How to Divide a Large Wall Decal in Silhouette Studio

…so it fits in your Silhouette and ends up applied properly.

Every once in a while, I want to make a project that is too wide for my Silhouette to handle all in one piece. Here’s how to break up a large design into cuttable pieces and ensure the pieces all fit back together again when applied.

[singing…with apologies to Meghan Trainor]
It’s all about the marks, ’bout the marks, no kidding.
It’s all about the marks, ’bout the marks, no kidding.

Seriously, it’s simply a matter of breaking up the design into logical manageable pieces and then adding registration marks you can match up between the pieces. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say I start with this design (you can find this wall quote project HERE):How to cut and apply a large wall decal.

STEP ONE: Decide where to break up the design. I want the whole thing to be 5′ long. Since the Cameo can cut as long as ten feet, I can cut the length all in one go, no problem. But at 5′ long the design width is about 15″—3″ wider than the maximum cut width of my Silhouette Cameo—so I need to divide the design into two pieces top to bottom. When deciding where to divide, I try to keep phrasing together as much as possible. So in this case, I would simply cut each sentence separately and apply the two pieces to the wall.

But if I want to use two colors, teal & black, like this:How to cut and apply a large wall decal.…then I need to separate the colors, as well, which gives me four pieces to cut:

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.Now why not cut the teal pieces together, you ask? Well, I could, but with them so far apart, application would trickier, and I’d waste vinyl, so I decided to cut them separately. If they had been closer together, I would have cut them together so they could be applied to the wall together. For example, if my design looked like this instead…

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.…(with Creativity and Art close together), I would cut them as one piece, breaking the design into these three pieces:

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.STEP TWO: For each piece, group the elements together so you can move them around as individual units. To do this… Select all of the elements of the piece (draw a selection box around them or hold the shift key down while you select them individually), right-click, then select ‘Group’ from the list.

STEP THREE: Arrange all of the pieces on the mat as they will appear in the final design. Now it’s time to add some registration marks. A registration mark is a small shape of some kind that you add to adjacent pieces and then cut the marks with the design pieces. Then when applying the design, if you match up the registration marks between the pieces, the design pieces will automatically match and everything will end up applied properly. The marks can be any shape. A lot of people use boxes or bars or circles. I like to use stars because they have extra edges to match up, which makes them easier to match, and I get more accurate results. If you don’t have a star in your library, here’s one you can have:

Use stars as registration marks to match up pieces of a large wall decal.Free Download
Silhouette V3 Registration Mark Star File
Silhouette V2 (Legacy) Registration Mark Star File
SVG Registration Mark Star File

STEP FOUR: Add a star from your library or the free star file onto the screen with your design (to add a file to a working screen, click ‘File’ in the upper left, select ‘Merge’, navigate to where the file is located on your computer, and select it (double-click it on a PC)). Resize the star so it’s a good registration mark size. For a large wall decal, 1-2″ is a good ballpark. The stars on my wall design were about 1½”. Duplicate the star several times.

STEP FIVE: Arrange a pair of stars where each piece intersects with another. Add the stars to the design, without overlapping any of the design elements. For this design, I used three pairs of stars:Use stars as registration marks to match up pieces of a large wall decal.Pair #1 – at the intersection of Creativity and is allowing oneself to make mistakes
Pair #2 – at the intersection of the two black pieces
Pair #3 – at the intersection of Art and is knowing which ones to keep.
I’ve got pairs #2 and #3 sharing a star, but they don’t have to…you could add another star to the left of the black star in #2.

So, what you’re going to do next is duplicate the pairs and attach a pair of stars to each of the pieces where they join another piece (instructions in the next step), so it looks like this:Use stars as registration marks to match up pieces of a large wall decal.I made each piece+stars a different color so it’s easier to see which stars go with which piece. The green arrows show which pairs to line up during the application process. Here’s how to get those pairs positioned so they overlap exactly.

STEP SIX: Group the first pair of stars together (select them, right-click, choose ‘Group’ from the list) and duplicate them (select them, right-click, choose ‘Duplicate’). So now you have two pairs of stars. They’re slightly overlapping as duplicates do.How to divide a large wall decal into cuttable pieces and ensure all the pieces fit together again when you apply them to the wall.STEP SEVEN: Use the Align tool to overlap them exactly. To do that, select them both, click on the ‘Open the Align Window’ icon (A), click on ‘Align Center’ (B). How to divide a large wall decal into cuttable pieces and ensure all the pieces fit together again when you apply them to the wall.

One pair of stars will jump on top of the other overlapping exactly. Although it doesn’t look like it, both pairs are selected, so now’s the time to drag them to where you want them (mine shifted a bit because the original pair jumped on the duplicate instead of the other way around, so I scooted mine over to the left a little). Click anywhere on the mat to deselect the stars. It looks like you have only one pair of stars, but the second one is there. How to divide a large wall decal into cuttable pieces and ensure all the pieces fit together again when you apply them to the wall.STEP EIGHT: Group creativity and one pair of stars together (to do that, select one pair of stars, being careful not to move them, and with the shift key down, select Creativity, right-click, choose ‘Group’). Drag Creativity a little to left and you’ll see that one pair of stars goes with Creativity and the other pair stays behind.

How to divide a large wall decal into cuttable pieces and ensure all the pieces fit together again when you apply them to the wall.STEP NINE: Select the remaining pair of stars and is allowing oneself to make mistakes and group them together. (right-click, choose ‘Group’).

STEP TEN: Repeat STEPS SIX to NINE for each of the other pairs of stars. Change the fill color of the stars to match the piece they’re part of (the teal vinyl pieces have teal stars, and black pieces have black stars).

So now you should have four pieces, each with a pair of stars where they join another piece. You can move each piece+stars independently to place them on the mat to cut, and the fill color tells you which pieces to cut from which colors of vinyl.How to divide a large wall decal into cuttable pieces and ensure all the pieces fit together again when you apply them to the wall.To apply the design to the wall, simply match the stars exactly between each of the pieces. For more details and instructions on how to do, that check out the creativity wall quote project HERE.

Visit Whatchaworkinon.com for cool Silhouette projects.NOTE: It’s easier to match up stars when they’re a contrasting color (so teal with black, above). However, in this example, you’ll also end up matching black stars on is knowing which ones to keep with black stars on is allowing oneself to make mistakes. You can avoid black-on-black matching by cutting one pair of stars from another color…any color. The trick is to cut them at the same time. Place a black piece of vinyl on the mat large enough to cut is knowing which ones to keep, but not the stars. Then place a contrasting piece of vinyl, say orange, where the stars will cut. Then when the silhouette cuts out the design, the stars will be exactly where they should be, but cut from a color of vinyl that will contrast nicely with the black of the adjacent piece.

Visit Whatchaworkinon.com for cool Silhouette projects.

 

With this technique, the size of your wall decals isn’t limited by what will fit in your Silhouette. So, go head, break apart that big design and get it on the wall!

If you have any questions, leave me a comment or email me at eff at whatchaworkinon dot com

 

effCheers!

–Eff

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