Friday, February 23, 2018

Scan N Cut.....I Missed the Obvious

A thought occurred to me yesterday that perhaps my problem stamps were not really the problem. I wondered if it was the process I was using.

I was stamping, cutting, then coloring. It works well when you have matching dies. I can see the lines clearly for lining up the die with the stamped image, then color using sponge daubers. They are not as precise as markers, but the look works well for large florals, and it's generally faster. I do not enjoy coloring. I tolerate it.

It seemed that the Scan N Cut was confused by some of the detailed stamped images. What would happen if I colored them first?  Originally I was concerned about ruining an image I had taken the time to color, but you can see with the machine before you cut if there is a problem. If there is, you just don't cut.

I got out the same "problem" stamps this morning that had issues yesterday. I stamped two images of each. I colored one, and left the other uncolored. For the uncolored, I used the same color of ink that I used for it yesterday.

These are the cutting lines of the colored image:

Next, the cutting lines of the non-colored image:

If you look closely, two petals would have been cut away, parts of each completely missing.

Next, here are the colored and black & white stamped images of the rose trellis:

The cutting lines of the colored image:

One small part at the bottom would be cut off, but the image would be cut out almost perfect.

Next, the black and white cutting lines:

The rose at the top would be chopped apart, as well as other little bits cut away. It's not horrible, but it's not what I wanted.

I cut only the colored images of both the dogwood and rose trellis. You can see the results look good, and NO TRACING REQUIRED:

There is a way that you can cut both inside and out, which would hopefully get rid of at least some of the inside white sections, but I wanted to resolve one problem at a time. I will play with that technique later.

This was one of those occasions when I seriously felt like doing a face palm for missing what should have been obvious, but since I typically die cut before coloring when I have matching dies, it just didn't occur to me at first. I cut first out of habit.

The information (that fully colored images work better) was probably in the operations manual, which came on a CD. I am one of the few who usually will usually read manuals, but since I have used so many electronic cutters, I thought watching tutorials would just be quicker this time, not to mention a lot more enjoyable.

Lesson learned: Color first before cutting.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Scan N Cut Successes and Failures

Today has been a day of trial and error with this machine. First of all, I intentionally chose stamps that I thought might be problematic, so that I could figure out solutions if possible. I wanted to do this at a time that I wasn't rushed.

I can sometimes tell when a stamped image will be difficult for the Scan N Cut. I chose two stamps that I want to use in the near future, and I stamped them in green. For recent tests, green was more difficult for the Scan N Cut than black ink was. Here is my stamped page prior to cutting:

These are old stamps. Decades old, with no matching dies available. The larger one actually cut well. I was pleasantly surprised. The smaller one was obviously going to cut off parts because the design had gaps in the outer line in a couple of places. It would have chopped off pieces of one of the flowers. I decided to use the acetate trace trick.

I did not have acetate sheets. I did have cheap laminating pouches. I figured they would work. I cut off the top so that each pouch gave me two sheets of plastic for tracing.

There is a video on YouTube about using acetate to get a good cutting line. I don't remember the full process, but I took a piece of the clear plastic, placed it over the stamped image, then used an ultra fine sharpie to do a trace of the outside lines. Tip: the outside of your sharpie line will be what the machine sees. A sharpie line, even the ultra fine point, is thicker than pencil and will leave you with a slight border, unless you draw the line just inside the stamped line. Since I was going for zero border, it did not turn out perfect.

Yes, I held down my trace over the stamped image with washi tape. It worked fine the first time. Those of you who watch the video teaching this technique should pay attention to her instructions about NOT using washi tape! The second time I tried this, I did not have the washi stuck down firmly, and one of the pieces came off inside my machine. It took me at least half an hour, but I did eventually manage to get it out.  I seriously thought I had ruined my new machine.

If I decide to use the acetate trick again, I will NOT be using washi tape!  I would use a full sized piece (9x10.5 inches) of the plastic/acetate, with my stamped image on a much smaller piece of cardstock. With the small stamped cardstock square or rectangle, I would place the larger acetate piece overtop so the edges extend well beyond the cardstock. This way, the Scan N Cut mat would be holding the acetate in place.  When done, you can clean the sharpie trace off the plastic with nail polish remover. (That is something I learned back in my days of creating laminated tutoring games).

You do need to scan with the acetate trace in place, but you remove it before you actually cut.

Both cut well. The bigger dogwood branch scanned and cut well without resorting to the acetate. The small one did well using the trace trick. I did not do a perfect trace on the small one, but it was my first time, and I did kind of rush tracing the image.

After the washi fiasco, I turned off my machine for awhile.  I thought more about what went right vs. what went wrong. Then I had a realization that I had not played with the color vs. black and white settings for scanning. I had stamped in black, so I used the gray scale for scanning the image earlier, and it did not do well. That was when I tried the trace and got the washi stuck in the machine.

Tonight I tried both a black ink and a green ink stamped image, and I used the color setting for the scan. That was much, much better. The grass on the bottom was not going to work well, so I deleted it. The unexpected advantage was that instead of a middle part that would not cut out, I ended up with a U shaped image that cut pretty well.

The black image had a better cut using the color scan than it did the gray scale. However, parts did get cut off. The green ink worked the best in this case. I included an uncut version so you can see the actual stamped image prior to the grass being removed.

Here are two more stamped images that I tried. The truck traced and cut well using the gray scale scan. The owl did not have a usable cutting line using gray scale. At this point, I tried scanning it again using the color scan. The owl this time had great cutting lines.

If the gray scale scan does not work for a black and white image, try using the color scan. The reverse is also true. Sometimes the gray scale works better for a colored ink image. I don't know why, but try both before you give up on a problem stamp.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Heartfelt Creations Lush Lilacs: Scan N Cut vs. Matching Dies

My favorite stamp company is Heartfelt Creations. Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Heartfelt Creations class where they taught us coloring and flower shaping techniques as we made 3 cards using their new Lush Lilacs collection. I bought the Lush Lilac stamps that day, but not the dies. After trying to cut them with my new Scan N Cut, I decided to order the Lush Lilac dies, too.

While I love what the Scan N Cut can do, it fussy cuts some stamps well, but others it needs a thin border. Most of the Lush Lilac stamped images ended up with a border when cut out with the Scan N Cut. I prefer my stamps fussy cut right on the edge. This post is shows a comparison of how close the Scan N Cut was able to cut out the Lush Lilac stamps vs. cutting them out with the Lush Lilac matching dies.

In each of the photos below, the stamped image cut out with the Scan N Cut is on the left, and the stamped image cut out with the matching dies is on the right.

There is a way to trick the machine into cutting images closer by using acetate, but I have not yet tried that technique

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Photos of what the Scan N Cut Can Do:

For starters, it will cut out your stamped images amazingly well, as long as it has a good outline to scan and cut. Here is a rose leaf cluster by Heartfelt Creations. I love their stamps, and I am really into making 3D flowers for cards right now. I attended two Heartfelt Creations card classes this week, and I bought more of their flower stamps. However, I did not want to spend another $150 on the matching dies for the stamp sets. That $150 was half of what was needed to buy the Scan N Cut. Since I keep buying stamps, it just made sense to buy the machine rather than continue to buy matching dies.

Anyway, I played around with the machine yesterday and today to see how well it would cut. First, a leaf cluster with NO border, and the same leaf cluster with a small white border:

I was delightfully surprised at how close the cut was able to come. Today I did try to use a more advanced Scan N Cut technique to cut out the white from the curly vines, and it worked, but the vines were too fragile. The machine cut slightly into the design, not just around the design. I need to work on perfecting the technique, but for a brand new novice, I am pleased with what I have been able to cut with this machine. 

 Next, I cut Peony, Poppy, and Rose components (also Heartfelt Creations stamp designs). The machine cut these extremely well. I'm skilled with scissors, but the machine did a better job than I could. After cutting the various flower petals, I colored them, used the Heartfelt Creations molds to shape them, inked them, glued them, and glimmer misted them. By layering them, you end up with 3D flowers. Each of the flower petals has a solid outer line, which means it's the perfect kind of stamped image for the Scan N Cut.

This next sample shows that it is easier for the machine to cut close to the edge if it is black on white than a lighter color on white. The machine needed to include a border to cut the green inked image due to the extremely detailed design and lighter color ink. It was not able to cut on the line of the green inked corner. I have been able to get the machine to cut some colored ink images with no border, too, but the less contrast there is, and the more detail and segmented the design, the harder it is for the machine to recognize and cut without a border. Still, it did extremely well overall. Most dies you buy that match stamps will have a slight border, too. The poppy corners are another Heartfelt Creations stamp, but it has been discontinued.

  If you try to cut distressed stamp designs, or designs that do not have a clean outside edge, you may get parts cut that you don't want cut. For example, I have a very old dogwood stamp that had a gap that I did not notice, so part of a flower petal got a significant portion cut out of it. Someone online suggested that for images which do not have a good solid outer line, take a pencil and draw across any gaps. After cutting, you can erase the pencil lines.

Summary: this is a great machine for stampers! It has limitations, but with practice and experience, I think the limitations will be minor.

Scan N Cut is also easier to use than the Silhouette PixScan mat. The PixScan software gives you more control over your cutting lines, but it takes longer to get your stamped images ready to cut. For extremely detailed or distressed stamped images, I may use my PixScan mat and Cameo, but for most of my stamping, I will be cutting out stamped designs with my Scan N Cut.

Scan N Cut 2 and a micro mini review.....

I never met an electronic cutter I didn't like. Well, almost never.

I started with the original blue Wishblade back in 2005, graduated to a 12 inch wide BossKut Gazelle, later bought a Cricut Expression, then eventually the Silhouette Cameo when my Gazelle stopped communicating with my computer, finally gave into temptation and bought a Cricut Explore Air 2 a little over a year ago in order to be able to cut leather, and this week, I bought the Brother Scan N Cut.

None of the machines were given to me. No manufacturer or company has sponsored, advertised, or in any way bought my interest, opinion, or loyalty. I bought each machine with my own money and because I wanted each one after reading reviews.

Each machine does certain things better than the other cutters. As far as the newer machines, the Cricut Explore Air 2 cuts heavier materials, the Silhouette Cameo has extremely capable design software, and the Brother Scan N Cut will scan and cut your stamped images. I love stamps, so the ability to cut them without having to buy matching dies is what finally made me decide to buy it.  I will stick to my Cameo for nearly everything else, and still use my Explore when I want to cut heavy materials.

I am learning that the Scan N Cut does not fussy cut every stamp equally well, but I can usually get it to cut most of my stamped images, although some I have to give a small border of white first.  Still, it is definitely a machine worth having if you are a stamper. I am good with scissors, but it doesn't mean that I enjoy cutting out detailed stamped images.

My next post will include a couple of my first experiments with stamping and cutting with the Scan N Cut.

Friday, January 12, 2018

More Disney Shirts

For this next shirt, I used some cutting files from the Silhouette Design Store, and did a trace of a Tinkerbell coloring page. First, the front:

And the back:

Another shirt front, traced from a silhouette on the internet (Rapunzel is my favorite princess):

The sun on the back was a Cricut design, with lettering added:

Our husband and wife shirts (yes, my sweet husband was totally willing to wear it):

More shirts to come.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Disney Shirts

When our oldest son and his wife paid off their house in 2016 and became debt free, they decided to celebrate by saving up for a trip to Walt Disney World. We were invited to join them. It sort of morphed into a big family reunion, with members of my daughter-in-law's family, as well as all of our own kids and grandkids.

It had been over 20 years since we had visited Disney, but I remembered that Disney shirts were pricey. Besides, who wants a shirt that several other people are bound to be wearing? I let members of my family choose what they wanted, and I created the shirts.

I thought I would have them all done in short order. Wrong. Those shirts took me weeks to create, but I made a total of at least 26 shirts, most of them different from each other. Most were inspired by shirts I saw on Pinterest. A couple of them were made using files I had bought from Cricut. Some were adapted from clip art, and a few were truly unique and original.

Most of the family doing the planning opted for a basic Mickey or Minnie Head in solid black on a red t-shirt. Most of them had younger kids and wanted something simple.  I don't have little kids anymore and have more craftinng time. I wanted something a bit nicer. The Minnie head made of small Mickey heads was an idea that I saw on Pinterest. This was my first shirt. I liked it enough that I put it on a tote bag, as well as on a belt bag. The belt bag (not shown) was a royal pain to do because the zippers limited the space available for applying heat. I had to do it with my iron instead of my heat press.

The next one was adapted from the design that most of the family were doing. At least two of the families had paid off all debts, including their homes. My husband and I are still working to pay off our house. Anyway, the "Debt Wars" idea was expanded by them. I simplified what was in the box, since theirs said, "Debt free."

I will say this, that despite the huge crowds at Disney during Christmas to New Year's, the green shirts were easy to spot!

More photos to follow. Everyone in my family chose unique shirts.  I had to design what they wanted, create the cutting files, and then make them. We were pretty happy with the results.