Silhouette Curio Emboss Effect Tutorial

Etched Art - Land that I Love - FindingTimeToCreate

My latest tutorial on the Silhouette Blog shows how to use the Emboss Effect with the Silhouette Curio for various applications. Originally this etched metal art was published on the Silhouette blog, but now the full tutorial is below.


Hello, my fellow Curio users (or those hoping to be Curio users)! Kelly here today to share with you how to use the Curio Emboss effects feature. I think this is one of the simplest tasks you can do in Silhouette Studio® if you have a Curio, but it gives excellent results.

There are generally three main uses for the Emboss effects in Silhouette Studio®.

(1)  Embossing on soft materials like vellum or score & emboss paper

(2)  Sketching with pens

(3)  Etching on metal

Fortunately, you only need to learn the steps once, and then you can choose which tools and materials you use to show off your filled design. The steps are pretty easy. Here’s a broad overview, and we’ll get into more detail as you read on.

Step One: Open or create a design or text.

Step Two: Adjust the design to accept a nice fill, if necessary, by welding or making a compound path.

Step Three: Apply an Emboss effect in the Emboss Window.

Step Four: Send your design to Curio to be embossed, sketched, or etched.

It really is that simple, folks! Now let me add a little more detail to the basic steps. I etched this patriotic art as an example of how to use Emboss effects.

Land that I Love Etched Art_square_FindingTimeToCreate

You Will Need:

  • 5 in. x 7 in. metal etching sheets (black)
  • Curio stippling & etching tool
  • Silhouette Curio™
  • Standard base with 8.5 in. x 6 in. emboss mat and platforms
  • Frame (mine is 8 in. x 10 in. with a 5 in. x 7 in. mat)



(1)  Open the flag US map design

(2)  Ungroup the design

(3)  Delete the extra piece that is just an outline

(4)  Type “Land that I Love” with the Text Tool in Yellow Daisy font

(5)  Resize the text to about 3.5 in. wide by clicking and dragging inward on a corner handle (the map is fine at its default 6.160 in. width)



I will usually Weld text or make the design a compound path to make sure the inner pieces don’t pick up the Emboss fill, but this depends on the design.

 TIP: if you fill your design with a fill color and see that the color fills in areas you want to be empty, then you probably won’t like what an Emboss fill will do with that design, either. It’s time to make it a compound path. (See below.)

Let me show you an example of a design that would need to be converted to a compound path. You could call it a “fill test” to see if your design should be a compound path before applying an Emboss effect.

Curio Emboss Effects Tutorial



(1)  You can see that the left design in each of the two sets (above) looks fine when it is just opened and unfilled.

(2)  In the middle design of each set you can see what happens when I fill it with color or an Emboss effect. If the “holes” fill in with color, they will also fill in with any Emboss effect you apply. The Emboss effect looks weird, right?

(3)  In the right design of each set, you can see that if the design is a compound path, there is only one layer to fill, and the color or Emboss effect will not fill in the holes.

To make a design a compound path,

(1)  Select the design and all its pieces

(2)  Right click

(3)  Choose Make Compound Path

(4)  Alternately, you could choose Make in the Modify Window

Now let’s take care of the design for this project. You can see when these shapes are filled with color they are mostly ready, but simply layering the two parts would cause a double layer of etching.

Curio Emboss Effects Tutorial


To prepare this flag design:

(1)  Drag the star section into place so there is a little gap between the right edge of the star section and the left edge of the upper stripes. (See image below.)

(2)  Line up the bottom edge of the star section with the stripe’s bottom edge.

(3)  The border may not seem quite thick enough on the left, but that’s O.K.

(4)  Once the pieces are in place, make them a compound path.

Curio Emboss Effects Tutorial

Now your design is ready! It’s a single layer, ready to have an Emboss effect applied.

Curio Emboss Effects Tutorial

NOTE: The text “Land that I Love” we typed in Step One can just be Welded and Grouped. Not everything needs to be made into a compound path before adding an Emboss effect.



(1)  Go to the Emboss Window (only available if Curio is the most-recently plugged in machine—turn it on to get Silhouette Studio to recognize it, but Curio does not have to be on while designing).

(2)  Click on the Emboss/Deboss bar.

(3)  Choose one of four Emboss effects:

Parallel lines



Cross Hatch

(4)  Adjust the Spacing to your liking. Type in a smaller amount if the slider doesn’t get the spacing narrow enough for you.

Curio Emboss Effects Tutorial

For my patriotic etch example:

(1)  For my flag design, I chose a Cross Hatch Emboss effect and adjusted the Spacing to 0.010 inches.

(2)  For my text, I chose a Spiral effect and adjusted the Spacing to 0.010 inches.

Curio Emboss Effects Tutorial


Finally, we’re ready to send the design to be etched (or sketched or embossed, depending on your personal choice of project).

Make sure you have your design sized correctly.

(1)  In Design Page Settings Window, set the Page Size to 7 in. width and 5 in. height to match the exact size of your media (in this case, the metal etching sheet).

(2)  Also in the same window, set the correct Cutting Mat. For metal sheets I use Curio (emboss) 8.5 in. x 6 in..

(3)  It’s a good idea to measure the opening of your frame and make sure your completed design’s height or width does not exceed the opening.

(4)  You can’t cut the metal sheet, so you need to center your design on the 7 in. x 5 in. page.

a.  Group the entire design

b.  Go to the Align Window

c.  Choose Center to Page

In the Cut Settings Window,

(1)  Choose your material type (I selected Metal Etching Sheets).

(2)  Adjust your tools and Curio platforms accordingly (the instructions show that I should use the Etching Tool and Platforms 2 + 2 + 1).

(3)  For metal etching sheets, I use the emboss mat as my top platform because it grips the metal so nicely.

(4)  Place the metal sheet carefully on your emboss mat, using the upper left arrows as a guide for how much mat border to leave exposed.

Mat border_FindingTimeToCreate

(5)  Load the base with appropriate platforms and media into Curio.

(6)  Click Send to Silhouette. This design with its tight cross-hatch effect took about 20 minutes to etch (and I watched the whole time because it’s so cool!).

Etch in progress_FindingTimeToCreate

You can see you will get a lot of metal “dust” as it etches, but you can tap it off once it’s all unloaded. I really love the look the cross-hatch Emboss effect gave me for this flag design. You can also see the spiral effect I chose for my text.

Etch detail 1_FindingTimeToCreate

Etch detail 2_FInding Time To Create

Don’t forget you can use the Emboss effect choices to create fun embossed or sketch designs, too!

Curio emboss vellum


Sketched-Coasters-2_Analisa 11 6 2015

Sketched Coasters by Analisa Murenin

Etch with the Curio - Finding Time To Create

Joy of Christmas Etched Art by Kelly Wayment

Metal Etch Butterflies Curio Tutorial | Finding Time To Create

Metal Etch Butterflies by Kelly Wayment

Have fun with those Emboss effects!


Designs Used:

Flag US Map (Design ID #61872)
Yellow Daisy Font (Design ID #106927)

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