by Louise

June 22, 2017

How to use a blackout file with your printable stickers in silhouette studio

Ever heard of the printable stickers that come with a blackout file, but not sure how to make use of it? This might help you out!

How to use a blackout file with your printable stickers in silhouette studio

More and more shops on Etsy, that sell printable stickers, have begun to include a blackout file with their stickers. The number one reason for doing this is to make the creation of the cut lines in the silhouette software much easier on the buyer.

Why does the blackout file make it easier you ask?

Well, the software is much better at tracing a black and white file, as opposed to a glitter file for example. When the software is presented with a black file, the tracing is much smoother. You can basically make your cut lines within the software in a matter of minutes, instead of having to draw lines around each box, flag etc on your own.

So all in all the blackout files help you, the buyer, to make a lot smoother lines faster and makes the whole experience of cutting stickers so much more of a breeze.

So how do you actually use them within silhouette?

When you are working with the basic edition of the silhouette software, you have the ability to import image files, like JPG and PNG files. These are often the ones that come with printable sticker files + PDF. However, the basic edition of silhouette does not support PDF. So, you are going to use the JPG/PNG file for tracing.

Tracing your file

The first thing you do is to import the blackout file into silhouette studio.  Then you want to locate the butterfly button.

tracing printable stickers in silhouette

Next, you need to highlight the elements you want the software to trace for you. So you click the “select trace area” (1) and then click and drag over the blackout file (2). In this example, I am using a file with glitter headers. It is a file I  designed, and it is not too big, so I can do the whole thing in one go. If your file is bigger you might need to trace a couple of times, in order for the software to do a proper job tracing your image. So basically take a chunk at a time 🙂

Also, I designed this one to be free of white borders if the machine is a little off when cutting, so there an offset around the actual cut line.

Then use the sliders until all the black is covered with yellow and then click “trace” (3)

tracing printable stickers in silhouette

Clean up! Let’s refine your new cut lines

Then you remove and delete the black image. And you are left with your new cut lines. They might look a little wonky with lines you aren’t interested in cutting, but we are going to fix that!

remove the blackout file from the cut lines in silhouette

You now have your newly created cut lines and your stickers and you need to make sure that they are aligned for the actual print&cut. Now, depending on your printable stickers you might need to do this differently than me, but I just aligned the two (cut lines & image) based on the upper left corner, because they were the exact same on both the blackout file and the glitter file.

align your printable stickers with your cut lines in silhouette


Once they are in the right position you locate the layers panel and search for the one where your actual image is (in my case the glitter) and make sure to lock that layer. By locking the layer you ensure that you don’t accidentally move the image when you are cleaning your cut lines.

lock layer in silhouette studio

With the background layer locked, you right click on your cutlines and then select “release compound path”. This ungroups all your cut lines and gives you the option to delete the ones you don’t want. Now, just left click on unwanted cut lines and delete them until you only see the lines you actually want to cut.

Printable stickers in silhouette studio

Get ready to cut your file

Then select everything and press Ctrl+g to group them all once again. You are now ready to print your image and then have your machine cut that image with the cut lines you just made.

And there you have it. This literally only took me 1 minute to do ! It is really simple and easy to do once you know how to.

(in this picture below, the line is set to 1 pt, but that is only to show you the lines. When you print on your sticker paper, make sure that your cut lines are set to 0.0 pt because then they will not show up on your printed page. )

Also!!! Before you send to your printer, make sure you have your registration marks on. Just a friendly reminder 🙂

Cutting printable stickers on the silhouette cutting machine

Happy cutting! 🙂

About the author

Louise is a graphic designer, a creative planner and a business owner. In her spare time, she likes to make all sorts of crafts and draw digitally. She likes to travel the world and spend time with family. She lives a wonderful life in the country of Denmark with her husband and their one-year-old little girl.

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    1. Sorry to hear that! A lot of people are having troubles with it, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted to help! So thank you for your kind words!

  1. I wish I had seen this before I spend HOURS trying to trace and create cut lines on the image rather than merging the blackout file with the print file. I am sooooo very happy I found you!!

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