The guide line tool is one of the extra features available in the Designer Edition of the Silhouette Studio software. It’s a handy little tool you don’t hear about very often—in fact, I couldn’t even find mention of it in the Silhouette Studio owner’s manual! Today I’m going to show you when and how I use it.
For this tutorial, I used Silhouette Studio Designer Edition v3.3.638 (V3) and v4.0.837 (V4). If you’re looking for a place to upgrade to DE, check out the link in the sidebar.
What are guide lines?
Guide lines are thin blue lines that you can drag into the design area to help line things up. You can drag horizontal lines from the top and vertical lines from the right. And then when you’re finished with them simply drag them out of the way or delete them. When I had the Basic Edition (no guide lines), I used the line & shape tools to draw lines and boxes to use as guides, but the guide lines are much faster to get in place, and bonus…with the guide lines, you can ‘snap’ objects and text to them, making the design process even faster.
When do I use guidelines?
1) To center a text-to-path or object-to-path.
For example, it’s hard to tell if MOOSE is centered at the bottom of this oval (#1).
But pull down a guide line from the top, and you can instantly see MOOSE is a little too far to the right (#2). Slide it a little to the left, and bring the guide line down a bit until it touches the tip of the M and E, and now you *know* that MOOSE is smack dab in the middle.
2. To line up a mix of fonts. The alignment tool works really well to line up text boxes when you’re dealing with the same font in all of the boxes. However, not all fonts have the same spacing—it’s just how they were designed—so when trying to line up multiple fonts, if the alignment tool gives you something like this like mine did…
…then drag the text boxes to the guide line so the fonts line up.
It works vertically, too, using a guideline from the right side. Here’s the result when you use the alignment tool to align to the left.
Again, the font spacing means the different fonts don’t line up. Thanks to the guideline, you can drag the bottom two so they’re lined up with the top one.
3. To make objects or parts of objects the same size.
For example, if you had these three images and you wanted the hearts to all be the same height…
4. To create subway art where each line is the same width.
This isn’t exactly subway art, but it uses a similar technique of making words take up the full length of a line. In this example, I wanted the lines with ‘5 PRACTICE, BEFORE I HAVE MY, and ACTUAL BEER to be the exact same width, with the text sized so each line was filled completely. It’s easy to do by dragging in two vertical guides to mark the edges, then dragging a corner of each text box until it’s the right size to fill the line.
5. To line up a new design element with an existing one. I used the guidelines again and again while designing the upper case letters for the dotty alphabet. For example, for the letter L, if you had two sections of dots, and wanted to make sure they were exactly aligned, pull down the guide line and line it up with the bottom of the existing design (vertical dots) (#1),
…then drag the new element (horizontal dots) until they’re perfectly lined up. Here’s where snap to guides comes in handy…I snapped the first piece to the guide line, then the second piece, and voila, they were perfectly lined up, no fiddling from me.
How do I get the guide lines to work?
First, make sure they’re turned on. To do that…
In Silhouette Studio V4: Click on the ‘Open the Page Setup Panel’ icon (A), click on the grid icon (B), check the ‘Show Guides’ box (C). Remember the ‘Snap to Guides’ (D)…we’ll get to that later.
In Silhouette Studio V3: Click on the ‘Open the Grid Settings Window’ icon (E), click on ‘Show Guides’ (F). Remember the ‘Snap to Guides’ (G)…we’ll get to that later.
In V3 & V4: So now the guide lines are available to use. You won’t see them on your design area; they’re hidden just out of sight at the top (the horizontal guides) and at the right (the vertical guides). To grab one, position the cursor right before the design area ends and the frame begins, left-click & hold down, and drag away from the frame.
As you pull away, a blue guide line the full width of the design area should come along. If it doesn’t, try again. You have to be very precise about where you click to get the guide line, so it may take a little practice to figure out where the sweet spot is. You can get a vertical guide line by doing the same thing on the right side of the screen.
Multiple Guide Lines – You can use as many guide lines as you like at the same time. Just drag a new one into the design area.
Deleting a Guide Line – Click on it, it’ll turn dark blue, then hit the delete key.
Snap to Guides – This is a pretty cool little feature I use a lot. When checked—(G) in V3, (D) in V4 in the screenshots above—this feature works like the Snap to Grid feature. Move a text box or object toward a guide line, and when it gets close, it will automatically ‘snap’ to the guideline. It cuts out some fiddling so is a bit of a shortcut. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the amount of space in the text or object. For my three fonts (because of how they were created), I had to manually position them along the guide line instead of using snap to guides. When using guide lines during my design process, I turn snap to guides on and off, depending on whether they work with the objects/text I’m using.
And there ya have it… another handy design tool in Silhouette Studio.