Cropping Vector Images

Say thank you to Rayleen for today’s post! She sent me a similar file to the one above (on the left) and needed to crop a certain section so as to fit an existing size project.   I recreated my own version of the file and I think this could easily be something that you might encounter when trying to modify existing files.  The situation is this… you have a rectangular image that you would like to use but it must be converted to a square image to work in your application.  You can’t just resize it because it will distort the image and change the width of the outer portions of the frame:

So, you would like to crop it in a similar way that you do with photos. Basically, you would like to just cut out a portion of the image to use. This is amazing simple to do by just using any shape tool, arranging the shape over the part of the image you wish to crop, and then applying the XOR weld.

In this situation, you want to go one step further, which is to create a perfect square crop and maximize as much of the existing image as possible. So, watch the video and you’ll see how it’s done:

Cropping Vector Images

and here’s a link to the file I used in case you want to try it out:

Valentine Mesh

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Solving a Design Problem with Stenciling

Before I address the image above, two things I want to share with you:

(1) Accugraphic’s sites are currently down, thus the links to the cutters in my store here are not currently working. If all goes well, things will be back up and running next week. In the meantime, you can order by calling their 800-268-3672 number Monday-Friday from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm EST.

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Okay, now let’s talk about the cute image above! Colleen S sent this file to me because she wasn’t sure how to get the dogs’ paws to show up in the image. Obviously just welding the paws to the sign wouldn’t provide the look she wanted, which was to clearly see the dog’s paws and give the impression that they were on top of the sign. Now, with most designs like this, the dog would be a different color and you could simply layer the paws on top. However, in this case even if you were to make the dog’s paws and the sign different colors, you would end up with parts of the sign appearing through the paws because the dog is designed as an outline image with hollow parts:

So, I thought about it for a while and then suddenly remembered the stenciling trick where you carve one image out from another and the effect is a kind of merging of the two images. While it’s not EXACTLY the same as seeing the dogs’ paws on top of the sign, the resulting look is kind of cool and, most importantly, Colleen was pleased with outcome. : )

To see the process, watch this video:

Stenciling An Image

Flip and Weld

Thanks to Terina who sent in her family business logo above for a slight editing change. The bottom of the “O” was open and she wanted to know the easiest way to close that part of the letter to match the top:

Now, I could have told Terina to just bring up the nodes, split a few of them, drag them over to the other side, weld the nodes to those on the other side, and then smooth out the curves. But whenever I see symmetry, I always think of a technique I call the “Flip and Weld” which can be used to easily reproduce the opposite side of any symmetrical object, such as this “O”.

It basically involves using the Ginsu Knife tool to break the image into two parts and discarding one of the parts. In this case it would be the lower half of the “O”. Then using the Flip function, a mirror image is created and overlapped on top of the original. The feature I love about the Flip function, versus the Mirror function, is that you have the option of retaining the original. Then by aligning the new side to just barely overlap the original, the two can then be welded and you obtain, a perfect symmetrical image:

And yes, I have a video for this process! Click on this link:

Flip and Weld

Keep this method in mind for both your manual and auto-traced images in which the original image is symmetrical. You will almost always notice slight differences from one side to the other and this can distort the overall appearance of the image. If an image is symmetrical both horizontally and vertically, then you can use the Ginsu Knife twice and end up with a quarter of the image to reproduce and Flip and Weld…. first one direction (say, horizontally), and then Flip and Weld it the other (thus, vertically) and obtain the perfect symmetrical image you wanted.

If you are designing a symmetrical image from scratch, using either basic shapes, hand drawing, or modifying an existing image, remember this method, as well.

Finally, this method can also be used in Rhinestone designing, when an outline (or even a fill) doesn’t end up with a symmetrical placement of the circles. In this case, only the Flip step is used. Here’s a video showing this:

Symmetrical Outlining with Circles

If you come up with a great application for the Flip and Weld, be sure to send it to me!

Thickening Shapes


BeCca contacted me last week with a stick tree that was impossible to cut due to extremely thin branches. So, I used the same process I’ve shown in several of the designing videos on this blog to make the branches thicker. The difference in this particular case was that part of the image needed to remain unchanged.

Ginsu to the rescue! lol I simply cut off the branches, thickened them using the Stroke and Fill tools (combined with the Basic weld), and then reattached the branches to the trunk. The new Thickening Images Video shows the process in detail. Note that I also have videos in my store which cover more details on using the Ginsu Knife and Polyarc Editing.

Finally, after having a partial crash of my site after a Word Press update a week ago, I now have the Store back in business! So, if you have been trying to purchase the new tracing videos without success, they are now available again:

Downloadable Videos

Quick Method for Welding to the Inside of a Rectangle


Carol B contacted me the other day after she inadvertently discovered the Decorative Border function in KNK Studio. She asked me if I was aware of it and I responded that I was. It’s covered in Section 8.9 of the KNK and ACS User Manuals. HOWEVER, there was something about Carol’s file that triggered something I had never thought of before! She had a hearts image selected when she clicked on the Decorative Border function and KNK Studio immediately placed the inner part of the border around her hearts:

That’s when I realized that the border was actually a frame (with a hollow interior), thus you could use it to weld the images to the inside rectangle! And further, it’s REALLY easy to drag that interior rectangle to overlap perfectly and maintain centering with the outside rectangle at the same time. The only thing one needs to remember to do, is change everything to the same color before welding. This is FAR easier and faster than either of the methods I’ve taught in the past and I’m so very happy to have available now. Thanks, Carol! And here’s the video to watch:

Use Decorative Border to Weld to Rectangles

OOPS! Where did my middles go?


An oft-asked question by my customers designing titles goes like this: “I’ve welded some letters together but the middles disappeared! Help!”

Very simple diagnosis and a very simple fix:  If you’ve gone to Arrange>Break Path so that you can edit the letters (or any image with interior parts) and you neglect to then do an Arrange>Make Path, then those interior paths will vanish upon welding.  So, after editing your letters, just marquis-select each one (making sure you select both the exterior path and the interior path) and then do an Arrange>Make Path. Today’s video shows you exactly how it works.

I fail to mention in the video that this works the same way with just a basic shape.  If you have, for example, a flower with a center circle and you have not execute an Arrange<Make Path, then when you weld the flower to any other object, that center circle will disappear.   Also, remember that if you ever weld anything and you do not get the results you expected, then always back up a step (Edit>Undo).  I’ve also had customers who have performed a Make Path on everything at one time (as I show in the video), then tried to weld and noticed that nothing seemed to happen. Then they begin doing the Break Path and trying to re-Make Path and weld and end up with sort of a mess.  So, remember that all-important Edit>Undo as well.