9 Most Helpful Silhouette Tutorials for Beginners – Silhouette America Blog

9 Most Helpful Silhouette Tutorials for Beginners

Just got a new Silhouette CAMEO® or Silhouette Portrait®? Congratulations and welcome to the world of awesomeness that will make you question how you have lived without it before!

While it may seem intimidating at first, your Silhouette is really easy to operate once you get the hang of things.

And worry not, advanced users. These tutorials might teach you a thing or two as well—or at least inspire you to create your next project!

Check out these awesome tutorials that are helpful for a Silhouette beginner like you.

Setting Up Your Silhouette CAMEO®

All of the good stuff comes after setting up your Silhouette CAMEO®! Don’t be intimidated by the big box.

Watch this video on how to set up your brand-spankin’-new machine.

Your Cutting Mat

how to make accurate cuts with your Silhouette cutting mat
Photo Credit: Alissa Lines

Your cutting mat is what you will be using as a holder to cut paper, fabric, smaller pieces of vinyl, and heat transfer. Knowing how to use your  mat correctly will save you a lot of heartache in the long run!

Check out this post for an introduction and helpful tips about different mat sizes and holds.

Cutting Regular Vinyl and Heat Transfer

One of the first things to learn before cutting regular vinyl or heat transfer is being able to tell them apart. Some people (like my husband) regularly confuse regular vinyl with heat transfer material.

You can easily tell what is vinyl and what is heat transfer material by their backing. Regular vinyl comes with a paper backing, while heat transfer does not—it comes with a plastic carrier sheet. Regular vinyl is also noticeably thicker than heat transfer vinyl.

Why do we need to learn how to tell them apart? Well, see below!

Cutting with Regular Vinyl

Regular vinyl is what you use to create awesome decals to customize your home décor such as mugs, water bottles, signs and other objects such as those cute family decals that you see on cars!

Photo Credit: Analisa

This jewelry dish tutorial is a really easy, step-by-step tutorial to create your first vinyl decal from setting up your design to applying it onto your chosen surface.

Cutting with Heat Transfer Material

Heat transfer material might be my favorite medium. As a DIY girl and beginner letterer, I love creating custom apparel and bags using my own designs!

You can use heat transfer material on plain-weave fabric, select pile fabric, and even specialty fabric such as leather.

cushion copy
Photo Credit: Cari Locken

This easy throw-pillow project will introduce you to the world of heat transfer—but be sure to follow the step-by-step tutorial to ensure your project turns out perfect!

Cutting Paper And Cardstock

Did you buy your Silhouette CAMEO® for papercrafting and scrapbooking? Well we have tips and tricks for you as well!

I’ve heard so many people who have trouble cutting paper and cardstock, but all they need are the right settings for the job.

Paper Vase & Fall Flowers ~ Dawn Warnaar for Silhouette
Photo Credit: Dawn W

Dip your toes into the world of papercrafting with this easy tutorial for paper flowers.

Making A Test Cut

Fairy in a Bottle - Test Cut Success
Photo Credit: Kelly Wayment

Having cutting issues? It may be the type of paper you are using, or the settings you have it on.

Use the Test Cut feature to correctly determine the right settings for your paper or cardstock!

Cutting Other Materials

Photo Credit: Analisa

There are a slew of other materials available on the Silhouette America website that you can cut with your Silhouette machine. Don’t be afraid to test them out—just remember to follow the recommended settings and test cut them first always.

For example, you can create fabric appliques with your Silhouette CAMEO®—check out this easy fabric wall art to show you how!

Print & Cut Feature

Using the Print and Cut Feature Successfully - 3
Photo Credit: Aki Altuna

Perhaps one of the best features of the Silhouette CAMEO® is the ability to Print & Cut. Cut printed designs on cardstock, sticker paper, vinyl, and other printable media easily! No more using scissors and having sub-par looking projects.

Check out this tutorial, which shows you how to use the Print & Cut feature successfully.

Using Silhouette Pixscan™

Finally, we have the PixScan™ mat.

Seriously, this is a game-changer. Not only can you cut printed items and cut around stamped images, it can do a slew of other things as well that expands the capabilities of your machine.

PixScan decorative-element cutouts
Photo Credit: Kelly Wayment

This detailed tutorial shows you how to use your PixScan™ mat to cut and sketch on pre-printed tags on the Silhouette.

Want More Tutorials?

There are a ton more tutorials that I could include on this entry, but these are the top items that as a beginner one would want to learn (and my beginner husband agrees!).

Search the blog to find more helpful tutorials, project ideas, and more!

What attracted you to the Silhouette CAMEO®? What project or feature would you want to learn?  

Aki Altuna

I'm Aki from Minted Strawberry. I love the wonderful world of DIY and crafting. Apart from being a crafty blogger, I am also a graphic designer and entrepreneur. I have a weakness for jelly-filled donuts, butter tarts, and all things sweet.


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  1. Although the above things are cool … I am a quilter and fabricoholic! So far I have not found a great tutorial on cutting fabric. I know silhouette recommends their stabilizer most applications I would use it requires fabric with out stabilizer on it. Any suggestions for us quilters?

  2. I’m struggling to choose between the Cameo and the Portrait. The price difference makes me feel like there should also be a huge difference in performance, but from what I have read so far one can cut bigger items compared to the other. Is that really it? As someone who is looking to mainly use it to cut smaller stickers and labels, would the Portrait be just fine?

    1. There are cheaper machines that are purpose built for stickers, but I would go with the Cameo. I bought the Portrait for cards & smaller paper & scrap projects, but have learned that most “projects” in the store & elsewhere online are made for &/or work best on 12×12 media….especially cards & 3d paper projects. Also, there is a greater selection of 12×12 paper than 8.5×11. You can use either size in the Cameo, but you can’t use the 12×12 in the Portrait w/o cutting it & wasting media. There are features like embossing that the Portrait cannot do that the Cameo can…that is one feature I wish I had. Save yourself the headache…just my opinion. The machine is so versatile, that you will soon learn that the possibilities are endless with what this machine can do & your creativity will reach a whole new level & your repertoire will broaden before you know it…People do some truly amazing things with this machine.

  3. How tutorials using the correct pixscan…??

    1. check Youtube

  4. Is there a video about setting up the Cameo 3

    1. Not yet, but keep your eye out! We will be releasing one soon.

      1. Has there been one released yet?

  5. hello, im new to the cameo, im trying to cut adhesive vinyl. Im inserting without mat (also tried with). ive set my margins correctly. im using the silouette studio. its giving me a registration mark error. I did not have marks “printed” on my vinyl. Do I have to actually print these on first from my printer??? Is there a way to be able to simply insert the vinyl and cut my design from studio? help!

    1. Please contact the Silhouette America Support Team at support@silhouetteamerica.com and they can help you troubleshoot your problem.

  6. What a fantastic post! It is really very useful blog post. It would be more impressive if you will include some techniques that how to use SVG files with Silhouette machine.

  7. I would like to know how to set up my Cameo 3 that I just received. The instruction manual isn’t that helpful.

    1. When you go to silhouetteamerica.com/setup to register and open an account, they have tutorials that tell you what to do from taking it out of the box forward.

  8. Just set up my new Cameo 2…can someone please tell me how to set the ruler lines on my design page. I saw the grid lines sections but I want the ruler lines that go along the top and sides of the design page. I can’t hind it…help!

    1. Go to the View menu and click “Show Rulers.” Or the keyboard shortcut is crtl+R on PC / cmd+R on Mac.

  9. I’m using the white Silhouette sticker paper but it won’t feed in my printer. Is there a trick to that or is it just my printer?

  10. best transfer tape? I’ve scraped and the vinyl keeps coming off the glass when I adhered it?

  11. I have resurrected my Silhouette Portrait and need tutorial for using again.

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