Today we’re continuing our series on using raster images as fill patterns. If you haven’t read about the other methods, start here. In this last method, we’re going to talk about using the Modify panel in conjunction with a printable pattern. (But don’t forget that there will be a wrap-up post after that with important information.)
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When I first used the Silhouette Studio software, I had NO IDEA it could do so many neat things. Until I really began to study it, I made things much harder than they had to be and wasted a good deal of time. For example, I had no idea the Offset button was there. I used to make an enlarged copy of my shape (which doesn’t make a proportional offset 99% of the time) and then individually edit the points to create on offset. Crazy! I took hours to do something I could have done in literally seconds.
For many Silhouette users, the Modify panel is something they don’t use. They either don’t know it’s there, or they avoid it because they don’t really understand it. In talking with many of my students, they do the same as I used to do: sneak in there, randomly click options to see what happens, then duck out again quickly when they don’t get the result they’re looking for. But the Modify options are a powerful set of tools when you understand them. We’re just going to touch on them here.
TUTORIAL LEVEL: Intermediate/Advanced
What are Modify options?
In Silhouette Studio you can add several shapes to your page, overlap them and then use different Modify options to decide what happens with the overlapping areas. We’re going to focus on just 2 today: Intersect and Crop.
- Intersect: Only the area where ALL selected shapes overlap is kept. I think of it as a traffic intersection. The roads come from 4 different directions, but there’s a square in the middle that all the cars pass through. That’s the intersection. If you fill all your shapes with color and raise the transparency to around 35%, you’ll see that the only portion that’s kept is where all the colors mix.
- Crop: Any areas where at least 2 shapes overlap are kept. I think of it as an artist’s palette covered with paint. Any place 2 colors touch, they mix to form a new color. If you fill all your shapes with color and raise the transparency to around 35%, you’ll see that any portions where at least 2 colors mix are kept.
Method #7: Using Modify options with a printable pattern
One of your overlapping shapes can be a rectangle filled with your printable pattern. Each project is different, but the main idea is that you will have multiple shapes on the page along with a rectangle/square filled with your printable pattern. You’ll use Intersect or Crop to fill those shapes with the pattern with 1 click. This method will work the same way with any level of the software. Here are a couple of examples.
Quickly fill many shapes simultaneously
This is a set of planner stickers I’m going to do a print and cut with. I’ve got all my shapes on the page.
I want to quickly fill all the shapes with my own printable pattern. I could use some other methods, but here’s why I wouldn’t–
–If I just put my printable pattern as a square or rectangle on the page behind the shapes and print and cut like that, the background pattern would interfere with the registration marks. Even if it didn’t, it would use more ink. Plus, my planner stickers will look more professional without the unnecessary pattern in the background.
–If I fill each shape individually with one of the previous methods, it would take longer. Plus, the scale of the pattern wouldn’t be the same in all the shapes if they have a variety of sizes. This holds true for letters in a word as well.
–If I group the shapes, I can fill them all at once. But the scale of the pattern will vary within the shapes.
–I could make all the shapes a compound path and fill them all at once so the scale is the same, but then I can’t move them around or customize the fill in each shape individually afterward. (Technically, you can make them a single compound path, fill them, then release the compound path and the scale will remain the same. But that’s an extra step, and I know we’re all interested in saving time.)
NOTE: The oddball option I mentioned in Method #1 means that this method may not be necessary. It just depends on your design and how you want your pattern to look. But since that may not be a permanent feature, it’s good to go ahead and learn this method anyway. Using this method also ensures that the pattern will be at the same scale in all the shapes.
Here’s how you use the Modify options on this type of project:
–Open the printable pattern as a single image — that rectangle filled with the printable pattern. Do that with one of the methods we’ve already learned, or use the File>Merge drop-down menu option (because you want it all on the same page).
–Which Modify option you choose depends on if your shapes are independent pieces or a compound path.
• If they are a compound path, select all your shapes and the printable pattern rectangle and use Intersect. Remember, this will keep only the parts that are in common to ALL shapes and take the fill of the largest piece. Since a compound path is just 1 shape and because your pattern is the largest piece, what you end up with is pattern-filled shapes.
• If your shapes are a grouping or are ungrouped, or if you aren’t sure, use Crop instead. That retains any overlapping areas that are shared by at least 2 shapes and take the fill of the largest shape.
With either option, you’re getting rid of the background and filling all the shapes with the printable pattern at the same scale. And the beauty of it is that you can still use your advanced pattern fill options in each of the shapes.
I could then do an internal offset of each piece and fill those with white. That gives me an area to add text.
On this one, I’ve got a raster image with various elements I want to isolate and cut out. I’ve placed shapes over those areas.
Once I modify, I’ve got the individual pieces I can work with.
One thing to note here is that after you do this, you’ll need to then set your shapes to Cut. I’ll explain more about why in my next post.
Put multiple patterns into a single shape
Sometimes you want to fill a single shape with more than one raster image. Using the other methods won’t work because any given shape can only have 1 fill color or pattern.
Here, I have a frame and 2 raster images of flowers. I want to fill the frame itself with a printable pattern, but I need to start with it empty (That’s important — I’ll explain why farther down).
Since the flowers are raster images and therefore default to No Cut, the frame is the only thing cutting. I could just print and cut as is and I’d have a frame with the printed flowers at the corners. That’s what I’m going for. But to fit more on the page and avoid wasting ink, I want the images contained within the shape. And again, this would make them look more polished if I were using them for something like planner stickers I intended to sell.
So here’s what I did:
–made sure the frame had no fill.
–made a copy of the frame with the keyboard shortcut CTRL+C.
–pasted 2 copies of the frame right on top of the original frame by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+F 2 times.
–selected 1 frame and 1 flower and did Crop. Since there are only 2 shapes I’m working with at a time, Intersect would also work. What you see now is the remaining portion of the overlapped area of the first frame and the pink flower, along with the other 2 frames and the blue flower.
–repeated with the 2nd frame and the blue flower. I’m then left with my 3rd frame and 2 flower pieces that fit exactly into it. Only the frame will cut. The flower pieces have retained the properties of the raster image, and raster images by default are on No Cut.
–added a pattern fill to the frame. You can use any of the previous methods.
Why I waited to the end to fill the frame
Although you don’t see it, the flower is really part of a square image. You don’t notice it because this is a png so the background is clear. (Refer back to Method #1 if you need a refresher on that). If I select all the pieces, you can see the bounding box showing me where the square is around each flower.
When I modify, the shape of that piece is still a portion of that square. Since the frame had no fill, it kept the flower fill when I modified but it still has it’s that clear background. Here’s the result of the intersection of the pink flower plus 1 frame. I changed the line color to black and moved it a bit so you can see better. Those black lines are the new outer edges of the shape. It cut off part of the flower+clear background square when I modified.
But let’s back up to before our modification and fill the frame with a color instead of leaving it empty (the same would hold true if I used a printable pattern). It would then be the largest filled shape.
If I did my Intersect in that situation, I’d get a different result (and it’s not the one I want). Again, I’m just showing you the intersection of the pink flower and 1 frame. The shape is the same, but the fill is different.
What happened? Remember, the fill the software retains is the fill of the largest FILLED shape. Since the frame was largest, my resulting shape took that fill. And because it’s retaining the properties of the frame, it’s also on Cut. By keeping the frame unfilled until I finished all my modifications, I kept the fills I want and keep the flower-filled pieces from cutting.
Use Method #7 when you want to…
…quickly fill a set of shapes with 1 big background piece and keep the pattern proportional in them all initially.
…cut out several elements from a printable pattern.
…put more than 1 pattern into a single shape.
Be sure not to miss my next post. There’s some important information you’ll need to know about when you use any of these methods.
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