Introduction: Make a Striking See-through Sign With the Silhouette Portrait Cutter!

Recently, I had the chance to play with a Silhouette Portrait, a small electronic cutting machine. In this brief tutorial, I will show you how to print see-through signs or signs with transparent letters.

Step 1: What You'll Need:

  1. A design: I used Silhouette Studio to create this simple (lettering) design (playing with the fonts was half the fun!);
  2. 8.5″ x 11″ colored (cardstock) paper;
  3. 8.5″ x 11" transparency film — the cheaper type is better since there are no special coatings applied;
  4. Spray-on temporary adhesive — I used Dritz Quilting Adhesive Spray;
  5. Plastic putty knife or something with a straight edge that won't rip or cut the paper;
  6. (optional) self-adhesive laminating sheet.

If you are not familiar with the general use of the SIlhouette Portrait, take a look at Simple Silhouette Cutter Basics.

Step 2: What to Do:

  1. Since the (colored cardstock) paper is (usually) thinner than the transparency, spray the adhesive onto one side of the paper — according to the instructions.
  2. Lift the paper by the edge and place the sticky-side onto the transparency. The tricky part is to align the paper so the edges line up. But as you'll see, mine wasn't so perfect.
  3. Load this paper/transparency combination onto the Silhouette Portrait cutting mat with the TRANSPARENCY-SIDE DOWN so that the cutter will be cutting the cardstock. My cardstock was fairly heavy so I used a blade setting of ‘4’. Don’t worry about cutting through the transparency — it’s actually difficult to cut through the plastic but it will be scored!
  4. Open your drawing in Silhouette Studio and choose the cut setting — by clicking on the icon at the upper right corner, second icon from the corner. Cut away!
  5. After the cutting is finished, remove the paper/transparency combination from the cutter.
  6. Hold the opposite side edges with the transparency-side down and bend it slightly so that the middle is a little higher than the side edges. You’ll notice that the edges that were cut will start to part.
  7. Separate the cut pieces with the help of the plastic putty knife. Leave the negative image on the transparency by lifting the inside of the letters. Be careful not to lift the (negative) parts you want to stay on the transparency such as the insides of letters such as ‘B’, ‘a’, and ‘O’!
  8. If you have difficulty separating the parts, with the transparency side down, try to bend the combination in different directions centering around the point where you are having difficulty. If you still cannot separate the parts without tearing the paper, you didn't cut deep enough. Unfortunately, there is some trial and error involved. I've often scored (cut deep into) the transparency but never cut through it -- even when I wanted to!
  9. If you have at least one negative part (inside parts of letters such as 'B'), you may want to put the optional self-adhesive laminating sheet on to keep the negative parts from falling off. I've watched helplessly as those have blown off signs I spent hours creating!