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231 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Illustrator Print and Cut Tutorial

A few notes before we begin:
This tutorial requires Adobe Illustrator, Roland CutStudio, and the CutStudio plug-in for Illustrator.

AI CutStudio plug-in for Windows download link (version 1.20):
Drop the CSAIPin_e.chm and CutStudioPlugin.aip files into your Illustrator Plug-ins folder.(normally found at: C: > Program Files > Adobe > Adobe Illustrator > Plug-ins )

Roland CutStudio ships with most Roland cutters, including the GX-24. CutStudio must be installed on your computer for the plug-in to work.

Much of this process is covered in the GX-24 guide. The purpose of this tutorial is to elaborate on a few of the steps (such as contour cutting with complex paths and a better explanation of the positioning of crop marks) that I see questions about around here often. Hopefully it also answers for those who have never used it, what exactly the "optic eye" and laser does.


-Prepare the image you are going to use (I used Photoshop to cheese up mine :D ).

-Save your file and open it in Illustrator.

-File > Document Setup... Choose 'Artboard' from the pulldown menu.

-Set your Artboard to the size of the material you are going to use. Anything falling outside of the Artboard will not print, so this is important.

-To open the CutStudio panel go to Window > CutStudio Plug-in

-Inside the CutStudio panel, click the crop marks button. This will place 3 crop marks on or around your artboard.

-Click the arrow in the top right corner of the CutStudio panel and select 'Crop-marks...' from the menu.

-This opens the Crop-marks window.

-There are a few important rules you must follow when placing your crop marks:

1) The values for W and L must be no less than the overall width and length of your image plus 10mm. For example, if your image measures 100x100mm, both W and L need to be at least 110mm. This is because your image needs to fit within the grey box shown on the Crop-marks window (the standard crop marks have a radius of 5mm).

2) The value for X must be larger than your pinch rollers (I use 15mm for X with my GX24). This is because the head that holds your cutter and the laser will not travel past the inside edge of your pinch roller. So your crop mark must be to the inside of the roller's path to be read by the laser.

3) For alignment purposes, leave the value for Y at 20mm.

4) X+W+X+10 can not be larger than your material width in millimeters.

5) Y+L+65 can not be longer than your material's length in millimeters.

Personally, I try to push out my crop marks as far as the material allows. For an 8.5"x11" or B4 sheet, the recommended values are:
X: 15 mm, Y: 20 mm
L: 325 mm, W: 170 mm

Trust me, this isn't as complicated as it may sound at first.

Now the magic!

-Position your image inside of the area outlined by the crop marks.

-Create a new layer.

-Select your pen tool and trace out the path that you want your cutter to run. Click on the box next to 'Fill' in the Path menu on the Appearance tab (shown below) to display only the outline of the path you are making. Remember to close your path when done (the 'x' by your pen cursor will change to an 'o' when you return to your starting point, click on it to close the path). Using the pen tool, you can cut out any portion of your image (for example, I'm going to cut away the gradient background from my image). You may make multiple cuts by making mutiple paths (cutting out the center of an 'O', cutting out both eyes in a portrait, cutting multiples of the same image, etc.).

-Hide the layer you just created by turning the visibility off (if you don't do this, your cutting path will also print).

-Save your file.

-Print your file at 100% using your program or RIP of choice.

(you don't have to waste as much vinyl as I did :p )

-Once your image and crop marks have printed, load the material into your cutter making sure it is straight and facing the correct way (the W value crop marks should be parallel to the front of the machine).

-Select 'Piece' from the Control Panel and hit Enter. The machine will measure up the material.

-Use the arrow keys on the control panel to line the crop marks on top of the blade protector (the white plastic strip that runs along the x-axis under the cutter's path).

Like this:

-Return to your Illustrator file, make the second layer visible again and select it.

-In the CutStudio panel, select 'Output Current Layer' from the pulldown menu and click the Redraw button. There should be a preview of your cutting path at the bottom of the panel.

-Click the big Roland R button to open your cutting paths in CutStudio.

-In CutStudio, either click the 'Cutting' button, or select 'Cutting' from the File pulldown menu.

-The laser will immediately begin to read the crop marks.

-Once the crop marks have been read, the cutter will begin cutting the material.

-Remove from the machine and weed away the extra material (or remove what you want to keep as is normally done with most transfers).



What I learned while doing this:
Flash photography errors out the laser alignment. :eek:

...next time I feel ambitious, I'll show you how to have the laser manually read crop marks of different sizes so you can add them in any drawing program you want.

584 Posts
if you wanted to make this picture a sticker, would you then apply transfer paper to the image AFTER you weed it? Or would you apply transfer paper and have the cutter cut through both? I'm confused on that part. Like if I wanted to make 10 decals of that girl, when would I apply the transfer paper?

231 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
if you wanted to make this picture a sticker, would you then apply transfer paper to the image AFTER you weed it? Or would you apply transfer paper and have the cutter cut through both? I'm confused on that part. Like if I wanted to make 10 decals of that girl, when would I apply the transfer paper?
You normally apply the transfer paper after weeding the border. That way you have something to hang onto when applying (no touching the adhesive on the actual decal).

If you were making decals for outdoor use, you would apply a laminate after printing but before you cut the outlines so the cutter will cut both the vinyl and the laminate.

1,397 Posts
yes you would apply application tape after its weeded just like regular cut vinyl.
I use clear ap. tape on printed stickers as sometimes if you let the paper app. tape sit on printed stickers for very long it doesnt react well.. also its nice with printed stickers if you can see them..
with small printed stickers i just apply them without tape.

2 Posts
OK, here we go chaps.
I just fell over this post while researching for my new GX-24
I'll go introduce myself in the appropriate forum shortly, but while I'm here just a quick Question.

Does anyone know of a tutorial similar to this one for use with CD X3 ?


3 Posts
Does anyone know if Adobe Illustrator CS2 can crop a photograph, I want to cut out a small part of a photograph I imported. I've tried the crop tool, but it seems only for printing, I can't figure out how to make the portions of the photo I want disappear and then move it into a document. Any suggestions?
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