Create a Calligraphy Cake Topper with Adobe Illustrator & Cricut | Kimberly Shrack | Skillshare

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Create a Calligraphy Cake Topper with Adobe Illustrator & Cricut

teacher avatar Kimberly Shrack, Modern Calligraphy & Illustration

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Preview


    • 2.

      Intro & Supplies Needed


    • 3.

      Designing Your Cake Topper


    • 4.

      Intro to Illustrator & SVG Files


    • 5.

      The Okay SVG Method: Image Trace


    • 6.

      The Better SVG Method: Pencil Tool


    • 7.

      The Best SVG Method: Pen Tool


    • 8.

      Cut & Assemble Your Cake Topper


    • 9.

      Class Project


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About This Class

Look, I love paper as much as the next girl. But sometimes, I want to use my calligraphy in a different way. Sometimes I want to take it off the page and bring it into the third dimension. And with at-home cut machines, like the Cricut and Silhouette, I can -- and so can you!

In this course, I’ll be showing you how to create SVG files from your calligraphy in Adobe Illustrator and turn a 2D sketch into a show stopping cake topper. I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step, from concept sketches to the final product.

Along the way, you’ll learn best practices for design, how to choose the best materials for your topper, 3 methods for optimizing and refining your design in Illustrator, tips for cutting your final product, and so much more. By the end of this class, you’ll have a super fun, total custom and uber ‘grammable cake topper… and the skills to make even more. 

Please note that this class is not a how-to on using the Cricut or Silhouette. Instead, this class is about designing a calligraphy-based cake topper and using Illustrator to turn it into the file you need for the cut machine. Links to tutorials for each of these machines is included in the Resources section of class (under the Class Project heading).

Hope to see you soon!

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Meet Your Teacher

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Kimberly Shrack

Modern Calligraphy & Illustration

Top Teacher

Oh, hello there! I'm Kimberly Shrack, the calligrapher and illustrator behind Hoopla! Letters, formerly Manayunk Calligraphy. I specialize in modern brush and pointed pen calligraphy, and have had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things for some very cool folks, like Anthropologie, Crane & Co., Bachelorette Desiree Hartsock, Pure Barre and oh-so many more. But one of my favorite things to do is help other busy ladies rediscover and cultivate their own creativity through calligraphy and lettering.

My own calligraphy journey started in 2012 when I bought a broad pen kit and a book called Calligraphy for Dummies – yes, really. I wanted to address my wedding invitations and thought it would be a fun project. And it was. But (and I’m about to get woo woo here... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Class Preview: > Hi everyone. This is Kim track from hoopla letters. I'm a professional calligrapher and have had the opportunity to work with some amazing clients all over the world. Even though I love paper, sometimes I want to use my calligraphy in a different way. Sometimes I want to take it off the page and into the third dimension. With at-home cut machines like the cricket or the silhouette, I can and so can you. In this course, I'll be showing you how to create SVG files from your calligraphy and turned designs like this into this. I'll walk you through the process step-by-step from concept sketches to the final product. Along the way, you'll learn best practices for design, how to choose the best materials for your topper. Methods for optimizing and refining your design and Illustrator tips for cutting your product and so much more. By the end of this class, you'll have a super fun, totally custom and Uber gramable cake topper, and the skills to make even more. Hope to see you in class. 2. Intro & Supplies Needed: Hello, and welcome to creating calligraphy cake toppers with the Cricut. I'm Kim Shrack, the owner of Hoopla Letters, and I am super excited to share how you can turn design like this into a beautiful cake topper like this with just a few supplies. As a professional calligrapher, I receive lots and lots of requests for custom work. Sometimes that custom work can't be done with a pen and paper alone. Enter SVG cut machines. These machines range from personal electronic machines, like the Cricut or Silhouette, to really large expensive laser cutting machines. While the mode of cutting may be different, these machines all basically work the same way. They cut out designs using the paths and anchors of an SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphic, file. I know that sounds super complicated, but I promise you that you don't need a degree in graphic design to turn your calligraphy into this type of file. But here's what you do need. For this class you'll need some experience in brush calligraphy. If you haven't already, head over to my Modern Brush Calligraphy for Beginners class, here on Skillshare. You'll be super glad you did. You'll also need some calligraphy supplies. I'll be sharing instructions for creating SVG files from analog calligraphy, that is pen on paper, as well as digital calligraphy. If you're doing analog, you're going to need paper, you're going to need a black brush pen with zero to little texture, like a Tombow Fudenosuke, or a Tombow Dual Brush, or a Faber-Castell. If you prefer to script digitally, you can use your iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Procreate app. You're also going to need Adobe Illustrator. There are other programs you can use to create SVG files, but this is my preferred method, so it's what I'm going to show you. You're also going to need an electronic cut machine such as a Cricut or a Silhouette. For this class, I'm going to be using a Cricut maker. Now, please know that this class is not a tutorial for using Cricut, this class is about turning your calligraphy into digital files that can be used on this machine and others like it. You'll also want materials for cutting. For the class project, you're going to need either heavy duty chipboard or card stock. You can use pattern card stock like this. If you're using card stock, I recommend you get a package of bamboo kabobs, because you can use hot glue to add your card stock to this and it makes a much sturdier cake topper. Once you've gathered up your materials, head over to the next lesson, where we'll talk about how you can transform your calligraphy with a cut machine. If you need a refresher on brush calligraphy, don't forget to check out my course on Modern Brush Calligraphy for Beginners. See you in the next lesson. 3. Designing Your Cake Topper: Now that you have gathered your supplies, and brushed up on your brush calligraphy, that pun was very much intended by the way. It's time for the fun stuff, and that is creating our design. But before we put pen to paper, I want to give you a few things to think about specifically five key considerations when you're designing. Consideration number 1, is we need to remember what this design is going to be used for, a cake topper. What that means, is the design needs to stand on its own. It needs to be in one piece. Everything needs to be connected. If you have an eye to dot, or a J to dot, or for example, in these you can see we've got a exclamation point. This one has an exclamation point as well, and we have to have all of those connected they cannot be separate. Which seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes when we are scripting, and we get really excited, we forget about those little things, make sure everything is connected. Consideration number 2, is balance. Remember that this is going to be a single piece, that it is standing upright. We want the design to be balanced. We don't want it to fall one way, or the other. Now in these examples, I made these for cupcakes, I just used a card stock here. No card stock is not heavy, when I say balanced in terms of weight, it doesn't really matter much with the card stock, because it's not very heavy, but if you're using a thicker material, like chipboard. This example has a little bit of few little problems that we will talk about, but for the sake of balance, you can see this is all very evenly balanced here. It all balances together. What that means, is when we do apply the stakes to this design, we're not going to have to worry about it toppling one direction, or the other. It's going to stay totally balanced. When you're drawing it helps to think of each of your lines is having physical weight, because they will have physical weight. We going to make sure everything is balanced. Consideration number 3 is how, and where your topper is actually going to stick into the cake. We want to make sure we don't forget that. For these examples, again, I decided I wanted it to be in card stock, you can't exactly at a stake in card stock. It wouldn't stand up. I would like to use these bamboo skewers. They're food safe, and they hold these really well, but when I'm making the design, I have to think, "Okay, where am I going to put this stake?" You can see, I knew I wanted it to be somewhere in the middle, so that it wouldn't fall from one side to the other. I made the down stroke on this K, extra thick so that I could fit this skewer behind it, and then I just hot glued it there. Even if you're not including the stake in your design, you do want to think about where it's going to go, even if you're going to add it later. Consideration number 4, is the thickness of your lines, and the size of your counters. Remember the counters are the name for the space in between your letters. If you're using card stock, you're going to be able to make your lines pretty thin without any trouble, I mean to a point. You can see this example here, this is a little hard to read, because I used a pattern paper that turned out to not be the best pattern. Wanted to bring this as an example. If you're going to use card stock, and you're going to use a pattern that's awesome, but make sure it's size appropriately. This is supposed to be a cheetah print, which is a cheetah print, but when it's on this small letters, it doesn't necessarily look like that. You can see it'll be backwards, but you can see how thin the lines are here. We have some really thin lines on this card stock, and it cut it out really nicely. But if we are using chip board, remember how I said, this is an example of some problems, this was the big problem. You can see these lines here were too thin, and it just shredded it. It just tore it up. I wasn't able to end up using this, and had to alter the design, and cut it out again. You want to make sure those lines are not too thin. According to cricket, again it'll patent on different machines, but cricket recommends that your finish line should be around an eighth of an inch, or a quarter of an inch. Honestly, I think an eighth of an inch is planning, and I think that's fine. This was just way too thin. That will make it unstable like you can see here, the same thing goes with the insides of your letters. The insights of our letters were pretty okay here, they were all large enough. Now cricket recommends that you keep these spaces around three quarters of an inch wide. That's pretty thick. I'm able to get it down a little bit smaller than that without any issues, but you don't want to go too much more. You don't want to have a teeny tiny little space, otherwise it's not going to cut well. With those things in mind, you can actually start to do your sketching. I went ahead, and sketched out a few of my designs here. I decided that I want to do a hooray because we can use a tonne of different contexts we can use it for. A birthday party, we could use [inaudible] nail YYZ on your drum set, that's definitely worthy of a hooray. That's the design I'm going to be using today. I have sketched these out, and I want to walk with all the considerations with you. Now you might be thinking, "Well, Kim. You said, there were five considerations, you have only mentioned four." Don't you worry, I will get to the last one. We get to inking, but for now, let's take a look at these sketches. First of all, I always recommend that you do at least four concept sketches. The reason for this is you might think you got it nailed, but then when you do another one like, "Ooh, this one even better, and I liked this other one even better", so it's always good to give yourself some options. Let's take a look at these different options, and go through those considerations I just mentioned to see how these designs. Going back to the first one, which is making sure that everything is in one piece. I decided for this design because I'm using chipboard. I want the stake to be a part of it. I want the stake to be included in the design. You can see here everything is in one piece. Even for those design with exclamation points, we've got those connected, we have the stakes connected as well. Everything's in one piece looking good there. Consideration number 2, is balanced, and if we're looking at this, everything looks pretty balanced. The exception maybe being this one. You can see we have a lot of empty space up here. What I might do is extending that Y with a flourish to add a little bit of weight over to that side. Yeah, that would be a good way, and then maybe bringing this up a little bit. Now you can see that the rest are pretty good. This has some space here, but because we have the exclamation point over there, we're able to balance it out, and this one has a different balance. It's like in a little arc. A Pac-Man shape, if you will there, it's nice and balanced there. The consideration number 3, again is where the stakes are going to be. For these two, I incorporated the stake as part of the actual script, in this one, the stake goes off in the flourish. If you're going to use a single one, you want it to be about in the center of your design, that it can handle the weight on both sides. Because again, with chip board, because it has actual physical weight more than the card stock. If you have it, let's say I put the stake over here, it will just took over. Not, great. We don't want that. Now in this one I decided to do a capital R here, so that I can have that line to extend all the way down, and it fits right in the middle. Perfect. Now for these, I couldn't really find a way to incorporate the stake in the middle because I was looking at these and said, "Well, it'll be awkward if I drag this lowercase r down. It'll be awkward if I have it sticking in the middle of this letter." I decided to add two stakes, one on either side, because I knew I couldn't add it in the middle. Adding it on either side allows me to make sure it's not going to tip one way, or the other, and I did the same for this design here. The next is the thickness of our lines, and the size of our counters. Now of course, thickness of our lines is not going to matter much when we're sketching it out, but what you do want to make sure is this point, you can check out your counters, and make sure there's nothing too tiny. Looking at this, I can see that this will be a problem right here, maybe as I was sketching. I'll just go ahead, and make that a little bit bigger. All right, so once you've taken a look at all your sketches, Those are the domain for considerations there. You can then start to ink and this is where consideration number five comes in. See, I told you I didn't forget and that is, you need to choose a pen that is smooth that has very little to know texture. That's because when we find this in Illustrator. It's going to be easier for us to refine it if we have nice smooth edges, if we have a lot of texture and we try to like outline it perfectly to match that texture. We're going to end up with so many anchor points that maybe might be here by the time we get done. I'm seven months pregnant, so yeah, that would take a long time. You want to make sure that you use a nice smooth brush. I recommend the tombow dual brush, for one, it has a very nice thick tip on it. You're going to get a lot of thickness in your line. Going back to that consideration of how thick your lines are, this pen is going to give you a lot of thickness, which is really great. But it's also a very smooth brush. We don't have any bristles here to add any unwanted texture. This is a great brush to use if you are going to be doing your inking on paper. Now, this is not the only one right there, of course many brush pens out there. I do recommend that you choose black or a very dark color because that is going to help you later on. Now, I am going to do my final design in procreate on my iPad Pro you don't have procreate, do not worry. It's not a big deal, you will be able to complete this process without an iPad Pro. I promise. But I'm going to go ahead and get mine out. Actually, I think I am going to do this design here I really like it. It's a cool shape. I like the flourishes. That's what we're going to go for. I've got my sketches here and I'm going to go ahead and we're just going to copy this. Okay, grab this one. Now, if you don't have an iPad Pro, this is not an issue, but if you do enjoy lettering and calligraphy and making cool things, Holy Mary is this a great. This is a great tool to have. This is the pro create app, which allows you to sketch and draw and paint and it can be very, very useful. I am going to go ahead and make sure my brush is black. I'm going to reduce the opacity here, add a new layer and I'm going to pick a brush with very little texture. Just like we did with our tombow, we're going to do the same thing here. I'm going to go with the heavy calligraphy brush. This is a brush that is standard in procreate in case you would like to use it and then I'm just going to start tracing here. That's a pretty good thickness will leave that there. Now, we're not worried about getting it perfect right now because we're going to be doing a lot of refining once we get this to illustrator. But what it helps to inking it out is it helps us see the thickness, it helps us see where things sit. If I'm pulling this down, I can see that this is not quite wide enough because it's not quite touching that stick where I want it to go. So again, we're not worried about getting it totally perfect at this point. Here we go. But it's going to help us to see everything all laid out with the thicknesses that we want. Now, I do still want to maintain the calligraphy look right? I do still want there to be thin and thick lines. I just have to make sure that my thin lines are too thin. I want to make sure I hit that a there, there we go. Okay, so I'm looking at this. It looks pretty good, but this line up here, it's just a little bit on the thin side. There we go. What I'm going to do is get a model line brush in the calligraphy section here. This is also, I believe, a standard brush in procreate and I'm just going to go along these edges and add a little bit of thickness. Now, you can, like I said, we're going to be doing a ton of refining in illustrator. You can skip this step if you want like this adding of thickness in this stage and you can just do it in Illustrator. But for me I like to see exactly what it's going to look like before I get into Illustrator so that I have an idea of what I wanted to do. Because as you will see in the next few videos, illustrator is complicated and there's a lot of different things you can do. You go in with a plan, it's definitely going to be helpful for you. I'm just adding little bit of thickness here to make sure that we don't have lines that are too thin like in that sad example I showed you where it just ended up tearing apart, broke my little heart. Okay, so we're all good there. That looks pretty good. I think that's ready for us to take into illustrator and clean up. Just get rid of that little guy over there. All right. Okay, so once your design is completed and it's to a point that you are ready to take it and refine it in illustrator, if you are using procreate, you are going to export as a PSD file, okay? Then you can share it on your computer. If you are doing it with a pen and paper like this, then what you'll want to do is use your phone and take a picture. This is why it's really important to use a black pen, because you can adjust the contrast in your picture so that you can see the lines a little bit more clearly and be sure that you erase the pencil marks in the background. They don't need to be perfectly erased, but just so it'll help as you see what design you want, the pencil marks won't distract you. Export it as a PSD. If you're using your iPad, take a photo and upload the JPEG to computer if you're doing it analog. All right, now in the next few videos, I'm going to show you three different ways to refine your design in Illustrator. See you there. 4. Intro to Illustrator & SVG Files: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Illustrator portion of class. In these next few videos, I am going to show you how to refine your caked up redesign in Illustrator and turn it into an SVG file that you can use with your cup machine. I know if you've never used Illustrator before or even if you have, I know this can look really intimidating, there's so much stuff over here, there's so many new terms that we're drawing around, especially if you haven't used it before, but I promise I'm going to simplify it, break it down step-by-step, and make it as easy and painless as possible for you. The first thing that you want to do is open up your file in Illustrator. Now, remember I created mine in Procreate and exported it as a PSD file, which is why it's so clean, there's no background on it, it's already totally dark black, there's no pencil marks, that's because I created it in Procreate. If you created yours on pen and paper and you took a JPEG, you can open that in here as well. It's not going to look as clean, but that's not going to matter for a couple of our tutorials, so go ahead and open it up anyway. Now, before we dive into the exact method, I want to talk to you a little bit about why we're using Illustrator in the first place. I'm going to hop on over to another design that I've already turned into an SVG file to show you as an example. Like we mentioned in the previous videos, the cut machine works when you have a file known as an SVG file. SVG stands for scalable vector graphic. While most digital designs are made using pixels, when you turn something into a scalable vector graphics, instead of being built from pixels, it is built from anchor points and paths. If you look at this example here, all these little red dots are anchor points and the thin red lines connecting them are paths. Now, the reason that this is important, is this tells our cut machine what direction to cut, so these are like directional commands, this is like a GPS for your cut machine. If we leave it just as pixels, it's like, I don't know what to do with this, but using these anchor points and paths gives the machine a direction to cut. Now, as a general rule, we want to reduce the number of anchor points that we have in our designs. Now, the reason for that is, there's a couple of reasons for it. First, the less anchor points we have, the quicker our print will go, the quicker our cut will go rather. Every time the machine reads an anchor point, it has to change directions. If we can reduce those anchor points, we're going to really speed up the time it takes our machine to cut. Reducing the anchor points will also clean up your design. You're not going to have any little bumpy areas or places where maybe the machine because they're so many anchor points it has to cut, cut, cut, and it might damage your design, so reducing the number of anchor points is the name of the game. Now, I'm going to show you, like I said, I'm going to show you three different methods to do this. The okay method, which is imaged trace using the image trace function, the better method which is using the pencil tool, and finally, the best method which is using the pen tool. 5. The Okay SVG Method: Image Trace: You may be asking yourself, well, why don't we just start with the best method and using the Pen tool? Well, because sometimes we can get away with using the OK method and here is a prime example of when that works. This all has to do with the materials that you are going to be cutting. This design here was meant to be not a cake topper, but instead a cupcake topper. You can see is all in one piece, but my plan is not to have it stick, it's going to go into a cake, but I'm instead going to add the little bamboo skewer here. Because this is going to be smaller and I'm going to be cutting a lot of them, I decided I wanted to make it in card stock instead of a heavier material like chip board or balsa wood. Now, because I'm using card stock, I can actually use a finer blade. Now again, this is not a class on how to use the cricket or the Silhouette, but all of the machines come with different types of blades to cut different types of materials. When you're cutting card stock, you can use a very, very fine blade and that fine blade cuts real quick, cuts very, very fast. Turns on a dime, you don't have to be as particular about the number of anchor points you have. If you have quite a few it's not necessarily that big of a deal. Now, it might impact your design a little bit, but it's not really going to impact the overall cut. This is an example of where I did do image trace because I was in a hurry, I knew the cut would look great no matter how many anchor points really, because I was using card stock and so I used the OK method. Switching back over to our design, we're going to do the OK method, which is using the image trace function. Now one thing to note about this, the image trace function is only going to work if you are using a cleaned up PSD file. If you have a JPEG in here, this method is not going to work for you. Now, that being said, you could go to Photoshop, clean it up, bring it back in here, and then use this method. But I don't recommend that and the reason is that takes time. It would be much, much easier to just do one of the better or best SVG creation methods rather than going back into Photoshop. If you are working off of a JPEG now, you can go ahead and skip this video and come back to it at a later time if you have something as a PSD. But for those of you who already have your cleaned up PSD file, maybe you created it and procreate, this is your OK method. To use the Image Trace function, we're going to go to Window I was correct, to Window down to Image Trace and it's going to open up a little window for us here. The way the Image Trace tool works is it looks at our design and it makes a best guess as to where that anchor points and paths should be. A lot of the times it does a pretty good job. Let me go ahead and show you here. I'm going to click My Design, and we'll worry about all this stuff in a minute. But for now, we're just going to hit Trace. You can see there was just a very slight change here, and this is giving me a preview of what the design will look like now that they have added the anchor points. We can see there's 558 anchors, that is a lot. What we're going to do now is we're going to tweak some of these things to not only reduce this number, but also to make the design a little bit closer to what we had. You can see there are areas where using the Image Trace distorted our design and we don't want that. First thing you want to do that's going to cut your anchor points by a significant amount is Ignore White. Well that's going to do is that's not going to create anchor points for these inner areas of your designs. You can see that knocked us down to 277, pretty much in half, which is great. Now as for these other items here. For Threshold, you don't really need to worry about this if you are working with a cleaned up PSD file. This is basically saying, because we're using black and white mode, this is saying pixels darker than this threshold here will be converted into black. But because we already have our black, we don't really need to mess with this. In fact, messing with it can cause bigger problems. For example, if we pumped it way up, we're going to get a really thick line, if we pulled it way down, we're going to have nothing there. Usually it starts at 128, so we'll just leave it there. Paths, adjusting this is going to either decrease or increase the paths. Now I know I've said that our goal here is to decrease our number of anchor points, but more important than that is we want our design to look like our design. The more paths rather that you have, the tighter your design is going to be. If we start to scroll this up and you're watching, there's a little changes that are being made, but it's tightening up the design. Now if we move it too far, we end up with this like weird textured thing. But if we adjusted on a smaller basis, we get tighter areas. Let's go back to the middle, and you can see we just add a little bit, it's just tightening it up slightly. Some of these really fine little curves here getting tightened up, that looks okay, it's still not quite where I want it to be. Noise, this is another thing we don't really need to mess with and since we already have a cleaned up PSD file. Now we have this down to 327 anchors. That's a lot. Not only is it a lot, but I mean, this doesn't look as good as it could. They're just some weird areas here, this doesn't totally match up, this is a little bit wonky. But let's just go ahead and move forward with this. Now, I'm going to go to Object, Image Trace, Expand. Now, I have my SVG file. I have to save it as an SVG, but you can see I've got all the anchor points and the paths. Now, if I were doing this in card stock, let's say this stick wasn't here and I was just doing this in card stock, this would be a good starting point. What I would want to do from here is tweak some of this, refine a little bit of this just to tighten it up and try to reduce the number of anchor points. Again, this many anchor points is not that big of a deal if you're using vinyl or card stock. But it becomes a big deal when you're using thicker materials. More of what I'm concerned about here is I want the design to look better. I'm going to zoom in and I'm going to show you a couple different ways that you can refine this design after you've done the image trace functions. Let's say that you've done the image trace function and it looks pretty good, but you still want to tighten it up a little bit, here's how you can do that. One way is to simplify the paths Object, Path, Simplify. When we did that, it really reduced the number of anchor points. What this function does, is it looks at the design and it says, what anchor points are not necessary? What anchor points are superfluous to use, a $5 word there, and it gets rid of them. But sometimes it doesn't make the best guesses. I'm looking at this and it still says, "Hooray" but stuff is not quite right. I don't want this to come to a point here. This is sort of added in some space here right where I don't want it. It's made this thicker and more round, not a fan of that. So you can use this toggle to either add more anchor points. You can see when we do that, it does add some more, still not as many as we had before, but it does add a few more there or you can reduce it even further but, be careful. Because I think you will end up with a dully painting here not a [inaudible] for a cake topper. So I'm going to be honest, I don't particularly like using this method. Even though it's very quick, I just find that the software makes decisions that I wouldn't necessarily make. It ends up causing me more trouble trying to fix it later. That being said, this is definitely a method. I know tons of designers who use this method so, feel free to give it a shot. I'm going to go ahead and undo. Okay, so now we're back to where we were. So I'm going to show you another easy way to make some changes after you've done image trace again. We're not making huge changes, this will help tighten it up a little bit. If you've done image trace, you are using card stock and a fine blade, and you just want to make tiny, tiny tweaks, there is a couple of different tools you can use. First we have here the Smooth Tool. The Smooth Tool does what it sounds like, and it smooths out paths. Zoom in even more here. Let's find an example, I'm looking at this line here and it looks a little weird. That could be because Image Trace messed it up or probably more likely it's because when I was scripting it, I didn't get it quite exactly right. What you would do is, using the Smooth Tool, you click on the path, drag, and try to smooth it out. You can see that I've smoothed it out really nicely there. I'm looking at this and it comes to a point, not really a fan of that, I'm just going to drag this around, see if we can get that to come to less of a point. It still comes to a point, but it's a little bit better. This is not a super precise tool, it just smooths things out a little bit. That's one thing that you can do. Now another thing you can do, if you click the Smooth Tool, there's a little arrow down here. It gives you all these other options. Another great option is the Pencil Tool. Actually I'm going to click, there we go, you can see all the other anchor points. The pencil tool actually helps you reshape a path, which can be very, very helpful. So if we take a look, lets find another area where maybe this didn't do a great job. So here's a great example, this got really, really thick and kind of weird, it doesn't look exactly like I want it to look. I'm going to click my pencil tool, and I'm going to start on this path somewhere. I'm just going to start to drag it around and try to change up that path. Now I'm going to be honest, right now I'm using a mouse, this is not the best tool to use with the mouse. Technically, this is a tool you want to use with a Wacom tablet or an iPad in fact, that's what we're going to do in the next video. But just so you can see how it works, it sort creates a new path for us and cuts it down. So using a combination of the Pencil and this Smooth Tool, I was able to get that down. All right, so like I said, this is the okay method, it's just okay. Like I said, I use it for things like this, where I'm cutting with card stock, using a fine blade, or cutting with vinyl using the fine blade. But it's not ideal for cutting thicker materials like chipboard or balsa wood using a knife blade. So in the next video, I am going to show you the better option, and that is using the Pencil Tool. 6. The Better SVG Method: Pencil Tool: Hello everyone. In this video, I'm going to show you the better method of refining your design in illustrator for an SVG cut file, and this is the method using the pencil tool. First thing I want to say is, this is going to be much easier if you have an iPad Pro or if you have a Wacom tablets. Any drawing tablet that can connect to your computer instead of the mouse. You'll notice that the screen recording might look a little different than the last time. That's because I'm on my iPad now. I'm sharing my screen using side car display on airplane. If you don't have this. A Wacom tablet works just as well if you're not familiar with those, those are little tablets that are about the size of mouse pads with a pencil like stylus, and you can use them to control the cursor, like you would a mouse only, you're using a pen. It's much easier to actually draw. Now you can get these Wacom tablets in lots and lots of fancy versions of them and some with lots of bells and whistles and some with very few. I got my first one for about $35 and it was just like the pad and the pencil and it worked great. In the resources section of class, I have a link to a couple of different Wacom tablets if you would like to go that route. If not, you can definitely try this with the mouse. You may be much better at controlling the mouse than I am, I'm not great at it as you saw in the last video. But you can definitely give it a shot. Now this method can be used whether you are using a PSD, so whether you designed it and procreate or whether you imported a JPEG, so whether you drew it and then took a photo. Either method works for this method of refining using the pencil tool. The first thing we're going to do is you're going to click over to Layers. Now, if you aren't seeing this layer tablet over here, you can always go up to window and then go down to, layers right here. If ever there's any thing that I'm pulling from over here and you don't see, you can always find it in windows. The first thing we want to do is we want to find the layer that has our artwork on it. This will be your JPEG layer or your PSD layer. You're going to click these three little lines up here, go to Options. I went a head and named mine original artwork so that I don't confuse this with the SVG file I'm about to create. First thing I'm going to do is lock it, so that I don't accidentally drag it and move it around. I'm going to dim it, reduce the opacity to about to about 30 percent This way it's nice and light. I can still see it and trace over it, but it's not going to confuse me when I'm looking at my two different layers. Now I'm going to click this create new layer button here. I'm going to make sure that's selected and this is the new layer I am going to work on. I have the Pencil tool selected, which is great, that's what I need here. Now this is all about tracing. This is all going to be about tracing over your design. A couple of things before you get started. You want to make sure that the stroke is filled in. I'm using black. If you'd like to use hot pink, use hot pink but black is going to be easy. Then make sure that the fill is not. This is a personal preference because as you go, if you have the fill marked, it just looks a little odd. I like to leave it like this and then switch it when I'm all done creating my stroke. Now like I said, I'm on the new layer. I got my Pencil tool. I am just going to start tracing around my design. Now instead tracing around each word or even each letter, instead, I'm going to trace around each stroke. That might seem a little much. But when we start combining these strokes to create our letters, it's going to be much, much easier to edit them if we've done it by individual strokes instead of all at one time. It looks pretty good. I like to tweak as I go around that just a little bit more. There we go. Pull this out a bit. Awesome. I've got that stroke done. Now what I'm going to do is reverse the stroke and the fill so that now it's filled in black and there's no stroke on it. That's looking pretty good. What I'm going do now is I'm going to trace the rest of the strokes here. Is going to take a minute, so I'm going to turn on some tunes for you. Fast-forward a little bit. Every now and then I will stop and show you something that I am doing if it's going to be a little bit out of the ordinary of what we've just done. In the meantime, grab some popcorn, beverage of choice, enjoy the music, and i will pop in along the way to give special instructions. Here's a moment where we want to I want to pause. You can see that when we switch the stroke and the fill, we get this shape here. It's not quite filled in and we don't want that. We want to make sure that this looks like an O. We want this stroke to be visible. I'm going to go over here to the Pathfinder window. Again If it's not over here, it'll be up in the window. I have both of them selected. I'm going to click Exclude. What this one does, is it excludes overlapping shape areas. There you go. Now we've got that path and I can go in and edit as needed. We're going to take another little pause here. Instead of drawing this line out with the Pencil tool rather, I'm going to go ahead and grab the Rectangle tool here because this is going to be my stick that's going to go into the cake, so I want to make sure it's nice and straight. I don't want to mess with one of my Swift that. Then what I'm going to do is I like my stakes to come in at a point. I'm going to drag this to the Direct Selection tool that's the arrow that's filled in. I'm going to double-click one of the points and I'm going to drag it. That gives me a nice little sharp point there. Okay, and now I'm going to go back to tracing with the Pencil tool. Now if we take a look at this, we can see that we've got a pretty good outline here. I'm going to go ahead and hide this original artwork layer so that that doesn't interfere with what we're seeing. Now I'm noticing there are some spots here I would like to tweak, so I'm going to go in and just fix those up. This is one of the reasons I really like to start everything out with strokes. Let's say I outlined around this,right? When I would go in to fix this area with the pencil tool, what happen is, I would have to retrace the whole thing, and it would end up after retrace around here, and it would end up messing everything up. By doing it stroke by stroke, I can make those changes really easily. Okay. It's looking pretty good. Now one thing I'm going to do is, I noticed in this flourish right here, we have a little extra thickness right here. It's a little thin here. I'm going to beef up some of this thickness a little bit, because again, remember we're making this one in card stock using the knife tool, so we need everything to be just a little thicker. Here we go, that's better. Now this is a perfectly good method to use when you're using thicker materials. The last method, the best method, is of course the best, but it also takes the longest. Now, if I am creating this for a client, I'm always using the best method, always using the pen tool method, or if I'm creating this to sell in the cricket or silhouette marketplaces, I'm always using that best method. But if this is for a personal project, honestly, this is what I usually use. I find it a little bit faster than the pen tool method, and because I'm a super control freak, I like having control over everything. That's a huge shock. I'm also going to add some thickness to this one here. Just because again, we don't want these lines to be too thin when they're cut out, we'll risk ruining our cut out there. All right. It's looking pretty good, want to beef up this a little bit. Again, this is another instance where because I did the stroke, I can easily fix that, whereas if I had traced around everything, would require me to get in these gaps and do all these extra spaces, and really, we don't want to do? Let's go ahead and do it stroke by stroke. May take a little longer in the beginning, but it will definitely save you time in the long run. Great. That's all looking pretty good. Next, I'll move that, just a little bit more thickness there. There we go better. Okay. Now we need to make sure that this is all combined together. You see right now, it's all these different strokes, so we want to combine it together. Instead of combining them all at once, let's go ahead and just combine them letter by letter, stroke by stroke. Start with H here. That's looking pretty good. We can reduce anchor points around here and around here. You can see this is just what you would do the whole way around to make sure that everything is just how you want it. We'll zoom, let's see. Got a couple of spots here. You can see whether there's double anchor points, we definitely don't need that. We get smooth tool out. Get rid of some of those there, spread them out a bit. Let's combine that. See how we're looking. Little spot right here we could probably, and I'm just going to do this the whole way across. Now actually, it doesn't matter so much what the ends look like when the ends are overlapping because those anchor points are going to be removed anyway. You can see, once I connect this here, they're gone anyway, so we don't need to worry so much about those. That looks good. Now around these sharp corners like this, you need to be careful about getting rid of some of these anchor points because you might lose that sharp corner. Well actually, let's go ahead and see what happens when we delete some of these extra anchor points. If we zoom way in. I'm going to click the pen tool, hold it down, get to delete anchor point, and click this and see what happens. See it messed everything up there. Again, in this method, you are going to have more anchor points than you will for the final method. Let's make sure everything is connected. Here we go. That to me looks much better than our first go with image trace. We can also try to see if simplifying can help reduce any of those anchor points. Actually, it does that. That's pretty good. Now we've got it down to 162 anchor points, before it was at 177. This is definitely going to help it cut a lot quicker. Now again, you can spend a lot of time on this. Looking at this now, I see a lot of spots that I'd like to go in and tweak even further, but I won't subject you to that. But you can see the great thing about this tool is that you have so much control over it, and you can actually correct mistakes that you made while you were scripting. When I was scripting, this was a little bit squared, and I was able to go around it a bit more. There was two small space between here and there, too large of a space between there and there, and I was able to correct for both of those things. That's a nice up thing about this tool as well. All right. Now in the last video, I'm going to show you how to use the pen tool, aka the best method. See you there. 7. The Best SVG Method: Pen Tool: In this final video on illustrator, I'm going to show you the best method for refining your design into an SVG file in illustrator. Now, this method is using what's called the Pen tool. If you have ever used illustrator before, you know the pen tool is really powerful, but also a really complicated and can be very confusing. What I'm going to show you today are just the basics rather of what you're going to need. Now, for this particular method, like I said, this is best method. You can use this anytime. You can use this method no matter what materials you're using for your cake topper, no matter if it's a personal project or for a client. But there are a couple of times where you absolutely must use this method. The first being, if you are using thicker materials that require a knife tool. For example, chip board, which is what I'm going to be using for this cake topper, or balsa wood. Those are going to require a knife tool on the cricket in silhouette. Because of that, you're going to need to have the most precise anchor points possible. That's not only going to significantly reduce your cut time, but it's also going to lead to a cleaner, more precise, pristine cut. Another time where you absolutely must use this method over the other tool, is if you are creating this for a client or to sell in the cricket or silhouette shop. Let's say I wanted, I love this hey topper design so much. I want to share it with the world, so I'm going to make it available online for people to purchase. I want to make sure I'm giving them the best file possible and not just an okay file that I would use for personal use. Those are the two times you absolutely must use this method. But this method is appropriate anytime, because like I said, it is the best. Now, what makes this method different from the pencil tool. The pencil tool if you watched the previous video, basically what we do, is we trace along the outside of our strokes and the program places anchor points there. Based on where we're tracing the program places are anchored points. Now, that makes it much easier for us, but it does lead to maybe a little bit more than we need, and not always the most precise. But with the Pen tool, instead of us drawing and the program identifying where the points should go, we are actually going to be placing the points ourselves. That means a couple of things. One, it means we have far less anchor points, we should have far less anchor points, because we're the ones placing them, and we're only going to put them where we need them. But two, it means we have to decide where we need them, and that can be a little tricky. I'm going to show you my method for doing that today. But first, it's however no layers. Oops. You can see I've already gone ahead and set up my layers here. This is my design layer, my original design layer. This would be your JPEG or your cleaned up PSD file. I'm going ahead entitled it original artwork, so I don't get confused. I locked it, I don't accidentally move it and I dimmed it down to 30 percent. This is going to be like a template and I'm going to trace over. I then create a new layer and making sure that one is highlighted, because that's going to be the one I'm going to be working on. Now, one final little housekeeping thing before we get started. You might notice here I have a separate toolbar. This is a toolbar that I created, and it has all the items I might need in it. There's a lot of stuff over here. It can get confusing. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff that we need, it's all under the same heading. To make it easier for me to access, I created a toolbar that just had the items I need. The selection tool, direct select tool, pen tool obviously, add anchor point, delete anchor point, convert anchor point, curvature, pencil, smooth, free transform, and eraser. Now, we're not going to use all of those today, but those are generally the tools that I use when I'm creating an SVG file. If you want to set up your own custom toolbar, just go to Window toolbars, new toolbar. Again, not necessary, but super-helpful. Like I said, the big tricky thing with doing our anchor points with the pen tool method is, how do we know where to place them? One method that I've found extremely helpful and I think you will too, is the box methods. We'll start with this O here, because this will give us example of a couple different techniques here. For the box tool, what we're going to do is use our guides and drag them to the outermost point of our curves, let's drag that there. Just right where the very edge of that curve touch, that's where we're going to place our guide. That in turn is where we're going to place our anchor points. Now, it's not just about what's going on in the outside is also about what's happening here on the inside. We'll ignore this little joined for now. We'll get back to that in a minute. Like I said, like I did but showed you with the pen tool, is I find that the best method is creating the shapes by stroke instead of by letter. That's going to give you so much more flexibility later on when it comes to making changes and small tweaks. Now, I have this O boxed up so you can see I've just put at the furthest most points. Here I had to eyeball it, because I know that this curve is going to come up a little bit more. Actually, even pull it up just a little bit. There we go. I'm going to grab my pen tool. I'm going to make sure the stroke is on, file is empty. I'm going to start drawing around this. I'm going to place my first anchor point right here at the very bottom edge. Now, when I click, you can see that we've got a green anchor point there. You can see that as I drag it, I've got this nice green line that's going to serve as my preview of where the next one's going to go. Now, you'll notice that this green line is straight, it's not curved, and of course we want a nice straight line. I'm going to go ahead and undo that. What I'm going to do instead to get that straight line is, I'm going to click to create my anchor point, but I'm going to hold the mouse down. I'm going to hold the shift key to make sure that my line is stays horizontal, and I'm going to drag the guide out to the left, because that is the direction I'm planning and moving. Now, you can see we've got a preview of what our line is going to look like, and we will be adjusting it as we move over to the next one. But before we move to the next one, you might be wondering, why did you hold down the shift key? Lots of different designers have lots of different viewpoints on this. But because we are going for the most precise design possible, I prefer to make sure that all of my handlebars, so these handlebars are called Beziers handles because they create beziers curves. We're just going to call them handlebars and curves through and out. I think that's fine. But these handlebars control the path that your anchor points are going to be creating. The width of the curve and all good stuff like that. You can adjust them to go at any angle. But if you hold down shift, it makes these handlebars stay at 45 degree angles. I like to keep my handlebars both either totally up and down, straight vertical or straight horizontal. Now, the reason for this, like I said is, this creates a cleaner final design. It also leads to less anchor points, and it just makes for a more professional final piece. Now that being said, this is a tricky skill to learn, and I would be aligning if I said I hadn't mastered. Like I said, folks here on skill share who specialize in illustrator, I'm sure they could show you some things. But this is something that you you get better at with practice. I've definitely gotten much better at it. But there are still some times where I find I might have to adjust my handlebars a little bit up or down away from those vertical or horizontal handles. When that happens, they don't stress too much about it, but for the most part, I tried to keep everything totally horizontal or totally vertical to keep everything nice and clean. Plus, it's going to help you later when you are adjusting. It makes it much easier if everything was going the same basic direction. We're going to go out to the next outermost point. When I click hold down shift key, pull those handlebars up, I'm going to do the same over here, tippy top. Let's go all the way around and connected the path there. Awesome. Now, this doesn't look totally perfect. There's definitely some changes that we need to make. I'm going to go ahead and create the inner one as well and then we'll get rid of these guide so that we can see it all more clearly. Let me go ahead and get rid of those guys. Again, this is a personal preference. They'd get in my way and I don't care for that. I want to get rid of those there. Now we're going to do a little bit of refining here and see some adjustments that we can make. There's a few different ways to make adjustments. Let's first go ahead and adjust the inner curve here because I'm seeing some sort of wonky things. Now one thing to note, we don't have to follow our lines exactly. We created our calligraphy using our hands, which means it's imperfect, which is awesome with calligraphy. But when we're doing the cut, we do have some opportunities to maybe fix some less than perfect curves and mistakes. If you wanna take advantage of that. More power to you. One little handy function over here is called the Direct Select tool. That's the error that's all filled in. You can use this tool to adjust your anchor points. For example, if I double-clicked here, I can move this anchor point around. Change where it's located. I can also change these handles. Like I said, right now everything's going straight up and down or horizontal, but you can see how you can change that by dragging the handles. The handlebars, move together, name move at the same angle. One thing that you can do that I find very helpful is you can actually reduce the length of these handlebars, and you can reduce them independent of one another. I'm going to make this handlebar just a little smaller and try to tighten up that curve. I'm going to pull this one out just a little bit wider. Now the handlebars are still connected, even though now there are different, there are different links. You can see, if I were to move this one, they would both still move together. I'm just going to bring it there. There we are. That is looking that is looking much better there. You see, I went ahead and didn't quite follow this line because wen I looked at it, I thought actually it looks better if the curve goes in a little bit, a literature more narrow. That's what I did. That is totally fine to do. You don't have to follow it exactly. Now let's take a look at this outer one here, see where maybe we can make some corrections. Go ahead and reduce the height of this just so little bit, make that a bit more narrow. I'm actually going to move this anchor point over just a little. There we go. Then I'm going to move this over a little bit to keep that nice and thick. Now if you want to take a look at what it would look like, without you can get rid of that there. Looking at this, I'm seeing there's a little bit of a wonky thing happening here. Maybe I a little low, I don't think reducing is, I think maybe making it a little bigger. Yeah, that was what I needed to do. That actually looks pretty good. To turn this into a shape, normally , what we do is we just swap the stroke and the fill. But obviously that's an issue here because we want this stroke to be the o shape. How do we do that? I'm going to leave that as is. I'm going to do the same with this one here. Then I'm going to, hit the shift key and hold on both. Going to click over here to pathfinder. If you don't have Pathfinder over here, you can find it up in Windows and under shaped modes, I'm going to select exclude. There we go. Now we have our nice stroke there. The great thing about doing this stroke is now I can adjust this, move it along. If after I make all my design, I think that o is maybe a little too far away from its not quite evenly spaced. I can always go in there and make those changes. Now let's go ahead and we'll add the whisker here. Again, since I mess with those layers, I just want to make sure I'm on the right one before I move forward. We'll go ahead and again, I will use the box method. Do not have to do this every time. In fact, if you don't want to do this at all, you certainly don't have to. I just find that it is helpful to me. I'm just making a guess here about where this would go. But doesn't have to be totally precise. Back to the Pen tool. I'm not sure my stroke keeps disappearing there, but illustrator works in mysterious ways. I'm going to go ahead and start up here. Hold, Shift, move the handles to the right. Down to these further most points. Don't want to hit Shift before you place the anchor or that's going to happen. See how I just said it again, I get too excited about that shift key. There you go. Can't swap that in there. One can pretty good. Now I could at this point join these two together, but I'm not going to do that. I am instead going to wait until the end because again, I like to keep everything separate so that I can adjust it. If I were to have traced this altogether and joined it, and maybe I needed to move this whisker over a bit. I no longer have that option. I would have to redo it all over again. It may take a little bit more time by doing it all stroke by stroke, but I promise that will make your life so much easier when it comes time to change it now what I'm going to do is I'm going to go through the whole word here. And I am going to zoom fast-forward it because you don't want to sit here for that long, [inaudible] music, but I am, periodically going to stop and point out some different, different methods that I may be using. I want to show you a couple of things with this one. Shapes like this can be a little tricky. One thing that you're seeing is we're looking at this line, and remember that I have hand-drawn this. Honestly my calligraphy here is just a little bit flat. It flattened up just a little bit here which is fine. But I have the opportunity now to correct it so I'm going to try and do that. I'm going to show you a couple of otherwise. If you were watching, you saw I was tweaking by pointing the handlebars around, and it wasn't really working out quite the way that I wanted so I'm going to try something else. What I'm going to try to do is delete this anchor point here and see if that helps with the curve. It might not, or it might, you're seeing this in real time. I just click the Delete anchor point tool pull that. Now another thing that you can do with your direct select tool is you can actually drag segments of paths. You can see when I put the direct select tool over the path instead of over the anchor point, I get that little headphone looking symbol there. I can click that and drag. Now you'll see it does mess with the angle of my handlebars there, we'll see if that even works. Not really, not a fan of that, so what I'm going to do instead is add another anchor point, mix those handlebars so that they're straight across and then I'm going to drag it up. Why did I get rid of the anchor point in the first place? Sometimes it helps to see it with fresh eyes and create it yourself. There was just something there that I couldn't get quite right by deleting that anchor point and adding a new line, I was able to fix it. I'm going to try actually the same thing down here. This anchor point here looks like it might be a little super for us. I'm going to get rid of it. Actually, doesn't look too bad, but I am going to adjust some of the handlebars using the direct select tool. Perfects, that looks so much better. Sometimes you just have to get in there and mess around with some stabbing, I want to mess it too much. But sometimes it can be helpful to get in there and reduce some things for yourself. I'm back. I wanted to make the crosshatch on this age just a little bit stylized, but I change the shape a little bit, but I don't like that this comes to a super sharp point. What I'm going to do is you get the direct select tool and you double-click on the Anchor point that you want to adjust and you see this little circle pops up. When you hover over it, you get that little arc, so what this is going to do is this is going to smooth those sharp corners out. I'm going to click it and just drag it and it rounds that out for me. Now you'll notice it didn't round out any of the others, but if I click everything and then you can see all of the corners have that circle, and if I were to drag it, it would round all of them. I wonder around all of them, so I'm just going to double-click on the one I want, slightly around and here we go. You can see I have a little bit of an issue here. I put this at my next outermost point. If I place it here, you can see by the rubber band, the preview that it's going to make a curve that's totally not what we want. What we need to do is reduce the length of this handle here. What you can do is press the Option button or Alter if you're using a PC, hold down the Shift key to keep is straight, and just pull this handle that's going to shorten it. You want to make sure that the handlebar never overlaps where you're going to be placing the next anchored way. Since my next anchor point is here, I don't want this handlebar all the way out. I want to keep it back here. Then I can go ahead and redo my curve. Want to pop in here, you can see with this particular curve, I'm making a whole lot of adjustments and having a little bit of trouble getting this exactly how I want it. I'm going to actually take the pencil tool and try to cut off a little bit, would be better if I had this selected first. Using the pencil tool, I'm just going to draw along the line where I want it. Now I'm using a mouse, so it's not totally steady so I'm going to use the smooth tool to smooth that out. There we go, that's looking better. I find that if I ever get into spots where it's really I just cannot get it to do what I want it to do. Using that pencil tool it is really helpful. I just wanted to pop in and share that. If you ever get stuck in a spot where you just like I just cannot figure out with how to use the pen tool to get that, to look how I want it, and that's always an option. I also wanted to point out here that I've started to drift away a little bit from the totally horizontal and totally vertical to get these paths to do what I want. Not much, you can see it's still pretty much horizontal and vertical, but I am deviating from it a little bit. I just wanted to share that as well. For the stick on my design, instead of doing the Pen tool for this, I'm going to use the rectangle tool, just to keep it super-duper precise. Then because I like my stick to come to a point at the bottom when you use the Direct Select Tool, double click one of the bottom points, and create a pointed edge. So now we have everything all laid out with our anchor points. I've gone ahead and hit that design layer, so we can get a nice fresh look at it. Now, we're going to make a little bit of twists and tweaks and see if there's anything that needs fixing. So first thing I'm seeing here is this, is overlapping a little bit, because we've got this different strokes. Look how easy that is to fix. Done. We don't have to go and retrace everything which is definitely a huge bonus. I'm seeing this has a weird little point there. Let's see what we can do to fix that up. Try that smooth tool. Get rid of that. Very good. Looks better. Looking good. A little wonky right here as well. See if the smooth tool can help that out. Very good. Sometimes the smooth tool doesn't change the number of anchor points. Sometimes it just moves them to a better spot, which is what I prefer it would do all the time. But sometimes you can't always make it do exactly what you want, which is why we have these other tools. I'm going to try to pull that out just a little bit. There we go. Fill in that gap there. That's all looking pretty good. So I'm going into my design considerations again. Looks like all my counters are pretty good. I don't have any super thin lines. This looks good. This looks like a good distance between these two, maybe just a little bit more here. Bring that down just slightly. So we can brought that down. We just need to adjust. There we go. So I can't stress enough how important it is to do this stroke by stroke because those little changes I just made would have taken you forever, because you would have had to go in and retrace around everything. Do it stroke by stroke, and save yourself some pain and suffering later on. So this is looking good. So our next step is we want to combine all of these pieces together into one compound shape. I like to do it struck by stroke. I don't want to combine these all at once. So what I want to do is I like to do a word by word, so I can see if there are any problem areas. This is also a good time to just click over everything, see if there's any excess anchor points you can get rid of. Now some of these are for example, these two right here will be gone, but instead there'll be two on either side. So sometimes it can be helpful to do the letters first. So nothing totally egregious is standing out that maybe right there, but let's see what we can do. So I'm going to open up my Pathfinder tool here and I am going to start combining things. So you select the items you want to combine. Go over to shape mode, click "Unite". No big bulks of anchor points standing out. I'm going to go ahead and undo that. I'm going to click this guy. Go to Object, Path, Simplify. Just see if there's anything we can do to get rid of some of these things. Actually that's not bad. That got rid of five. We start a mess with it a little bit. So there we go. I want to cut a few down. Not bad. Not again. These actually look really good. I don't see any need to change those. Again, nothing. So you'll notice if you start to see like clumps of these, you might be like, maybe I should go back and simplify. Again, why it's great to do this stroke by stroke because you will make your life as so much easier. That maybe we can fix a little bit. Let's see if maybe we can simplify this a bit. So we are at 33 and this is taking us down 24. Actually that's not bad. Good. Because we were able to get down a little bit more. Awesome. So now we have our full file there, which is perfect. So now what you're going to do is you're going to save it. You want to save it as an SVG file. Because this is what those cut machines are going to read a cricket and silhouette, or even if you're sending this off to a laser cutter, this is the file they're going to be able to read. Do not send them an AI file. This is what they're going to be able to read. Once you have that saved as an SVG, you can upload it into your cut machine software, and you can start cutting. So like I said in the resources section of class, I've got a couple of videos there for how to tutorials from cricket and silhouette, for how to actually do the cutting on your machine, because everybody's going to have a different machine and this class is really more about the files themselves. I think that will be much more beneficial to you than me trying to show you every single different machine possibly. So at this point you should have your file totally saved as an SVG. It's looking good and you are ready to cut. 8. Cut & Assemble Your Cake Topper: Once you have uploaded everything into your cut machine software, it's time to actually start cutting. Now, depending on the machine you're using, the number of anchor points you created, as well as the material that you're using, this cut could take anywhere from 30 seconds to a half hour or more. Now I'm not going to run through the whole cutting process with you. For one this took two hours to cut. We're not doing that here, you'd be so bored. But also every cut machine is different. Like I said, this is not a class on how to use the cricket rather, it's a class on how to turn your calligraphy into a file that you can then use on a cut machine like the cricket. In the resources section of class, there are links to step-by-step video tutorials that show you how to use both the cricket and the silhouette. Got it? Now all that being said, there are a couple issues you may run into no matter what cut machine you're using. Here's how you should address them. Issue number 1, is this is taking forever. If it's taking an exceptionally long time, you might want to go back into Illustrator and reduce the number of anchor points you're using. Give the smoothing and pencil tools a try or you can also try the reduce anchor points function. Just to make sure that it doesn't distort your design. You can also cut down time by changing out your materials. For example, if you're making 24 toppers for cupcakes, cutting chip board is going to take a long time. But if you use card stock, it'll go much, much faster. Issue number 2, the machine is tearing up my material. If this is happening to you, the first thing you want to do is check that you're using the correct blade on the correct settings. This will depend on your cut machines, so check your manual. This may also be happening because you have too many anchor points on your very thin lines and counters or the space between letters. Remember the cut machine makes a cut with every anchor point. If you have a ton of anchor points in a small space, it can be a problem, especially if you are using a knife blade. Issue number 3, everything cuts fine, but when I pick it up, it tears. That's why it's a bummer when you're using card stock. But if it does happen, check to make sure you're using the appropriate mart. If you're using is too sticky for your material, it may cause it to rip. This is especially true for thinner materials like card stock. You can also avoid this by ensuring your lines in your design aren't too thin and that the counters aren't too small. If your design needs to be smaller because it's going on a cupcake, you want to stick with fewer words, thicker, heavier lines, and you want to use a card stock more than thicker materials. Issue number 4, the machine is leaving indentations on my chip board. Depending on the thickness of your board, the machine may leave some small marks behind. Now, that's not a big deal if it's for your toddlers birthday, but it's a huge no, no, if it's for a client. Luckily, there's an easy fix. In your design software, set the cut to mere or reverse. It will cut the design backwards and any indentations made will be done on the back of the topper, not the front. Now, once you have your item cut, it's time to start decorating. Now of course, you can leave it plain. Here is a version of the cake top-right created where I left it plain. Plain is nice, it's simple, it's underrated, so you can definitely leave it like that. You can also spray paint it. Now if you're going to spray paint it, make sure that you cover up the area that's going to go into cake really well, because you don't want spray paint in your cake. Gross, you don't want it. You can also add glitter. You can do a little bit of painting on it as well. You can also do some decor purge. What I did for this one is I cut out this cake topper and then I got some sparkly glitter card stock and I cut out the design at the same exact size. Then I glued it on making sure that the paper didn't go into the cake at all. Decor purge is another thing you can do. You can whip that out as well. Now, if you cut yours out using card stock, then what you're going to want to do before you put it in your cake, of course, is add your bamboo skewer. What I did for this one is I just added a tiny bit of hot glue on the back. The great thing about these bamboo skewers is that they're food safe. You don't have to do anything special to be able to put this into the food. Now, if you are concerned, for example, like with this chipboard, if you don't really want the chipboard in your food, then what you do is at the bottom, wrap it in Saran wrap before you put it in. Those are just a few ways that you can decorate your cake topper once you've cut it out. Now in the next video, I'm going to tell you all about your class project. I bet you can guess what it is. See you there. 9. Class Project: I bet you can't guess what your class project is. I want you to create your very own cake topper that you can use for an upcoming event. Now, we generally think of cake toppers just for weddings, but they go way beyond that. Maybe it's for a holiday or someone you love has a big birthday coming up, a new job, a graduation, or maybe they finally nailed YYZ on their ever-expanding drum set. It doesn't matter. If it's something that's cake worthy, it's something that requires a cake topper. Choose your occasion and then craft your design. Be sure to consider the weight of the topper and keep the shape evenly balanced to ensure it doesn't topple over. If you have a cut machine, like a silhouette or a Cricut, cut your design in shipboard and decorate it as desired. Be sure to leave room at the bottom of the steak, nice and clean. It's going into cake after all. Once you're finished, I'd love for you to share your final project in the uploaded projects section and send me a slice of cake, won't you?