Sep 4, 2010


When you want to cut an image that has several colors, it is often difficult to find the exact color of cardstock for your project. If you do find it, many times you will only use a little corner of it. For this tutorial we will learn how to print a single sheet of white cardstock that will contain all the colors for your project. We will use the 'Tweety' image that we used in the 'AN EVEN SIMPLER WAY TO SEPARATE COLORS'. You can get the image and instructions on how to download it HERE. You will also need the free software program PAINT.NET. When you have downloaded the image and opened it in PAINT.NET, your screen will look like this:

Click on the 'Color Picker' tool, it looks like a little eyedropper. The cursor is now an eyedropper. Click the pointy part of the eyedropper on any yellow part of Tweety. The primary color of the palette will turn to yellow.

Now open a second instance of PAINT.NET by clicking 'File' Then 'New' (upper left corner of screen). Then be sure the 'Maintain Aspect Ratio' box is unchecked and the units are set to inches. Set the width to 8.5" and the height to 11.0" then click 'OK'. Notice that the 'Primary Color' is still Tweety's yellow.

Let's say your finished Tweety needs to be 4" high, you will need yellow cardstock about 5" high by about 3" wide. Using the 'Rectangle' tool, select an area about 3" X 5". You can just estimate this but be sure the area you select is big enough for all of Tweety's yellow part. Remember the area you are working with is 8.5" X 11.0". Now select the 'Bucket Fill' tool and click inside the rectangle area that you selected. Voila! Enough cardstock for the yellow part of Tweety.

For the black area (the outline), click on the black swatch in the color palette. Select an area about the same size as the yellow area and using the 'Bucket Fill' tool, and paint it black. Next, click on the 'Tweety' image (top right) to bring it up. Use the 'Color Picker' again and click on the orange area of the feet. Click the cardstock image, select a smaller area for the feet and beak, and paint it orange.

Repeat the steps that you used for orange to do a smaller blue area for Tweety's eyes.
The image is now ready to be printed. Leave the white area. You will need it to cut the white part of Tweety's eyes if the finished image is not going to be mounted on a white background. The image is now ready to print.

After the cardstock is printed, make a note of the dimensions of each area and its position on the sheet. Using SURE-CUTS-A-LOT or whatever software your cutter uses, lay out the pieces to be cut on its appropriate color. Depending on your printer, you may have to flatten the printed sheet before cutting. Using this technique has the added benefits of saving time (you only have to cut once) and the scale is always right.


Apr 3, 2010


Have you downloaded and installed the latest 'INKCAPE' release yet? If you haven't, you may not want to. While there are some really good features (i.e. 'Eraser'), there is a bug that affects users of some craft cutting machines. If you use DXF files with your cutter software, the DXF files saved in INKSCAPE Ver. 0.47 do not open properly in some programs. This bug has been reported and hopefully will be fixed in Version 0.48 which will be released soon.
If you have already upgraded and can't find a link for downloading 0.46 don't panic! This article will show you how to get Version 0.46 back onto your machine (using Windows).

Step 1. - Open Control Panel > double click 'Add or remove programs. When the 'Add or remove....' window loads (this might take a couple minutes), scroll down to 'Inkscape 0.47 and click it. The list will expand and then click on 'Remove'. The uninstall dialog will appear. follow the instructions given there. The uninstall will take several minutes.

Step 2. - When the Inkscape software has been uninstalled, you must remove the Inkscape directory from your computer. To do this, right-click the Windows 'Start' icon in the lower left of your screen. Then left-click 'Explore'. The 'Explore' pane will open. Next locate the Inkscape directory. It will most likely be under 'C:Program Files. Now right-click the file folder labeled 'Inkscape' then click 'Delete'. Inkcape is now completely gone!

Step 3. - The trusty old Inkscape download file can be found HERE . Scroll down until you find a file called 'Inkscape-0.46.win32.exe'. This file includes the installer package for Windows. Click on the filename and save the file when prompted. After the file is saved navigate to it and double click. The install will begin, just follow the instructions. After Inkscape 0.46 is reinstalled your back in business! *NOTE* If you use any Inkscape plug-ins or extensions they will have to be re-installed.


Jul 16, 2009


Hi everyone! Welcome to part 2 - the fun part. If you haven't already, please read Part 1 below. We ended the last session with an image that consisted of only 5 pure colors (including white). We've eliminated all the other shades which will give us cleaner outlines to cut. The first thing we need to do is to open our saved Tweety image in Now click 'Image', on the drop-down menu click on 'Canvas size...". A new box will appear as shown:

In the new box click the 'By percentage' button and change the value to 300%. Leave the 'Anchor' value as 'Top Left' and click OK. This will give you the Tweety image on a larger work area, which you will need to move the various colors around.

Next click 'View' then 'Zoom in'. Do this 4 times and you will have a large view of Tweety. You will have to use the scroll bars to get the image where you can see it. *HINT* You can move the toolboxes out of the way by clicking and holding on the title bar of the box and dragging it out of the way.
NOW for the 'FUN' part. First we'll take the yellow part of Tweety and set it aside. There is only one yellow area in this image so it's easy to break it out. Using the 'Magic Wand' tool, click it anywhere in the yellow area. The yellow part is now selected. Using the 'Move Selected Pixels' tool, click and hold on the highlighted yellow area and drag it downward until it is clear of the remaining image.

You'll notice that where the yellow used to be, there is a checkerboard pattern. This area is transparent as far as the computer is concerned, and Inkscape doesn't handle transparent well, so we'll have to make it white. Using the 'Magic Wand', click on the transparent area to select it, then using the 'Paint Can' flood tool color it white. When you zoom out you'll have a white Tweety with the yellow part below like this:

Now zoom back in so we can separate the orange parts - Tweety's feet and beak. Using the 'Magic Wand' tool, and while holding the 'Crtl' key, click on each of the 4 orange areas to highlight all of them at once. This will create another layer consisting of the orange areas only. *Remember* that you can drag the toolboxes out of the way. The image should now look like this:

Click the 'Move Selected Pixels' tool. An area will be 'boxed in' that includes all of the orange areas that were selected in the last step. Click and hold anywhere inside the box, and drag it to an open area on the work area. You may have to zoom out to make it easier to position the orange layer on your canvas.

Select and paint the transparent areas white as we we did before. Now you can use the same technique to separate the blue and finally the black areas. Don't forget to paint the transparent areas as they are created. *HINT* You can use one of the 3 'Select' tools to re-arrange the layers to make the best use of your work area. You should now have an image thet looks something like this:

One more step and your image is ready to be converted to SVG in Inkscape. Use the 'Rectangle Select' tool to select all the layers together. Click 'Image' on the toolbar then click 'Crop to Selection'. The finished image will look like this:

Save your work and it is ready for conversion to SVG in Inkscape. If you have gotten this far with me you are probably familiar with Inkscape and will know how to manipulate the image and its layers, but I think I'll do the next post on converting this image for those of you that aren't quite sure of what to do next. Stay tuned! Until then.......


Jul 5, 2009


Hi All! I'm sorry that its been so long since the last post, but we have been very busy getting the new website organized. Anyway, I'll show you a really easy way to get a color image image ready to cut with the SURE-CUTS-A-LOT software. I'll break this lesson into 2 parts: First - selecting and editing the image with PAINT.NET and Second - Separating the colors with PAINT.NET and converting the file to SVG in INKSCAPE. Below is the "Tweety" that we will work on. To download it, just right click on the picture then select 'Save Picture As...' and save it to a file where you can find it easily.

When selecting a color image to cut I have some basic guidelines that I follow.

1. - Select an image that is fairly large so you get most of the detail
The image above is 237 pixels X 433 pixels.

2. - Select an image that doesn't have any tiny details.

3. - Select an image with as few colors as possible. If there are some areas of
the image with shades of the main colors, that's OK because we'll deal with that in this lesson. There are 5 colors in this image (including white).

In this part of the lesson we want end up with 5 'pure' colors only (no other shades of the main colors). The first thing we need to do is open PAINT.NET and then open the Tweety image file that you saved. Next click on 'Image' in the toolbar then click 'Zoom In' from the drop-down menu. Repeat this step until you have an image like this:

You'll notice some 'mottled' areas near the color transitions that we will eliminate. This will result in cleaner cut lines when you convert to SVG. Using the 'Magic Wand' tool, click on the yellow area where there is no mottling. The yellow part of the image is now high-lighted. Next click the 'Color Picker' ('eyedropper') tool. Notice that your primary color is the exact yellow of Tweety. Lastly select the'Flood' ('paint can') tool and click it on the yellow part of the image. Presto! the mottles are gone! Remove the mottles from each separate area the same way. Be sure to pick the right color and don't forget to do the background. **HINT - You can select or paint several areas of the same color by holding down the 'Crtl' key as you click on them.**

Your 'de-mottled' image (at actual size) should look like this:

In the next post (which won't be as long coming as this one) we will separate the colors the easy way and convert it to SVG.


May 3, 2009


Hello and WELCOME BACK! While trying to help a member from the 'Surecutsalot Users Group' , we realized that we should do a tutorial on making a silhouette from a line drawing. We have found this to be the easiest technique for making monochrome cutting files. A great source for these types of images is free on-line coloring pages. To follow along in this lesson you will need '' ( a super FREE! software program) and Kristina's Teapot image: GET IMAGE . First download and install if you haven't already, then open the teapot file that you downloaded. In the 'Tools' box on the left select the 'magic wand'. It looks like a little torch. Click the'+' part of the wand cursor on the spout area of the teapot. Notice the sparkly line that appears around the spout area. This means that everything inside the sparkly line is selected and can be modified and everything else is ignored. Click the 'Paint Bucket' cursor with black for the color inside the selected area.

Use the wand and bucket to fill in the other large areas until your image looks like this:

Next click the wand on the pattern area near the teapot handle. Notice that the area inside the handle is also selected. This is because the area we need to color isn't completely enclosed by the black outline. In this image, a couple of pixels are missing from the pattern outline. This isn't visible at this magnification level. Using the 'View' and 'Zoom in" feature, increase the magnification level to 300%.

The gaps in the outline are now more easily seen. To replace them, use the paint brush with black as the color. Set the brush width to 1 or 2 pixels. Be sure to select the entire image using 'Edit' and 'Select all' from the drop down menu. Now just click on the image where the missing pixels should be.

Now that the missing pixels are replaced, you can click the wand on the pattern area and fill it with black. While we are at this magnification you can paint in the little areas of the pattern until the outline of the teapot is more distinctly defined. You can move the various boxes out of the way by clicking and dragging on the blue bar at the top of the box. Next increase the brush width to about 20 and paint in the rest of the teapot except for the bottom. We have another technique to make painting that area easier.

All that is left to complete the silhouette is to paint in the bottom area. Make sure you have the entire image selected. To thicken the bottom in order to make it easier to 'stay in the lines' just use the 'Line Tool' with a brush width of about 4 and black for the color. Draw a straight line across the bottom and the use a wider brush to paint in the rest of the teapot.
Finally, click 'View->Actual size' to return the image to its original size. Save your work and it is ready to be converted to SVG in Inkscape. The next post will be Kristina's Teacup.


Apr 18, 2009


Hello Everyone! This little instruction is on making a folding card using Microsoft Paint, a program that almost everyone has. Image selection is important. You want an image that has a wide left side or 2 or 3 areas along the left side for the hinge. You also want the card to stand by itself so an image with a large base or several points along the bottom is important. The image we are using here as an example is a POOR choice because of the round bottom (we had to use tape to make it stand up). So select a suitable image (jpeg, png, gif, or whatever) and open it in Paint. Using the little 'handles' (the tiny dots at the middle of the right and bottom of the white area) drag the white area out to at least 4 times the original size. This will give you room to work. Using the 'rectangle select' tool, select the image and drag it away from the top left area.

Next you must clone another copy of the same image. With the image selected, click Edit>Copy.

A copy of your original image will appear in the top left of your work area. The duplicate will be selected. Next click 'Image>Flip/Rotate. In the box that appears be sure to select 'Flip horizontal', then click 'OK'.

The copied image is now mirrored. Next select the original image, making sure that 'Transparent' mode is active, and drag it towards the mirrored image. Carefully line up the images so that they touch symmetrically at the hinge area. Because the images are touching they will be 'welded' when you convert to SVG.

The resulting 'welded' image should appear something like this:

Now crop the image using the little handles (to remove all that excess white area) and save it. You can now convert it to SVG in Inkscape. Ours looked like this:

Our finished card looked like this:


Apr 11, 2009


Hello All! We're glad that you're still with us to finish up separating the colors of the BADGE image. If you are just joining us, please read Parts 1 & 2 below. Let's get started. So far we have removed or painted over everything on the image that wasn't gold and was easy to access. There are few little areas left to be looked after; the middle of some of the letters and the 'phantom' outlines. To make these areas easier to work on, we have to enlarge the image using the 'Zoom In' function in the 'View' drop-down menu. When your image is enlarged the white areas will show up as gray. Click 'View' then 'Zoom In' a couple of times and your screen should something like this: With the image enlarged, you can use the 'Magic Wand' to select the centers of the letters and use the paint bucket (or brush) to change the black areas to white. If you use the brush, note that the brush size is enlarged the same as the image.

Next we will get rid of the outlines. Select a gold area with the 'Magic Wand'. Check to see if the wand included the 'phantom' outlines. It probably didn't. On the toolbar there is a box called 'Tolerance'. Increase the tolerance (by left-clicking and dragging) until the outlines are included with the gold area when you use the 'Magic Wand'. This will probably take a few tries to get it just right. Then paint the selected area black. The 'Phantom' is gone! Continue selecting and painting until all the gold areas are black. Sometimes you must work the opposite way; i.e. selecting the white areas while adjusting the tolerance and painting in white.

You will find that even after the selecting and painting there are still some areas with poor detail. We must eliminate these so that you don't get a 'raggedy' SVG. To do this last step I use a technique that I call 'Pixel Painting'. Zoom in a couple of more steps until your image looks something like this:

You should be able to see the individual pixels that make up the image. 'Zoom In' another step if you need to. On the 'Edit' drop-down menu click 'Select All' to select the entire image. Choose the brush size to be 1 pixel. Now you can add black or white pixels (one pixel at a time) to fix all the little problem areas that will show up on your final cut. You will have to use the scroll bars to move around the image to make sure you haven't missed any bad spots. When you are done, 'Zoom Out' to normal size. Your image will be improved and contain only black and white (a perfect silhouette) and should look something like this:

Now save your image so you can convert it in Inkscape.

When you trace the bitmap in Inkscape select 'Brightness cutoff', set the threshold to about .650 - .700, and uncheck 'Smooth' (to give you sharper corners). Save your file and that's it! The gold part of the 'Badge' image is ready to cut. Now use the same techniques to make a silhouette of each of the remaining colors.

REMEMBER - Make a silhouette of each color and don't be afraid to experiment. After you have done some images you will be able to separate the colors in just a few minutes. For the best results we always start with the largest image we can.