If you’re a font lover like me, chances are you’ve downloaded at least a few with pretty swirls or fancy characters…also known as “glyphs”. But maybe you’re not sure how to use those fancy, swirly fonts in Silhouette Studio. Never fear because today I’m going to share the secret with you and soon you’ll be using glyphs like a pro!
Using the Glyphs Panel
The easiest way to access special font characters in Studio is to use the Glyphs panel. This tool is not available in the Basic (free) version of Studio, so you’ll need to upgrade to Designer Edition or above. If you haven’t upgraded, you’ll need to use a character map as explained later on in this tutorial.
What it looks like
The Glyphs panel can be found by clicking on the second tab in the Text Style panel. Depending on which version of Studio you have, the icon will look slightly different.
When the Glyphs panel was first introduced in Version 4.1, the icon looked like this:
Beginning with Version 4.3, it looks like this:
How to use it
To use the Glyphs panel:
1. Open the Text Style panel. Enter the font name in the Text Selection box. In this example, I’m going to use the I Love Glitter font. Use the Text tool to type your text (without glyphs). Let’s start with the word “hello”.
2. Click on the second tab in the Text Style panel to open up the Glyphs panel. Scroll down to see the various special characters. Use the slider at the bottom of the panel to increase/decrease the size of the display. Hover over individual glyphs in order to see a larger individual preview.
3. Place your cursor in the position where you want to add the special character. I’m going to add a swash to the beginning of the word “hello”, so I’ll place my cursor to the left of the “h”. (If you see a grey bounding box around the word instead of the green box, click on the text twice to enter text-editing mode.)
4. Click on the glyph you want to add. Voila! The swash has been added.
Not only has the swash been added to the beginning of my text, it now also appears in the Recently Used Glyphs section of the Glyphs panel.
When the Text tool is activated, clicking on the glyph in the Recently Used section will insert it wherever the cursor is placed in the workspace.
Hover over the glyph in the Recently Used section and a box will pop up showing what keyboard stroke can be used to type the special character. In this example, the swash can be added by pressing the Left Square Bracket ([ on the keyboard).
Don’t panic if you see a narrow rectangle instead of the keystroke description. This just means that there is no keystroke associated with the glyph and you’ll need to insert it by clicking on the character image in the Glyph panel.
Double-clicking on the glyph’s icon in the Recently Used section (or from the main grid in the Glyph panel) when the Text tool is not active will place the glyph in the upper-left corner of the virtual mat.
Let’s look at another example. Now I want to add an unfilled heart to the end of the word “hello”, followed by the word “love”. Only this time I want to do it all with keystrokes, not by clicking on the character in the Glyphs panel.
I’m going to click on various special characters so that they will be added to the Recently Used Glyphs section. If I click on each one individually, I can see which keystroke will add them to my text:
Beginning swash = Left Square Bracket [
Ending swash = Right Square Bracket ]
Filled heart with connectors = Vertical Line |
Unfilled heart with connectors = Low Line (or Underscore) _
Filled heart superscript = Asterisk *
So now if I put my cursor at the end of the word hello and type:
| l o v e ] *
I’ll get this:
Welding the letters together and filling them with color results in this:
Using a Character Map
But what if you only have Basic Edition? Or the glyphs for the font you’re using aren’t showing up in the Glyphs panel?* In this case, you’ll need to use a character map to figure out which keystroke to use to create a special character.
1. Open Finder.
2. Click on Applications.
3. Locate the Font Book application and double-click to open.
4. From the View menu, select Repertoire.
5. Select the font you want to use and then click on the desired glyph.
6. From the Edit menu, choose Copy (shortcut: CMD+C). This will place a copy of the glyph’s code onto your computer’s clipboard.
7. In Silhouette Studio, paste in the copy you just created by choosing Paste from the Edit menu or using the shortcut CMD+V. If the glyph does not appear properly, select the pasted text and make sure the correct font has been chosen in the Text Style panel.
1. Open the Run menu by pressing the Windows key + R.
2. Type charmap and press Enter. This will open up the Character Map.
3. Select the font you want to use from the Font drop-down menu.
4. Click on the Advanced View box and make sure the Character set is Unicode.
5. Select Unicode Subrange from the Group by options.
6. When the Group by window pops up, click on the various options until you find the glyph you’re looking for in the character map. Most will be in either the Latin, General Punctuation, or Private Use Characters category.
7. Click on the glyph you want to add, then click on Select (shortcut: Alt+S). The glyph will be shown in the Characters to copy window.
8. Click on Copy (shortcut: CTRL+C). This will place a copy of the glyph’s code onto your computer’s clipboard.
9. In Silhouette Studio, paste in the copy you just created by choosing Paste from the Edit menu or using the shortcut CTRL+V. If the glyph does not appear properly, select the pasted text and make sure the correct font has been chosen in the Text Style panel.
*Occasionally you will come across a font that contains glyphs that don’t show up in the Glyphs panel. In this case, the font creator most likely used a glyph library not supported by Silhouette Studio. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use the glyphs in Studio, only that you will need to access them through the character map, even if you have an upgraded version of Studio.
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Glyphs can add a special touch to your Silhouette projects and I hope these tips have helped you feel more confident in using them in Silhouette Studio. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below or come ask over in the Silhouette Crafters by Design Facebook group!
Until next time,
Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.