How to use Layered Fonts

Fonts that were created for layering can achieve some very unique looks. I am obsessed with these fonts! Unfortunately, most were not specifically created with vinyl and paper crafts in mind. Layering both the outline and solid words on top of one another would be great for print and other digital works, but not for vinyl projects. The overlapping areas would not make for clean layering. For this reason, sometimes some manipulations are required in order to create a clean design that layers perfectly. But not to worry because the edits are fairly simple. Silhouette’s advanced editing capabilities allow us to take one layer and make it into a two layer piece with the proper edits.

Let’s use the Brain Melt font as an example and create some two layer, two color word art. I just love, love, love this typeface! It is a slime droplet one that can really make for a unique Halloween design. It has two options, an outline option and a solid one. If you type out the same words in each of these fonts, and then layer them on top of each, you can achieve a two layer look. However, because of the way the font was created, it is not ideal for vinyl projects in this way. The layers overlap in many places for each letter and the layering would not be clean. So we will use a second method to create our layered look that will create a design perfect for layering.


To start, let’s just type out “Happy Halloween” using the text tool.


Next, we will open up the Text Styles window and center the text. After centering, we want to change the font to Brain Melt Outline.


Now we can begin our edits. I prefer to zoom in as close to the piece I am working on as possible, so after zooming in, we will select the design and ungroup it by right clicking and choosing the ungroup option.


Immediately upon ungrouping, right click again. This time you will select ‘Release Compound Path.’ This will take all the pieces for every letter and separate them so they are an individual piece. If you were to click on one of those pieces, it would move alone with no other pieces attached to it.


The letters on your screen will look like a complicated mess! But have no fear, they will all be fixed soon.


Let’s start with one letter. It doesn’t matter which one you choose since they will all eventually be completed. We will start with the ‘Y.’ Zoom in on the letter so the pieces are easily seen. Next draw a bounding box around the whole letter, and all the little pieces within it. This will select everything within that letter.


Next comes a step that can get tricky if you are not paying attention. Because we want to separate the outer layer of the letter from all the other pieces, we need to deselect it. Hold down on the Shift key and click anywhere on that outer layer to deselect it. You will notice the box around the outer layer disappears.


Now we need to make that piece a compound path, so right click and select ‘Make Compound Path.’


What we are left with is two individual pieces for the letter ‘Y.’ To check our work, we can add some color. We will add green to the inner layer and black to the outer layer. It’s beginning to look like Halloween slime!


Moving on to the letter ‘P’ you may notice something a little different about this letter, so we will walk through it. Draw another bounding box around the whole letter, making sure all the pieces are selected.


We need to deselect that outermost layer, but there are two pieces we need to deselect this time, so it is slightly different from the last letter we did. Because the letter ‘P’ has the hole in the center, we need to make sure that our letter still has that hole. So we will deselect the outer slime area, and then the outer area inside the hole. Notice that the box around those two pieces goes away since they are no longer selected.


Right click and select ‘Make Compound Path.’ The inner layer is completed.


For the outer layer, we need to select those two pieces we didn’t originally include, then right click, and ‘Make Compound Path.’


Now both layers are completed, so we will double check them by adding colors. If all looks good, repeat the process for every letter. Once you get familiar with the process, you can complete multiple letters at a time or even do the whole design together. It is quicker to do all at once, but the complexity can be a little too much if you are just beginning, so take your time and learn the process before jumping ahead before you are ready. You can see that when all of the completed letters are selected, there are two boxes that surround each letter.


With all letters completed, the only thing we have left to do is combine each of the two layers into one. Draw a bounding box around everything. Next go letter by letter while holding the Shift key, and deselect the top green layer. You will see one of the boxes will disappear for each letter. Once all 14 letters are completed, right click and select ‘Make Compound Path.’ Notice a trend here? Compound paths are integral to designing in Silhouette, so make sure you fully grasp the concept. If you have some difficulties understanding them, take a look at the post I have created on Compound Paths.


Whoops! Your design might look like the below photo. Or it might all be solid black with no green showing. This is not a mistake! Many people will look at this and think they did something wrong. This is not the case.


All that happened here is one layer is in the back and one layer is in the front. So select the black layer, right click, and use the ‘Send to Back’ option.


Looks much better! The last step is to make that black layer one piece, so once again, we will select the whole design by drawing a bounding box around it. Then deselect the top green layer by holding down the Shift key and selecting it anywhere. And then just right click, and choose the ‘Make Compound Path’ option.


Your text art is now in two layer-able pieces!


The font used in this tutorial is called Brain Melt, you can purchase it via the link below.

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