Friday, October 7, 2011

MTC's Tiler Tool: What NOT to do

I love it when I get my little moments of brilliance. They usually happen out of the blue, when I am least expecting it. Some of my favorite cards are the results of such spontaneous sparks, when the stars in the universe align, and something in my head clicks. It is then that I can't help but jump up and yell "I KNOW what I'm going to do!". Then again, sometimes it is not difficult to misinterpret a moment of brilliance and turn it into an afternoon of stupidity.

Unfortunately that was happened to me on Tuesday.

You see, when the idea of a kiddie game came over me that morning, it presented itself not only as a quick solution to a Cut Its file that I can't use, it also gave me a reason to try a tool in Make-the-Cut that I've never played with before. I was excited. My project was a new-to-me concept that in theory, seemed so simple and so easy to execute. As soon as it came to me, I just jumped right into it without giving it a second thought.

The Tiler tool is an awesome feature that is intended for crafters who want to cut a design that is larger than the cutting mat. Basically, the Tiler "slices" the design into smaller sections, or tiles, that you can line up and piece together to form a bigger version. It is especially useful for large size vinyl work. I have had no prior experience with this tool and I don't usually work with vinyl but I was excited to put my idea into action.

To access the Tiler tool, use Shape Magic-Advanced-Tiler (or Ctrl+Shift+N)

I had several sheets of printable vinyl left over from my "faux-magine" days and it seems like a good idea to incorporate a print-and-cut (PNC) project with the tiler tool. After all, I had just pnc-ed the Monster Lights file on printable vinyl the day before. Now that I need a bigger version of the same design cut out again in printable vinyl, it just seemed obvious that I should be able to apply the tiler to help with that. After all, the tiler tool is supposed to create tiles of a larger-than-mat design.

This was what I had in mind:

1. Import the Monster Lights SVG
2.  Break and Delete the rectangle "nose"
3.  Enlarge the entire image
4. Apply Tiler
5. Print-and-Cut (that is, print out all the colored pages and than send them to cut with the Silhouette SD)
6. Stick on Wall

Sounds easy enough, right?

Yeah, that was what I thought except that I had never used the Tiler Tool before and was too impatient to read more about it.  Steps 1-3 was easy and took no time at all but Step 4 required me to define the size of the tile. As soon as I entered the dimensions for a letter-sized page and clicked "Apply", I realized that I had forgotten to take into account the no-cut zone on the Silhouette SD. So, I had to redo the Tiler and re-enter a smaller Width and Height of the tile.

I checked all the tiles and re-positioned them to be sure that that they all fit within the cut zone. I was pleased but still not confident that my idea would work. I decided to print the tiles on regular printer paper just in case. I loaded my printer and prepare to print using MTC. I added the registration marks on all the pages and click "Print Preview".

Everything looked right and so I printed the pages. However, when I tried to get the Silhouette to cut the tiles, it was unable to find the reg marks. I was flabbergasted. I had forgotten that the PNC zone of the Silhouette was even smaller than the size of the cutting zone! 

MTC prints reg marks as closely to the image as possible. Since the program does not automatically set the reg marks to stay within the Silhouette's PNC zone, the user must manually adjust the image so that the MTC's reg marks are within the area where the optical eye is able to "see". 

The screenshot below shows the PNC zone of the Silhouette. The MTC reg marks must be within this area in order for the cutter to be able to find them. If the reg marks are outside this zone, the Silhouette will not be able to detect them.

If the image lies outside the PNC zone, the optical eye will fail to locate the MTC reg marks during scanning.

In my case, the MTC reg marks and my tiles had landed outside the PNC zone and so the cutter had failed to find the reg marks. ARGH! Time to re-apply the Tiler with new, smaller tile dimensions, and to re-print :-(

While re-generating the new, even smaller tiles, I realized that trying to PNC with the Tiler tool for a cutter with a limited size mat (like the Silhouette SD) was not a clever idea. The pnc zone of the Silhouette is so small that it took up too much time to print on too many sheets of vinyl. I had to print out too many little pieces of tiles in order to form the complete (larger) design.

12 small tiles that fit within the PNC zone.

6 tiles that fit a letter-size page (taking account of printer margins)

If I ever had to use the Tiler tool again, these are the things I will NOT do:

- Do not PNC with the Tiler tool.

- Do not PNC especially with the Tiler tool AND the Silhouette SD. The cuttable area within the Silhouette's registration marks is simply too small for the tiler tool to be used effectively.

- If you must PNC with the Tiler tool, choose a cutter that has a larger cutting zone. Remember this: The larger the tile, the less number of tiles are needed to form the complete design. You want to maximize the size of the print out on your printable vinyl to cut out as big a piece of the design as possible because, a smaller tile only means more work. 

In other words,

Smaller tiles = more to cut and piece together = No Good. 
Larger tiles = less to cut and piece together = Good.

- Instead of using pnc to add colors to your large-size vinyl work, consider using colored vinyl instead. The size of the tile is only limited to the size of your cutter and the size of the vinyl. For example, say, you want to put a large orange monster (vinyl) on the wall. Printing the smaller sections in orange and then cutting those printed sections out, is a lot more work than simply cutting the pieces out on orange-colored vinyl.

Despite my snafus, I am pleased with the results. I made a PIN THE NOSE ON THE MONSTER game for the kids! Actually, I made two. The first took a considerable amount of time to make because I was determined to pnc the darned thing out. I felt so stupid for taking so long to finish it that I had to make a second one just to prove that it could have been done in a much shorter time. Making the second piece took only a fraction of the time that I took to make the first. Even better, because I wanted my tile to be as big as possible, I printed the design on a full letter-size sheet of printable vinyl (less printer margins). That meant that I did not have room for reg marks and so I resorted to cutting the 2nd piece out using the Mother of all Cutters. I cut all the pieces out with my SCISSORS. In 10 minutes. It was a satisfying and therapeutic end to my day of misadventures. Electronic cutters may be a clever invention for papercrafting but at the end of the day, I learned that no matter how many electronic cutters I own, nothing is more accurate and effective in pnc-ing than a good old pair of scissors. (Except maybe when the cuts are super intricate but let's not go there today, okay? *wink*  )


So, did you make the correct guess? I had so much fun with Tuesday's post but my favorite part were your comments. I loved reading all of your guesses! All of you are so creative and you have given me so many ideas of what I can do with these monsters. Who knows, I just may have to cut out a polka-dotted-bikini-wearing orange monster one of these days. 

Before I reveal the winner, and just in case anyone is interested in making your own Pin-The-Nose-On-The-Monster game, let me share some additional tips with you.

1. The Tiler tool is a great feature. Apply the tool to break up a large image into smaller pieces and cut those pieces out the traditional way. Try not to PNC. Just use colored vinyl and cut as you would any other vinyl piece. Using colored vinyl is a lot less time-consuming.

2. In the photo above, I had enlarged the orange monster by 425% (approx. 16" x 26"), and the Frankenstein by 570% (approx. 22" x 25").

3. To make the monster's nose, I cut out a triangle and placed some removable scrapbooking tape on one side.

4. I used the Masquerade Masks SVGs to cut out the game mask. Just Break and Delete the eye holes before cutting out. Also, I used ribbon on the mask because I didn't have any elastic threads. Ribbons are pretty but elastic strings/threads are a lot more convenient.

And now, let me announce that the winner of the $10 Lettering Delights gift certificate is......

Congratulations, GaTechGal! Please email me to claim your prize. 

Thanks everyone, for playing!

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  1. I have never cut out vinyl before but this looks like it could be a nice idea for my church's Fall Family Festival. Can you tell me how easy it is to remove the vinyl from the wall? Does it leave any residue or damage the paint? Thanks for the informative post and any advice you can offer!

  2. So fun Jin! Your such a cool mom! :)

    Ruthie :)

  3. I've yet to work with vinyl, seems a bit intense for me right now but saw some great ideas that I hope I will eventually get the nerve to try out. :)

    Despite the mishaps, your idea turned out great!