Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Software, What to Use for Domestic Electronic Cutting Machines (MAC USERS!)

I am one someone who is only interested in computing for what it  enables me to do. I  don't mind learning new software as long as there is an end goal in sight. In the past, I have used quite a lot of different graphics software of one kind or another but if I don't use it regularly, the complicated stuff can be a pain.

With my relatively new hobby of electronic cutting, my Cameo came with basic software. I soon upgraded from the standard free Silhouette Studio to the Designer edition.  These days there is a new version out, V3.0.343 and although it has a few teething problems still, it is easy to use once you get used to it.

However, there are a couple of major drawbacks. They may or may not affect your choice of software but I find them hugely irritating.

Studio software will not allow me to save to SVG format, which would be handy for other uses, such as embroidery designs and  appliqué. Nor will they allow sale of any designs you make in Studio software, even if you design from scratch. This I guess, is to protect their file sales but doesn't it really shoot themselves in the foot? If I were to create a file and sell it in Studio format, whoever bought it would need to have Studio software to open it.  If I am really determined to sell files, I will use something else to make them, and then, I can use whatever format I like and that could mean customers choosing a different cutting machine.

I find it hard to believe that not providing the options is protecting them.

So, what are the options for electronic cutters?

It appears after much poking around on the internet that there are only a few to choose from.

Make The Cut
Sure Cuts A Lot

Each has its drawbacks, especially if you, like me have a Mac and don't want to run any kind of Windows simulating software.
So, I went looking for drawing software that would work on Mac and not be toooooo complicated.
It had to be Vector based and save to SVG, and accept most graphic formats I may want to use.

The obvious one was Inkscape. Free and comprehensive. However, when I downloaded it and started to use it, I ended up with error messages all the time. Life is too short. In the bin it went.

Now I have found an app designed for the Mac from the ground up. i Draw

iDraw   is a modern, clean interfaced drawing package that, while it isn't quite up there with Adobe Illustrator, is a great, cheap, alternative. (At the moment, the latest version is under £20.)  Unless you are seriously in a graphics business, this should be enough to do pretty much anything you want.  I'm learning how to use it and should get the hang of it in a few days.  There is a manual that you can download for it but it is a bit out of date, has not caught up with the latest release.

While this won't connect to your cutter, all you need do is export your vector design to SVG and then use your usual software to check your cut lines and off you go.

I am confident that this will do everything I need it to and more but I noticed that tutorials for it are few and far between. Give me a chance to get familiar with how it works and I anticipate making some tutorials on i Draw, showing what it can do.

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