Janome has produced a digital cutter called the Artistic Edge. There are two models, one has a 12 inch cutting area and the other a 15 inch cutting area. I have the 12 inch cutter. It’s a great piece of equipment which I really enjoy using. The down side however, is that the SimpleCut software which comes with the cutter is not user friendly and the ‘help’ option that’s part of the program is only helpful if you have a very basic question and then only if you can find the answer- the search functionality is extremely limited.
The software was initially designed for embroidery applications and more recently it’s been modified for digital cutting. It’s clear that the virtual manual was written by an expert in embroidery and not digital cutting. The other problem I have is that the software freezes constantly which drives me to distraction! I’ve re-installed the software numerous times and been in touch with the developers who insist it’s a problem with my computer, not their software. Interestingly, I’m not having issues with any other software and I’ve tested and troubleshooted my computer to no avail; the software keeps freezing.
Recently a software update was released which I had high hopes for, thinking that my issues may have been the result of a Windows 10 compatibility problem, but it hasn’t fixed the freezing issue for me. Nevertheless, I have persisted with the software because the machine itself works wonderfully well. It’s been a steep learning curve compounded by the software freezing and shutting down regularly, but I have made progress even if it has been painfully slow! I’d really like to hear about your experiences with the Artistic Edge Digital Cutter if you have one. I hope that the issues I’ve been having with the software are confined to me because it would be a real shame if people were put off buying the Artistic Edge (it’s a great cutter), or they had to endure the same frustration that I have experienced with the software.
While there is an enormous amount of support, information and blogs devoted to the Silhouette cutting machines, there is virtually nothing in comparison for the Artistic Edge and I have scoured the internet. Having said that, Geraldine from Janome here in Melbourne, was fantastic when I was getting started with the machine. My computer died just after I purchased the cutting machine and I needed a new activation code to use the software on my replacement computer; Geraldine facilitated that for me. She also gave me an ‘over the phone’ tutorial on getting started with the SimpleCut software which was enormously helpful. Thank you so much Geraldine!
Artistic Edge Tutorials, Helpful Websites
I hope those of you who have an Artistic Edge, or may be thinking about purchasing one will be able to pick up some tips and learn from my mistakes. I’ll also be sharing cut files in both SVG and Drawings formats on the blog. Below are links to you-tube videos, blogs and itunes podcasts relating to the Artistic Edge which you might find helpful.
Multiple file formats of both vector and bitmap graphics can be used with the SimpleCut software and Artistic Edge digital cutter. Interestingly, there is also the option to send your files to other cutting machines including the Zing, Silhouette Cameo and Portrait and Eclips 2 (among others). You’ve probably come by the SimpleCut software as a result of purchasing your Artistic Edge digital cutter and since this is an awesome machine I really can’t see you acquiring another digital cutter or choosing to use another one, over it.
Vector graphics are composed of a series of paths/curves defined by mathematical definitions. These files are usually drawings and in general they are smaller than bitmap files. Vector graphics can be scaled to almost any size without loss of resolution. The vector graphics formats supported by SimpleCut software are :
- Corel Graphics (*.CMX)
- Encapsulated Postscript (*.EPS)
- Enhanced windows metafile (*.EMF)
- Scalable vector graphics (*.SVG)
- Adobe Illustrator (*.AI)
- AutoCAD (*.DXF)
- Windows metafile (*.WMF)
- HP GL file (.PLT)
Bitmap or raster images are made up of a pattern of dots/pixels. These files are generally digital pictures or scanned images. Bitmap file formats cannot be imported directly into the SimpleCut software, they either have to be traced (by the software) or imported as backgrounds. The bitmap files supported by SimpleCut software are:
- Bitmap files (*.BMP,*.DIB,*.RLE)
- Jpeg file (*.JPG, *JPEG, *JPE,*JFIF)
- Gif file (*.GIF)
- Tiff file (*.TIF,*.TIFF)
- Png file (*.PNG)
- Icon file (*.ICO)
If you would like to know more about bitmap and vector graphics I recommend this informative article by Laurens Leurs.
I mainly use svg files because they are easy to work with and free files are readily available on the internet. There are also numerous online stores where svg files can be purchased; I’ve provided links to some of them below.
The svg files import directly into the software and are easy to manipulate. Upon saving the design they become ‘drawings’ files, this is a proprietary format of DRAWstitch (the developer of SimpleCut software), you can however, export them back to svg format if you desire.
The Silhouette Design Store is a great resource for cutting files with thousands of designs available for sale. These however, are not in svg format but thanks to Ideas R Us Software you can easily convert Silhouette Studio files to svg files. The site allows you to convert 10 designs/day for free or you can purchase conversion credits and download the software for larger numbers of conversions. This is such a time saver- goodbye Inkscape (for this purpose anyway). For the best results, I open my silhouette file in Silhouette Studio (I’m using version 3 which can be downloaded for free), convert the solid areas to white or no colour and the line colours to black and then save it. Below I show you step by step how to prepare and convert your Silhouette studio files; I’m using the christmas tree gift card envelope file by Amy Robison, which I purchased from the Silhouette Design Store. I’m currently auditioning cut files for their potential use at christmas this year.
- Open the file you wish to convert to svg in Silhouette Studio and click on it to highlight.
- Click on the fill icon on the upper toolbar (highlighted by the red box).
- Select ‘white’ from the palette on the toolbar on the right (highlighted by the red box).
The solid color areas are now white.
To change the line colours:
- With the drawing still highlighted, click on the line colour icon on the upper toolbar (highlighted by the red box).
- Select ‘black’ from the colour palette on the right toolbar (highlighted by the red box).
The drawing lines are now black (they were red but it doesn’t show up so well here).
To change the line thickness:
- Select the ‘line thickness’ icon from the upper toolbar (highlighted by the red box).
2. Change the line thickness setting on the right side toolbar so that a dense dark colour is achieved. Contrast is key here, I used setting 2.0 for this drawing.
3. Save the file in silhouette studio format. It’s now ready to convert to svg format.
Converting Silhouette Studio Files to Svg
Go to the Ideas R Us Software website and click on the ‘file converter’ tab on the upper toolbar. Select ‘Silhouette to svg’. Browse for your saved silhouette file and open it.
Click on the ‘convert Studio to svg’ button. How long the conversion takes will depend on the size of your file, but we are talking seconds even for large files. When the conversion is complete a link will appear with the same name as the original silhouette file. Click on the link and your svg graphic will appear in your browser. Right click on the image and select ‘save page as’, the original file name will appear but you can change it if you wish. Make sure you remember where you saved the file on your computer. I’ve set up a folder specifically for svg files.
Now that we have our svg file we need to cut it!
Opening cutting files with the Artistic Edge Digital Cutter
Open your SimpleCut software, go to file and select ‘new’. You can either leave the other techniques turned on or turn them off. Click next.
Select the lightest fabric background (see the red arrow). Click next.
To find your svg file click on the browser dots (highlighted in red).
Go to your svg folder and scroll through the files until you find the one you’re after. Double click on the file or select the open button to import the file into the software.
The file opens on a cutting mat; make sure it’s the right size mat for your machine as this will assist you with layout and determining whether the drawing fits within the dimensions of the mat. If it doesn’t you will have to re-size the drawing before you can cut it.
To prepare your file for cutting right click your mouse and select all. A box will appear around your drawing indicating that it has been selected. Select ‘cut’ from the right hand toolbar (highlighted by the red square) and then adjust the cutter settings so that they are appropriate for the material to be cut. Click on the cutter presets to assist with this.
Select the drawing (right click) and go to File, Export to cutter, Connect. You will see your drawing on the mat with the exact dimensions of the cutting area given. De-select (ctrl click) the templates you don’t wish to cut. The start point for cutting is indicated by a magenta coloured circle. This can be changed by selecting another + sign from around the mat.
Place your cardstock onto a low tack cutting mat (mine is 12 x 12 inches), pressing firmly to adhere it. Insert the mat into the cutter and position the cutting head/blade via the laser dot (red) using the control arrows (see image above). The position of the laser dot equates to the magenta dot on the cutter display panel and indicates where cutting will start. To determine whether your drawing will fit on the material you intend to cut, click the trace button. The area to be cut will be outlined by the movement of the blade holder around the mat. If the material is the correct size, click ‘cut’ to start. Peel your design off the mat with the assistance of a scraping tool, be careful not to tear or damage it. Clean the mat with a baby wipe and place it inside the plastic bag it came in to keep it clean and ready for next time.
With the correct cutter settings a clean cut is achieved as you can see below. I’ll go into more detail about cutter settings in future posts. Think about whether it’s worth keeping the negative space fragments of your cut material. These pieces are useful as stencils or they can be used in their own right in other projects, for example the red christmas tree that remains after cutting the envelope for the current project could be used to decorate numerous festive projects such as cards, gift boxes or bags.
The cut template (red cardstock) was folded along the score lines and glued. I used a boning folder to sharpen the edges of the folds.The green rectangle of cardstock with the triangular point is inserted into the red envelope to create the christmas tree effect. I glued a gold star to the triangle for effect. I’m happy with how this project worked out and will most likely use these for gift tags on christmas presents this coming year. I’ll decorate them more lavishly with glitter and sequences, so they look more like a decorated tree. Testing the cut file now will save me a lot of time this christmas.
In the next post I’ll show you how to design photo cards and frames using the SimpleCut software and the Artistic Edge Digital Cutter and I’ll provide cutting files for your own personal use.
Until next time,
Supplies are linked to places of purchase. In some cases affiliate links have been activated. These do not incur a cost for you but provide me with a small commission if you click through on the links to purchase. Thank you!
Baby wipes (Amazon)