Friday, January 25, 2019

Vital Titles (1 of 4) - The Basics

This is the first of a four part series (one per month) that will, hopefully, give you some ideas and pointers to improve your title work on your scrapbook pages. As I primarily use a Silhouette Cameo, instructions for digital cutters will be mainly geared to Silhouette Studio (v 4.1.479DE), but if I can find a link to a similar tutorial for a Cricut, I'll do that.  Many of the ideas are generic, though, and with some creativity, you should be able to apply the principles to your craft regardless of the cutter that you use.

This month, we'll start with the basics: premade titles, making a simple title, basic welding, sizing, and layers.

The easiest titles to do are premade titles. Super super easy... go to a scrapbooking expo, visit a booth, and buy a title.  On a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, this is a 1.  Next up would be buying some Thickers and sticking them down. That's maybe 3, if only for the added trouble of trying to make a straight line. But you know these already.  We're here to take it up a notch.

I know many of you have got a lovely Cameo. In a box. In your cupboard. Time to crack that baby open!  Open up your software. Maybe update it (Help/Check for Updates...). And here we go! This first task is really for beginners.

TASK 1: Using a predesigned title from the Silhouette Store

There are a couple of ways to find cool titles in the Design Store. If you have time on your hands, and just want to browse, go to Designs/Phrases and Monograms/Phrases. You'll get 200 pages of potential titles. There are lots of other things in here, too, such as files intended for t-shirts and wall designs. Add "title" to the search bar to narrow things down a bit. Have a look around. If you click on a design you like, you can see who the artist is. Click on the artist to see more titles you'll also probably love.  Or just use the search bar with whatever you're interested in and "title".   Such as "birthday title."

For today's example, I'm choosing a nice title for a birthday page simply called "happy birthday." You can pick the same one, if you want, or any other title that strikes your fancy.  For some reason, the majority of the premade files I like end up being Miss Kate Cuttables. Be sure to check out her site directly for daily freebies.

SECRET TIP: use a screenshot tool ("snipping tool" -- soon to be called "Snip & Sketch" -- is built into Windows) to grab the preview of the title from the design store so you can see how the layers are to be built.

Once the title has been purchased, it shows up in your library. You have a title preview here, too, but it's a little smaller. Double click the title, and it'll open up in your software. You will see all the individual pieces (grouped together), all outlined in red.

If you have a complicated title, this is where that little screenshot will come in handy. You can paste it onto the sheet and save it for prosperity (File/Save As/Save to Library). You CAN access the picture through the store again if you want, but I find this saves a step.

The next thing I do is to rebuild the title on the screen so that I can see how it would look. I use the "fill tool" to colour in the pieces and try to match the original image as closely as possible. You will need to select the title and "ungroup" it first (right click, "ungroup"), unless you want all the pieces to be the same colour. 

Then layer them together to mimic the original. Now you have a good idea of what the pieces would look like if you cut them the way they are. Be sure to GROUP them back together, so that when you resize a piece, they all resize proportionately.

You probably have your screen set up as a 12x12 page. Now you can see the size of the title in proportion to your layout. You can see that, as is, this is way too small for a page. You're going to need to make it bigger... but how big to make it? SECRET TIP: Make some rectangles to lay out on the page where photos or journaling would be.  For this layout, I'm going to use a PageMaps sketch from Jan 2019. So, my next step is to lay out the basics of that sketch on my screen.

Now I can resize my title to the size that looks visually appealing. Be sure to hold down the "SHIFT" key when you do this to keep the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the title steady.

Now you have your title in the right size. You can delete the paper and photo placeholders, and ungroup your title. Move the title pieces around so that like colours are together for cutting.  In a case like this, I might duplicate the stars and make extras for embellishments on other parts of the page. Feel free to take artistic license and cut in whichever colours are best for your layout. The rest of the process is basic cut and stick.

This video shows the play by play of the above instructions. The only problem was that my video capture didn't pick up anything that happened in pop up windows, so you'll have to use your imagination for those parts (although the instructions are written out above).

TASK 2: Making a simple title from scratch

So far, so good, right? But what happens if you can't find what you're looking for in the store? You wanted to find something like "Arabella Says He-dow" or some other random title. Or maybe you are thinking, heck, I'm not spending my hard earned money on a title that I can easily make myself.  Today is your lucky day. Today you learn how to do this (or, you read this refresher and maybe learn something new).

The first thing you need to do it write some text. Choose the "Text" tool that looks like a capital "A", then type your text.

Want to change the font? Go for it (highlight the text first, then change it at the top - I'm choosing Desigers because it's fun, and free).  This font is not cursive, so I don't need to weld anything. 

If I picked a cursive font, I'd need to weld. Sweet Hipster is a fun one. I'll change the font to that... but now it's really small. I can change it using the font point size, next to the font name, or I can select the whole text (click the select arrow first) and drag the corner to resize. Hold down the SHIFT key while you do this so you keep the proportions correct.

As you can see, this needs to be welded. It's a single click once the title has been selected. Click on the "weld" icon, or just right-click, weld. Now that it's welded, there's a good chance you need to Group it again, so drag the cursor so that all of the title is highlighted, and right-click Group. Now you have a perfectly good title which you can resize as desired, and use on your page.

What's that? Oh, you want LAYERS? Ok cool. We can do that. That's done with the Offset tool. The icon looks like a star with a border around it. Or right-click Offset.

(By the way, SECRET TIP if you just have a manual cutter, like a Big Shot, you can achieve a similar look to shadow by cutting the letters 2 or 3 times and gluing them together with a bit of an offset. This is especially effective if the bottom layer is black. I LOVE that effect!)

Now, when I do this, I don't love the look. Personally, I like my titles to look more cohesive. So, I'm going to UNDO the offset (ctrl-z) and then move the words closer together. Vertically, actually. I've got to ungroup it first, and then group one word, move it, then group it all again.

Now I'm ready to do the layers in my own style. For some reason, I really like the look of a triple-layered title. Here's my SECRET TIP to layers... do the first layer at 0.08, and the second at 0.125.  There you go. I don't know why, but these layers always look good.
You might need to do a little fine tuning so that you don't end up with little tiny bits cut out. Drag the layers apart. Right click on one where you need to clean it up, and Release Compound Path. Then you'll be able to delete the little bits that aren't worth cutting. Once it's cleaned up, Make Compound Path again. You'll be able to fill the words in using the fill tool, and rebuild the title so see how you like it. We'll do more of this next time. Now, go forth and cut! I can't wait to see what you make.
Here's the step by step on video (it's in 2 parts because I'm technically challenged and can't figure out how to save the right format if I merge them):

Next month: Tips on choosing and mixing fonts, using glyphs, and more on welding

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Rona! Planning on playing (I have a Cricut) this month :)