I love using sketch pens with my Silhouette machines, since my handwriting and drawing abilities are sorely lacking. I was working on a tag last week and wanted to write on both the front and back. That reminded me of a great hack to use for sketching on both the front and back of a shape and keeping it centered.
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Let me say right off the bat that this only works with symmetrical shapes. You’ll see why as we go along.
Step 1: Creating your design
I’m going to show you this with a Christmas tag. Put your shape such as this one on your Design area.
Next, add your sketch design for one side. I’m using this one.
Notice that I have different line colors. This makes it much easier when I send the job to the machine, because I can sketch each line color separately. Each line color is the color of the pen I want to use to draw that element. The black is the cut line. This design didn’t come like that — I had to assign those different line colors.
Now group those together. In order for this to work easily, you want the top of your shape to be below the 1″ grid line. I like to have a little wiggle room, so I put my down 1 1/4″.
You can add more tags if you like, but I’m going to just show you with one.
Step 2: Sketching the front and cutting the shape
You’re going to send your tag to the machine for the sketching on the front and for it to cut out the shape. For this, I like to cut by line color.
How to set up the cut job
- Select your material in Simple mode. That carries over when we go to the next tab, saving some steps.
- Move to the Line tab. You have a row for each line color. The action choice doesn’t carry over like the material choice, so set that for each row. Double check that material choice too. I have Cut for my black lines, and Sketch for my red, yellow and green.
- Machines with 2 tool holders can use a different tool in each. I use the AutoBlade in the left tool holder and my pens in the right. So, I click the right side circle (the blue one) for those sketching rows.
- Sketching before cutting works best. But the machine goes in the order of the list, and my black (cut) is first. You can change that by clicking on the black box and dragging that one down to the bottom of the order.
- We want to send the cut job once, but with 3 pens and a blade you have to do something here — add pauses between each row. The machine will do the sketching on the color of the first row, then stop to give you time to switch out the tool. To add a pause, hover over the color box for that row, right click and select Add Pause.
Or, choose it in the section below–
If you have a machine with 2 tool holders and are putting the blade and pen in different ones, you don’t need a pause between the last pen color and the blade. Notice that I didn’t because I was using a Cameo 3. For earlier models (only 1 tool holder) or the Cameo 4 (can only use normal blades and pens in the left holder), you need to add one there.
Sending the job
Now that you have your choices set, put your paper on your mat, load your mat and send the job to the machine.
HINT: You can put your paper below the 1″ line to save some material if you like.
When it pauses after sketching the lines for the first color row, it will stop and wait for you. Switch out the pen, then make sure you hit RESUME cutting (sketching) or RESUME. Do NOT click where you are used to starting a job. That would just add another whole cut to the cut queue. In fact, notice that that’s what it says.
Once the machine has finished sketching all the designs for the front and cutting the shape, it will move back to the load-in point. Here’s the key — DO NOT UNLOAD THE MAT!!!!!!
Step 3: Adding the sketch designs for the back
Now go back to your Design area. From here on out, be very careful to NOT MOVE the cut shape. I like to use my Layers tool and lock it in place so I don’t do it accidentally. For that, you need to ungroup, move the shape into its own layer, lock that layer and then continue designing.
Move the sketch design you used on the front off to the side. Put your sketch design for the back where you want it on your shape. You can see here that my text box and dotted-line circle are in a different layer.
Step 4: Flipping the shape and sketching the back
So if you’ve been following all the instructions, your mat is still loaded into your machine. That’s exactly what we want.
Lift your cut tag from the mat. The reason I suggested you move the shape below the 1″ mark is that otherwise it can be hard to maneuver it due to the roller bar and rollers. The top of my paper is at the 1″ line. Notice that you can see the top 1″ grid of the mat and that it’s under the roller bar, which would make it difficult to lift and replace the shape.
Flip it over and put it right back into the hole. (This is why it needs to be a symmetrical shape).
Go back to the Send area. Make sure to uncheck the box for the color row you were using to cut your shape, because you don’t want to cut it again. If there are any color rows for pens you aren’t using this time (such as my gold), uncheck those as well and remove any pauses that are after those. That’s not a major deal to have the pause there, but it can be confusing. Even if the machine isn’t sketching that row, it will still pause and wait for you to click Resume. To remove a pause, go to the same area as where you added it. Here’s my set-up for the second pass.
Put your first pen color in and send the job again. As before, each time it pauses, put your new pen in and click Resume. Once it’s finished sketching everything, you can unload your mat.
The finished product
I used bold-ish felt tip pens for this project.
- The red and green are ones I got in a pack at Hobby Lobby and I used the “Medium” end. I was primarily looking for pens with a shaft small enough to fit in the pen holder (you can find the pen holder for Cameo 4 here, for earlier machines here). They have a unique triangular shape.
- The gold chalk marker is from American Crafts.
Here’s the front of my tag:
And the back:
That’s all there is to it!