January 8, 2011

Silhouette Digital Cutting Machine and Adobe Illustrator Plug-In

UPDATE: As of November, 2013 Silhouette Connect was released for Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw users to be able to cut directly from their programs to their Cameo or Portrait.

*Note that this Plug-in works with the Original Silhouette and the Silhouette SD but has not been made for the Silhouette Cameo.*

One thing I was thrilled to find out after I bought my Silhouette was that I could cut directly from Adobe Illustrator. I play around a lot in that program and enjoy it a lot. Plus, a PDF file can be opened directly in Illustrator as a Vector image - which means no work to get your cut lines!

Silhouette SD Digital Craft Cutting Tool (Silhouette)

When I installed my Illustrator plug-in I just went off my best-guess from images on the Craft Robo website. I have the older Silhouette, but for the new models I would recommend trying the CC330L-20. Anyone who tries this please let me know if it works! It's so nice to be able to cut straight from Illustrator! You can download them below:

Windows Plug-in HERE
Mac OSX 10.4-10.7 (Lion) Plug-in HERE.
Mac OSX 10.2-10.3 Plug-in HERE.

Once you have the plug-in installed it is located in the File-Print menu. Makes sense right?

Silhouette Machine Adobe Illustrator Plug-in

You need to make sure when cutting from Illustrator to put the correct tip on your cutter, and to choose the correct Speed & Force (Thickness) - if you're not sure, check the suggested settings in Silhouette Studio and do the same or close. You can also do a test cut in the Plug-in.

 Silhouette Machine Adobe Illustrator Plug-in

Of course, there are occasions that I would still like to bring the Illustrator file over to Silhouette Studio, which currently can't be done. Here's my way of getting around that.

How to Open an Illustrator File in Silhouette Studio

I export the file from Illustrator as an AutoCAD Interchange File. (*.dxf) In order to export it properly the entire image must be completely ungrouped. Otherwise it won't be recognized properly. I then import it in RoboMaster and cut it in that program. You can then go further and save it in RoboMaster as a .gsd and be able to use it in Silhouette Studio.

If you open the file in Silhouette Studio and absolutely nothing appears it is probably because you did not ungroup the image. If that still doesn't work try removing all compound paths. If your text is not showing up you likely have to turn it into a path try outlining the font, or go to the Type menu and choose "Create Outlines". If you are still having problems you can always comment below or email me from the side menu.

*Update: Some of the links I've posted previously are no longer working. I've updated the links here with the only links I've found to work. You'll find the link to both Mac and Windows software listed above, but please let me know if you can't get the links to work.


Meadowlark said...

ROboMaster doesn't speak to my Silhouette (I have a new one).

I create the file in AI then export as an emf. I can import an emf into my library but I still have to trace it.

I haven't had much luck printing directly from AI - i've read that it's because I have AI5, and that 4 worked great but 5 has issues. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Thanks so much for your knowledge!

Susie said...

I'm brand new to both the Silhouette and to Illustrator. Do you have tutorial on exactly how to do the whole process?
I downloaded the plugin. I tried to look at a .gsd file and it doesn't recognize that. What file formats does it open and what do you have to do to them to get them to cut on the Silhouette?
Thanks a bunch,

Chris and Dani said...

I love Illustrator and am thinking of buying a silhouette. Do you know if this plugin works just as well for the new silhouette?

Anonymous said...

I just purchased a Silhouette SD machine from ebay.ca and have been using Illustrator since taking the Graphic Design at Canadore College years ago. I will post my methods once I get everything hooked up and after I fiddle around with the machine a bit

Anonymous said...

I can confirm that the illustrator plugin works using Illustrator CS3. I just cut directly from Illustrator and can avoid Silhouette studio all together.

Nicholas Gomez said...

I have been using Ai plugin for the Craft Robo and Silhouette SD machine. The Ai version that I use is CS4 but it also works using CS3. As you have mentioned the easiest way to import into Silhouette Studio is by exporting your file from Ai as a dxf. Before you export, you will want to make sure you ungroup everything and make sure you have all fills turned off as well compound shapes released. I also label my layers as Die Cut (image to be cut) and CutBox (a box I draw around to cut around the image). This makes things a little more organized and easy to follow. Then I import into Silhouette. Works Great!!

P.S. I love your designs and website. Look forward to checking back again.


bee* said...

Do you know where I can download the Illustrator plug in? When I go to the link above it just has the download link for the sillhouette studio software. I would prefer to not use that program altogether. PLEASE HELP!!

Maggie Muggins said...

Bee - I would have loved to email you about this, but you have no email set up associated with your profile. This site has the plug-in: http://www.graphteccorp.com/craftrobo/things/software.html. You have to sign up through them, but I think your Silhouette Serial No. should work for the account. I'm not positive though. Please let me know. I have a copy of it, but I'm not sure what system you need it for Mac or Windows?

Charles Crawford said...

Is there chance that someone on this forum could post the illustrator plugin on dropbox, rapidshare or another file sharing website? Or even email it to me so I can do so? I have a Silhouette SD, but can't use the serial # from my machine to make an account on the graphtec website. (I guess technically they're different distributors, even though it's the same machine.) I'd really love to cut right from illustrator. Thanks! I can be emailed at theIVth *at* hotmail *dot* com

Charles Crawford said...

For Silhouette SD owners, you can't download the Illustrator plugin directly from the link above (graphteccorp.com). They want a serial number in a format that the SD's serials don't match.

You are able to get it here, however (graphtecamerica.com):


It installed fine for me and showed up in Illustrator with no problems. Haven't cut anything with it yet (going to bed :) ), but I don't see any indication that it won't work.


Josiahs Scott said...

This last link worked good for me from within Illustrator 11 (aka. "CS"). Thanks.

I was also able to Export out of Illustrator and bring it into Silhouette Studio like this:

(1) Install the latest version of Silhouette Studio
(Note: this step is important)

(2) Export out of Illustrator as “AutiCAD Interchange File (*.DXF)”
Note 1: do not “Save” or “Save As” or “Save for Web,” but go to “File” > “Export…”
Note 2: This does not work with some older versions of Illustrator (example: versions 8 & 9)

(3) Go to the latest version of Silhouette Studio

(4) in the “drawing area,” open a file, and under “Files of type:” select “AutiCAD Interchange File (*.dxf)”

(5) Navigate to the exported file from Illustrator

This worked good for me as long as my drawings had a “stroke” on them (i.e. it had an outline applied to it in Illustrator).

I hope this helps!


kb said...

Thanks, everyone, for all of the helpful info!

@Charles Crawford, I echo this--my Silhouette SD serial didn't work on the original form, so I also used the downloaded link you posted to get the Mac version successfully (which I'm excited is optimized through CS5.5).

@Josiahs, I run my Silhouette Studio software and Illustrator on two different computers (the Silhouette is plugged into my desktop and my Illustrator software is on my laptop), so your steps seem like they'll work the best for me (i.e. not cutting directly from Illustrator, but rather exporting the file)!

I'm going to try this process tonight (export > import > cut), and will report on the results.

Thanks again, Maggie Muggins, for blogging about this! It was the first result I saw when Googling the problem I was having... :)

dekoracje said...

Oki,so how to export file from Silhouette Studio to Illustrator or Corel Draw? That's because I own Graphtec ce5000-120 & Sillhouette Studio deosn't support it?

-Candi said...

No luck installing on my mac to use with Ai 4... trying the "mac" link but setup gives me an error. Any ideas?

Molly said...

I use my Silhouette with Illustrator... I just got this response from them:

Thank you for your inquiry. There is a plug-in we can relay you to as a courtesy offering to use with the original Silhouette or Silhouette SD model. This program while offered as a courtesy, however, is not supported. To obtain the Adobe Illustrator/CorelDraw plug-in, please download from http://www.graphtecamerica.com/imaging_software/CuttingMaster2-V1.80/C-Master2forCraftROBO(M)v180.zip (Mac) or http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/support/programs/C-Master2forCraftROBO(W)v180.zip (PC). If prompted for a model number during installation, the original Silhouette is CC200-20 and the Silhouette SD is CC330L.

A manual for the "Cutting Master" bridge program may be found at the following link:

You may find additional video support at http://www.graphtecamerica.com/FAQs/cutting_master2.html .

Installing this plug-in should put an option in your Adobe Illustrator program (Compatible with Adobe Illustrator 8 through CS5 and for CorelDraw 10-X5) that will allow you to send cut jobs to the Silhouette directly from Illustrator. Again, please note that in this scenario where the Silhouette software is being bypassed, while we can support issues relating to the Silhouette hardware, we cannot support third party software or trouble-shooting issues regarding Adobe Illustrator, including the plug-in part of the program.

No further updates to this plug-in are or will be available for future versions or platforms. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

You may alternately explore the use of the new Silhouette Studio Designer Edition we offer at https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/silhouetteStudioDE.aspx . This version of our supported software provides the ability to use any SVG file you have created from Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or other major vector imaging design programs (http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/faq.aspx?solutionid=939 ).

Georgian Eye said...

I am looking at purchasing a die cutter but the online information seems extremely rare! The silhouette seemed to be the only one with an official website. I have an iMac with CS5.5 will the illustrator plug in work with it? I want to make sure i buy the right machine.
Thank-you for your post!

Unknown said...

I am having trouble opening an exported DXF file from AI CS5 to Silhouette Studio. Is there something special I should do? I tried having it change from the Live Trace to Live Paint in order to be able to get it to outline. Once I export it to AutoCAD DXF it won't open in Silhouette Studio. I know there is something simple I am missing.

Maggie Muggins said...

Don't forget to completely ungroup EVERY little thing. Nothing can be grouped at all. Also, release all compound paths. If you don't the DXF file will typically open in Silhouette but not show a single cut line. If you are still having difficulty try exporting to a different version of AutoCAD. Let me know if you are still having problems after you try that.

Meredith said...

I have a question... I have been saving a logo out of AI (vector icon + outlined type), I ungrouped, released all compound paths etc. When I import it in to SS the only thing that shows up is the vector icon and even then it's a little wonky, where it's supposed to be a sharp point it's a rounded corner etc, and the outlined type is not there either.

Got any suggestions?

I'm going to try the plugin from AI once I get home (where my Silhouette is) tonight, hopefully that works!

Thanks for the awesome info!

Tom DeForest said...

Unfortunately, I am on Mac OS X Lion and the installer for this plugin doesn't work on my computer. However, I was able to export from Illustrator to the .dxf format following the instructions above. As is mentioned, before I outlined the type and ungrouped everything it just opened as an empty file in Silhouette Studio. After I outlined type and ungrouped everything and expanded compound paths, it worked. I'll have to keep experimenting to see whether this will work on real world projects.

On a side note, this blog post and it's comments have been the most helpful in figuring out how to do this. The Silhouette Studio manual is very thin on details on how get artwork from Illustrator into Silhouette Studio. Thanks everyone!

Maggie Muggins said...

**Note to all trying this method out. If you are exporting to DXF and the only thing NOT showing up in Silhouette Studio is the text of your image - try rasterizing the font. (Flattening it to a vector image instead of leaving it as a font.)After you rasterize, you will need to trace (exclude white) and expand it. I'm not sure why the font wouldn't work on some but I'll have to look into it and post more soon. Thanks all for your comments and information. There is little support for Illustrator and Silhouette users!

Unknown said...

Hi, just to add to the font issue in Adobe Illustrator, instead of rasterizing and tracing if you go to the Type menu and click on Create Outlines, it will expand the Type keeping all of the edges sharp and corners tight. Hope this helps.

Thanks for your information on the plugins, I've been researching getting a Silhouette Cameo and had hoped you could work directly with Illustrator :-)

Jess said...

I just ordered my Cameo, currently I have Silhouette SD, I know that we can import and cut DXF through Studio Software (Designer Edition), but the free Studio sftware doesn't import DXF or SVGs. I tried to convert SVGs to DXF using Adobe Illustrator but I noticed that the nods number increase and that causes 'jagged' cutline? any one else noticed the same? What line setting and export 'Options' you select in AI? thanks

Tom DeForest said...

I export from Illustrator to DXF using the default settings. You just have to outline the type and ungroup everything before exporting.

Maggie Muggins said...

The normal Silhouette Studio software will import a .dxf file. I've had very few imports from that method that change the cutting line. As a note you don't actually import the .dxf file - but open it (you have to change the file type to .dxf when you go to open the file. I hope that clears up some questions for you.

Anonymous said...

Hello Maggie and All:

I am just setting up my xmas present: A Silhouette SD! Reading all of these comments has been quite helpful, and I am sure will continue to be once I get going.

I downloaded the Illustrator plugin from graphtecamerica like Charles Crawford posted about in June, but I'm stuck and cannot figure out how to install the plugin - the download is a zip file and I'm unsure how to install from there. It's probably really obvious, right? Gosh, I hope so!

Thanks to all! Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

I almost had a panic attack when I first saw the comment about not being able to use illustrator for the CAMEO, but reading through your all comments I was able to export my illustrator file as a .dxf workd perfect, thank you so much and happy new year!

Maggie Muggins said...

Ali, it is pretty easy. Open and extract the files in the zip file (usually in Windows it will open directly and you can "drag and drop" the inside files - If it doesn't open try downloading software to open .zip files: 7-Zip or WinZip are good). After extracting the .zip open the "Autorun.exe" file in the main folder. During the installation you will be required to enter the a model number: the original Silhouette is CC200-20 and the Silhouette SD is CC330L. Once the Silhouette Plug-in is installed, you will run it from inside Adobe Illustrator by going to File->Cut/Plot -> Send to Silhouette. (I believe that is close, I don't currently have the plug-in installed to double check). Feel free to contact me with more questions.

Anonymous said...

I need help with my silhouette cameo I just purchased. I am new to all of this and this may be a dumb question. I have heard there are tons of free gsd. files on the internet to be used with silhouette studio. I find the file, save it to a folder I have created, but when I go into silhouette studio "import to library" the file I saved is not in my folder. How on earth do I get free gsd files into my library? I would appreciate any help you can give

Maggie Muggins said...

From my experience you can only import one .gsd file at a time. You have to change the "file type" in the dialog box to .gsd and then click on the specific file you wish to import. I tried a batch import but it wouldn't work on a whole folder. The other option is just to open the .gsd file and not import it to your library. In that case just go to file->open and change the "file type" to .gsd and then find and select the file. This is definitely something Silhouette could be made aware of. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thanks! I just got the Silhouette Cameo and was all upset that I couldn't get my Illustrator files to import into it. Then I found your blog that said:

"I export the file from Illustrator as an AutoCAD Interchange File. (*.dxf) In order to export it properly the entire image must be completely ungrouped."

After I ungrouped it, everything worked fine! So thank you for saving me $50 and buying the designer version of the software! :)

Heather said...

Just another happy visitor who was having trouble exporting DXF! "Ungroup" seems to have done the trick. I'm so relieved. Thank you!!

PK said...

The link for the Silhouette plug in that is supposed to be for MACs, is a windows link and does not work. Does anyone have a current link for Apples?
I have a Cameo.


PK said...

Ok, It looks like this one is for the Mac.


Melissa Vasquez said...

Oh man- I've tried all the links posted. I have a Mac and CS5- it used to work in CS4 but now I can't get it to work. I made sure it was all outlined, ungrouped and saved as dxf. I even just tried a regular square with no text as a test. Please help.

Maggie Muggins said...

I have a newer post thst links to a page with all downloads. I'll post it below when I have a minute to look it up. I believe it might be that there is a specific version you need for CS5?

Maggie Muggins said...

Here's my latest post: http://www.maggiemugginsdesigns.com/2012/02/silhouette-adobe-illustrator-plug-ins.html?m=1
Seems to me you either need to try a different version or uninstall and reinstall the plugin.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maggie!

My goodness you are wonderful for all your help with this. I downloaded everything and it's installed correctly, but the model numbers for the Silhouette SD are not listed when I go to do the set up inside Illustrator. I think the SD model is CC330-20 (or at least something similar) and the items for selection in the drop down menu are plotters. Any suggestions? I've installed, erased, reinstalled... Sure would love this to work. Thanks a MILLION!!! -Vee

Maggie Muggins said...

Vee - these are the model numbers to use:
Select CC200-20 for Silhouette Machine.
Select CC300-20 for SIlhouette SD Machine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maggie! It wasn't the model number I needed. It's that the machine I need isn't listed in the drop down menus. I can see only CE or FF models, not any of the CC models. :( I've installed it twice. Do you by any chance have another Mac install link for me to use? Thank you so very, very much! I love your blog! -Vee

Maggie Muggins said...

Did you try the links from this post: http://www.maggiemugginsdesigns.com/2012/02/silhouette-adobe-illustrator-plug-ins.html.

Make sure you have the correct version for your version of Mac. Unfortunately I'm not running on Mac so I can't test for you. If you are having trouble though, Graphtec is good at responding!

Let me know if you are still having problems.

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions on how to convert a .studio file to a .ai or pdf or any other format that can be imported into adobe illustrator? There is a dicut from the Silhouette studio website that I would like to edit in illustrator but I can't figure out a way to convert the .studio file to another vector format.

Maggie Muggins said...

Hi Anonymous, I just posted a new post about how to get a .studio file over to .ai. It's a sort of round-about way because there isn't an easy export - but it works quite well.

Alison said...

Hi, Thanks for all the info, by far the best so far :) I have downloaded and installed the cutting master software for mac, the only problem is I am looking for the cc200-20 and it is not in the list, anyone have any joy with this.
If I can get this bit sorted I will go ahead and write a tutorial for it.

Alison said...

Hi, Me back again, I have emailed graphtec and they got back to me with a link and directions on how to download the correct link for the old silhouette machine to work with mac OS Lion. And it is there the correct number.

Thanks again for your help.


Emanuel said...

You made me look into the illustrator-plugin again with some more detail. Thanks for that!

Its function to display the cutting area on the cutter is great and very usefull since the positioning with the plugin can be quite confusing :)

Also the options for thickness and speed are very important! Didn't see them on first attempt...

Happy cutting everyone!

Anonymous said...

A Adobe Illustrator (PC) and CorelDRAW Plugin for Silhouette Cameo is available.
Have a look to the following link: http://www.hobbyplotter.de/download/content/index.php?id=43

Best regards

Lizzie Mayne said...

Can you possibly help me with dxf files. When I open an svg file in silhouette studio I get a red cut line, which is normal, but when I open a dxf file the lines are black. I have created the file in illustrator and exported it a dxf file and used the same line settings as a svg RGB 001 line stroke.01pt.
Any clues please.

Vic said...

Thanks again Maggie for these posts. I recently upgraded my Adobe software and needed to reinstall Illustrator plug-in. I though I was out of luck until I found these posts.

For those who prefer using only Illustrator with the Silhouette SD, this plug-in is a must have. The workflow from design to the cutter is seamless, just as easy as printing.

For first time users, I would suggest testing out the alignment, speed, and force settings, to find the best results for your medium. I cut mostly vinyl, and have found that the slower the better.

Again, thanks for posts and updates.

Unknown said...


I have just started using my silhouette cameo and managed to export my illustrator file into silhouette studios as a dxf file. But it made all my lines bumpy and jagged. It also completely scrabbled the fine detail. I don't know if I've been doing it wrong but I am having trouble cutting out fine detail using this machine while working in something small. If you have any tips for me that would be great because this is what I bought it for.

Thank you!

Mariah-Design said...

I am looking to purchase a silhouette for my small wedding invitation design business. I currently run a Mac with Illustrator 6. Do you know if this plug in will work in that version. I see that the original post is a few years old. I have exported files for friends before and had luck and would like to get one myself. If I can't print direct from Illustrator that would be amazing!

Sonia Roig├ęs said...

I have the new silhouette cameo and a MAC and the pluggin has installed, but it asks for the model of machine, and all are craft robo, so it doesn't recognize my Sil...*sigh*

Girls who have problems with dxf files: they have to be ungrouped, separated, with no filling color. Each form, super simple...

Unknown said...

OK ALL!!!! I have come up with a work around.... However it is way too long to post here... I created a Blog just for it.. Let me know what you guys think and if it helps!

How to Guild - Using Illustrator with Silhouette Studio:

Molly said...

Check this out!!!! http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/shop/connect