Thursday, 23 March 2017

PixScan from Start to Finish

Hey there, Niki here again with a confession. I have had a PixScan mat for over a year now and I have never used it. Yes I am ashamed of myself, but am going to put that right today and also hope this tutorial helps those who have also never used theirs. I was scrapping with friends recently, there were 12 of us and out of those 12, five had a PixScan mat that they had never used, so I'm guessing that there are a few more people out there in the same situation!

There are two important things to note about using a PixScan mat:
1. when you use it for the first time you have to go through an extra step to calibrate your camera. This is an annoying but easy step, and once it is done you won't have to do it again, until your change cameras/phones.
2. You cannot just stick a piece of patterned paper to your PixScan mat and watch it magically cut out all the things on the page. You have to do some work to create the cut file.

So, here is how to do that first step: calibrate your camera. There are plenty of tutorials out there but I didn't find one that was absolutely complete so I'm here writing my own and I really hope you are able to follow it and get through this step without any hiccups.

Step 1 - click on the PixScan icon on the top left of your screen. This will open the Pixscan window on the right side.

Step 2 - Click on the 'Import from File' triangle and another option for 'camera calibration' will appear. Click on 'show calibration text card' and a screen of dots will appear on your screen. You also have to set the paper size to A4 - this is a dropdown selection box next to the option to show the test card. You now need to print this Text Card. Simply go to File - Print, and wait for it to pop out of your printer.

Step 3 - one you have your white piece of paper printed with tonnes of dots all over it (the Calibration Test Card to use its proper name), take a photo of it with your camera or phone - whichever device you will be using with your PixScan mat. I used my iphone. IMPORTANT - when taking the photo, you must take it straight down (no angles) and you must not have the edges of the paper showing in your photo. You do not have to have every single dot in your photo, so miss off a few rows from each edge to acheieve this - ensure your camera screen is full of dots, and dots only, taken from above and take your photo. I found this worked better in good light so there weren't any shadows to deal with.

Now you need to get your photo off your phone and onto your computer. Initially I thought the best way to do this would be to email it to myself. I did so but when I opened the file in my Silhouette software I got an error message. I tried to send it to myself via Facebook Messenger, and same problem. I SHOULD have plugged my phone into my computer and taken the file that way becuase when emailing it to myself or sending it via FB it somehow changed the properties of the photograph and the software didn't recognise it. An alternative way to do this if you don't want to mess around with cables and the way I did it, was to save the photo to Dropbox, (I have the Dropbox app on my phone and a Dropbox account) then open the file on the computer.

Once your photo of the dots is safely on your computer, under the Camera Calibration menu on the right of the screen, click on the + sign, which will prompt you to open a file - browse through until you find your photo and open it.

Once you've clicked to open your photo, the software should automatically recognise it and begin to calibrate. It should come up with the name of your camera - see under the Camera Calibration on the right side, there is 'None', 'Auto' and now 'Apple iphone' - that's my phone and the software recognised and named this all by itself. That is it, calibration done and you should not have to go through this process again.

So now on to the fun part - actually using the PixScan mat to cut something that is pre-printed.  Put your pre-printed design onto your PixScan mat. It has to sit within that 8x10" (ish) box on the mat, so you can't do this with an entire sheet of 12x12. I choose a small piece of patterned paper that had multiple butterflies all over it. Once on my mat I took a photo of it, using the camera I have now already got calibrated (my iPhone). I transferred the photo from my phone to the computer (by the same method, Dropbox, but using my cable might have been quicker), and then I went to File-Open, browsed for my photo and opened it.

The software then calibrates the image and imports it onto an on-screen PixScan mat. The PixScan mat on the screen appears all by itself, no need to set this in the Design Page Settings.

Now that the image is on the screen, you need to treat it as any other PNG or JPEG that you have imported. At the moment it is just a pretty image, there are no cut lines. I therefore used the Trace tool to trace the butterflies. The Trace tool picked up all the middle parts of the butterfies too and some of the outer edges of the piece of patterned paper. I therefore clicked 'Trace Outer Edge', which then provided me with some red cut lines.

Now that I have my cut lines, I needed to tidy it all up a bit - I released the compound path so they were all individual parts, deleted all the half butterflies around the edges and any other extra cut lines I didn't need.

  Once happy that only the full butterflies were traced and that all the other cut lines were deleted, I selected all the butterflies, and opened the offset menu. I knocked the offset down to 0.045 and clicked 'apply'

 I then removed the inner cut files, leaving only the offset so that my red cut lines were nicely outlining my butterflies - my fine is now ready to cut.

So I opened up my cut settings, loaded my PixScan mat into my machine and sent to my Silhouette. It then reads the registration marks on the mat, and cuts out the cut lines.

 Here are my finished butterflies, all beautifully cut in just a few moments.

 So to all those people who, like me, have had their PixScan mat for some time but un-used - I really hope this tutorial encourages you to get it out of the packaging and give it a try!

Happy scrapping xx 


PixScan Mat

1 comment:

  1. How spooky Niki. I've had my Pixscan mat since September last year and hadn't used it until yesterday when I decided to have a go. I managed to email the photos from my iPhone but emailed them at the original file size and my Cameo accepted them fine. I faffed about for a bit thinking I had to change the mat settings then realised the Pixscan software did it automatically!! I can now use this for all my stamps and don't have to spend extra on buying the matching dies. A well explained tutorial x