Turning Artwork into Wearable Art
using Silhouette Studio

What could be more fun for a kid than being able to wear a shirt featuring a design of his or her own creation? I’ve been wanting to turn one of my grandson’s drawings into a t-shirt design for some time and when he came to visit recently, I finally got the chance. It’s a relatively easy process and today I’ll show you exactly how you too can turn artwork into wearable art!

Step 1: The Drawing

This is definitely the easiest part 😉 . Hand your child a piece of paper and something to draw with and then let their creativity take over. One tip though – I gave Henry crayons, but markers or colored pencils would have been much better. Crayons leave a rough mark which results in a jagged cut line when traced. You can still make a cut file from a crayon drawing but it’s a bit more time-consuming because you will need to smooth and simplify the traced edges.

Henry drawing

Step 2: Scan the Drawing

If you don’t have a scanner, you can also take a photo of your child’s artwork. I scanned Henry’s drawing in full color because I wanted to match the colors of my HTV to his drawing.

Wearable Art - Scan

Step 3: Import the Image into Silhouette Studio

Henry’s drawing was done on a regular 8.5” x 11” piece of paper so I used those same dimensions for my design page. You can choose whatever dimensions you prefer, since the finished design will be sized to match whatever you’re applying the heat transfer to.

Select File>Open and navigate to where the scanned image is located to open the drawing in Silhouette Studio.

Step 4: Trace

This is where things can get a bit tricky. Part of this drawing is yellow, which is very light. Light colors are more difficult to trace, especially if an image contains contrasting dark colors. But did you know that there are tools in Silhouette Studio to help you overcome this?

Using the tools in the Image Effects Panel, I adjusted the Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation levels until the yellow parts of the image were more clearly defined. The adjustments needed will vary depending on the colors used in your child’s drawing.

Image Effects Panel

Wearable Art Design Page

Once all parts of your drawing are legible and relatively defined, use the Trace tool to trace the image.

Step 5: Clean up the Trace

Move the scanned image off the mat. Select the traced image and choose Object>Release Compound Path. You will then see several different bounding boxes, each containing a part of your image.

Wearable Art - released path

Delete any portions that you don’t want included in your design. (Zooming way in on the image will help you see the unwanted artifacts more clearly.) You may also want to use the knife tool to separate some portions of the design and/or edit the points, depending on how smooth the lines were when traced.

Wearable Art - artifacts
Step 6: Regroup/Make Compound Paths

Select all portions of the design that are supposed to be the same color. Choose Object>Group to combine them into a single group. Fill with color. If the design doesn’t look right (i.e. there is color in areas that are supposed to be clear or vice-versa), choose Object>Make Compound Path. If the design still doesn’t fill properly, use the Edit Points tool to look for any open paths, which will be indicated by red dots. Close these open paths by connecting the points.

Wearable Art - open paths

Step 7: Resize

Making sure all portions of the design are selected and that the aspect ratio is locked, increase/decrease to the desired finished size either by dragging on the corners of the bounding box or by entering the dimensions into the Scale portion of the Quick Access Tool Bar or the Transform Panel.

Step 8: Cut, Press, and Enjoy

Cut the design as usual, remembering to mirror for HTV. Apply to your garment using an iron or heat press. Then enjoy watching your child’s face light up when s/he sees the finished product!

Wearable Art - Train Shirt

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and that you are encouraged to try this technique on a project of your own. I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below or post a picture of your creation (from this tutorial or any other project) over on my Facebook page.

Until next time,

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