Understanding Compound Paths in Silhouette


If you are brand new to Silhouette with no previous graphic design experience, some of the available designing capabilities can be difficult to grasp at first. I personally was already familiar with compound paths before I began working in Silhouette, but I can remember back to my first class in college where I learned about them, and it took some time for me to fully understand.

It’s a fairly simple concept, as you will see from the below examples, but when working with a complex design with lots of pieces, it can get complicated. So, I highly recommend you learn the basics of creating compound paths now before jumping in to the crazy difficult paths in large designs!

To demonstrate, take a look at two circles. One is larger than the other so we can fully see what this manipulation does to these two shapes.


We will next center the smaller circle on top of the larger one. To align, select both circles, open up the alignment window, then click on both ‘Align Center’ and ‘Align Middle.’ This will center the circles perfectly.


With both circles selected, right click. Scroll down and find the ‘Make Compound Path’ option.


As you can see, the smaller circle has now been cut out of the larger one to create a hole. This is the general idea behind compound paths. They allow you to use one object to cut a hole in another.


Compound paths work for any shape or object, including letters. Below is a script letter ‘D.’ You can see it has 4 enclosed holes within the letter.


Let’s take a look at what happens when we take compound paths away. Click on the letter, right click, and select ‘Release Compound Path.’


The holes all appear to have disappeared! Definitely not the look we are going for.


When you look closely at the pieces of the letter, you will see that they have not actually gone anywhere, but because our letter is colored black, those pieces appear to be hidden. If you move the main piece of the letter over a bit, you can see all the parts that make up the letter are still there.


Of course we would like to make this letter look complete again, so draw a bounding box around it, making sure everything is selected. Right click, and this time we will select ‘Make Compound Path.’


Much better! The 4 holes that make up the letter have now reappeared.


Amelia Script was used in the making of this tutorial. Grab your copy at our sister site today by clicking here

4 comments on “Understanding Compound Paths in Silhouette”
  1. pccpaulette

    Thanks for the mini lesson. I think I need to work with the compound paths more to comfortable with them. But this definitely gave me a better understanding of them.

  2. tchris9499

    I agree with pccpaulette. Thank you for this lesson!

  3. tracey.lentfer

    Very helpful!

  4. nyleckan

    Thank you this was very helpful!!!

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