and where the cut lines are located. You need to add registration marks BEFORE you print the image. To add registration marks:

Make sure that your image is on your workspace (at this point it should already be sized, rotated, etc. exactly as you want it to appear). Open the Registration Marks window by selecting the Registration icon on the upper toolbar. The Registration Window will open.

Select the style based on the type of Silhouette you are using. For this example, the style is set for the Cameo Portrait. 

Once you select the style, you will see the registration marks appear in the corners. You can adjust the length, thickness, and insets in the Registration Marks window. Usually, the default settings are sufficient. You can also cut more than one image (either the same or different image) at the same time by copying it to your workspace. Make sure that your images are within the boundaries of the registration marks.

Print your image. The registration marks will appear on your paper.
Once your page has printed, line it up on your Silhouette cutting mat, matching the registration marks on the paper with those on the cutting mat. Load your mat into the Silhouette, lining up the left edge of the mat with the second edge guide on the machine and press the forward feed button. From your computer, select the open the Cut Settings window by selecting the Cut Settings icon on the upper toolbar.

If you haven’t already done so, select the paper from the material type settings. When you select a material type, the suggested blade setting will appear below. Make sure the setting on your ratchet blade matches the number shown in the settings. Click the “Send to Silhouette” button. The Silhouette will attempt to read the registration marks. If read successfully, the Silhouette will start cutting.

Sometimes the Silhouette is unable to properly read the registration marks. If that occurs, see for troubleshooting tips.

HINT: Cut the image first and then color just in case your Silhouette misreads the registration lines and cuts across your painstakingly colored image. Don't ask me how I know this.

OK - I provided A LOT of detail, but it's really not so complicated! And look at the fabulous results! Hope I've inspired you and let us know how you use your cutting machine with your Power Poppy images.

Hope we see you back here soon!

~ Nancy


Unknown said...

Oh my word! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I just glanced at your post, but I am printing it all out! I have the Cameo and when I traced I get a huge border around, not the close one like you have. To be honest, I have been just too lazy to figure this all out. Bless you! lol You are the BEST! Gorgeous card too!

Gloria Stengel said...

I cannot wait to try this! But a note to my own self...try it on a b/w image, not one I colored for hours and hours! LOL

Berina RGA said...

I have a Cricut and it also has a similar funtionality called Print and Cut. I've never used it before. I should try it soon.

CherylQuilts said...

Nancy, this is WONDERFUL! Your instructions with the screen prints are perfect! Thank you so much for carefully guiding us step by step through this process. And, yes, I can only imagine coloring and having your hard work SEVERED...eek! And a big congratulations on your first tutorial and Inspire Me Monday! Hugs!

Bernadette said...

Hello Nancy! First time to comment, yes. Thank you for sharing this most detailed post. I appreciate it a LOT even though I do not have the Silhouette Cameo. I have always wanted to know who they work. Now I see how because of your instructions. BTW, the card is GORGEOUS. The coloring is beautiful and your last comment gave me a nice chuckle for the start of my day. Blessings to you and thank you for your hard work!

Patti J said...

Nancy, your card is simply stunning, and I had no idea that my Silhouette could do this! I'm going to print this blog post out, and give it a try. I'm Silhouette challenged! Can't even figure out how to upgrade my keeps telling me to do so. Thank you SO much!

Conniecrafter said...

Gorgeous coloring of your card and thanks so much for sharing the directions, I have never tried cutting one of my stamped images with my silhouette

Julie Koerber said...

Thank you. Thank you! THANK YOU Nancy for taking the time to put together such a detailed explanation on how to use your Silhouette with digis! I have printed this and it is now my bible on fussy cutting digis! ;-) Well done my friend!

Pauline said...

Nancy, thanks so much for sharing your detailed explanation on how to cut out your images. I will definitely give this a try. Love your card, your colouring is fabulous!

Unknown said...

Nancy this is fantastic! Thank you for sharing with all of us!!

Kelly said...

Thank you for "mentoring" this sorry soul who has had her Silhouette for more than five years and hasn't turned it on. Baby steps, right?

LOU said...

Thanks Nancy for such a detailed tutorial. I love my Silhouette Cameo! I'm not a fussy cutter either - do not have the patience nor the eyesight!! But my Silhouette plays up sometimes so I have to sit still and fussy cut....but I have been using an older version of the software on a Mac, as I had a bad experience upgrading at one time. So I'll take the plunge again and upgrade! Hopefully he'll behave, although I have to get a new mat now after he cut through it as I was trying to cut out my Planner! The second mat that has been cut through in 4 years!