The ability to put text on a path – to have words wrap around a shape — has been available in the Silhouette Studio software for a long time. But being able to put a shape on a path of another shape has been an elusive dream. This is a feature slated to arrive in version 4, but what if you need it now?
One workaround is to use dingbat fonts – fonts where the letters are actually pictures – and follow the steps for putting text on a path. But many dingbat fonts are poorly made and cut raggedly. Or what if you can’t find a dingbat font that has the shape you want? Or you want to use a shape in your Silhouette library?
Another option is to use the replicate window and alter the center of rotation (Designer Edition and above). That works easily around a circle, but that’s about it.
Up to this point, you would have been out of luck. I’m going to teach you today a technique that will blow your mind because you can put one or more shapes on a path of any shape or even fill it. The main trick is this: you need Designer Plus Edition.
NOTE: This is a sample of an advanced software tutorial. Software tutorials are available with a membership. See here for information on memberships.
What is Designer Plus?
Designer Plus is an upGRADE to the Silhouette Studio software. Don’t confuse this with an upDATE – see here for an explanation of the difference and a full explanation of all available software upgrades. When you purchase an upgrade to the software you get extra features that aren’t in the Basic Edition. Not everyone wants or needs these features, so they are paid for by those who do. I will tell you all day long that Designer Edition is worth the price for any user. Normally DE+ is not something a lot of people need, but this post may change your mind.
What additional options are there in Designer Plus?
Designer Plus is a relatively new upgrade and is somewhat specialized. Basically, it offers the ability to open the standard embroidery file types and has advanced rhinestone features.
When you convert a shape to a rhinestone design in the Designer Edition’s Standard rhinestone mode, you just see circles of the correct size. You can choose between 4 standard rhinestone sizes. As you increase the size of your shape, the size of the circles stays the same but more are added. With Designer Edition Plus you have advanced options to select colored rhinestones that actually look like stones. This provides a much better idea of finished product. Here’s a side by side comparison:
Unlike the Standard mode, increasing the size of the group of drawn stones increases the size of each circle instead of adding more circles (more on that later).
You can also apply multiple stone shapes/colors to a design at the same time and change the angle and spacing.
For many of us, nothing so far is a big deal, but here’s the important part. Are you ready? YOU CAN ADD ANY SHAPE YOU WANT TO YOUR RHINESTONE LIBRARY! The intended use for this is for rhinestones that are, say, rectangles or hearts. Silhouette America doesn’t sell those shapes, but other companies do. This allows you to be able to cut templates utilizing the unusual shapes.
Why do I care about adding custom rhinestone shapes?
There’s a use for this outside of just rhinestones. You can add a shape to the rhinestone library and then treat it like a rhinestone even if you never intend to cut rhinestone template material. This is revolutionary because it means you CAN actually take a single shape, or multiple shapes, and make them go around the edge of another shape or fill it.
I’m a very visual learner, so I’m going to show you an example of what I mean. Here’s a basic shape–
Now I’ve created a custom rhinestone and applied it to the edge of the shape—
Here I’ve applied it in a radial fill to the shape-
Here I’ve applied it in a linear fill to the shape—
Here’s one that has interior pieces–
This rhinestone shape is more complex but it still works–
You can see that I’ve now gained the ability put shapes on a path or use them as a fill for any shape. Ready to learn how this works?
Adding a custom shape to the rhinestone library
- Draw your shape or put a shape from your library onto your drawing area.
- In order to see and work with your shape more easily, fill it with color.
- Resize your shape as needed. The rule is that the size must be .472” or less. Sometimes both height and width need to be; sometimes just one. It may even need to be smaller. I haven’t found consistency here, so make it as small as you need to for it to load properly into the rhinestone library. You will get a message if it’s too big. You can zoom in to design small then expand later to increase the size of the rhinestone after you have added it to the library (see below).
- Make sure your shape is selected.
- Open the Rhinestone window, scroll down and click on Advanced Rhinestones.
- Select the option to “Add Selected Shape to the Rhinestone Library.”
- You should then see it below the pictures of the rhinestones under “User Rhinestones.”
I recommend keeping your original shape on your drawing area. You can pull it off to the side of the mat if you like as it may be helpful to have it later.
Deleting a custom rhinestone shape
If you want to delete a custom rhinestone, highlight it in the list and click the “-” sign.
Altering the size
In Standard mode the sizes available for the stones are 6ss, 10ss, 16ss and 20ss. The preset rhinestones in Advanced mode are 10ss, 16ss and 20ss in a variety of colors.
With the custom rhinestones you create, you can use a different size each time you add the stone to your design. This is good news for what we want to do, especially since the size can be larger than the limit listed above.
- Highlight the custom rhinestone you want to use.
- Backspace out the numbers for width and height and input the dimensions you want. You can also use the slider bar or arrows, but they are slower. The max size is .984″.
- There isn’t a way to keep the aspect ratio since you have to type each number in individually. To work around this, use the original shape you saved off to the side. When resizing this you can keep the aspect ratio and then you’ll know the numbers you need to input. You can save the shape to your library and input the dimensions as keywords in the shape properties.
- You can set new dimensions each time you use your custom rhinestone shape, so this gives you great flexibility.
Putting the shape on a path
- Put the shape you want to use as your path on the drawing area. I’m going to use an oval.
- Resize as needed to match the scale of your created rhinestone. The shape you used to create a custom rhinestone should still be on your drawing area (if you took my advice) so it can help you figure out the scale you need. You may need to do some experimenting with this step.
- Make sure your shape is selected and that your custom rhinestone shape is highlighted under User Rhinestones.
- Select the Rhinestone Mode. For now we’re doing Single and we’ll talk through the options on angle, spacing and offset in a bit.
- Choose between the 3 options–
Apply to Edge — puts rhinestone shapes centered along the edge of the path shape.
Fill Interior (Radial) – fills the path shape with the rhinestone shape along the outer edge and then in spokes emanating toward the center.
Fill Interior (Linear) – fills the path shape with the rhinestone shape in straight rows like a grid.
HINT: whichever you choose, stones are placed on the edge. Using the fill interior also puts some inside the shape.
After the shapes are applied…
Your original path shape stays in place and is still usable. This is different from the Standard rhinestone mode. If you are not going to use it, pull it off to the side or delete it. I recommend the former in case you need to use it again in the same size.
One reminder: the stones that are drawn in Advanced mode don’t act the same way they do in the Standard mode. In Standard, if you increase the size of the shape the NUMBER of the stones increases instead of the SIZE OF EACH STONE increasing.
In Advanced mode, once drawn the stones are just a set of filled shapes. What you are getting is a circle filled with a picture of a rhinestone. What that means is that if after the stones are drawn you increase the size of the set, the SIZE OF EACH STONE increases instead of the NUMBER of stones increasing. This is both helpful and problematic, depending on what you are trying to do. Since we are not actually trying to make a rhinestone shape to cut, it can be helpful. This will be explained throughout this post.
The set of rhinestone shapes you just created are grouped together, so ungroup as needed if you want to move or remove any.
If you don’t like the way the created set of rhinestone shapes looks, delete it and start over with your original path shape.
Occasionally a single extra rhinestone is drawn beside your shape. This seems to be an odd software issue. Just make sure to delete it before cutting if it winds up in your cut area.
Using multiple custom rhinestones on a path
You can create a pattern using multiple rhinestone shapes instead of a single one.
- Create as many custom rhinestone shapes as you want.
- In the Rhinestone Mode, select Multiple.
- The Rhinestone Mode window expands. Below the words “Single” and “Multiple” you’ll see either an empty box or, if you have used the multiple option previously, the set of custom shapes last used.
- Highlight one of your User Rhinestones and click the “+” sign. Make sure you are selecting it in your rhinestone library and not trying to click on one of the shapes in the box for the set you are creating. This adds that shape to the set.
- Highlight a different custom rhinestone shape and add it. Repeat until you have added as many as you like.
- To delete a shape from the set, highlight it and click the “-” sign. Again, be sure you are in the right area because it can be confusing.
- Select your path shape and apply to edge or fill. The shapes will be added in the set pattern.
- Let’s say you want to do a pattern of 2 flowers and 1 heart. You would add the flower to the set 2 times and the heart once.
- If you want to alter the order of the rhinestones in the pattern, you can highlight one of the custom shapes in the box, left click and drag it to a different position in the order.
Altering the angle
This option allows you to change the direction in which the rhinestones point.
Standard (Rhinestones upright) – the stones are added to the path in the same orientation as the custom rhinestone shape you created. So here, the rectangular shape is right side up along the whole path, whether you choose edge, radial or linear fill.
Center (Rhinestones point to center) – the stones point directly at the center of the path shape.
Perpendicular (Rhinestones align to contour) – this places stones along or in the path shape following the contours of the shape rather than being aimed at the direct center. With Linear Fill, it is the same as the Standard Upright Mode.
Try all the different combinations of mode and angle to see the various looks you can get.
Altering the spacing
This option is used to change how close together the software places your stones. You can input numbers, or use the slider bar or arrows. It’s important to know that the number here has to be between .039 and .394.”
A trick you can use is to make your path shape larger before you add the rhinestones. This allows you to put more stones into your shape. If your shape is small, you may only fit in 10. If the shape is large, you can fit in 50. The size of the stones is limited and the amount you can space them apart is limited, but the size of your path shape can be any size you like. After drawing the stones, you can then make the set smaller. The size of the stones will get smaller, but so will the spacing.
Remember that I said the difference between Standard and Advanced rhinestone modes can help us? In Standard mode, you can’t take a shape you’ve converted to a rhinestone image and then change the size of the circles. When you make the set larger, it just adds more circles instead of making the circles themselves larger. You are limited to using the preset sizes of 6, 10, 16 or 20ss. In Advanced mode, when you alter the size of the set, the size of the circles does changes.
Have I lost you? Just remember – to get the look you want you may need to play around with the size of your shape in relation to the size of your stone.
Altering the angle offset
This option allows you to angle the stone before adding it to your shape, anywhere from -180° up to 180.° This is easiest to see on a rectangular shape.
The samples here are all with the Standard Upright Mode applied to the edge. There are multiple possible combinations, so experiment to get different looks.
Just as in Standard rhinestone mode, you can add or manipulate individual rhinestones in Advanced mode.
Selecting – Before using this feature, you will need to ungroup your set of drawn stones. Then you’ll be able to select one or more stones for a count or for replacing.
Single click – With this option, you can add or replace rhinestone shapes one by one to your drawing area.
1. Select Single Click.
2. Choose any of the stone shapes from your library – either default or one you created.
3. Left click on the drawing area where you want to add the stone, or hover over a rhinestone in a set you have already created and left click to replace it with the new one.
This is helpful when you’ve added your stone shapes along a path but want to put in some of your own or tweak the layout.
Replace rhinestones – With this you can replace one or more rhinestones with a different rhinestone. You won’t be able to change the mode, angle, spacing or angle of offset because your original shape is no longer in the picture. You’re just working with some individual shapes.
To replace all the stones with another stone or set of stones (you can use either the single or multiple option here)—
1. Select the set of stones you created.
2. Choose whether you want to use Single or Multiple.
3. Choose a different stone or pattern of stones.
4. Click Replace Rhinestones. The new choice will replace the old.
To replace only some of the stones–
1. Ungroup your stones.
2. Select the ones you want to replace.
3. Choose Single or Multiple.
4. Choose the new stone or pattern of stones.
5. Click Replace Rhinestones.
This is another area that works the same way in Standard and Advanced modes. It may or may not be something you need, but it’s good to know how it works. Because your custom stone is most likely not one of the standard default sizes, it will be listed in the “Other” category.
With nothing selected, the count contains every stone on the page.
With a set of stones still grouped selected, the count contains the number of stones in the group.
With the stones ungrouped, the count represents all selected stones.
And that, dear friends, is how you can put a set of shapes on a path just like you can with text. Let me know your thoughts!
NOTE: This is a sample of an advanced software tutorial. Software tutorials are available with a membership. See here for information on memberships.