Silhouette sketch pens are a really fun way to use your Silhouette Cameo or Portrait to draw instead of cut! They come in tons of different colors (even metallics and glitter!), and they’re incredibly easy to use. If you’ve ever pulled out your cutting blade to change the blade depth, and then reinstalled it into the machine, you can use sketch pens!
If you’re new to your Silhouette cutting machine, this “How To Use A Silhouette Cameo” series is perfect for you! Today we’re covering how to use Silhouette sketch pens, so pull up a chair and learn more about this awesome crafting product!
Silhouette sketch pens are perfect for getting a hand-drawn look. They’re great for making invitations, cards, place cards, or even just a few sketches to hang up as wall art. Plus, once the sketch pens are done sketching you can put the regular cutting blade back in place to cut out your design in a fun shape!
How To Use A Silhouette Cameo: Silhouette Sketch Pens
Here’s what you need:
- a Silhouette cutting machine
- Silhouette sketch pens
- paper to draw on
How to use Silhouette sketch pens
The first step is to get your design set up, just like you normally would, in the Silhouette Studio software. Anything that your Cameo or Portrait can cut out with its regular blade, it can draw instead if you switch out the blade for a sketch pen. So pull up a design in your Studio software and let’s get started!
Open the Cut Settings window once you have your design loaded. You should see thick red lines covering all of the lines of your design.
By default, all lines in your project are set to “Cut” so that the machine knows to cut those lines. But with sketch pens, the pen will be drawing instead of cutting. Anything that is set to “Cut” will instead be drawn with your sketch pens. In this example, I didn’t want to draw the outside border, so I selected it and changed the Cut Style to “No Cut”.
Then, because I wanted each line of text to be drawn in a different color, I also selected all but the first line of text and changed their Cut Styles to “No Cut” as well.
Now the only thing with a thick red line on top of it should be the piece of your design that you want drawn (or, if you want to use multiple colors in your design, the thick red line should only show on whichever piece you want to draw first.)
Scroll further down in your Cut Settings window on the right until you find the Material Type section; choose Silhouette Sketch Pen. It should do this next piece automatically for you, but in the next section down, make sure it changes the Blade Type to Sketch Pen and shows a little image of a sketch pen.
Now it’s time to tell your Silhouette machine to draw!
How to load a sketch pen into your Silhouette cutting machine
First, lift the lid of your machine and remove the cutting blade by turning the small blue knob to the left and lifting the blade out of the housing. Then choose the sketch pen color you want to use, pull the lid off of the pen, and place it, point down, into the housing.
Do you see where the pen gets thicker in the photo below? Make sure you push the pen all the way down into the holder so that the fattest part of the pen is hitting the top of the holder and the pen can’t go any further in. If you don’t get the pen all the way in, it won’t quite reach the paper and your Silhouette will draw on air instead of on your paper!
Once your pen is loaded, place your paper onto your cutting mat, pressing down firmly all over, and load the cutting mat into the machine.
Go back to your computer and click Send To Silhouette at the bottom of the Cut Settings window, or click on the Send To Silhouette icon in the bar at the top, then click Start, and your machine should start to draw out your design!
Once the machine is done drawing, don’t unload your paper yet! If you want to continue drawing using a different color, or if you want to cut out your design once it’s finished drawing, leave the cutting mat exactly where it is and move on to the next steps of the tutorial!
If all you wanted was a single drawing in one color with no cuts, you’re done! You can tell the machine to unload and then pull your design off the cutting mat.
How to use Silhouette sketch pens with multiple colors
If you want your design to have multiple colors, don’t unload the cutting mat once the first color has finished! Leave it exactly where it is and go back to your computer to get the second piece of the design set up.
In the Cut Settings window, select the piece of the design that was just drawn, and change the Cut Style to “No Cut”; you don’t want to draw that piece a second time! Then select the next piece of the design that you want drawn, and change the Cut Style to “Cut”. Be very careful not to reposition your design on the screen as you do this, or your lines will be slightly off!
Make sure everything else is still set to “No Cut”. Then remove the first sketch pen from the holder and put the new sketch pen in, following the same instructions above.
Click Send To Silhouette again to tell the machine to start drawing the second piece of the design.
Repeat these steps for each new pen color until your whole design has been drawn.
Once the machine is done drawing with the last sketch pen, don’t unload your paper yet! If you want to cut out your design, leave the cutting mat exactly where it is and move on to the next step of the tutorial!
If all you wanted was a single drawing in multiple colors with no cuts, you’re done! You can tell the machine to unload and then pull your design off the cutting mat.
How to cut out a sketched design
The last step is to cut out your beautiful sketch!
In the Cut Settings window, make sure all of the pieces that you have already drawn are set to “No Cut”. Select the outside border that you want to cut, and change the Cut Style to “Cut”. Then select the appropriate Material Type; I used heavy cardstock for this project, so I selected “Coverstock” from the Material Type menu.
Scroll down in the Cut Settings window; once you select a new Material Type the software should automatically change the Blade Type back to Silhouette Ratchet Blade for you. Look at the recommended settings, and adjust your blade depth accordingly.
Then, following the same instructions as before, remove the sketch pen from the holder and put the cutting blade back in.
Click Send To Silhouette to tell your machine to start cutting!
This time, once the machine is done cutting, unload your cutting mat and remove your design.
And you’re finished! You now have a fun sketch in multiple colors!
Want to share this tutorial with your friends? Just click any of the share buttons off to the left to share to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.!
Shop this project:
If you like the sketchy fonts I used in this project, you can find them here:
Sketch pens are really great for making cards; check out these Thank You cards I made with my Cameo!
If you want to see more Silhouette tutorials, check out my Silhouette project gallery to see every project I’ve ever done with my Silhouette!
This project is part of this month’s Silhouette Challenge! Want to see some other great project ideas you can make using your Silhouette cutting machine? Check these out!
1. Just a Girl and Her Blog // 2. The Frill of Life // 3. A Time For Seasons // 4. The Thinking Closet // 5. Ginger Snap Crafts // 6. Grey Luster Girl // 7. Simply Kelly Designs // 8. Home At Eight // 9. Please Excuse My Craftermath… // 10. My Paper Craze // 11. Mama Sonshine // 12. Practically Functional // 13. Adventures in All Things Food // 14. Two Purple Couches // 15. Dragonfly & Lily Pads // 16. Sowdering About // 17. Cutesy Crafts // 18. My Mom Made That // 19. Pitter and Glink // 20. Pineapples And Pinecones // 21. Dream a Little Bigger // 22. McCall Manor // 23. TitiCrafty // 24. unOriginal Mom // 25. Persia Lou // 26. Lil Mrs Tori // 27. Home. Made. Interest. // 28. Sandpaper and Glue // 29. Silhouette School // 30. Creative Ramblings // 31. My Favorite Finds
One way I get around some of those steps is to print the registration marks on the paper. If you choose “show registration marks” and then print it, BEFORE doing any design, then the silhouette can “read” those registration marks to ensure it is printing just where you want it. Don’t forget if you DO move any designs, use Ctrl+z! That is the quick undo tool. So you won’t have to guess if you have things just where they were before.
Jessi Wohlwend says
Interesting! I’ve only ever used registration marks for print and cut, not for just lining up a regular sketch pens job! Makes sense though that the machine can read registration marks to know where to print or cut. And as long as your design doesn’t take up the whole page, you can always cut the registration marks out later!
Thank you for the tutorial on how to use the sketch pens. How do you get the machine to make the shadow on the font you used and how do you get it to fill in or was that done by hand?
Jessi Wohlwend says
Priscilla, those are just the fonts I used! The one font had a shadow on it, so the Silhouette drew the shadow, and the other had a sorta sketchy “filling”, so the Silhouette filled it in. Whatever your font looks like, the Silhouette will draw it! The three fonts I used are called Orange Juice, Sketch Block, and Lemonade; if you want to download them (they’re free!) there’s a link near the bottom of the tutorial.
Much appreciated. Thank you again.
Have you ever had a problem where the cut design cuts off-center from your drawing? I was sure to keep the paper loaded and not change anything on the design but it cut through my sketch when I changed from the pen to the blade. Has anyone else come across this issue? Any thoughts in what is wrong? Thanks!
Jessi Wohlwend says
Bummer! It hasn’t ever happened to me, but if you didn’t unload the paper at all, the only thing I can think of is something accidentally moved in the software when it got clicked on or something. Or maybe there was still a piece of the design set to “Cut” that shouldn’t have been? Wish I had a better answer for you!
Karen Marie Kedzuch says
Your tutorial is quite detailed. It makes me want to use the sketch pens I bought a year ago right away now. I was slightly intimidated by them. I see now that was silly.
Thanks for teaching me,
Jessi Wohlwend says
Good luck with them! They’re definitely not as hard to use as they look!
Alisha Landreth says
I cannot wait to finally get some sketch pens! I have had the pen holder for years and really enjoy using it, but the pens add more color and fun! Thanks for the tutorial. Very awesome!
keri @ shaken together says
Jessi – thanks for breaking this down! I haven’t used the sketch pens yet, but I love all the tips and pointers!
I love it! I use my pen holder all the time! I do love the sketch pens, but they run out so quick, so I use InkJoy or Sharpies in my pen holder. But the writing function is my favorite!
This is such a great, informative post! Thanks!
Randi Sowders says
I love sketch pens!! Love love love! And I love this tutorial on how to use them!! Great job!!
[email protected]. Made. Interest. says
I haven’t tried using the sketch pens yet and this tutorial makes me want to draw all sorts of things! Thanks for sharing, pinned!