When I create bridges in Silhouette Studio, I like to use the knife tool. Bridges can also be made using the eraser tool, but I like the knife tool because it is quick and easy for me to cut out unwanted areas. Cutting out areas doesn’t sound like you are bridging anything, does it? Taking areas away with the knife tool will leave open areas in the letters. Those areas will become bridged areas when you place them in the stencil frame and cut. It’s a little hard to put into words, but will make more sense once you create a few stencils with bridges. These tutorials seem lengthy, but once you get the basics down, future tutorials will not need so many details included. If there is something you don’t understand or that I have left out, please email me HERE.
Look at the alphabet in the pic above. Some letters in the alphabet have “counters” in the center of them that fall out when cut unless they are bridged. The “counters” are totally enclosed by the letter around them. Look at the letters with the red circles around them. See the white areas in the middle of the letters? They are surrounded by the border of the letter. These are the “counters”. These white areas inside the border of the letter, or “counters”, will fall out if you don’t bridge(attach) them to the border of the letter.
If you were to take a piece of paper and pair of scissors and cut out the letters, the “counters” would come out with the rest of the letter. It would leave the outline of the letter, the letter itself, and the ‘counters” as separate pieces. We only want the outline of the letter and the counters left in the stencil. You can see the outline of the letter would be the only thing left in the stencil, so we need to bridge(attach) those “counters” to keep them from falling out. I’m so glad we don’t have to cut with scissors! I love my cutting machines!
The first thing to do is find a font that you want to bridge. Then type the entire upper case and lower case alphabet. Type numbers 0-9 because some of them also need bridges added. Save your file with the name of the font, so you can find it easily. I have a folder called “Bridged Fonts” where I save my files.
** Some fonts may have counters in other letters than the font shown above, so look over all of the letters and numbers closely. Some fonts, especially cursive fonts, can have more counters in the top, middle, and bottom of the letters.
If you type the letters and numbers all at once, they will be grouped. Select the alphabet and numbers by clicking somewhere inside the bounding box and then go to Object>Ungroup.
Click on each letter that you want to bridge while holding down the “Shift” key on your keyboard. When you hold down “Shift” while clicking on the letters, it will select several letters at once. They will stay selected unless you accidentally click somewhere. If that happens, just click the “Undo” arrow in the top toolbar.
Now hold down the “Command” key while pressing “D” on your keyboard to duplicate all that you have selected. If your workspace looks like you are seeing double, that is great!
Move what you duplicated off to the side to make sure you have all the letters and numbers that you need to bridge.
Go back and select all of the original lowercase and uppercase alphabet along with the numbers by clicking and dragging over them. Group them and move them out of the way all at once by going to Object in the upper toolbar and click>Group.
**You don’t have to group the originals, but it is easier if you group them. They move all at once and it keeps the letters and numbers together until you need them for creating a stencil with words.
Now you can drag the originals off to the side in the gray area of the screen, then go back and select the letters you duplicated and drag them onto the workspace. I call the white area, the workspace. I always put my letters in order, but you don’t have to do it that way.
Now, we are ready to use the Knife Tool!
Click the “Super Zoom” tool to see the letter very close up. Your cursor will become a magnifying glass. Click on the area of the letter you want to zoom in on. You may have to click a couple of times. If you zoom in to closely and you want to zoom out, click on the magnifying glass with the minus sign right next to the “Super Zoom” tool. You can also zoom in by clicking the magnifying glass with the plus sign. For now, make sure that you uncheck the “Auto Apply” box so that the knife does not cut as soon as you draw the red cut line with your cursor. You will be using the “Apply” button to tell your software that you are ready to cut instead of having it cut as soon as you draw the line. This will allow you to move your “cut line” exactly where you want it on the letter.
1 Zoom in
2 Click on the “Knife” tool
3 Draw the red cut line with the “Knife” tool by clicking and dragging while holding down the “Shift” key on your keyboard.
4 If needed, click on the “Selection” tool and move the cut line where you want it on the letter
5 Click>Apply to make the cut.
**Important! In between drawing each cut line with the “Knife” tool, you will need to click the “Selection” tool to toggle back and forth between the “Knife” tool and the “Selection” tool. If you forget to click the “Selection tool and click the red cut line to move it, you will draw another cut line. Just click the “Undo” button if this happens. It will probably happen several times until you get the hang of it!
**Another important tip: SHORTCUTS–I like using shortcuts to make cut lines. You can press the “K” on your keyboard to select the “knife’ tool and press the “V” on your keyboard for the “Selection” tool. This makes it so much easier to toggle back and forth between these two tools. The shortcuts are very handy!
Can you see the uneven cut lines? Sometimes that can’t be helped. There is a fix for it.
Double click on the letter to see the edit points or click on the letter and then click on the “Edit Points” tool. Now you can see the dots that are called Edit Points. These edit points create your shape. They can be moved around, deleted, or you can add more. I like to get rid of extra edit points that are not needed because it is easier on the blade when cutting a design. The edit points that are in between the corners are not needed because the lines are straight. If the lines were curved, you would need more edit points.
**SHORTCUT– Select the letter, number, or image, etc that you want to view edit points and double click it. If you double click on the letter, number, or image, the Edit Panel will pop up in the workspace.
If you click once to select the letter and then press the letter “A” on your keyboard, you will need to use the Edit Tools in the top toolbar. There are several ways to accomplish the same task in Silhouette Studio. Choose the way that is easiest for you ;0)
You delete extra edit points by clicking on the X in the corner. I pointed an arrow to it to show you.
**DO NOT click “Delete” on your keyboard or you will delete the whole letter. Use the “Undo” button if this happens.
I have deleted all of the extra edit points, but I decided to add another cut to bridge on the other side to make the letter more sturdy in the stencil. This is just my preference. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I don’t.
To add another cut line on the left side, select the “Knife” tool, hold down the “Shift” key, click and drag the cut line. Click>Apply.
Here is the letter “A” with all the cut lines complete.
When you make cut lines, it breaks the letter up into pieces. If you think the gap needs to be wider, select the parts one at a time and use the arrow keys on the keyboard to scoot them a little farther away from each other. To group, select all of the pieces of the letter by clicking and dragging over them. Then go to Object>Group. This will keep the pieces together. You could also choose to make them a compound path if you prefer.
Here are photos of what my screen looked like as I was working on the letters.
**You can complete one letter at a time or add all of your cut lines to the letters and then go back and select the cut line and the letter by clicking and dragging over them, then click >Apply. If you don’t like the way something looks, use the “Undo” button.
All of the letters with the cuts completed–
More on Edit Points–
In the next post, I will show you how to turn your bridged letters into words and add them to a stencil frames. Then, with what you have learned, you can make some cute stencils with words and a background for a set.
Be sure to visit the online shop for cuttable stencil files! Stencils are added daily. There are several new stencils and some freebies available for download at The Colorful Cookie Stencil Studio online shop. Click HERE to take a look.
Here are links to some helpful information on the blog–