I have been seeing a lot of Decorative Silhouette Fonts around lately. What do I mean by Silhouette Fonts? These are the fonts with silhouette images punched out of the letters and glyphs. The preview picture has very good examples of these Decorative Silhouette Fonts.
So how were these fonts made? How did they do that?
The first thing that I notice about these Decorative Silhouette Fonts is that the letters are big bold characters. This would make sense because you need a place for the images.
The fonts used in these examples are San Serif. San Serif is a good choice because it is a simply typeface without all the frills. In other words, it is a nice bold font.
Okay - so how'd they do it?
I opened my Silhouette Design Space. I am using the Business Edition. I love the Business Edition. It is not a subscription. The Business Edition is a “one-time” expense and well worth it. You get so many extra features. But that isn’t what this post if about, so let’s get back on topic.
I opened up my font panel. See the picture below for the location of the font panel on the side tool bar.
I typed out the word “butterfly” and found what looked like a decent san serif font.
Next, I found some butterfly images that I had in my Silhouette Design Space Library. I am using a Butterfly Set by Studio Illustrado.
Now we are ready to begin.
We are all set up. How do we get it done?
Now it is time to talk about compound paths.
I am not going to do a complete tutorial on the Modify Panel in this post. Rather, I am going to cover only what you need to know for the Decorative Silhouette Fonts. There will be a more complete explanation of the Modify Panel in another post.
It only sounds intimidating. Once you get the hang of this technique, you a will be a pro in no time flat. Just be patient with yourself. Let yourself make mistakes and get it wrong. That is the best way to learn.
Check out picture below for the location of the Modify Panel on the side Tool Bar.
I drew green square and an orange circle. The circle is in front because I drew it after I drew the square.
What I need to do is punch a circle out of the square. I could do it the other way around, but the square would have to be in front of the circle. The”being in front of” is what makes this knock-out technique work.
I have resized the orange circle and placed in on the green square for a better explanation.
With both shapes selected, the green square and the orange circle, select the Subtract tab in the Modify Panel.
The orange circle disappears because it has been cut out of the green square.
Look closely at the picture. Notice the tool tip which says “Use the foremost shape(s) to cut a hole in the back-most shape(s). The back-most shape can either be a single shape or a group of shapes.”
This is why the orange circle needed to be in front of the green square. The orange circle was the foremost shape and the green square was the back-most shape.
This will be important to remember when you are placing the images on the characters and letters.
But what if the Orange Circle is still there? What did I do wrong?
In the event that the orange circle is still there, don’t panic. The most likely reason is because you used the “Subtract All” tab in the Modify Panel instead of the “Subtract” tab.
It is very easy to confuse these two tabs.
It is NOT A MISTAKE. It is just a different way of doing the same thing.
It is no big deal. There is no one way to get something done with these tools. You can use the “Subtract” or the “Subtract All”. There will just be an extra step. But there is also an extra benefit.
You have selected both items and clicked on the “Subtract All” tab in the Modify Panel. And, it doesn’t look like anything happened. But actually, something did happen. Click off the shapes to de-select them. Now click back on the orange circle and move it off the green square. That is the extra benefit. The orange circle did not disappear. That is the benefit of using the Subtract All tab instead of using the “Subtract” tab in the modify panel.
Notice the tool tip in the picture below. “Subtract areas of shapes obscured by other shapes.”
Let's Do this Decorative Silhouette Font!
Alright, it is time for my butterfly.
The next step is to arrange the designs on top of the letters or characters in a pleasing manner. I was careful not to have any designs overlapping the edges of the letters.
Just like before, select all the shapes and the letter and click on the “Subtract” tab in the modify panel.
I love the way my letters are looking. I did same a copy before I used the modify panel just in case I needed to tweak the design.
Remember, you can always use the “Subtract All” tab instead of the “Subtract” tab. The Subtract All tab lets you keep your cutout designs.
That is How They Did That!
This method does not allow you to edit the text afterwards. So understand that the text will no longer be live. But in most instances, it doesn’t need to be live because the letters are being cut with the die cutting machines and used in craft projects.
So you see, it isn’t necessary to collect all of these specialty silhouette fonts. These designs can easily be made using Silhouette Design Space, or other compatible programs.
If you are wanting a “live keyboard” font then you need to take this a step further and use a program like FontSelf. FontSelf is a plugin that can be used with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.
FontSelf will be a post for another day if people are interested.