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Transition from Silhouette Studio to MTC or SCAL [Resolved]

ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
edited December 2016 in Resolved Issues
Hi, this is my first post.  I've used the silhouette cameo for about a year now.   I make 3-D paper model kits, fairly simple stuff.  I design my kits in a pretty basic vector program, Serif Drawplus since it doesn't involve actual 3D design.

Up to this point I only use the Silhoutte Studio which is perfect for my simple process.   Drag and drop picture (jpg) draw my cut lines around it, and perforation marks for the folds... print, cut.. presto. 

Today I purchased a second hand KNK Zing so now I need to learn one or the other , MTC or SCAL.  My question is which is better for my needs and by better i mean simpler.  My needs aren't really going to change much than what I described.

My first thoughts with the MTC demo was that the only way to get an jpg into the work area, pixel trace, seemed overly complex and I cannot see the picture when I import it.  Just the outlines.  Its kind of important I see it because i need to manually add my perforation lines.  I have not tried SCAL yet.

Thanks for any help
Post edited by Gabe on

Comments

  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 3,190
    Hi Zifty,  Welcome to the forum.   I use Serif Draw Plus 8 to design in - export as svg or png according to content.  If svg I make sure all lines are surface and not hidden below other layers otherwise they all cut!!  If png then as is.  I also export as png and a cut outline in some cases.  I use MTC to create files for my Force but MTC has an integrated plug in for the Zing so you would just need to import into MTC and the set up for cutting.  I do not know anything about Scal as I am quite happy with MTC.  Varying opinions are about.  If you want to do print and cut then I would export as a png from Serif and then trace into MTC (this facility cannot be beaten it's bordering on miraculous).  To get the png to come in I click texture and blackout and make minor changes to options.  This brings it in with a cut line already in place round the object.  From MTC I send to the printer and including reg lines and then to the cutter.  MTC is easy to learn but I still haven't got to grips with nodes in it and use Serif that is a lot kinder.  That's about the basic information - if you want more let us know.  You will get more replies over the next few hours as people from different parts of the world come on line.  They may even shoot me down in flames!!  LOL
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,034
    What is simpler and easier for one person is different from another's. also, when you are used to doing something one way with one program, making the transition to another way we often think the new way is harder, more complicated, etc. until we learn it. We tend to think the one we know is better simply because we already know it.  ;) So, only you can decide what is best for you. To do so, I would suggest downloading the trial versions of both and giving them a try and see which you prefer for your needs. Both have more tools and features then the basic Silhouette program but if you don't plan to use them that doesn't matter to you. However, with either you are no longer "locked" into the silhouette program and cutters.

    The zing was developed and packaged originally with MTC. SCAL has added the ability to cut to it and the other KNK models so both work well with it. One question is whether you are using a PC computer or a Mac computer as that can influence your decision. If PC, either should be fine. If a Mac, you might give more consideration to SCAL as its Mac version is written for the Mac so behaves as you expect on a Mac. MTC's Mac version is not written for the Mac, it is the PC version being ported over to the Mac and running under a simulation program "Wine". As a result, everything doesn't work eactly as a Mac user might expect (unless you also use a PC regularly.) to my knowledge, no one has tried MTC. On the latest Sierra Mac OS update. In the past, when MAC made an OS update, it "broke" Wine which in turn broke MTC until a Wine was updated.

    Right now, MTC has more "user to user" support then SCAL. Both have support forums like this one but in general, this one has more activity (although that has slowed down.) MTC has several years worth of recorded weekly webinars where ideas, tips, tricks, and questions on how to do things were answered. They are available to find at top of forum. at the present time, those webinars are no longer being done and haven't been for six months. However, most topics that people would ask about are probably well covered with all that are done but many missing seeing the demos and ideas that were shared weekly.  There is a well written user manual for MTC that can be found through the help menu. From within the manual, there are links to videos for those who like to "see." It was written by Sandy, a consultant for KNK, to go with the Zing when it was introduced. There has been no such manual to date for SCAL, but Sandy is working on one now and I know it will cover all the details and be great. When it is done, her work will have greatly added to the value of SCAL and one's ability to use it. MTC has not been updated in several years, but rumor is he's working on it but there has been no actual acknowledgment by the developer if he is or isn't. Without any word from hm one way or another, anything else said by anyone is mere rumors and speculation. SCAL is being updated regularly and now supports more cutters and machines. MTC has an online gallery where users have shared well over 1600 files but you can only access and see those from the paid version. SCAL has a gallery or library but don't recall if users can share and add to it for all to use. There is a MTC_Tuts yahoo group run by Julie that has a plethora of written tutorials to help learn the ins and outs of MTC. I am unaware  of an equivalent for SCAL. ScrappyDew has MTC videos and tutorials. He also developed a SCAL training course that you can purchase.

    My personal experience is that I bought SCAL when it first came out. I then bought MTC when it first came out. (I also hav had silhouette cutters and have used their free and purchased software. I much prefer MTC  and SCAL over theirs for a variety of reasons.) I preferred MTC over SCAL as it made more sense to me at the time (and still does since it's my "go to" program. it had more features and offered more in the early days of development. Originally, MTC pushed the envelope and SCAL and others would try to catchup. However, since MTC has not been updated in several years, it has given the opportunity to others to catch-up and in some areas surpass its features.  SCAL has caught up with most of the "bonus" features that MTC had and has added some MTC doesn't. I still have both programs and both are kept updated. I still prefer to use MTC for creating and importing. Like many, I think MTC's trace features and tools give me better options. If you do a lot of text then you need to understand that in MTC text is not "editable" text, as soon as it is put on the mat it is no longer text in that sense but simply shapes that need to be cut. In SCAL, it stays text and editable but you have to remember to convert it to shapes before cutting. Some prefer it one way, others the other. I believe the Silhouette programs are more like SCAL in their treatment of text, so that would make more sense to you because it would be what you were used to.  Again, its often what we are used to. For the price of each program, I think it is worth the investment to get one and then the other as time and money permit, especially if you are using in a business. In the USA, their purchase would be a valid business expense thus a tax deduction.

    As far as working to import your images in MTC, I highly suggest that you use the UM and linked videos to learn how to easily import, learn about the image caching feature, its purpose, and whether to turn it off or on for your needs. By learning how to do things with the program correctly on the front end, you will save yourself time and frustration and learn the correct way to do what you need. The same would be true for using SCAL.

    Once  you understand where the programs are presently in their development and support, and looked at and understand the basic tools and features to do what you want in each program. Then it's up to you to decide which works best for you or if having both is worth the added but small expense. Good luck.


    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    De-Lite and MeFlick, thanks to both of you, I am 50% smarter than I was last night!

    Thank you MeFlick for the overview of each.  That was extremely helpful.  I purchased the licence for MTC just prior to posting because I had read that you can request a refund in 30 days if not satisfied.  But after playing around for the last hour with both you and De-Lite's advice, I can already tell its the right choice for me.

    I have navigated two obstacles so far, with just one remaining at the moment.

    I had not bridged the gap yet on the relationship with lines drawn in vector programs (Like Serif Draw) and exporting to cutting software.  I did as De-Lite said about exporting a drawing as SVG with the lines on the utmost layer.

    As a sample I took a house drawing previously made for a Silhouette project.  I drew a border all the way around in 0.1 thickness (at this point I was not worried about whether the line shows up or not when exporting).  I then drew solid lines where I intend to use perforations (dashes) for fold lines.

    Then I exported the picture.  By default it's in JPG in my settings, so when I select SVG, I noticed all the lines I drew disappeared .  So I save it and open it in MTC and there's all the lines.. very nice.

    I also discovered that when using pixel trace to bring in jpg's and pngs etc, increasing the alpha threshold under Alpha tab solved my problem not tracing properly around the edges.


    I've been reading the manual on drawing lines, I couldnt seem to find where to drawn lines on level, like in serif I can hold shift and drawn lines on the 90/45/0 etc axis. 

    But my main concern now is, when I use pixel trace to import, or import my SVG, how come I can only see the trace lines?  How to i get the image to show up on the work area?


  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,034
    Under the tracing window box in the pixel trace, there should be another boxed area with "Import Settings" - you would want to select Texturize Path (put a check in the box next to it.)  If all you want is a cut line around the whole image, selecting blackout path here would do that. As I noted earlier - Image Caching is something to look at to.  It is on by default as I recall - so that when you import an image it doesn't look exactly right on screen to save computer resources but it will look fine if you check it in print preview and/or print the image from within MTC.  This bothers some people visually on screen and it can be turned off in the Help--Advanced Menu.  I forget the keyboard shortcut keys to draw lines perfectly straight and at different angles.  It should be in the manual though.
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    Thanks,
    I did see the advanced settings window, turned off caching .  I still don't see the image on my work area, not in the print preview.  Its just green.  Even when I print, everything is green.
  • Little_BerryLittle_Berry Member Posts: 5,759

    Are you trying to create a solid object with drawn lines?

  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13

    Are you trying to create a solid object with drawn lines?

    No.  I am trying to import png's/jpgs etc... and SVG.  But every time I import via pixel trace for the picture files or just straight up import my SVG, I can't actually see them on the "mat".

    The closest I got was right click object change color/line/texture > select texture and basically select the exact same file as the one I just imported to fill in as texture.   Only by doing this can I at least see the image in the Print Preview screen, but still, on my "mat" there is nothing but an outline of the image.

    Even if all I wanted to do was simply put an image on my mat and not trace or anything, is there no way to do that?

    In the Silhouette Studio its a simple drag an drop then do with it what you like.
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    Yea, pretty much what I see on mine.  Just an outline.  I read something in another forum that MTC can't handle large files, or files with a lot of detail etc, so it hides them.. i dunno.    I guess I'll just keep trying.
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,034
    Zifty said:
    Yea, pretty much what I see on mine.  Just an outline.  I read something in another forum that MTC can't handle large files, or files with a lot of detail etc, so it hides them.. i dunno.    I guess I'll just keep trying.
    That's not true statement from my experience. It sounds like you are not using the number up high enough to pull in all the detail and/ or not selecting the "texturizing path" option I referenced above. If you want to provide a sample file you would be working with, one of us could walk you through how to get all the detail to show perhaps. If you don't feel comfortable posting it here on the forum, my email address can be found on my profile page (click on my user name) and I will look at and pull it in and explain what I did. Might be tomorrow if you send tonight though.
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • Little_BerryLittle_Berry Member Posts: 5,759
    on the virtual mat below the different color mats see  if Fill/outline is checked
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,034
    on the virtual mat below the different color mats see  if Fill/outline is checked
    That's good idea too. I hadn't thought about that being off and causing the issue as well. Good idea Little_Berry.  :)
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    on the virtual mat below the different color mats see  if Fill/outline is checked
    This solved it :) 

    I thank you all very much!  
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,034
     :D Little_Berry to the rescue! 
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • zscalerzscaler Member Posts: 2
    I have two more questions. 

    1.  Is there a way to see your pic imported onto the mat in full colour and resolution?  It seems to be faded and blurred, unless viewed in print preview screen.  I see the same happening in youtube tutorials as well.

    2.  After I pixel trace or import the image onto the mat, I want to edit the outline that was traced to customize its cutting path.  For instance, I'm making a 3d house, so I have my 2d images (the house sides ) but I want tabs extending from the edges so they can be folded.  But when I manually edit the nodes and drag them, it distorts the whole picture as well.  is there a way to separate the outline from the picture?
  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 9,533
    @zscaler

    1. choose the Contrast option for the mat; File => Print Preview shows. Also you can change the default setting of Image caching (to save memory, MTC was never designed to be a raster image graphics program so it handles raster images very poorly) in the Advanced settings under Help.

    2. "is there a way to separate the outline from the picture" No. A work around is to create a very small shadow layer and work with it. 

    Another work around you can create your own cutting path by learning how to pixel trace the image yourself manually once its on the mat. This has been demonstrated many times over the years and recorded in the weekly webinars. Sadly I don't have one that I know of specifically so it will be a bit of research to find it.

    Hope that helps!
  • zscalerzscaler Member Posts: 2
    Thanks, Liz_A, that was really helpful. 
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    What about just getting an image onto your mat without doing any tracing, or anything... just the image.  I figured out how to make all my cut lines in the software I create my designs with and export them as an svg.  It would be great just to copy and paste them over my images since they are all the exact same, just different colours/patterns.

    I would import the entire drawing as an SVG but for some reason only the lines show up and not images.  But if i open the svg in inkscape , its all there....
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,113
    Use the Pixel Trace window, but set the Threshold to the maximum: 255 and then mark the box for Texturize Path. Then click on Apply Changes and then Import.

    If you want to see the image better, make the mat color Contrast.  Note that there's a setting that will make the image appear at a lower resolution... keeps things moving faster in MTC.  If you go to File>Print Preview, you can see that it will print at the original quality. 
    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit
    Need help with your KNK? Visit this link: http://knkusa.com/contact/
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest KNK / MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    It still leaves the cut line traced around the border on those settings.  Is there a way to separate the trace lines from the image ... delete them?  Or is the software simply not designed to have a plain image with nothing traced plopped onto the mat?
  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 9,533
    @Zifty - MTC is not a graphics editing program, so no, it will not plop something onto the mat. It is a program that its ultimate purpose is to convert raster images - what you want to plop - to traced images for cutting with a cutter.
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,113
    You should only have a single rectangle around that imported image, correct?  And you can hide that cutline but changing the Fill/Outline setting to Fill only.  Alternatively, if that imported image is supposed to be the fill image for another shape, that can be accompished, as well.  Maybe if you showed what it looks like in another program, we can help you accomplish the same thing in MTC.

    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit
    Need help with your KNK? Visit this link: http://knkusa.com/contact/
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest KNK / MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    Liz_A thanks for clarifying the limitations of MTC.  Makes total sense what it was designed for now.  I guess my needs for it are more complicated.

    SandyMcC, yes, I do have a rectangle around the imported image that way. Hiding the cut line still shows its going to be cut with the cut preview button.

    I'll attach some quick files i put together.  Its just a basic paper house model.  I have the plain jpg of the texture, a second with the outline for the tabs, and two svg files i made for the score lines, and one with both score and cut.

    The reason I was asking if possible to just drop an untraced image is because the svg with the cut lines worked great.  i could just keep dropping it over and over on all my different house styles.

    Maybe someone can see the files here and make a suggestion what would work best for me.  Pixel tracing the image with my tab lines drawn on it is ok i guess, but would be nice to cut out the extra steps getting the score lines in.

    I cant just export everythign as a nice svg in one shot, I guess the textures making it up are too complex or something because only the lines come through into MTC.
  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 3,190
    Looking at that pic for tracing I think you will only get the outline with texture and have to add the score lines yourself.  In the original drawing they would have cut out parts of the backdrop for each piece.  Furthermore if I wanted to make it bigger I would leave it in sections but if I wanted it to fit on a page (12x12 or 12x24) I would join the four pieces together and add score lines.
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,113
    edited November 2016
    Okay... I imported your two images. I realize these would normally be separate shapes but, just to work with what you provided, I did it this way.

    I manually traced the top one and added score lines so that it would represent the SVG.

    The other I used the Threshold of 255 and Texturize Path.  The rest is covered in the PDF I'm including below. Hopefully this will work.  It's really easy to do. If it doesn't wor for you, then please email me one of your SVG's and the graphic and I'll make a video.

    My email is smccauley45@cox.net. 

    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit
    Need help with your KNK? Visit this link: http://knkusa.com/contact/
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest KNK / MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    Thank you Di-Lite and SandyMcC,

    Both methods I like and suit nicely what I am trying to do.  The first method, very easy, and I will use that for some parts of the buildings I do, like window shades and other accessories. 

    Sandy's way, I got it with a fluke the first try because I was a little unsure somewhere between step 2 and 3, but I did manage to end up with my image stuck together, lol, with the cut lines.  I just dropped the imported svg of the score lines on top and joined them all.  This method I will use for the main buildings because I know for sure there won't be any inaccuracies since everything's spec'd out precisely to fit.

    Thank you both,

    I think I am ready to begin doing projects going forward.
  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 3,190
    Look forward to some pics of finished project - I've got a whole load of these files which I downloaded (20 odd) years ago somewhere.  Never thought of converting them to actually cut - didn't have an interest or need to.
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
  • ZiftyZifty Member Posts: 13
    Yes, there are actually many pics of paper house cutouts available just googling "paper house template" as well.  Here's some of the houses and stuff I did (100% my own content as with all my models)
    The houses are about 1.5" square, the bus is 2" long.  Very small, "Z" scale


  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,113
    Wow... very life-like!  I'm so impressed!
    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit
    Need help with your KNK? Visit this link: http://knkusa.com/contact/
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest KNK / MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 3,190
    Zifty - great job - love them - perfect for a model village.
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
This discussion has been closed.