April 4, 2012

Import a Silhouette .Studio File into Adobe Illustrator

A few people have emailed me or commented on my blog asking the same question. How do I bring my Silhouette .studio files over to Adobe Illustrator (.ai). Unfortunately even Silhouette Studio Design Edition doesn't let you export the files you create to any version other than .studio. For those of you who prefer using Illustrator and cutting directly from there, I do have an answer. It's a round-about method, but it's been tested and confirmed. I've made a quick Tutorial for you to see how it works.

*Warning - this post is heavy on the images, but it's to make things easier for all of you following the tutorial.

Convert a Silhouette file to Adobe Illustrator

1.  Open the Silhouette file you want to bring in to Adobe Illustrator.

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 1

2.  Ungroup the image, fill the shapes in with black and change the line color to none.

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 2

3.  Make sure no shapes are overlapping unless you want them to become one shape in Illustrator.

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 3

4.  If there is negative to a shape that it is white NOT black.

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 4

5.  Open the Print Dialog in Silhouette and choose "Adobe PDF". Then click on Preferences. Select the Paper/Quality Tab, set the color to Black & White and then select Advanced. Change the Paper size to "Postscript Custom Page Size" and then set it to 12x12". Press OK, OK, Then Apply and Print. Choose the name and location for your PDF file and save it.

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 5

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 7

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 6

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 9

6.  Open Adobe Illustrator and Open your new PDF file in Illustrator. If you select them image you will see that your image is broken into a bunch of squares. That's not exactly what we want, so there's just a little more work to do.

Silhoeutte Studio To AI Step 10

Silhouette Studio To AI Step 11

7.  Go to Object->Rasterize to flatten the image completely. Choose Grayscale and Transparent Background. Don't freak out as you see the edges get a little messy on the shapes. That will get better in the next step.

Silhouette Studio To AI Step 12

8.  Click on arrow beside Live Trace and go to Tracing Options. Check the box beside "Ignore White" (this step will save you work later). Click on Trace. See how the edges cleaned up? It's still one complete square though.

Silhouette Studio To AI Step 13

Silhouette Studio To AI Step 14

9.  Click on Expand. Now you have all of the objects as shapes in Illustrator! Of course, they are currently all grouped together so to work with them individually you may want to ungroup them.

Silhouette Studio To AI Step 15

Best of luck as you try this out! Let me know if you have success!

For those of you wondering why there's a need to bring a shape over to Illustrator when it's already in Silhouette Studio - there are a lot of fun tools in Illustrator (patterns, fill options, shape editing) that are not available in Silhouette Studio. That combined with the ability to cut directly to the Silhouette from Illustrator have a lot of designers sticking with Illustrator!


Paper Zen said...

Maggie, this is a wonderful explanation - thanks for sharing. I also go another step further. See all those extraneous vectors dotting the cloud curves? I select them, go to OBJECT, PATH, SIMPLIFY, and play with the settings until I like what I see.


Design Buriti |Lígia Coimbra said...

Hello Maggie,
I'm a graphic designer and I have a doubt about Silhouette program:
Does it open .pdf or .ai files in a editable way? Does it allows us to use vector drawings, patterns?

Thank you so much.


Kim said...

Maggie, why is ill not letting me import the .studio file? I don't have any plugins, nor do I have a sil. I want to import the .studio files I have from a class and print as a pdf. When I do file import, the .studio files are grey out. Thoughts?

Maggie Muggins said...

Ligia - you can't actually open a .pdf file or .ai file in Silhouette Studio. You can, however, export from Adobe Illustrator to .dxf and then open that file in Silhouette Studio.

Kim said...

Step one is the one I'm having problems with, opening the .studio file in ill.
I just got it. The problem it's I thought you were opening the fine in ill not the studio software. Is the software only available if you purchase the silhouette, our can you download it?

sjensenphoto said...

Thanks a bunch Maggie. I recently purchased my SC and wasn't aware that it was so restricted on exporting the designs. I even contacted them to complain about it. I use Illustrator a lot and love it so this is perfect! I also just downloaded the Cutting Master but haven't tried it yet. Can't wait!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Maggie! This is just what I have been looking for! I appreciate this tutorial so much! Hugs, Joanna

Unknown said...

This is a wonderful tutorial, but may I approach it from a different direction? I own a Sissex Eclips, and have several cut files from classes and freebies that are .studio extension - so I haven't been able to use them?? Any suggestions??

Thanks so much!

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us, Maggie.

Cristina said...

How is that work with the corel draw? Is it possible to import silhouette files to a CorelDraw program?

Maggie Muggins said...

You can import a .PDF file into CorelDraw from what I've read on the internet. Apparently there can be issues with the import, but I'm sure newer version of CorelDraw have resolved those issues. If you do this and have success - please let me know!

Maggie Muggins said...

If you can get a hold of a copy of Silhouette Studio version 1.9 you can save a file as type .svg. For those of you trying to use Silhouette Studio files in a different program that might be something to look into. I do not have a copy of that version of the program. Sorry.

Maggie Muggins said...

@Angela - I think the easiest thing for you would be to get a hold of a copy of Version 1.9 of Silhouette Studio. In that version you can save .studio files as .svg. That file type is supported by a lot of other cut software programs.

tipi dweller said...

This worked for me on my Mac, though I can't say I did everything in order ;-)

Like so many others, I was not aware that SD would not export files. Since I much prefer using Illustrator anyway, your tutorial really did the trick. Now to go back and liberate the rest of the files still trapped in SD.

Many thanks,


Anonymous said...

Great tutorial, exactly what I was looking for. I am stuck right at the beginning though with no save as pdf option in the print menu! Any ideas?

Thanks x

Lindszy said...

I'm trying to convert my studio file into a pdf so i can have it professionally printed. It does save into a pdf but it shows grid lines. I've turned the grid off before saving and even tried turning it off before starting any designs but it still saves as a pdf with grid lines. Please help! Thanks

Maggie Muggins said...

It's not a "Save as PDf" option. You actually choose Print and set "Adobe PDF" as your printer. This will only work if you have the proper Adobe PDF program installed.

Maggie Muggins said...

@Lindzy. I'm not sure if the grid lines are appearing for you in the PDF file or when you open the PDF in Illustrator. If it's the former - I haven't been able to make mine have grid lines. I always have the grid off and set to normal. You might want to try cutting and pasting your shapes into a new file to see if that makes a difference. If it's in Illustrator that you're getting the grid lines that is perfectly normal. It's just how the file is made into the PDF. You have to follow the rest of the tutorial above to get rid of the grid lines.

ara said...

Had been looking for a walkthrough like this for AGESSSS !
Thank u so much for sharing, I am so happy I finally learned how to "export" my .studio to PDFs ! U rock Maggie !! :D

The Sugar Garden Studio said...

It took me a long time to find this but I am happy I finally did. I like to design in Sil but I have to get my glassware designs into AI to get my designs curved. I panicked when I saw all the boxes that appeared after opening the pdf. There is so much to learn about AI.

Donna Babylon said...

Hi, Maggie. This tutorial is exactly what I was loooking for. However, I am not having any success. I am trying to convert a file to bring into illustrator. Howevr, the design I am trying to do has quite a bit of detail (lettering that creates the actual image). It's the Christmas phrases tree. I filled in the background between the interior area of the design with black however the actual letters create the outside shape of the image so that is not filled in. I save it as a PDF printer. I have placed it in illustrator and also dragged it into illustrator. The grid you said would be there is not. I am using CS5 and adobe acrobat 10.1.14.

P. S. I am self taught with illustrator.

Thanks for your help!

Donna Babylon said...

Maggie - I kept working and found a way around it. I still haven't done the original tree file I was having problems with but the other files I purchased are working perfectly. Thank you!

K.L. said...

I can't for the life of me find the live trace options....any advice? I'm working in a relatively new version of illustrator and I searched help but it did not come up.

Maggie Muggins said...

K.L. You may want to try Windows->Image Trace. The tracing depends a lot on what version of Illustrator you are using. If you're on the cloud using the latest this page has a video tutorial: http://blogs.adobe.com/adobeillustrator/tag/live-trace