Now that we’re on Lesson 6, are you becoming an expert at Point Editing? (If you have stumbled onto this lesson and haven’t gone through the previous ones, start here.) In Part 2 of this lesson, I showed you how to break and join paths to fix broken designs, specifically those with open paths. Now here in Part 3, I’m going to turn the tables and tell you that sometimes you DO want open paths in your designs. You can use 1-D lines to do things a normal 2-D shape can’t do. We’re going to learn to use open paths to–
- join several 1D piece into a single closed shape
- make score lines
- create a sketch image
- leave an opening in a sketch image for a word
- make slits in a card for a gift card or cash
- create 3d pop-up elements
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Joining several different open paths
Let’s say you’ve begun designing on your own and are just learning about 1- vs. 2-dimensional images. With 2D images, you could easily weld to join separate pieces. But what if you’ve spent all day making your design and you just used 1-D pieces with open paths? No worries – you can join them with point editing. This is an extension of one of the problem designs we looked at in Part 2 of the lesson.
Here’s a heart I’m creating. So far, I’ve made some simple lines for the outer edges, used the Draw an Arc tool for the top, at used an open-ended “V” shape for the dip in the top. (I made each one a different color and separated them a bit so you could see the parts).
I can select all the pieces, make a single compound path, then use my point editing to connect the red dots.
Then I could smooth out the curves using techniques from our previous lessons.
Open paths as score lines
Let’s pretend that after seeing the design in our last lesson, you have fallen in love with gatefold cards and want to create your own. A key element of that is the fold lines — performated lines that your machine cut so that you can fold the card more easily. So let me show you how to create them using open paths. (I’m assuming you don’t need to know how to draw the rectangle for the card — it should be twice the width of your finished card).
You’re going to start by drawing a vertical line that’s the height of your card.
HINT: To make your line precisely vertical, hold the SHIFT key as you draw. This works for horizontal and 45° angle lines, as well as perfect circles and squares.
Now change the line style to dashed and you’ve created a score line. (You can do that in the Quick Access Toolbar or the Line Style panel).
HINT: Make the score line a different color than your cut lines. Use the Action by: Line cut mode to cut by line color. That gives you the ability to choose different cut settings for score vs. cut lines.
Make a copy and place it on the other side of the card. Your score lines should each be in from the side the amount that’s equal to half the width of your finished card. For instance, if my finished card is 5″ wide, that means my original rectangle is 10″ wide. The back portion will be 5″, so each side that folds over will be 2.5″ wide. So the score lines go in 2.5″ in — one from the left side, the other from the right side. Then group the 2 score lines and the rectangle so that everything stays spaced correctly.
Creating a sketch image with open paths
Many sketch designs are made of open paths. That’s what gives them a hand-drawn look – being a set of 1-dimensional lines.
So let’s say you want to take a regular cut image and turn it into a sketch image. With Designer Edition, you can do that with the click of your mouse. But it doesn’t always use open paths (which look cooler) and not everyone has DE. So let’s learn a different way.
I’m going to start with a very simple shape – our sunburst. In order to get a sketchy look (ooh – that kinda sounds bad), I’m going to make several copies of my sun. Then I’ll break some paths and release the compound paths to separate each copy into different bits and pieces of my sun that are open paths.
I layer the pieces almost on top of one another, but slightly offset. That gives me a nice sketchy look. I can then group them or combine them into a compound path if I like.
Our heart revisited
Let’s go a step farther with that heart we created earlier. Let’s say I want to sketch the heart but add a word along the edge.
Creating a gap
First, I’m going to add points right where I want to make my breaks.
Then I break the path at those points I just added.
I can then either delete points that will remove the line segment where I want the gap, or release the compound path and remove that section (I find the latter easier). I can do that because I’ve broken the path on each end of that segment I’m removing, which means it’s no longer attached to the main portion of the heart. In other words, I have 2 open paths.
This won’t work for cutting, because as we discussed previously the pieces are only 1 dimension instead of 2. If I cut my heart right now, I’d only get an incomplete heart that’s still attached to the background material. But for sketching, it’s just a single line we want.
This is similar to using your knife or eraser on an unfilled shape and choosing “outline.” However, with this method you can be much more precise. Plus, it speeds things up, as using the knife and eraser can be VERY slow in the Silhouette Studio software.
You may be asking, “Can’t I just use the Modify tools you’re always bragging about?” Good question! Although I do LOVE the Modify options, they aren’t useful here because they always result in closed shapes. We need open paths for this. (However, you may find it useful to alter your shape with the Modify tools, then break the path and remove a section).
Adding the word
Your first thought might be to type the word in a sketch font. Sketch fonts are made so that lines are so close that they look like it’s just 1-dimensional – just a single line. When you sketch them with a pen, the lines are so close together that it looks like it just drew a single line.
But it’s really 2 lines. The width of the pen is less than the width of the space between the letters, so in reality what’s happening is that the 2 lines are virtually, but not REALLY, on top of one another. If I zoom in quite far, you can see that.
Remember that you can’t join images in a “T” junction. Because the heart is an open path now, this is what we’d have — the 1-d line of the heart (green) hitting the word (black) as a “T” junction.
So how could we add a word? There are a few options.
If you just want to have the word in the gap but not connected, just type a word in a sketch font and place it in the gap.
Close, but not connected
You can fake a connected look. Type the word in a sketch font and place it in the gap, just as with the previous option. But this time put the ends of your word right at the open ends of the heart. Because of that pen width we talked about, when you sketch it will appear that it’s connected even though in reality it’s open.
If you’re really adventurous, you can use a couple of techniques to create your own word that you can connect to the heart. This is kinda fun because you can break some of the rules we’ve learned (ya, I know you’re a secret rebel).
Option 1: Draw open paths
First, type out the word in a sketch (or regular) font. This is an optional step, but it is a pattern you can follow. Change the line color so that it’s different from the red you’ll use when you draw the word out.
Now use your Draw a Curve Shape tool to draw the word. You’ll be creating several individual line segments with open ends. All the points are smooth. In any place you have a “T” junction, you’ll need to start a new piece. Double click to stop drawing the shape.
When you’ve got all your pieces, edit the points so that it matches your pattern or makes the shape you like. Notice that I added a starting tail to my “l” so I can have a point to connect onto the heart. Notice also that I broke the rule of crossing lines. That’s not a problem here because we’re drawing, not cutting.
Once your letters are formed, move or delete your pattern. Continue adjusting as needed.
Then select all the pieces and then Make Compound Path to keep everything together.
Move the word into the gap so that the ends of the word are close to the open end points on the heart. Select both and Make Compound Path. Then you can join the open points at the ends of the letters with the heart (although you’ll probably still have some open points within the word).
Option 2: Edit the text with point editing
Start with your typed word again. Make a copy, because the next thing we do will change it from editable text to an image. Ungroup the letters. That will split each into it’s own compound path.
Break the path at the end of each letter, then delete the extra points so each stroke of the letter is only a single line. Here’s a close up — I’ve edited the letter on the left but not the one on the right.
Repeat this procedure for each letter. Then follow the remaining steps in Option 1, starting with joining all the letters into a single compound path. Since you now have 2 open paths — the heart and the word — you can join them into 1 path and connect the ends.
Either option is pretty time-intensive, but, I like to be thorough and teach you as much as possible.
Using open paths as slits
I’ve got a birthday cake shape I’m turning into a card. For more details on how to do that, you can see this post. I would recommend you go ahead and create the extra piece for the card front, but don’t weld it on to the card back yet. On the inside, I want to create some slits where I can slip in a gift card. That means I need an open path.
First, I’ve drawn a rounded rectangle (the yellow piece) the size of my gift card and placed in on the inside of the card back (the light blue piece) .
What I want is a slit in the shape of a half circle cut on each side. So first I draw a circle.
Now I break the path at the top and bottom of the circle.
Then I release the compound path the circle, which gives me 2 half-circles. I move them to where the unconnected points are just outside the gift card.
I delete the gift card shape, then move the card front over to meet the card back and weld. Only after I’ve welded do I group my half-circle slits with the card. (If I did it before, the slits would get absorbed into the card back during the weld.) I’ve also added a score line with a different line color.
Voila! When I cut, I’ll get the half-circle slits where I can slip in my gift card.
Here’s another way you can make this card but slide cash or a check in instead.
First, make an internal offset of your card back (my purple piece here).
At this point, you can go ahead and make the cake into a card as described in that previous lesson and add a score line if you like.
Fold your cash or check and measure the height and the folded width.
Now draw a horizontal line to make a slit in the offset you created. It should be a bit longer than the folded width of your $ so there’s a little wiggle room on either side. US bills are 6.14″ wide. If I fold that in half and then in half again, the folded width is approximately 1.5″. So I made my slit 2″ long.
You want the line to be close to the bottom so that the cash doesn’t get lost inside the card, but high enough that it doesn’t fall out. Figure out 2/3 of your height and put your line that far off the bottom of your offset. For example, US bills are 2.6″ tall. So 2/3 of that is 1.73. That means my slit needs to be approximately 1 3/4″ up from the bottom of the offset.
When you’re putting your card together, attach the offset to the inside back of the card, gluing just around the outside on the back side of the offset piece. That means the middle of the offset piece is loose. Then slip in the moolah for your lucky gift recipient.
Using open paths for 3D effects
Silhouette Studio version 4.1 added a pop-up creator, but I’ve been creating some 3D effects in a different way for a long time.
Let’s say I want to use some cardstock to create a 3D-looking project. I have this butterfly…
…but I want to make some more like it with some of my other shapes. Let’s make this dragonfly…
…into a similar pop-up design.
If I look at my butterfly, I see that the way to make it 3D is to make the middle of the wings pop up is by having open paths where the wings meet the body.
First, I create an internal offset for the extra piece that will pop up. My original shape is in blue, the offsets in yellow and purple.
I’ll delete some points so that I don’t have the head in the yellow piece and the peaks on both. If they are in between where I’m going to break the path, I could just leave them alone as they will go away when I remove the section. I deleted them so I could more easily visualize the outcome while I can still see the fills.
Because I want to control right where the open paths start, I’m going to add some points right where I want that to happen. (Sometimes you can use existing points – it just depends on the design). And I break the path at those points.
Now I release the compound path and delete the middle sections.
If it’s a long section where you’ll bend the piece, you can add a score line if you like.
How cool is that? I hope your imagination is zooming right now with ways you can use this!
Oh my, is there anything more to learn about point editing? Just a bit. In our next lesson, I’ll show you a few extra bits of info and wrap up the series.
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