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How to Use the Subtract Tool in Silhouette
  • By Design Bundles
  • 23 Jul 2021
  • 21 Mins
  • Silhouette Tutorials

How to Use the Subtract Tool in Silhouette

The Subtract tool in Silhouette Studio can be found in the Modify panel on the right side menu bar. You can also access it through the Objects menu at the top and select Modify then Subtract. The tool requires two at least SVG images where any part of the top image that overlaps is subtracted from the bottom.

The Subtract Tool is one of the more widely used features in Silhouette Design Studio. It allows you to create the ever popular knockout designs, cut a shape around an SVG patternor cut shapes or text out of other shapes.The Subtract Tool can be to make layering of HTV and adhesive vinyl less bulky.

The Subtract tool works with SVG files, shapes from the Draw an Arc and Drawing menus as well as shapes created in Silhouette Studio.We have a great tutorialon opening andusing SVGs in Silhouetteon Design Bundles. Let us begin by opening Silhouette Studio.

Locate theSubtract Tool in Silhouette Studio

Use the Subtract Tool in Silhouette Studio

Bring to Front optionand the Subtract Tool

Usethe Subtract Tool for 'fill' designs

LayeringFont with the Subtract tool

Create a knockout design with an SVG

Locate the Subtract Tool in Silhouette Studio

The Subtract Tool in Silhouette Design Studio can be found in two places. On the right side panel in the Modify Tool Menu or you can click on Object,choose Modify andclick Subtract.

Subtract tool location

Learn how to use the Modify Tool in Silhouetteand how the various features work with your projects.

Use the Subtract Tool in Silhouette Studio

The Subtract tool is a quick way tocut out objects from one another.In order for the tool to work you need at least two objects.The result will depend on the look you are going for and the position of the designs.For this example we will use two basic heart shapes.

Step 1 - Draw out the heart shapes

On the left side panel selectthe Heart shape from the Draw an Arc menu.Click on your canvas and drag your mouse down to get a Heart shape.If you click and drag to the side, the heart will be placed at an angle.With the first heart selected, right click and select Duplicate.

Give each heart a color to make them easier to identify.

Step 2 - Choose the design to subtract

The Subtract tool works by subtracting any overlapping layers of the top object from the bottom one. In this case we want to subtract the blue heart from the purple one.Make certain that the blue heart is on top of the purple heart by selecting it, right click and choose Bring to front. You can also click on the Bring to Front button at the top menu bar.

Design Bring to front

Step 3 - Select both designs and Subtract

Select both of the designs by dragging your mouse over the objects or Shift + Click on each design. On the right side panel click on the Modify tool menu and click Subtract. You can also click on the Object menu at the top of the screen, click Modify, then Subtract.

Subtract the two objects

The blue heart has been subtracted from the purple heart.

Subtract Tool result

Bring to Front option and the Subtract Tool

The Bring to Front option cuts out the top object from the bottom.But what would happen if you didn't move the shape up?If the object at the bottom was smaller than the topobject, when clicking Subtract both objects would disappear.This is because anything under the top shape is cut out.

In the example belowwe are using a detailed butterfly SVG by Owl Cottage SVG. Thebutterflywas moved below the heart shape. To show the effect, the butterfly was resized to be larger than the heart shape.

Heart shape above butterfly

When Subtract is applied to both objects, the heart is cut out of the butterfly.With objects like the butterfly, when using Subtract the design may break up into individual pieces.Remember to Group by right clicking on the design and selecting Group.

Heart shape cut out

Use the Subtract Tool for 'fill' designs

Shapes can be manipulated around patterns to create a type of 'fill'. For the best result look for a design that fills the object or text so as not to lose the shape. This type offill works very well for keychainprojects. We will start with a basic Ellipse shape.

Step 1 - Draw out an Ellipse

On the left side panel click on the Drawing Tools icon and select the Ellipse Tool. On the canvas draw out an Ellipse. To make a uniform circle press Ctrl + Click and hold your mouse button down as you draw out the shape.

Draw an Ellipse

Step 2 - Copy and Paste a pattern

For this step a basic pattern was created using the Draw an Arc Tool where a shape was duplicated multiple times.Decide on an SVG pattern, open the filethen copy and paste it onto your canvas.Place the pattern over the Ellipse, resizing as needed so it fully covers the shape.

Subtract pattern from Ellipse

Step 3 - Subtract the pattern from the Ellipse

Select both the Ellipse and the pattern by clicking and dragging a selection box around both objects. Click on the Modify Tool menu on the right side panel and click Subtract.

Select both Ellipse and pattern

Once Subtract has been applied the pattern will be separated into individual parts.Remember to Group them so you can easily resize and reposition.

Step 4 - Add color to the object

With all of the individual pieces combined, open the Fill panel and select from a Solid Fill Color, Fill Gradientor Fill Pattern.

Add a fill to the object

Layering Font with the Subtract tool

Fonts can be used with the Subtract Tool for layering.This is particularly useful for certain HTV that cannot be layered on top of each other. It will also help decrease the bulkiness of layering. We will be using two fonts, a free bold fontUnbroken byEpiclinez and a heartscript fontcalled Heart You.

If you are new to fonts follow this useful guide on using fonts in Silhouette Studio.

Step 1 - Type out your text and choose your font

Select the Text Tool, type out your text andchoose your font from the Text Style Panel.The text 'Sisters' was used with the Unbroken font and the smaller 'Now and Forever' textwas used with font Heart You.

Color was added from the Fill Panel to make this easier to see.

The hearts between 'Now and Forever' are found under the glyphs icon in the Text Style Panel.How to use Glyphs in Silhouette Studioexplains how to access glyphs and use them.

Step 2 - Create an Offset

Creating an Offset in Silhouette Studio provides a space for the smaller text to sit comfortably. The size of the offset will depend on how you want to use it. For this example we will make a knockout effect.

Select the small text 'Now and Forever' and center it over the text 'Sisters'. With the small text still selected click on the Offset Panel on the right side and click Offset.

The distance was set for 0.300cm. Click Apply.

Adding and offset to font

Step 3 - Use the Subtract Tool on the Offset

Shift the text'Now and Forever' down the canvas to separate from the offset. Click on the offset and click on the Bring to Front button at the top panel.

Make sure to select both the 'Sisters' text and the offset.Go to the ModifyPanel on the right side, click to open the menu options and choose Subtract.

The 'Sisters' text will separate into individual objects, right click and Group.

Apply subtract pool

Step 4 - Reposition the text

After applying the Subtract tool we need to reposition the 'Now and Forever' text over the cut out area.Click on the small text to select it then drag and drop over the 'Sisters' text.Reposition to fit in cut area of the larger text.

Reposition the text

The smaller text fits perfectly with a little room for shrinkage when using HTV.This method can also be used with adhesive vinyl.

Find outhow tolayer adhesive vinylwith an easy method to line up your layers.

Create a knockout design with an SVG

Knockout projects are a great way to combine text and SVG designs for easy layering. To make this knockout project an adorable SVG created by BlackCatsMedia was used along with a heart shape in Silhouette Studio.

Step 1 - Open the SVG design

In Silhouette Studio go to File and click Open.Locate where the SVG is stored and click to open it.Resize as needed.

Raising Tiny Wolves SVG

Step 2 - Draw out the heart shape and reposition

Click on the Draw an Arc tool menu and select the Heart shape.Draw out the shape on the canvas and reposition over the SVG. The heart shape was placed over the wolf silhouette.

With the heart shape still selected click on the Bring to Front button at the top of the screen.A pink color was added to the heart shape to make it easier to see.

Draw out a heart shape

Step 3 - Duplicate the objects and move below

For this step we will duplicate both the heart shape and the SVG.Select both of the objects, press Ctrl + Down Arrow to create a duplicate that will be moved below the original.

Duplicate and move down

Step 4 - Use the Crop tool

On the original heart and SVG objects the Crop Tool will be applied.Be sure to select both the top heart and SVG, click on the Modify Panel to open it and click on Crop.

Anything outside of the heart shape will be removed. With the cropped result still selected, right click and Group.

Using the Crop Tool Silhouette

Change the top result to another color.

Use the Crop tool heart shape

Step 5 - Use the Subtract tool

Now select the two lower objects, once again click on the Modify Panel and select Subtract.With everything still selected, right click and Group.This will keep all the bits and pieces together when repositioning.

Step 6 - Re-align the design

Both objects are now ready to be re-aligned. We will not use the Transform tool as it might not align correctly.

As the duplicate was placed directly below, it is easier to click and drag up to re-align. Select the lower object then Shift + Click and drag the black filled design up. Release your mouse button when the two are re-aligned.

Fine tune with the Up and Down arrows if needed.

Re-align the two objects

Experiment with other SVG designs.

I'll Keep you wild SVG

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