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Silhouette CAMEO Beginners (Top Tips)

Advice for Silhouette Cameo New Users First Tips What to do when you Unbox your Silhouette Cameo

The Silhouette cameo can be overwhelming to set up and actually start! In fact my cameo sat in the box for quite some time before I had the courage to take it out. This is my quick Silhouette CAMEO Beginners start up guide with commonly asked questions.

Where to start with your new Cameo machine

The amount of things the Silhouette cutting machine can do is vast but you need to start somewhere. Knowing where to start is daunting, aside from opening the box here are the very first things you need to do before you start cutting. First things first download Silhouette studio of your choice.

Silhouette Cameo Beginners guide everthing you need to get started cutting right away. Top tips for your Cameo 4

Read all about the Silhouette Portrait 3 and why it is a great cutting machine!

Do I need the Silhouette Studio Designer Edition or the standard Silhouette Studio?

First things first Download the silhouette design studio space. The basic standard Silhouette Studio is free with your machine. If you want to upgrade all other versions of the Silhouette Studio are a one time purchase. Is the upgraded designer edition ideal for Silhouette CAMEO Beginners? I used the basic edition for years and it has lots of features such as being able to import your own font and weld words with no gaps. You can also import and trace your own images or automatically trace a PNG file. If you are not partially tech savvy then maybe stick with the basic you can always upgrade later. Heres a rough outline of art the other editions do.

Do I need the Silhouette Designer Edition? With the Silhouette Designer edition you get a range of design features and you can Import SVG, GSD and DXF files. It also has a nesting feature which allows you to limit waste when designing. There is an advanced pen option as well as other options such a knife and eraser options. This is worthwhile investing in but not necessary to start.

Do I need the Designer Edition Plus? This is only really useful if you want to import embroidery files or have more rhinestone custom design options.

For more information on what Silhouette studio software you need take a look at this handy Silhouette studio software comparison chart. This compares Standard studio features up to business edition features.

Can you use a tablet or IPad for the Silhouette Cameo?

Can you use a tablet or IPad for the Silhouette Cameo? At the moment No, you will need a pc or mac to run the software. The new Cameo has an app called Silhouette Go but it doesn’t have the capabilities of the pc version. At the moment it is also still in the Beta version and is not available yet. It will however only cut an image in your library there are no design features.

Silhouette beginners guide desk with cameo 3. Can you use a tablet or IPad for the Silhouette Cameo? At the moment No, you will need a pc or mac to run the software.

What should I cut first on the Silhouette Cameo?

Many Silhouette CAMEO Beginners do not know where to start. What should be your first project on the Silhouette Cameo?

Whatever you purchased the cutting machine for should be a good place to start. So whether  you wanted to make custom t-shirt graphic or paper cuts for crafts start small and work on that. Some people find they want to cut card for scrapbooking and some people prefer to make project with vinyl to start.

Setting up your Silhouette Cameo machine.

Start with getting your silhouette Cameo 4 out of the box and be sure to take out all of the packing materials in the machine as there are pieces of packaging used to protect it in transit.

Make sure your blade is locked in place correctly this is a common starting out mistake. The machine comes with an auto blade, make sure to insert it on 1 and push it all the way down as you pull up on the tab. Then make sure to push the tab back towards the machine to lock it in place. You should see a small blue dot on the tab. Even if your blade clicks and seems to be in place it may not be totally flush! check it.

Your first Cameo cut.

Pick something simple for your first cut on your silhouette. Pick one plain colour and something that is not too intricate. You do not want to be stuck at the first hurdle.

Be sure to take off the blue sheet from the silhouette cutting mat to leave a tacky surface.

Silhouette CAMEO Beginners Cutting tips!

Cutting tips for your new Silhouette CAMEO Machine

  • Preloaded cut settings are good as a guide only! Select the material you are cutting and it will set it up for you. You can then adjust it slightly if need be.
  • Always use the test cut option when using a new material. The cutting machine will cut a small square and triangle in the corner of your cutting area. This way if it does not cut properly you know to adjust your cut settings.
  • If your design does not cut you can adjust the settings manually.
  • Try adjusting the force which is the pressure the machine uses to cut.
  • Slow down the speed to cut the material if it does not cut properly.
  • Line up your mat correctly, the edge of the mat should line up with the grey line on the left. 
  • Use the line segment over cut option in the cutting window. It looks like a triangle in a box. Selecting the “Off” option will have all lines cut normally. Selecting the “On” option will have all straight corners cut with a slight overcut. This option will help provide cleaner cutting results especially when using intricate designs and card stock.
Silhouette cutting for beginners tips. Check the triangle box to use the line segment over cut function
Check the triangle box to use the line segment over cut function

Beginner Tips for Cutting Vinyl

Bear in mind these tips for cutting vinyl, they may seem obvious to some but if you have never cut vinyl these will help!

  • Heat Transfer Tape (HTV) needs to be mirrored. Do this when designing your cut in the studio. Mirror the image in the design screen not in the send screen as this will mirror it and move to the other side of the page.
  •  Heat transfer tape (HTV) is cut shiny side facing down
  • Regular adhesive vinyl is cut facing up ( shiny side up.)

Silhouette CAMEO Beginners Tips for Cutting Card 

  • Turn the speed down and use the over cut function if it is intricate template.
  • If the paper is too fibrous it will tear instead of cut. Something as simple as trying a different cardstock can do the trick. For instance if using 12 x12 such as Bazzill try using American crafts card stock instead as it has a less fibrous core and cuts cleaner.
  • Slow it down or adjust the force.

What files are suitable for Silhouette CAMEO Beginners?

There are lots of file types that are suitable for Silhouette CAMEO Beginners you just need to know how to cut them. The basic Silhouette Studio supports a variety of file types that can be imported in to the design space to be cut.

  • It can cut fonts installed on your computer in TTF and OTF 
  • PDFs
  • DXF files
  • JPEGs
  • PNGs
  • SVGS ( you will need to upgrade to the Designer edition to cut these )

Where can I find images to cut on the silhouette design studio?

As you can cut a variety of different files you can find designs almost anywhere to cut including :

  • The Silhouette Store.
  • You can find free cut files on blogs such as here at likelovedo
  • Facebook groups
  • You can find files for sale on on Etsy to buy along with other websites

You will generally get the following file types in a compressed folder but you do not need them all.

  • SVG ( an SVG can only be cut in the Silhouette designer edition software or higher)
  • PDF
  • JPEG Trace in Silhouette
  • DXF opens with cut lines
  • PNG opens automatically with auto-trace feature in the latest Silhouette Studio V4.4 design software. (latest software). When uploading a PNG to silhouette you may want to remove the black image from the design so you can see the cut lines. To do this click the colour palette and check the no fill color.
When uploading a PNG to silhouette you may want to remove the black image from the design so you can see the cut lines. To do this click the colour palette and check the no fill color.
When uploading a PNG to silhouette you may want to remove the black image from the design so you can see the cut lines. To do this click the colour palette and check the no fill color.

How do I open a file to cut on my Silhouette studio?

Download the zip file to your computer and click on the zip to extract the files. Make a note of where the files are or store them somewhere you can find them.

Open up your Silhouette Studio software and click File > open and import your image. You can then use the trace tool shaped like a butterfly to trace black Jpeg images in the design area. You can also import PNG’s which will automatically trace and appear with a cut line around them.

If you would like to open up more than one cut file on your design screen use the merge tool instead of open.

Click file > open for first file then file >merge to add the second file to the same design.

Installing Fonts to Use in Silhouette Studio Software?

One of the best features of the Silhouette Studio Software is that it allows you use any font that you have installed on your computer.  So how do you get fonts into Silhouette Studio Software?

Install the font on your computer somewhere you can find it. Unzip the font folder by clicking on it. Install the font on your computer in the normal way. Normally there is a prompt to install the font or you would go to your font book for instance on a Mac.  For instructions to install a font on a PC read this article.

Your font will automatically appear in your Silhouette Studio Design software. If you do not see the font close down Silhouette Studio and restart it again.

What basic tools do I need to buy for my new Silhouette Cameo?

You will need basic tools to start using your Silhouette Cameo. There are lots of Silhouette machine bundles when you buy your machine with added tools But there are lots of other options for tools.

These are the tools you need for your Silhouette CAMEO 4, 3 or Portrait;

Thank you for reading my Silhouette CAMEO Beginners (Top Tips) I hope you enjoy your Cameo as much as I do!

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Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Hi, great blog! I have an older Silhouette (probably one of the originals) - does the Design Studio software no longer support sending the design to SD Card? I've not been able to find how to do that since it updated to 4.49whatever ... Thanks for any help you can provide! - Liz


Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Thank you so much. Ohh I am not sure but ill see if I can find out!


Tuesday 19th of April 2022

When I go to cut small things like cursive letters, the letters tear or get pulled up from the blade. Does that mean I need a new blade? I did lower the force all the way to 1 but I don't know what else to do. Could it be the vinyl or cutting mat?


Thursday 21st of April 2022

I it could be the card too some card cut better than others. Smooth card with no card works best. Some times it tears with the blade depth too low.I have the blade depth around 5 and force at around 32. But saying that I have a portrait, Cameo 3 and 4 and all have different settings.


Saturday 9th of April 2022

Is there a way you or I can change the word Easter to Resurrection on your Easter wreath PLEASE?


Thursday 21st of April 2022

Hi sorry i missed this, if your want this for future please get in touch and i can send you a file without the easter wording on it.

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