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Let's say you have a great design that you'd like to turn into cut paper or vinyl, but you don't have it as a vector. Maybe you only have a photograph. Maybe you don't know how to use Photoshop (I don't) or you don't have any photo editing software. Don't worry! You can actually use the Silhouette Studio software to trace the lines and turn it into a vector that you can work with, and it's pretty easy to do!

Step 1: Open Your Image in Silhouette Studio

For this Instructable, I'm using a photo of a man running. You can make this easier for yourself by using an image with no background, or high contrast between the parts you want to use and the parts you don't, but if you have plenty of time and patience you can follow this process even with more detailed photos.

Step 2: Select the Trace Area

Click on the "Open The Trace Window" button in the top left and when the trace window opens, click "Select Trace Area" (these are highlighted blue in the screenshot). Now click and drag to select the area you want to trace. Go back to the options on the right and play with the High Pass Filter slider. As you slide it, you'll see more and more of the image on the right turns yellow.

You may also want to play with the Low Pass Filter and Threshold settings. Don't worry about getting it wrong, because the Undo button will let you go back as many steps as you need to. You want a fair amount of yellow in the image but the details and outlines you want to keep need to still be visible. If you just want a silhouette, you're aiming to totally fill the silhouette area with yellow. If you want to keep lots of the details, you want a lot less yellow (see examples).

When you're ready, press "Trace"!

Step 3: Remove the Unnecessary Bits!

First of all, click on the original photo and move it off the page. You only really need it for reference now.

Now click on the red outlines that remain in the cutting area. One click will select the whole image, but we want to edit it a bit, so after selecting it, right click and choose "Release Compound Path". This will let you remove individual bits of the image.

Click off it to deselect, and then you can select and remove all the bits you don't want. You can select and move/delete individually, or click and drag to select multiple pieces at once.

Step 4: That's It!

Once you've finished cleaning up the image, you'll have a usable vector which you can send to the Silhouette for cutting!

<p>This free online tool can also help you with vectorization - www.vectorization.eu</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: Make:Bromyard is a rural makerspace in Bromyard, Herefordshire.
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