Now that you know the basics of the Send area, it’s time to get into advanced options with Action by: Line, Fill or Layer (Advanced Cut Mode in version 3). In these modes, you choose your cut settings for each shape based on its line color, its fill color or the layer (Designer Edition and above only) it’s in. That means you can have different settings for different parts of your project, even in 1 pass through the machine. And you can save that information when you save the file.
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In this lesson, I’ll walk you through each of these cut modes. I’ll give you tips on the best times to use each. Since you have more choices, these advanced cut modes can be more complex. You may need to read this post several times and practice to fully get it. But advanced cut mode is also much more flexible, which is why I love it.
To start with lesson #1 in this series, go here.
Before we go any further in this discussion, let me give you a heads up. Even though you can choose different settings for each line color/fill color/layer, if you want to do them all in a single pass through the machine you’ll have to make some physical changes to your tools during the cut. If you have a Cameo 3, the AutoBlade will change to the correct number for you. But on any other machine, you’ll need to manually adjust the blade for each. If you’re using multiple sketch pens or pens and blades, you’ll need to change them out during the cut.
Now we can jump in.
Action by: Line
This time, you’re going to click on the second tab along the Action by: row — “Line.” In this cut mode — also called cut by line color — you’re going to make choices for shapes based on their line color. (If you aren’t sure how to change a line color, see this post). On that right side of your screen where in simple mode you had 2 columns for No Cut/Cut/Cut Edge and Material/Action/Tool, you instead have rows and columns within the rows. So it’s more like a chart or a data table.
You will have as many rows as you have different line colors in your design. For example, here I have rows for red, brown, orange, green and black. Those correspond to the 5 different line colors of the circles in my design.
The columns are where you select — for each row — a tool holder (Cameo 3 and Curio only), cut style, material, action and tool. Notice that I have 3 different materials, 2 different actions and 3 different tools in my “chart.”
Let’s look at each column. Keep in mind that when you choose settings on any row, you are applying those settings to all shapes with that line color.
This is where you choose whether you want the machine to use the tool in the left (#1) or right (#2) tool holder for the shapes of each line color. The left and right arrangement is the same as on the machine. Click the left or right circle to choose and that circle will be highlighted.
In my pic above, I’ve set the red, brown, orange and green lines to cut with the tool in the left tool holder. I’ve set the black lines for the right tool holder. Notice that even though the black lines are set for tool 2, they aren’t blue as they were in Action by: Simple. They are black because that’s the color I chose for them when creating the design.
This section has more than just your colors so pay close attention here. It’s where you’re going to choose your Cut Style — whether or not to cut the shapes of a certain line color and how to cut them.
First, there’s a box which, if you haven’t done anything, has a check mark in it. That means Cut. You can click on the square to toggle and turn the check mark off. That’s No Cut. In my picture above, the lines are all set to Cut except for the brown line.
Next there’s funny little icon that you might pass right over if you weren’t looking for it. Don’t miss it, because it’s important. This is Auto-weld. It’s the equivalent of Cut Edge from Action by: Simple. The difference is that Auto-weld is NOT the default cut style for design elements you create. When you turn this on, the lines in overlapping areas of separate shapes don’t cut. Remember, this is a PERFECT option for cursive text.
Clicking the icon toggles the style off and on. It will initially be off. It’s so small you might not even notice a difference. But if you look closely, you’ll see a change from this…
Notice on the first one, the line of the rectangle cuts into the circle and vice versa. On the second, they don’t — they look as if they are welded.
For Auto-weld to work, the shapes must all have the same Line Color. Look at the picture of my circles above. Those on the middle row have line colors of green and orange. In the color row for each one in my Send area, I have Auto-weld turned on. It works for the greens with one another, but not for the green with the orange. REMEMBER: Cut Preview tells you all you need to know as long as you know how to read it.
As with Cut Edge in simple mode, you need to understand the difference between a grouping and a compound path to use Auto-weld correctly.
Also, like with Cut Edge, Auto-weld works differently on filled vs. unfilled shapes.
Color box and RGB
Next is a little square filled with the color of the line. Sometimes you’ve got 2 colors that are very similar, but even if they are a tiny bit different they will have different rows. If you have any shape without a line color at all, even if it has a fill color, there’s a row called No Color.
RGB stands for Red Green Blue. This is one of the ways to identify colors — by the amount of red, green and blue in their mix. Notice that the RGB for black is 0,0,0, while the RGB value for No Color is blank. If you have similar colors as I mentioned above, this is one way to tell them apart.
Material, Action and Tool
For selecting a material, action or tool, these all work the same as in Action by: Simple — click the arrow and choose an option from the list. There aren’t arrows indicating you can choose a different tool – just click on the current tool to see the list.
Things to know for Action by: Line
- Remember how in simple mode we could only have 1 blade number, speed, force, number of passes and line segment overcut settings for a single material? The same holds true here. If I had both brown and red lines using tool 1 with a ratchet blade to Cut cardstock, I couldn’t cut them with different amounts of force. (Don’t forget you can add a custom setting).
If I change it on 1 row, it changes every other row with that material.UPDATE: This is now changed. You can (and have to) set the settings for each row individually.
- You CAN use different tool holders, tools and actions for the same material as long as it’s a different row/line color. For example, I’ve got Cardstock, Plain for 3 of my rows, but on I’m sketching some and cutting others. Since the 2 I’m cutting are on different rows, I can choose different tools and tool holders.
- Cut Preview looks different when you cut by line color. In Action by: Simple, the line color you see for each shape is either red or blue if you have a machine with 2 tool holders, or just red if you have only 1. When you cut by line color, the colors of the lines in Cut Preview stay the colors they are. That helps you see which shapes have the same line colors. If you aren’t aware of this, you could get confused as to which tools are used for which line colors. You have to pay attention to what you’ve selected for each line color/row.
- The strength of the line (pale, bold or bright bold) is still there to cue you in to the cut style, but it can be harder to distinguish. Zoom in as needed.
- Even if a shape is off to the side of your mat in your Design area, if it has a different line color than all the other shapes it will still have a row.
- What if it’s out there and has the same line color as another shape on the mat? Don’t worry — it won’t cut or freak out the machine. Only shapes within the cut margin of the defined page size will cut.
When to cut by line color
Cutting in Action by: Line is a good choice when you–
- Are using sketch pens and your design has a variety of line colors.
- Are using sketch pens and then also cutting around the outside of the design.
- Have a cut design that has different line colors and you only want to cut some of them.
- Want to use a different tool holder, tool and/or action for the same material.
Action by: Fill
This cut mode is very similar to Action by: Line. The difference is that instead of making cut style and cut settings choices based on the line color of an image, you make them based on its fill color.
Things to know for Action by: Fill
- For the pieces filled with a solid color and set to cut or Auto-weld, their lines are still bold but they are the color of the fill instead of the color of the line. Again, this is to help you see which shapes have the same fill color because they will have matching cut preview line colors. In this picture, I’ve changed all the line colors to black, but you can see that the 2 green circles have green cut preview lines.
- The row “No Color” is for any shapes that have no fill at all. That’s like my circle in the upper left. Because it’s set to No Cut (which is by default), you can see the actual color of the line but also that it’s thin and pale. Don’t be fooled: a white fill isn’t the same as a “clear” fill (no color).
- If more than one pattern or gradient fill is being used, there will only be one Pattern or Gradient row in the list. It’s all or none – you cannot select some patterns or gradients and not others. If you need to use different settings for multiple fills of this type, use Standard Mode or cut by line color or layer.
- Shapes with a pattern fill or gradient fill have a red cut preview line here, regardless of what the colors in the pattern or gradient are and also regardless of which tool holder you’re using. In my example here, the patterned pieces are using Tool 2 but have a red line.
- Because those shapes filled with a pattern or gradient are all combined in a single row, Auto-weld works even if the patterns or gradients aren’t the same. I have 1 circle with a blue gradient and 1 with an orange gradient. Since there’s only 1 row for Gradient, the Auto-weld works. I also have Auto-weld on the patterned pieces, so they don’t cut into one another. But since Gradient and Pattern are separate rows, the checkerboard and blue gradient pieces cut into one another.
- On shapes with a pattern or gradient fill and Auto-weld selected, the line does NOT change to the brighter/thicker bold. You can see the difference here by comparing my yellow circles to my patterned and gradient ones. I think this is just a temporary programming problem.
When to cut by fill color
It’s helpful to use Action by: Fill when you–
- Have shapes with a variety of fill colors and only want to cut some.
- Have shapes with a variety of fill colors and want to use different cut settings and/or materials for each. For example, when you’re using more than one color of paper for your project. You can do it all in one pass through the machine or in several. Either way, it’s an easier way to organize how you want each shape to cut and save that information for the next time you cut the same project.
- Want to use a different tool holder, tool and/or action for the same material.
Action by: Layer
In Designer Edition and above, there’s a feature called Layers. It’s like having several pages stacked up in your design area at the same time. You can view and work in each layer individually or in combination. You can even add layers within layers (think an outline format with levels within levels). It’s a way to keep multiple pages of a project together within 1 file.
Let’s say you’re designing a t-shirt with 3 different colors of regular heat transfer vinyl, 1 of glitter HTV and 2 of flocked HTV. You create your design in your drawing area and have all the pieces stacked on one another the way they will look on your shirt. You’re not going to cut all the pieces at once, since (a) they are using different materials that need different settings and (b) since they are stacked up they would cut into one another.
You could use the No Cut option for some pieces and Cut for others, but if you’ve got a small piece in the middle of the design you’d be wasting a good amount of material around it. If you move the small piece to the upper left so that you maximize your material, you’ve move it off the design layout that you just worked so hard to create.
This is where layers can help. You design everything first. Then you add a layer and copy the regular green HTV pieces to that layer. You add another layer and put the glitter pieces there. You continue going that until you’ve got a layer for each different color and material you’re using. Your top layer still has your full design layout so you can see it. In each other layer, you can fit the pieces in the smallest possible area to save material.
Cutting by layer
Once you’re done with all that, you can choose Action by: Layer and choose the settings for each layer. So if your green pieces were in layer 2, you can set only layer 2 to cut, choose the settings for regular HTV, then load and go.
Let’s say your 2 flocked colors were just small pieces so you’re using up scraps. That means you can put them both on the mat together. Since they are both flocked and therefore use the same settings, you can cut them together on one pass through the machine by choosing to cut just that layer. For more about working with more than 1 piece of material on the mat at the same time, see this post.
As with the other cut modes, in order for Auto-weld to work the shapes need to be in the same row, i.e. layer. This time they don’t have to have the same line color or fill — just be in the same layer. This is a way you can use Auto-weld for shapes with different line colors or fills, as you might want to do on a print and cut.
Things to know for Action by: Layer
- Even if they are no shapes within a given layer or all the shapes in that layer are off the defined page size, the layer will still have a row in the list.
- Sometimes the cut preview in Action by: Layer doesn’t work correctly. The bold vs. bright/strong bold distinction and the line colors aren’t always consistent with their cut style setting. It happens mainly when you change the Auto-weld option in Action by: Line or Fill and then go back to Action by: Layer. That means you’ll want to be extra careful in looking at whether or not you have Auto-weld on for each layer. If the shapes overlap, you will at least have the clue of the lines in the overlapping areas — those do show correctly.
- I said above that you can view a single layer at a time or multiple. What you are viewing in your Design area can affect what you see in the Send area and cut preview.
Right now, I’m only seeing some of my circles in my Design area. My patterned circles aren’t showing, because I moved them into their own layer. Then I turned off seeing that layer by toggling the eye in the list of layers next to Patterned Circles.
HINT: I labeled my layers “Plain Circles” and “Patterned Circles” by hovering over each, right clicking and choosing “Rename.” I find this really helps in organizing my project when I use layers.
When I open the Send area I now see those patterned circles, but only as outlines. I don’t see the patterns. The reason I see the lines is that they are set to Cut.
If I set the Patterned Circles layer to No Cut, they “disappear” again.
They aren’t gone from my project. I’m just not seeing them at all because (a) I was not viewing them in the Design area and (b) I’ve set them on No Cut.
Now let’s reverse that some. I’m back to my Design Area. I clicked the eye box next to the layer called Patterned Circles. That means I’m now viewing that layer as well as the Plain Circles one.
I open the Send area again. This time I see the circles with their fills, but their lines are pale and thin. Why? Because I’ve still got the Patterned Circles layer on No Cut.
Let’s set the Patterned Circles layer to Cut also. Now I see both the outlines and the pattern fills.
When to cut by layer
It’s helpful to use Action by: Layer with–
- A design you created in layers.
- A design you purchased elsewhere that’s got layers. For example, folks who use Adobe Illustrator can create with layers and then save it in a format that Silhouette Studio can use. If they save it correctly, it opens in layers in Silhouette. That means it’s usually organized by colors or something similar already that can make the cutting process easier.
- A print and cut with overlapping shapes of multiple line colors, fill colors, patterns or gradients and want to use Auto-weld.
A note of caution
Remember how I cautioned that when cutting in simple cut mode, changing material choice could, but won’t necessarily, change the action and tool choices? There’s something similar we need to be aware of when cutting in advanced cut mode.
When you change the action or tool for a selected material in any advanced mode (or even in simple mode), it doesn’t necessarily carry over to a different mode. For example–
- In Action by: Line, you choose Cardstock Plain as your material, cut as your action and deep cut blade as your tool.
- You go into Action by: Fill and choose Cardstock, Plain as your material. None of the settings for action or tool will match to what you just chose in Action by: Line. They are the defaults for that material type — not the ones you changed to.
I did say that if you change the settings for blade number, speed, force, passes or line segment overcut, on any given material those DO still remain consistent across different cut modes. Here’s how to remember it — for the most part, action and tool choices do not link in a material across the modes. That’s because there are usually (not always, but normally) multiple actions or tools you could use on a material even in the same project. But there are NOT usually different cut settings you need to perform the same action with the same tool on that one material.
See what I meant? Lots of info, but cutting by line color, fill color or layer gives you lots of flexibility. It makes cutting the project go faster because you don’t have to send the job to the machine multiple times. You can also save more information as you save the file. That saves you time the next time you’re working on it.
Next time I’ll show you another way to customize your cut process by changing the cut order — telling the machine which line color, fill color or layer to cut first.