Silhouette Studio Preferences: Tool Options

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Want to speed up and simplify your design workflow in Silhouette Studio? In addition to learning a few keyboard shortcuts, determining which preference settings work best for you will save you both time and frustration. Last week I showed you just how easy it is to change the display colors and today I’d like to tell you a little more about the tool options I find most helpful.

Silhouette Studio Tool Preferences

Note: All screenshots are from Silhouette Studio Version 4.1

Let’s begin by opening the Preferences menu. You can do this in one of three ways:

Option 1: Click on the Edit menu and choose “Preferences” from the dropdown menu

Option 2: Use the shortcut CTRL/CMD + K

Option 3: Click on the gear icon in the lower right hand corner of your screen

Click on “Tools”.

The menu is divided into three sections:

  1. Action After Tool Use
  2. Selection Tools
  3. Editing Tools

Action After Tool Use

For each tool listed, there are two possible choices: “Choose Select” or “Continue _______”. For some tools, I prefer to be “one and done” every time I use them, meaning that I will generally use the tool only once before I switch to another action. This is usually the case for drawing shapes and slicing with the knife tool. For instance, if I draw a rectangle it’s doubtful that my next action will be to draw another rectangle. If I’m using the knife to slice a shape, my next action will probably not include slicing another shape. For these tools my preference is set to “Choose Select”. With this setting, once I’ve drawn a shape or used the knife tool, my mouse automatically returns to the selection tool.

There are some tools, however, that I often use several times in a row before moving on to another action. I find this to be true for freehand drawing, erasing, and using the zoom tool. For each of these tools, I’ve set my preference to “Continue _________”. When using one of these, the tool will remain selected until I’m ready to move on and I manually choose the next action.

Selection Tools

Some Studio users like to hold down the SHIFT key while clicking to select multiple shapes, but I’m a drag box kind of girl! It’s much easier for me to “click and drag” to select one or more shapes. I’ve had a lot of practice in Studio and can usually grab exactly what I want with one quick motion so I have chosen the “Select shapes touching drag box” option. If you’re still getting used to the click and drag method, or find that when you drag the mouse you’re picking up shapes you don’t intend to, you may want to choose the “Select shapes enclosed by drag box” option. With this setting, you must draw a box around an entire shape before it becomes selected.

Once I’ve selected multiple shapes, I prefer to see the dimensions of the group as a whole, so I’ve chosen “Single Bounding Box” in the options for “When Many Shapes Selected”. If you prefer to see the dimensions of each individual shape, select “Multiple Bounding Boxes”.

Single Bounding Box for Multiple Shape Selection
Individual Bounding Boxes for Multiple Shape Selection

I also prefer that each time I click on a shape it becomes the selected shape, so my “right-click” setting is “New Shape Becomes Selected”.

Editing Tools

I’m going to be really honest with you here. These options are something I’ve never paid that much attention to and I find that they have very little effect on my use of Silhouette Studio. Even if you’re accustomed to modifying shapes in the software, it’s doubtful that the term “Bezier control handle” is part of your everyday language. It’s quite possible that you don’t even know they exist (and I mean no disrespect by that statement!).

If you’re curious, a Bezier (a French word that is pronounced “bezje”) control handle is a means of modifying a curve. The handle can be lengthened or shortened by moving the end nodes. It can also be rotated. Any of these adjustments will alter the shape of the curve that contains the handle. You must be in Point Editing mode to view the Bezier control handles for a selected shape and the number of handles that are visible will be determined by the setting you choose in the Editing Tools preference.

The final two options determine how the software sees thick lines when they are detached from their original source by use of the Subtract/Subtract All/Knife/Eraser tools. When choosing “Maintain thick lines as lines”, a thick line maintains its shape as one single element after being detached. This single element can then be moved independently of its original source. With “Convert thick lines to polygons” the detached line is separated into several distinct parts and each of these parts can be moved independently of all the others. I can’t think of any situation where this option would be useful to me but I’d love to hear from you if you disagree!

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As you can see, Silhouette Studio offers a multitude of preference settings but the tool options are by far the ones that have the most effect on my day-to-day use of the software. What I’ve shared here are my own personal settings and what I’ve found to be most helpful. I encourage you to experiment to find the ones that best fit YOUR needs. With the right combination (and a little practice), your time spent in Studio will be much more enjoyable, with fewer frustrations and a more natural workflow…and that means you’ll have MORE time for the “fun stuff” of designing and creating!

Until next time,

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    1. There is! The Pan tool is one of the Zoom tools, so if you set the Preference to continue using the Zoom tool, it applies to the Pan tool as well.

  1. Thank you again for another great post on how to use Silhouette Studio. I am rather new and am looking forward to when I can play with these suggestions!! Can’t wait to see what you teach us next time!!❤️

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