The Silhouette Studio http://http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/software/silhouette-studio software is used to program the Silhouette Cameo cutter. It has its own proprietary file format, called .studio or .studio3. The software can also import .SVG and .DXF file formats. Once these files are imported the software can scale and edit the image and use it for cutting.

These two formats are more common. The .DXF is popular with computer aided design software like Autocad. Scaleable Vector Graphic, svg, files are XML-based vector graphics that can be exchanged between various 2D software.

Both of these formats are vector based images formats. That means they are based on lines and not individual pixels for information. These lines translate into the cutting path the Silhouette cutter follows.

The problem is a lot of images start as a JPEG, PDF, bitmap or other format style. These are not vector images and cannot be used by Silhouette directly. They have to be converted.

Step 1: Get the Software Free of Charge

Adobe Photoshop can create paths based on an image, and then the paths can be exported to Illustrator. Inkscape may be another possible option for the conversion, but I could not get the software to work. All my instructions are based on Photoshop and Illustrator.

What if you do not own Photoshop? Adobe has discontinued operating their software activation server for the old version of CS2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/adriankingsleyhughes/2013/01/07/download-adobe-cs2-applications-for-free/This includes both Photoshop and Illustrator. Adobe has posted the software key for users to download. The big limitation is it will not run on the latest computer hardware with the newest operating system.

Technically, Adobe is not giving away the software for free, but they are not selling this version any more. If you want to use the software and the key is posted on their website, I’m not sure what you would call this kind of offer. They have made it easy to you to get this “obsolete”, and unsupported version of the software for no cost.

<p>Another alternative to Photoshop is Gimp. Not quite as user friendly, but it's free.</p>
<p>Gimp is only an alternative if you know how to use it for the same task. </p><p>Could you explain how to use Gimp to turn a pdf into a path that can then be exported into a file format support by Silhouette Cameo?</p><p>If you cannot explain how to do these steps, then no, Gimp is not an alternative.</p><p>So please write an instructable for that and then I can stop using Photoshop.</p>
excellent!!<br>at the next feasible moment, I'll be 'knuckling-down' and be giving this a try.<br>having 'sausage-fingers' and trying to do micro soldering is somewhat challenging...putting soldering paste onto squillions of contacts on a pcb, tests a man's patience to the point of captain caveman utterances being bellowed out a 120db and above.<br>anytime saved=more geek time<br>less stress=more enjoyable geek time<br><br>thanks for sharing on instructables!
<p>This is super helpful, thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>this is an invaluable tutorial to me,i own a silhouette portrait.</p>

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Bio: We sell DIY kits for electronics. Please check out our website: http://www.jouletime.com/
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