Saturday, 9 August 2014

PixScan - a Feature of the New Studio Software V3.1.417

There has been a new version of the Silhouette Studio software launched recently and although some of it was about bug fixes, the main event was the arrival of the PixScan feature.
Pixscan is available to anyone using the latest version, the free one or the Designer one and appears to be in direct competition with certain ( relatively)well known printer manufacturer!

I did mention this in my last post but only very briefly.
So what is the downside of the new PixScan? Well you have to buy a PixScan mat, that has very specific registration marks on it. It is supposed to retail at the same price of the normal mats but that will depend on where you live and if you can get them without being ripped off by the retailers or Ebay re sellers!

The concept of PixScan is that you place artwork on the mat, scan it (may need two passes due to size)  or take a pic of it and then use the software to line it all up, add an auto trace or manual cut lines and then use the same mat to send to the cutter. I am ignoring the scan function as my scanner is not recognised by the software.

So how well does it work? I really wanted to try it out but have no mat. Hmmm, we shall see about that.

The short version of this story is that I did, by a long and convoluted process, manage to make a replica of the PixScan mat. I got it so close to the original that my designs are only out by a couple of mm. Bearing in mind I had little to go on in the way of measurements, I was surprised to get that far.

Here, you can see on a portion of my mat, that I have managed to cut out an owl but it wasn't quite perfectly  lined up.

However, assuming that the manufacturers mat should be better than my mock up, the results should be very impressive indeed!

It is worth noting that the 'trace' function of the software has not altered so will be no better or worse than what you are used to but this feature means that you should be able to draw on a scrap of paper and have it cut round it with very little effort or cut designs from your favourite paper without resorting to scissors!   For the frugal, the PixScan can be used to scan in your scraps so you can use them up with not a bit of waste!

For your first try, you need to take a photo of a registration page, a page of dots that is printed from the software. You can use a camera or a camera/tablet phone. Some are already recognised by the system so this step can be skipped.
This has to be in good light, preferably lined up straight on with no shadows.
Once that is done and loaded back in, you find the software should be set up to correct for any curvature of the lens ( think about it as lenses fixing your eyesight)  so that the image will be straight and true, allowing you to take photos of the actual mat without distortion. You then take a photo of your art, on the mat and load it, it thinks for a minute and then either accepts it or refuses, if perhaps it is not bright enough for example. In some cases, you can correct the image yourself and reload it.

So, you may be wondering if I am going to offer you a file for the cheat's version. The answer is a resounding 'no'.

Why?  Because if this mat sorts out the accuracy issues, it is well worth the money you will pay for it.
Most other manufacturers would have made you pay more for the software and Silhouette have given it free. Such generosity should not be abused. Silhouette have listened to customers who wanted this feature and put a lot of work into getting it.  Due to my location, I shall have to wait a while before getting a genuine mat but it should be worth the wait.

Well done, Silhouette, I think you have a winner!

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