One of the things I love about the Silhouette Studio software is how flexible it is. I like to find ways to use it unexpected ways. Recently, I wanted to make a coffee mug for some dear friends who had moved away and recently returned to our home turf. Although I wanted to get the mug printed professionally, I used my Silhouette software with Business Edition to create the JPG image I sent to the print shop. In today’s lesson, I’ll show you how to save a Silhouette Studio design as an image (picture).
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials. All opinions expressed are my own and are not tied to any compensation.
Why use Silhouette Studio?
I’m going to start right away by saying that there are MANY other programs to use for this sort of project, and many of them are probably easier and better. But there are several reasons I chose to use Silhouette Studio (besides just wanting to teach you something new):
- I’m used to the tools in the Silhouette program. That means I personally can work faster in it than in other graphics programs I haven’t taken the time to learn as well. (Yep, that’s purely on me).
- I wanted to incorporate a design I had already created and saved in SS.
- I know there are many folks who get used to using 1 program (such as Silhouette Studio) and so like to stick with it as often as possible. The easiest way for me to show you how you can do something like this is with a real project.
What software level do I need?
Another thing you need to know right away is that the technique I’m talking about today is a feature of Business Edition only. If you need to know more about the various software types and levels, see this post. This is new to version 4.1, so you’ll also need to be using an updated software version. If you need to know how to check your version and update, see this post.
In any software level below Business Edition, when you are designing in the software and are ready to save your design, you can save it to a variety of locations. But you can only save as the Silhouette Studio file type.
Let me use a cooking analogy to clarify that. Let’s say I’ve been making cookies. I’ve combined flour, eggs, sugar, chocolate chips, vanilla, etc., to make the dough. Then I’ve cooked them in my oven. They are no longer individual ingredients but a new food item. I can put them in a cookie jar, or in a plastic storage container, or even hide them in the vegetable drawer in the fridge (ya, kids tend not to look there as much for munchies). I have a variety of options as far as where I put them. But no matter which place I choose, they are still chocolate chip cookies. In other words, I have a number of locations I can choose to put them, but they will always be the same type of cookies.
That’s similar to when you take a star shape and weld a word onto the bottom of it and put it inside a box you drew. You’ve taken individual elements and created a new design. You could save it to various locations – in different folders in your software library or on your computer’s hard drive. But no matter where you save it, it’s a .studio3 file (or .studio for use with versions of the software below v3), which is the proprietary file type for Silhouette Studio. There’s only 1 option for the file type.
When you have BE, you can choose to save your design in more ways than with lower levels of the software. You can save it as a PDF, SVG or JPG.
Those are 3 different image file types
PDF stands for Portable Document Format. This is a file type that can be accessed, viewed and printed easily by different types of computers. For example, let’s say I type a document in my word processor using a font I have on my computer, save it as a word processor file and send it to you. You can only open it if you have the same word processor. And it will only look the same if you have the same font installed on your computer. But if I save it as a PDF, you will see it exactly as it looks on my computer. It may or may not be editable by you, depending on how I saved it (typically it’s not).
SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic. When you enlarge this type of image, you don’t lose any resolution because of the way it’s created and saved. Because of that, it’s becoming the standard for many graphic designers. For more information on vector files, see this post. These types of images can also be used as cut files.
JPG is the file extension for JPEG images. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This is the common file type for photographs on digital cameras. JPEGs are raster images, meaning they are made up of lots of a grid of tiny squares filled with different colors. Any square in the grid not filled with color is automatically filled with white. For a longer discussion on JPEG images and rasters in general, see this post. This is the image type we’re going to focus on in this lesson.
Returning to our cookie analogy, it’s as if you could magically change those chocolate chip cookies into sugar cookies before you put them in the cookie jar.
Why would you want to save as these image types?
While only Silhouette Studio uses .studio3 files, there are many programs that can use PDF, SVG or JPEG files. That means if you can save a design you create as one of these, then…
- A person or business without the Silhouette software can open and use them. In my case, that means I can send the image to a professional print shop in a format they can use since virtually every print shop can use a JPEG image. If you save it an an SVG, people with other cutting machine may be able to use it. Since it’s not legal to sell .studio3 files, this is a way you can legally sell designs you create in Silhouette Studio.
- That gives you much greater flexibility if you are running your own business, hence the reason it’s a feature of Business Edition. For example, you can more easily create mock-ups for your customers. Any computer and most any smart phone can open a JPEG image.
- You can use it yourself in other software programs. That means you could create a design in Silhouette Studio and then add it in to a document you typed in your word processor, since you can drop a JPEG into many different programs.
Are there any limitations on saving an image?
There is a limitation on what can be saved in these other formats/file types. If you create a design using any image or cut file from the Silhouette Design Store, those will NOT save normally with the exported file type. In the JPEG image, they will only show as dotted black lines without fills. You’ll get a reminder of this as you save. This is to protect the designers who sell in the SDS.
Are there any other ways to save as an image?
There are some other ways to save a design as a raster image. I’m not actually going to go into those for a couple of reasons. First, they aren’t typically worth it because they aren’t high quality images. Second, you run into copyright issues and I don’t want to be an enabler for someone to steal the work of another designer. ‘Nuff said.
How do you do it?
Now that we understand the big picture, let’s look at the process.
Step 1: Add your design pieces to the page
Here’s my design with several elements:
- A photo where I’ve removed the background. To see how I did that, see this post.
- A shape of Utah that I created with my drawing tools and Modify options.
- 2 text boxes I’ve created. I have welded my words and the state frame together, but you really don’t have to. The reason we weld is so that overlapping images don’t cut into one another. Since we aren’t cutting, that’s not a problem.
Step 2: Change the line color
I’ve changed all my line colors to clear (none). This is important if you don’t want to see those lines in your saved JPEG image. Even though the line thickness is 0.0 and therefore shouldn’t show, I find sometimes they do.
Here’s a closeup of a designs I created in Silhouette Studio and saved as a JPEG image without changing from the red line color. (I changed the fill to yellow so you could see more easily).
There’s a pattern to when it happens, but it’s not necessary to go into the details here. I recommend you always change the line color to clear just to be on the safe side.
To set a clear line color, select your image and then look in the Quick Access Toolbar or Line Style panel. Click on the chain link fence-looking spot to set the line color to clear.
Step 3: Save the image
There are 2 different ways to create my JPEG image based on this design.
Option #1: Save As
I’m going to show you how to do this one, but I don’t typically use this option. I’ll tell you why in Option #2.
- Go to the File drop down menu.
- Select Save As>Save to Hard Drive. We use this one because it’s going to save it in one of the folders on your computer, not within the Silhouette Studio library. We need it to be on the computer hard drive in order to use it in another program or send it to someone else.
- The file explorer on your computer will open. Navigate to the folder where you want to save your JPEG.
- Here’s the part where many folks get lost. Look at the bottom for Save as Type.
- Click the arrow at the far end to see your different options for file types.
- Select JPEG.
- Name your image. It can be a different name than the one you choose for the .studio3 file you’re using. And it can be a different location from that as well.
- Click OK
- A new dialog box will open.
Silhouette Studio gives you some flexibility in the size and quality of the image you are creating. You can choose the number of pixels, or the number of dots per inch (DPI). To understand more about these terms, see this post. I’m going to move the DPI all the way up because I want an image with as high a resolution as possible. That also means it’s a larger file.
- Click Save
Your design is now saved as an image. If you look in your file explorer and are viewing by thumbnails, you’ll see it in the computer folder where you saved it.
Why I don’t like this option
Notice something about my image. Even though my design only takes up a portion of the page, my saved image shows white margins all the way around it. And the design isn’t even in the center of that.
Why did that happen? When you use the Save As option, you are telling the software to save everything on the defined page size. If my page size is 12”x 12”, that’s the size of the grid that’s saved. Any squares in the raster grid not filled with color are automatically filled with white. So even if my design portion is only 6”x6”, the full size of the page is 12”x12”. The image saved incorporates the full size of the page. And if any of your design isn’t on the defined page size (hanging off the mat), it’s not part of the saved image.
Typically, that’s not what we want. One thing you can do to adjust for that is to change the page size to dimensions that are just larger than the size of the design. You can do that if you like, but there’s an easier way – our second option.
Option #2: Save Selection As
Before you start your save, select all the pieces.
This time, instead of choosing Save As from the File Drop Down menu, do Save Selection As. Then follow all the same remaining steps as with Option #1. Instead of saving the entire page, the software saves only the selected pieces as part of the JPEG image. In other words, you don’t have that extra white background.
HINT: this works for saving as a normal cut file as well. For example, you could create 4 different flowers on your design page. If you do File>Save, you save all 4 as a single file. If you select one at a time and use File>Save Selection, it saves only those pieces currently selected and eliminates any white margin.
The finished product
Here’s the mug, ready to wrap to welcome our friends back home.
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