In this series, we’re uncovering the mysteries of the universe. Well, at least the Silhouette universe. I’m covering topics that can really stump you no matter how long you’ve been using Silhouette machines. Today, we’re going to talk about what’s happening when you want to edit the points on a design but can’t get them to show up.
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What are points?
I have a very extended, very detailed series on point editing. You can find that starting here. I also covered the general info on them in another What in the World??? post here. So I’ll just give you a snapshot definition here.
Designs we cut in Silhouette Studio are vector images. They are straight and curved line segments connected by points. That’s what tells the machine where to cut. “Start here, cut a straight line for 1.5″, turn in a new direction, cut a curved line segment of such and such depth to this point, etc.” By editing the points, you can change the contours of a design.
Why aren’t my points showing up?
Let’s say you’ve read my posts about point editing and are convinced that that’s just what you want to do on a particular design. So you double click on your design but no points show up. You try again — same thing. You click the point editing icon — same. What in the world is happening? It’s because the images are grouped.
You can only edit points on 1 design at a time. That makes sense. So, if you have grouped pieces, the software doesn’t know which one it is you’re trying to edit the points on. You need to ungroup in order to edit the points on each piece. You may even need to do it several times.
There are also some especially tricky things about this that you should know.
Tip #1: It might be grouped with an invisible box
Sometimes even what looks like a single piece is actually grouped with an invisible outer box. It just depends on how the designer created the shape. Let me show you an example.
This butterfly is part of the set of free designs you get with a Cameo 3. It looks like a single piece without even any internal pieces.
But if I double click on it, no little black dots show up. This is one that’s grouped with an invisible outer box. You can see that when I select in and open the right click menu. If there’s an option to ungroup, there’s obviously a grouping that you can’t see.
I can ungroup, then am able to edit the points. The invisible box doesn’t even show up anywhere so I don’t have to delete it. It’s just a thing.
Tip #2: Internal pieces might be separate parts
Sometimes what looks like an image in a compound path with holes in it is in fact a grouping of shapes. The inner pieces are separate, not in a compound path with the outer edge. You can tell by using fill colors. If you fill a design with a color and you don’t see holes where you expect them, it’s grouped. Notice how in this set of flowers the inner pieces will with color just like the outer ones.
If I ungroup them, the middles of the flowers will be a separate piece, not a part of the path of the outer flower.
By the way, one of these leaves has an obvious problem in the design. You’ll see it if I zoom in.
See how the red is kinda darker in this area? That indicates that there are overlapping lines. If I were to cut it like that, there would be a slice in the leaf. By ungrouping the pieces, I am then able to figure out what’s going on and edit the points to fix it. Turns out, there are 2 points on top of each other and one has a control point pulling the curve in the wrong direction, way past the other point.
Watch out for white fills
Sometimes a design is deceptive. That’s the case with the baby stroller that also comes with the Cameo 3. When you put it onto your design area from the library, it’s already has fill colors. It’s really tricky, because the designer filled the inner pieces with white and then grouped them with the outer piece. That makes it look like a compound path when it really isn’t. If I pull the holes off to the side of the mat, you can see they are filled with white.
To further complicate matters, the holes are five middles ones grouped as a set and that set is grouped with the 2 outer ones. Then, the 5 middles ones are grouped with an invisible box. It would take you quite some time to get to where you could edit points on one of those middle ones.
By the way, the design would cut the same whether it’s a grouping or a compound path.
(Does that design remind anyone else of Pacman?)
Tip #3: Text is a grouping
When you add a text box in Silhouette Studio, you are creating a grouping of letters. Even a single letter is still grouped with an outer box, similar to what I discussed in Tip #1. (To understand more on why that is with text, see this post). And if it’s a grouping, you can’t edit points.
In order to edit the points on any given letter or word, you need to ungroup. BUT BUT BUT — when you do that, you are changing it from editable text to a regular image. That means you can’t go back later and change the wording or font or even figure out what the font and font size were. Make a copy of the text box before you ungroup. That way, if you do need to go back you’ll have an editable text box.
Tip #4: Make a compound path when needed
Let’s say you want to use that flower design I showed you above and edit the points on one of the internal pieces. But you also want to have the outer part of the flower there so you can edit it as well without changing back and forth between them. In order to do that, those 2 parts need to be in the same compound path.
There are multiple ways to do make a compound path. First, select all pieces you want in a single path, then use one of the following options–
- The Modify panel
- Object drop down menu
- Keyboard shortcuts
- CTRL+e (Windows) or CMD+e (Mac) to make
- CTRL+SHIFT+e (Windows) or CMD+SHIFT+e (Mac) to release
If you run into any other times where you can’t get your points to show up, please feel free to comment below and I’ll check it out.
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