Have you ever had something that had you completely stumped in Silhouette Studio? And you couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on or how to stop it? That’s what this series is all about — explaining all those crazy things. Today we’re talking about what’s happening when you try to move your shape around the page and it jerks around instead of moving smoothly and won’t go where you want it to. Or when you try to draw a new shape and it won’t let you do it outside of specific sizes, or even resize a shape freely. I hear this complaint all the time. Fortunately, it’s a very quick fix. You just need to understand Snap to Grid. I’ve got all the info here plus a video. I’ll even show you some great times to use this feature.
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What’s going on is that you turned on Snap to Grid, probably accidentally. If you don’t know how the grid works on your Design area, check out this post. What Snap to Grid does is tell the software you only want to move your shapes in relation to the grid that’s showing.
Say you have your grid on and the lines are at 1″ intervals. That means you can only move your shape up, down, left or right in chunks of 1″. Suppose your shape is a 4″ square and it’s at the very top and left of the page. If Snap to Grid is on, you can only move it to where it’s 1″ down, or 2″ down, or 3″ down, or 4″ right or 5″ left.
How did I turn it on and how to I get it off?
You control your grid in the Page Setup panel, second tab.
- “Show Grid” means you want to see the horizontal and vertical lines on your Design area. Those mimic your cutting mat.
- “Snap to Grid” means you want the software to snap any shape you move to that defined grid.
There are boxes right next to each of the phrases in that grid tab of the Page Setup panel. Click the box to toggle them on and off. When you turn it on accidentally, it’s usually because you clicked your mouse on the box here without realizing it. That’s why all those things I mentioned in the introductory paragraph are happening. Just uncheck the box to stop it.
What else should I know?
Here are some other helpful tidbits–
On All shapes
–Snap to Grid affects all shapes, even if they aren’t on the mat area.
–Wherever the shape is when you turn on Snap to Grid, that’s it’s zero point. In other words, if it’s 1.67″ down from the top and 4.89″ in from the right, that’s it’s home base. It can only move in chunks the size of your grid lines. If you’ve got it set at spacing 1 and divisions 0, it could only go to 2.67″ down from the top, or 3.67″ or 4.67″, etc. If you copy and paste that shape, the new one has the same zero point.
–The shapes also snap if you use the arrow keys on your computer keyboard instead of clicking and dragging with your mouse.
–When you use the squares around the bounding box to resize the shape, it only goes in chunks. However, those chunks do NOT correspond with the grid lines. It’s a formula that doesn’t make logical sense to my mind. It enlarges it as if it’s creating an offset of the bounding box of 0.354″. If you use the metric system, it’s 0.9cm (9mm). That does make more sense, especially if you know that the software developers are in the U.K.
However, it’s only an offset of the bounding box, not the actual shape. So unless your design is symmetrical all 4 ways, like a square or perfect circle, it’s not really an offset. (You don’t have to understand the math — just trust me).
–The side or corner opposite the square you are using to resize stays puts as an anchor point and therefore determines the new zero point.
Using other tools
–You can have Snap to Grid on and still move your shape without it snapping automatically by using the Align or Move tools. Likewise, you can set any specific size using the Scale tool. Once you move or resize a shape with one of those tools, it has a new zero point.
–If you draw a new shape, the bounding box will ONLY go along the grid lines. So if they are set at 1″ intervals, you can only draw a square that’s 2″ or 4″ or 5″, etc.
–Snap to Grid does NOT affect rotation.
–There is another setting called Snap to Guides. I explained that in this post.
–To move or create shapes in smaller, set amounts, change the divisions in your grid. For example, say you’ve got your grid set at 1″ spacing and 4 divisions. That means you have bold lines every 1″ and lighter lines every 1/4″ in between. You can move your shape 1/4″ at a time in any direction, or draw shapes in increments of 1/4″.
–It’s possible to have your grid NOT showing and still have Snap to Grid on. That one is really confusing. Just check the panel to see what’s turned on and off.
Opening library shapes
–Designs you bring in from your Library will stay at their size. In other words, if the shape was designed to be 1.5″ x 3.25″ and you have your grid set in with 1″ spacing, as it opens on your Design area it’s not going to expand the size so that it’s a full inch on either of the sides. That’s good to know if you’re working with a shape that has to stay at the original size. However, once you start to resize it the same rules apply.
When would I want to use Snap to Grid?
Many people find the Snap features annoying and just want to turn them off. But there are definitely times when they are very helpful.
–When you want to keep a consistent spacing between objects without having to set their specific location or use alignment tools.
–To create new shapes that are constrained to specific sizes and are sitting on the grid lines. Pretend you’ve got a grid set at 1″ spacing and squares that are 2″. You can easily create a checkerboard pattern because they are easier to create and place. I use this when planning out a quilt.
–You want to fill the page with shapes that are spaced equally (there are other ways to do that as well, using Replicate and Align).
–To make something like a wreath where you place designs around a center point at equal sizes and intervals. You can then rotate them by set amounts as needed.
–To make it easier to resize objects by the same percentage. Say you’ve got several flowers and leaves. You make one leaf smaller, then decide to make another smaller as well. If you have Snap to Grid on, since you can only resize in set size chunks, it’s easier.
Video of Snap to Grid
Want to see this in motion? Here’s a video —
Do you have a issue in the Silhouette Studio software that you’d like for me to address in this series? Comment below to let me know.