Following on from this morning’s Print & Cut stream, I think I confused many of you so wanted to break it down.
All print and cut methods consist of three important elements: the registration marks (on both the cut file and print out), the image(s) (on the print only), and the cut paths (in the cut file only). Keeping this in mind helps you to understand how print & cut functions.
Image Formats to use with Print & Cut
PNG images with transparent backgrounds
Accuracy 5/5 Ease of Use 4/5
The easiest way to work with these is using SCAL and importing these files in. SCAL then auto traces the transparent area to create an automatic cut line. Your image layer automatically changes style to “Print+Cut Print” by SCAL and the cut line changes style to “Print+Cut Cut”. You can add registration marks if you wish to help you align the cut as they don’t automatically line up on your machine. Print just the image and registration marks, and then export just the cut and registration marks to FCM. Import the FCM file directly into your machine and bypass Canvas. Group everything, background scan, reposition your group to match the print and then cut.
When working with PDF files and Affinity Designer, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or Inkscape, always try opening the files first in the software using File – Open rather than place. PDF files can contain vector data and may already have cut lines included. Even if it doesn’t, PDF has the best resolution of any file format when produced correctly (and certainly better than a JPG). You can still resize, add registration marks and even trace the file if your software allows it.
Only use JPG if there is no other image format available. JPG files can be opened or created in nearly any software (apart from Inkscape due to licensing).
ScanNCut Link from Brother
Accuracy 4/5 Ease of Use 2/5
This only works in Adobe Illustrator and even then only in 2020 and older. This means that you have to keep installing an older version of the software as Adobe loves to auto-update (as you could see in the video, it was fine last night).
Create a document that is equivalent to the printable area of your paper. Go to [File] – [Brother ScanNCut Link] – [Add Registration] to add registration marks to your paper. Then, import images and trace the outlines so you have a print layer with images, a cut layer with paths and the automatically registration layer the plug-in adds. Hide the cut layer and print the page as normal. Then hide the print layer, reveal the cut layer and go to File – Brother ScanNCut Link – Export FCM or Transfer FCM. When you open the FCM on your ScanNCut, it will scan the registration marks and cut accordingly.
Accuracy 5/5 Ease of Use 4/5
Sure Cuts a Lot is designed for handling cutter specific functions like print & cut. It makes it really simple: set objects for printing to Print+Cut Print in Style, set objects for cutting to Print+Cut Cut and registration marks firstly to “Print+Cut Print” and then print the sheet, then switch them to Draw. Export to FCM and transfer to your machine. Place your printed sheet on the mat and background scan. You will need to group all the objects on your mat and move them to align to your background scan manually.Transparent background images will come in with cut line automatically traced. For these kinds of images you can use SCAL’s tracing function wherever you can see a nice clear outline. For images without a clear outline see the manual tracing option below.
Accuracy 4/5 Ease of Use 4/5
Auto tracing is performed on the original image in SCAL, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW or Inkscape; or from a scan of the printout for accuracy in Canvas Workspace. You then select which elements of the trace to keep/weld to get the cut line you desire. You then split the image, cut path and registration layers as in the basic fundamental process.
Accuracy 5/5 Ease of Use 3/5
Manual tracing is available in any vector software over the top of an imported image using either the pen/path tool or the pencil tool. Combine these traced elements into a cut layer, your images into a print layer and add registration marks.
Registration Marks for Print & Cut
While the ScanNCut Link automatically add registration marks through the Add Registration function, for all other methods this is a manual process.
Press and hold [Shift] to create L shape registration marks in 3 clicks. The positioning of these isn’t critical, but should be to 3 corner of your artwork.
Squares are useful mainly for layered designs (like multi-colour vinyl) but for pixel based software (Photoshop, Photo, Painter etc) squares are the better option.
For further support on this, go to our Facebook group.