For our last cardstock project in the Successful Beginner Projects series, we’re going to make a birthday card. In this lesson I’ll introduce you to welding, drawing lines, setting line attributes, scoring, cutting by line color and more. We’re going to take one of our simple free shapes and turn it into a card, which is something you’ll be able to use on many other shapes. Let’s jump in.
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Cardstock – 4 coordinating colors/patterns
Step 1 – Start a new page
Open a brand new file. For now, leave your page size set to 12”x12”. You may cut on smaller paper and we want the card to fit into an A2 envelope, but I’ll remind you to check those things later.
Step 2 – Add the shape to the page
Look in your library for the free shape that came with your machine called Birthday Cake. Add that to your drawing area.
You may notice this design is just a shape and not a card. I’m going to teach you how to make this and almost any shape into a card.
Notice also that this is another one of those designs that already has fill colors.
Many images you get from the Silhouette Design Store will look very different when you put them on your drawing area. You will usually have only a bunch of red outlines of pieces. Here’s an example of an owl card. In the library and the Silhouette Design Store, it looks like this…
…but on the drawing area it looks like this…
It’s like when you buy a muffin mix. The picture on the box shows you the muffins already mixed and cooked. It’s called a “serving suggestion.” It’s telling you that what you take out of the box isn’t what you see on the cover. You’re going to get a plastic bag of mix, a can of blueberries and a smaller bag of streusel topping. What you see on the cover is somewhat like your muffins will look once you bake them. I have the option to use a big or small muffin tin, leave off the topping, or use chocolate chips instead of the blueberries.
In the same way, when you look at the thumbnail (small picture) of an image in the Silhouette Design Store or in your library, what you see is what it will look like when cut out and, if it has multiple pieces, assembled. You can use all the pieces or only some. You can cut them out of a variety of different materials. The thumbnail is your serving suggestion.
Even though our pieces are filled with color, what we see on the drawing area looks different than what we see in the library. That’s because this is a layered image, meaning we are going to glue some pieces on top of others. But we need to cut them separately first, so that’s what we see here – the pieces are not all laying on top of one another as they will be when we put it all together.
Step 3 – Ungroup and move what you don’t need
We want to work with some of the pieces and not others, so we need to ungroup. Make sure your image is selected, then use your favorite method to ungroup.
Now look at the pieces and you’ll see that there are secondary groupings. What I mean by that is like pieces are grouped together. The scallops are grouped, the candles are grouped, the flames are grouped, and the cake is by itself. You can see that after I’ve ungrouped initially, there are gray boxes around each set of shapes that show me those smaller groupings.
When I click off the design and then back on, you can see that the bounding box is now just around the set of scallops I clicked on.
You won’t always have these secondary groupings, but it’s nice when you do so that you can keep things organized.
For the next few steps, we aren’t going to need that set of scalloped pieces, so move it off to the side for now.
Step 4 – Align the pieces
For the front of our card, we’re going to want a base of the cake plus the candles plus the flames. The first step is to align our pieces.
Leaving your cake piece where it is, move your set of candles to the top of the cake, slightly overlapping the bottom of the candles with the top of the cake. Then move the flames into place on top of the candles, again slightly overlapping. The flame pieces are behind the candle pieces, which is perfectly fine.
How to select some pieces but not all
We want to select and align the cake, candles and flames, but not the scalloped piece, so Select All won’t work here. Let’s learn another helpful trick.
Place your mouse slightly above and to the left of the 3 pieces we just aligned. Then left click and drag your mouse as if you were drawing out a box around those pieces. This video shows you how.
You’ll know you’ve got them all if you see a large bounding box around the outside but also smaller gray boxes around each.
There are other ways to select multiple pieces, but this is the easiest way to grab them without accidentally moving them. If you want to make sure you’ve got them all, just try moving the pieces by clicking in the middle of the cake piece and then dragging around. Watch the video again if needed to see how I did that.
Now that you have all 3 selected – the candles, cake and flames – use the alignment tools in the Quick Access Toolbar to Align Center.
Step 5 – Make copies
In a previous lesson, we learned how to use the keyboard shortcut CTRL or CMD + c to copy and CTRL or CMD + v to paste. When we do it that way, the copies are placed slightly to the right and down from the original. This time we want our copies to be right next to the originals, so I’ll teach you a new keyboard shortcut.
Make sure all the pieces are still selected, then hold the CTRL key (Windows) or CMD key (Mac) and click the → key on your keyboard. The copies are created just to the right of your originals, perfectly aligned. This works with any of the arrow keys.
Step 6 – Make the card front
For this card, we are going to have the candles and flames as a part of the front but not of the back. We’re going to need those in a bit, but for now move the sets on the left out of the way. You can put them by the scalloped piece set, as we won’t need them again until we start cutting.
What we want to learn now is welding, the first of our Modify features in the software.
What is welding?
In the “normal” world, to weld something means to take 2 pieces of metal, heat metal flux until it’s pliable, and join the pieces using the flux. That creates a single piece from what was originally 2 pieces. They are joined forevermore.
In the Silhouette world, it’s very similar. We take separate pieces, overlap them slightly and then weld them to create a single piece. The lines in the area of the overlap are erased and everything becomes 1 shape with a single fill color. Here’s what it looks like on some simple shapes.
I raised the transparency on the colors so that you could see the fill shape on each. The lines around the area where the purple and blue mix are the ones that are erased.
We are going to weld for 2 different reasons—
- To create the front of the card with the cake plus candles plus flames all as 1
- To add a back onto the card
How to weld
We already moved our candles and flames to overlapping in the previous step. Select the left cake piece and click just once the → arrow key on your computer keyboard to nudge the left cake piece to slightly overlap the right cake piece.
Now select the 2 cake pieces, the 1 set of candles and the 1 set of flames and look in the QAT for the Weld icon. Because this is a feature we use so much, it has it’s own icon there. The other Modify options don’t and are accessed only from the Modify panel.
Click that icon to weld your pieces.
Notice what happened with the colors when you welded. Because you created a single piece, you can only have a single fill. The shapes take the fill of the largest piece. In our case, that’s the red cake piece.
Remember in our last project when we used Cut Edge in the Send area? Welding is similar, but with a critical difference. With Cut Edge, the pieces remain separate. Even if you group them, you can easily separate them again. With Weld, you can’t. That’s why we want to make sure we really need to use Weld and not Cut Edge. I’ll show you as we go through our lessons when to use each one, and I’ll point out the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Because we want our card to be permanently 1 piece, we did use the Weld option. As long as you save the card as its own project to your hard drive or in your library under a name other than birthday cake, your original birthday cake shape won’t be affected and can be used in its original state for other projects.
For other shapes
You can use this same concept to turn many shapes into a card. Here are some tips:
- Look for designs that have a simple, solid shape for the base. If the shape has lots of internal pieces, you won’t be able to write inside the card very well.
- I find it easiest to do it along a flat edge.
- If you decide to use an edge that isn’t flat, just be careful that you choose your spot of overlap and weld carefully so you don’t get odd pieces sticking out.
- The cake piece we used was symmetrical, so we could just make a regular copy. If your piece is NOT symmetrical, you need a mirrored copy instead of an exact copy. You can do that with the keyboard shortcut ALT+SHIFT+arrow key in any direction.
- Here are some examples–
Step 7 – Add a score line
We’re almost done creating our card. To take it over the top, we are going to add a score line so that you get a perfect fold at the side.
Look at the icons on the left, where you find your drawing tools. The third icon down is what you use to draw a straight line, a polygon with straight or curved lines, or an arc. Make sure the icon is showing as a straight line. To do that, hover over the icon, then click on the line in the menu of shapes that pops out.
As a reminder, if you start to draw a shape such as a rectangle or line and the software just keeps drawing shapes endlessly, there’s a Preference setting to fix that.
We want our line to be a perfect vertical line. Can you guess what we use to do that? If you said the SHIFT key, you’ve learned a great technique from previous lessons! Move your cursor to the top edge of the card, right below the dip. Hold down your SHIFT key, left click and drag downward to draw the line, stopping just above the dip that’s along the bottom edge. Be sure to release the mouse button before the SHIFT key.
A dotted line works the best as a score line. But ours is currently a plain line. We can change that using the tools in the Quick Access Toolbar.
Select your line and look up at the QAT. The third icon in shows a solid line with an arrow to the right of it.
Remember that those arrows always tell us there are more options. Click on the arrow and the line style options menu opens downward. This is where you can choose a dotted line. I like to use the 3rd one down for score line. Click that and you’ll see the solid line you drew change to a dotted line.
Speaking of seeing, that red line is very hard to see on our red card base. For that reason and because we are going to learn to cut by line color, we want our dotted line to be a different color. If you haven’t altered your defaults, shapes and text you create have a red line color. I’m going to change my dotted line to black by making sure the line is still selected, then choosing the color in the second icon in the QAT, just to the left of the line style we just used.
Now my line color is black.
Choosing style and color first
Now let me show you another trick. We learned in our last project that you can choose a fill color before you draw a shape. The same will work here with line color and style.
Let’s practice drawing another line, but this time we’ll pick the line attributes BEFORE we draw the line. Make sure none of your shapes is selected. Then look in the QAT and select a line color and the dotted line style. Click your Draw a Line icon and draw out your line as before. See how the line is the color and style you chose?
I like using this method because I don’t have to try to select the line after I’ve drawn it. That can be a pain sometimes, especially if it’s sitting on top of another shape.
This line color and style will apply to any shape or text you create until you change it, or until you close and reopen the program.
Step 8 – Align the line on the card
We want to make sure the line is at the correct spot to score on the card. Select both the line and your card piece and do Align Center. That will put the line in the right spot left to right. We can’t use the Align Middle to get it in the right spot top to bottom, because of our candles we welded on. So just eyeball that one — it’s not as critical.
Also double check the height of your line. You are making sure the line isn’t taller than the card. Adjust as needed.
Once you’ve got that done, group your line with your card base. You have now created a card from a non-card design.
Step 9 – Check the sizing
When we welded, the cake piece became the top dog — the highest piece in the order. Since our pieces are filled, as they should always be, if we move the other pieces toward that base we won’t be able to see them. They will be hidden behind that cake base. So just select your cake piece and send it to the back. That will make the next steps easier.
I’m making this card to fit in an A2 envelope, so the size of ¼ of an 8 ½” x 11″ sheet of paper. In other words, I need it no more than 8 ½” wide (because we’re going to fold it in half the actual card width will be 4 ¼”) and 5 ½” tall. We want to make sure all the pieces are resized the same amount so that they stay proportional.
First, put the candle, flames and scallops on top of the cake piece within its edges.
That makes sure the dimensions of the bounding box are the outer edge of the card. Use the Select All icon or the drag and select method I showed you earlier to grab all your pieces, then use a corner square to resize the set to no more than 8 ½” wide. I like to go just a bit under so I have wiggle room in my envelope.
You may also need to adjust the height, either proportionally or not, to ensure it is under 5 ½” . The height will vary a bit based on how much you overlapped the candles and flames in the welding process.
Step 10 – Cut the pieces
Now’s the time to set your page size to the size of your cardstock.
Go ahead and cut your candles, flames and scalloped pieces just as we’ve done in previous projects. Since they are going to be glued on top of the card base individually, they don’t have to stay together. You can save some paper by ungrouping the pieces and moving them closer together. Be sure to move your cake piece or set it on No Cut, or cut by fill color.
This is the first time we’ve cut small pieces like the candle flames, so you want to make sure to have the right cut settings before you cut. For small pieces, a slow speed (even down to 1, cuz you can cut too fast but you can’t cut too slow), line segment overcut and the correct blade number and force are all key. Do your test cuts first, making sure to cut a couple of small pieces. If you still have trouble with the small pieces cutting well, don’t panic. Learning to cut small or intricate shapes takes some experience and you don’t need to stress about that right now. Feel free to skip cutting the flames and just use a bit of glue and glitter. It’ll look great!
- Cardstock, Plain set as material type.
- Action on Cut.
- Correct tool (Auto-blade) selected.
- Settings for blade number, speed, force, passes (should only need 1 pass) checked and adjusted as needed.
- Line Segment Overcut on.
- Cut Preview checked so you know ahead of time what will cut and what won’t.
- Cardstock adhered on mat.
- Blade loaded and locked correctly.
- Mat loaded.
- If you haven’t used this paper before, test cut completed.
Cut by line color
Move your scallops, candles and flames off the mat.
For the cake piece, we want to cut the outer edge and the score line, but they need different settings — cut for the outer edge, score for the fold line (more on what score means below). This is a great time to use Action by: Line.
Open your Send area and click on the 2nd tab. This allows us to choose what to do with each piece based on its line color.
In Cut Preview with Action by: Simple, all lines are red. With Action by: Fill, the color of the line is the color of the fill. In Action by: Line, the line color is the color of the line. But the visual cues of pale, bold or strong/bright bold are still here.
Our list of colors this time is comprised of our line colors – red for the card base, black for the fold line. We can choose different cut settings for each line. That’s why I had you choose black for the dotted line.
For the red line, you’re going to use your Cardstock, Plain settings, adjusting as needed with what you’ve learned with test cuts and in previous projects. Check those settings now.
For the black line, we want to score instead. This will use a lower blade setting and force. So the line doesn’t cut all the way through the page — just deep enough to make it easy to fold. Start by making sure Cardstock, Plain is the material. Then look in the column for Action. Instead of Cut, choose Score.
Go through your checklist again and cut the card base. The blade readjusts between cutting the red and black lines, so wait until the job is completely done to check the cut and unload.
Step 11 – Assemble
Fold your card on the score line with the candles in front. Use your adhesive to attach the scallop, candles and flames to your card base. Maybe add a little glitter or other bling to the flames to make them glow.
There are many ways to use this birthday cake shape. The nice thing about using a Silhouette design is that if you think creatively, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Here are some ideas—
- To practice welding some more, you can have the candles and flames on the back part of the card as well. Just make copies as before but without making a copy of the cake piece. Put 1 set of your candles and flames in place, overlapping and aligning as before, then weld to the single cake base. You can then make the copy to the right or left, scoot it over one nudge and weld.
- If you saved your initial from creating your Initial Gift Tag, you can attach that if you like to personalize the card. Adhesive foam dots will make the initial pop and give your card dimension.
- Use the shape on the front of a rectangular card. You don’t have to do any alterations – just add the shape from your library, cut each piece and assemble.
- Create a gift tag. Make copies of the candles and flames as we did before, but don’t make a copy of the cake piece. Align and weld to the cake as before but just using the single cake base. Add a hole for tying onto a package. That makes a flat tag instead of one that folds. You could do a folded one if you like. Just make it smaller than the card.
- You can use the scallops for a number of different projects. They are very versatile. Learn to look at elements of designs that you can use in other ways.
Now that you’ve gotten some cardstock projects under your belt, it’s time to move on to adhesive vinyl in our next project. Once again, we’ll start simple and learn new things along the way, using just the free shapes that came with your machine. Make sure to check out my suggested materials post so you know what you’ll need to start with.
To start with project#1 of the Successful Beginner Projects series, go here.