At first glance it seems like print then cut stickers with the Silhouette Cameo 4 are going to be difficult to make, but I am here to tell you that is not the case. It is actually very easy, I swear.
Silhouette Studio software is kind of scary when you first open it because it is a very powerful program with tons of icons and tools all over the screen. However, once you try making print then cut stickers with it and your Cameo 4, it will become much less intimidating. The hardest part is learning (and keeping track of) which tools you need to use in Silhouette Studio to get the sticker designs set up. That is what I’m here for!
In today’s tutorial, I will walk you through exactly how to set up your sticker designs in Silhouette Studio, offer some tricks for getting the best results with your printer and Cameo and then show you how to actually make some perfect print then cut stickers.
Please check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions with photos:
What Images Can You Make into Stickers with the Silhouette Cameo 4?
The great thing about cutting machines with print then cut functions is that you can turn virtually any image file into a sticker. In addition to the standard shapes and words, you can use photos, drawings, clip art, svg files, etc. Anything you can scan, download or save as an image file (or an .SVG) will work; .PNG and .JPG files are the best image types because they are generally the highest resolution.
Important Tips for Using Images
There are a couple of things you should know before using images from your computer to make stickers:
Sometimes the image is too small when inserted into Silhouette Studio and when you resize it, it’s blurry/pixelated.
This happens because the image is not at a high enough resolution to print clearly in a larger size. This can happen if you download an image from the Internet and the image is too small, say under about 500 x 500 pixels (sometimes less, sometimes more). Web resolution is 72 dpi (dots per inch) which is very low resolution; print resolution is 300 dpi (sometimes 600 dpi) which is a lot higher. The way around this is to only download larger (aka higher resolution) images from the Internet. My advice is that they need to be at least 800 – 1000 pixels x the same amount or higher. The higher the better if you plan to print the image.
The image is licensed like a Disney character, a corporate logo (eg Starbucks), or a cute design from an Etsy store or someone’s website.
Unless you paid for a commercial use license when you downloaded the image, you can only use these images to make stickers FOR PERSONAL USE. This is true 99.9% of the time if you downloaded it for free. That means you can make the stickers and put them on home decor, cards, tags, scrapbook pages, etc. that you are going to use yourself or give to others. But, you cannot print stickers using these kinds of images and then sell them. That is a violation of copyright law not to mention, a violation of an artist’s intellectual property rights. Please DO NOT do this. It is a large problem within the craft industry. If you don’t think it’s that big a deal, please check out this great post from an artist in the Netherlands whose craft designs were illegally used. I’ll get off my high horse now…
Matte or Glossy Sticker Paper?
The basic essential for making stickers is sticker paper. You will cut your designs out of it but which kind should you use?
Matte Sticker Paper
This can be used for printing images on it like clip art, photos, patterns to be used for print then cut stickers. Or, you can use it to make your own background patterns with things like inks and markers and then use it to cut simple shapes and words into stickers (not print then cut).
The matte finish of the paper has a porous surface so inks and markers can soak into the paper and become permanent. If the paper is thick enough you could use watercolor on it too. But, it does have a flat, matte surface which can be unappealing for some.
Glossy Sticker Paper
This can also be used for any printed image like clip art, photos, patterns. Similar to photo paper, the sticker paper is coated in a glossy finish that turns the paper into essentially a non-porous surface (not entirely but close).
This kind of sticker paper is difficult to ink or draw on because the glossy surface won’t allow the normal inks used for stamping or writing to soak into the paper and stay put; they will just rub off. You’ll need specialty inks to do this (like Staz On, Archival, Sharpies, etc.) of which some can be pricey and sometimes these inks eventually wear off the paper anyway.
Pick the type of sticker paper that works best for your needs. I am using matte sticker paper for this tutorial (linked below).
In addition to sticker paper, you can also use printable adhesive vinyl to make stickers – usually called decals. You can use permanent adhesive vinyl to stick things to mugs, bottles, plates, etc. or removeable vinyl to add decals to walls, phones, etc.
Set Up Your Mat in Silhouette Studio
Open Silhouette Studio. Your screen should show a new untitled project with a blank 12 x 12 mat. Click on the Page Setup menu on the top of the right toolbar.
On the first tab, click on the drop down menu next to the Media Size menu and change it to 8.5″ x 11″ if printing on a letter-sized sticker paper, which I am for this tutorial.
Now click the third tab at the top of the Page Set Up menu (it is a dark mat). This is the tab for Registration Marks. Check the On box to turn them on.
To make any kind of Print Then Cut project, you must use the Registration Marks. The Cameo reads these before cutting to be able to tell where images have been printed on your sticker paper.
Print Then Cut & Registration Mark Tips
Laying out your sticker images on the mat properly is the most important way to avoid print then cut problems.
Now that the registration marks are turned on, you will notice a black square in the upper left of the mat, and a black right angle in the upper right corner and in the lower left corner of the mat. There is also a lighter cross-hatch pattern across teh top of the mat and around the lower left corner.
When you print your images, only the black square and right angles will print, but the crosshatch pattern is there to help with image placement because you do not want to place any images too close to the registration marks.
- Tip #1: DO NOT overlap the crosshatch pattern or registration marks when placing print then cut images on the mat
You should also notice a large red rectangle has been added to the mat. This is the cut border for the Silhouette Cameo machine (see photo above).
- Tip #2: Make sure all of your print then cut images are inside the red cut line rectangle. If they overlap the box or are outside of it (hard to do) they won’t cut properly and may cause a machine error when it goes to read the registration marks.
You may need to turn on Print Bleed to avoid white halos or white edges around some images.
- Tip #3: Turn Print Bleed ON if you are cutting out colored stickers with no white border. With Print Bleed on, the printer makes the images ever so slightly larger so ink is printed just beyond the cut lines so no white will show around the edges of the stickers once cut.
- Tip #4: Every so often turning Print Bleed on can make images print slightly blurry so test the clarity of your images first by printing them on plain paper (not sticker paper). If blurry, you can turn Print Bleed off but you then risk the white halo. Six of one, half dozen of the other…
Add Sticker Images on to Mat in Silhouette Studio
To add a print then cut image to the mat, go to File>Merge.
A screen appears with your computer files and locations showing. Navigate to the location of the image you wish to use, click on it to select it and then click OK. The image will be appear on your mat.
Images always appear in the upper left corner of the mat as you insert them, so with the Selection tool active, click and drag the image out of the corner and into the middle mat (not overlapping the crosshatch pattern or red rectangle).
Trace the Sticker Images in Silhouette Studio
If you want to create a white outline around the image, click on the Trace icon on the right toolbar (looks like a piece of toast to me).
Click on Select Trace Area and click and drag to draw a box over then entire image.
Portions of the image will highlight in yellow, but probably not all of the image. But, to get a good outline, you want to fill the entire image in with yellow.
To increase the yellow trace, click on the Threshold slider in the Trace menu and slide it up until the entire image fills in with yellow. If you get to 100% on the Threshold box and there are some spots still not filled in, go to the Scale slider and slowly increase it until all of the gray areas fill in as well.
Click on Trace at the bottom of the menu to trace the image. Click and drag the image off of the new traced outline. Leave it somewhere else on the mat for now.
Add Borders to Images in Silhouette Studio
Now, click on the outlined star icon on the right tool bar (also in the upper tool bar) to open the Offset Menu. If the traced outline image was already selected, an offset may appear around it as soon as the box opens. If not, click to select the image, then click the Offset choice on the menu box.
If the offset is too wide, reduce the size of it by clicking on the down arrow in the Distance box of the Offset menu.
Select and delete the original traced outline leaving the newly create offset layer and the original colored image.
NOTE: If using a .PNG image that comes in with a cut border all the way around the image itself (a very thin red line), you won’t need to Trace it, you can skip directly to Offset. Unfortunately, .JPGs almost always need to be traced first. This is because .PNG files usually have transparent backgrounds so the software will see the image itself as the object to be cut and not its background. JPG files usually have white backgrounds that create a white rectangle behind the image itself and then the software sees the rectangle as the object to be cut instead of the image.
Clean Up Outlines with Weld in Silhouette Studio
Sometimes you may create an outline that has weird holes in it that won’t cut well. This usually happens when creating outlines around a multi-object image.
To remove the holes, go to the Shapes menu on the left tool bar and select whichever shape will work best to cover the holes. I chose a rectangle. Return to the image outline and draw the shape over one of the holes in the outline. Click on the Select tool and then click and drag over both the outline and the new shape to select both. Right click and choose Weld.
The drawn shape with weld with the outline to fill in the hole (basically both the shape and the howl will disappear). Repeat to fill any other holes in your outline.
Align Images in Silhouette Studio
Click and drag the original color image on to the outline. If you can’t get it centered properly, click and drag to select both the image and the outline layer. Then navigate up to the Align tool on the upper tool bar.
Click on the center vertically icon and the image will adjust over the outline layer. Then click on the Center horizontally icon and the image will again adjust to be perfectly centered over the outline layer.
Group & Duplicate Images in Silhouette Studio
If necessary, click and drag to select both layers and click on the Group button on the upper tool bar.
If desired, resize the image by changing its dimensions in the Scale box of the upper toolbar. Then, if you want to make more than one copy of this new sticker, right click on it and hit Duplicate to create as many copies as you like. Click and drag each around to arrange them all properly on the mat, again making sure none of the stickers or their outlines overlap the crosshatch pattern or the red rectangle around the edge.
Repeat the previous steps for all of the images you want to make stickers out of; it really doesn’t take that long.
Make Your Outlined Stickers Easy to Cut
Turn your Cameo on so it can connect to Silhouette Studio. Honestly, at this point you could print your stickers (next step) but before I do, I make sure they are going to correctly cut. To do this, I click on the Send tab in the upper right of the screen.
Now the mat will show with the cut lines highlighted in red and sometimes the outline layers and the edges of the images are highlighted to be cut.
Since you only want to cut the outlines, click on the Cut Edge choice on the Tool 1 menu. Now, hopefully, the mat will change and only the outlines will be highlighted in red to be cut.
If not, my trick is to return to the Design tab and click to select each image where its outline and the image edge still showed as cut lines. Right click on them and choose Weld. This will weld them into one layer and should correct the problem. Sometimes, if the outline is too wide, parts of the image can get repeated around the edge. If that is the case, print your stickers BEFORE taking this step so when you cut them, the duplicate images at the edges won’t matter (the images are already printed with white around them).
Once the problem images are welded, return to the Send tab and repeat the first part of this step.
Print Your Stickers
Go to File>Print to bring up the print preview box. You will notice that the crosshatch pattern and red cut rectangle won’t be printed. But you should have plenty of room around the registration marks if you stayed away from them.
Click Print to bring up your Printer Properties box. For me, I then click on the Preferences box to bring up the advanced choices for my printer. Here is where I change the Print Quality to High; you should change it to whatever is the highest quality for your printer. I leave the paper as standard Plain Paper since I’m printing on matte sticker paper. But if you aer using glossy sticker paper, I suggest you change it to Glossy Photo Paper, unless your printer actually has sticker paper options (mine does not).
Make sure you have loaded your sticker paper into your printer. Now click OK on the Preferences box (if applicable) and then OK on the main printer box to print your stickers. Yay!
Load the Mat into the Silhouette Cameo 4
Retrieve your now printed sticker images from your printer and place the paper into the upper left corner of a Standard Silhouette Mat.
Line the edge of the mat up with the gray arrows on the left side of the machine and press the mat against the roller wheels. Hit the Load Mat button (up arrow) to load the mat into your Silhouette Cameo 4.
Check Cut Settings in Silhouette Studio
Return to the Send tab in Silhouette Studio. Check the Material setting and if necessary, change to Sticker Paper, White by clicking on the drop down arrow and scrolling the list.
From experience, I know that the default Force Setting for Sticker Paper, White is too high for the thin sticker paper I use. If I leave it at 14, it will just barely cut through the backing sheet. so I adjust the Force down to 12. You may have to experiment to see if you need to change it depending on the type of sticker paper you use.
Make sure the Autoblade is detected and it is still set to Cut Edge. Click Send to begin cutting the stickers with your Silhouette Cameo 4.
Cut the Stickers with Your Silhouette Cameo 4
The Silhouette Cameo 4 begins by scanning the Registration Marks on your printed sticker sheet. This takes a few seconds adn then it will begin cutting out the stickers.
Unload & Weed the Stickers
When the machine stops cutting and will push the mat forward to be unloaded.
NOTE: If desired, check the cut BEFORE unloading the mat and if necessary click Send again in Silhouette Studio to have the Cameo cut the stickers again.
Flip the mat over and carefully remove the sticker paper from the mat by peeling the mat away from the paper while keeping the paper as flat as possible.
Like weeding vinyl, remove the excess sticker paper from around the now-cut stickers by carefully peeling it away from the backing paper. The goal is to have your stickers remain on the backing paper while removing the excess sticker paper from around them.
Check Out Your New Print Then Cut Stickers
If your sticker weeding was as easy as mine was, you should have new, ready to use stickers in no time. Share them, give them away or just enjoy!!
Questions or Comments?
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you soon. Want to just tell me how much you loved this tutorial? Please leave me a comment below – lol!
I would also appreciate any ideas you may have for topics to cover related to the software for Cricut (Design Space), Silhouette (Studio) or Brother (Canvas Workspace) and any suggestions you may have on projects to create with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo 4 or the Brother Scan N Cut DX. Please leave any requests you have in the comments. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and read my blog. Thanks!
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WATERCOLOR ARCTIC ANIMALS PNG FILES – Used for Sticker Images