Have you heard about the new Silhouette ModelMaker™ software? Silhouette just released it to the general public for purchase last month, and I’m here to share some more information about it. Several of us on the design team will be talking about it this month, so be sure to visit the blog often!
This software is targeted to those who like creating 3D objects and models, especially students involved in science, technology, engineering, and math. I love working with 3D paper crafts, and I have kids who are the perfect age to be involved in educational projects like this, so this software is a winner for our household.
What Does It Do?
Simply put, ModelMaker allows you to design a 3D shape on your computer to be cut or Print & Cut with your Silhouette. You have multiple 3D shape options that can be drawn and manipulated in the software.
ModelMaker can send a job directly to your Silhouette machine and has no association with your Silhouette Studio® library.
First Things First
Here are a few helpful tips as you open the software for the first time.
If you have the current version, you can access the user manual from the Help menu.
You may wish to change a few defaults up front, like displaying inches instead of centimeters, or button size. Go to File>Preferences to view your options.
- Use Units to choose inches instead of centimeters.
- Use Toolbars to choose a different button size (see image above).
- There are plenty of other things you can change, but these were the two I found necessary for myself.
I also found it helpful to show more than the basic options on my toolbars. On the top menu bar go to Tools and check Basic, Standard, Advanced, or Custom. Basic shows the least amount of tools and Custom shows the most. All of the toolbars can be customized in Preferences as discussed above.
You will see two main parts to the main screen upon opening the software. The Edit Window and the Output Window.
- The Edit Window is where you draw, move, and edit the 3D designs.
- The Output Window is where you see the shape as it will fit on your paper in its flattened and segmented form (called a geometric net). The perforations and glue tabs are automatically provided.
You have two lines of tools across the top.
- The first row shows your basics, like Open, Print, Cut, Undo, Select, Rotate, and Grid options.
- The second row of tools over the Edit Window gives you options on how you view your shapes in their 3D form. It’s nice to have a variety of perspectives to get an idea of how your 3D shape looks from various angles.
- The tools over the Output Window include Projections vs. Nets, along with zoom tools and Auto-Arrange Nets (very handy when you’ve created multiple shapes).
Along the left side of the screen, you have the Shape library, the QuickShapes library, the colors/textures palette, and the Shape Wizard. I’ll just briefly touch on each.
Choose the various shapes to draw. Some shapes have a dropdown menu (indicated with an arrow) for variants of that type of shape, such as a choice in number of sides.
This contains shapes you can drag directly onto your workspace, along with premade printable street models like road tiles, buildings, houses, and vehicles.
Change the color or texture of your entire shape, or just one face at a time.
This nifty little tool lets you design a shape by plugging in exact dimensions.
There’s so much more I could talk about, but I’ll just leave you with one of the features I love. It’s the option to Separate Nets in the Output Window.
I chose an icosahedron shape (platonic solid) to use as a turtle head on my daughter’s valentine box this year, but the size I needed spread beyond my 12 in. x 12 in. page.
So I selected the net in the Output Window, right clicked, and chose Separate Net. This split the single long shape into two, with the additional glue tabs and reference marks to match the pieces up during assembly. I could now cut the full shape from two pieces of paper with appropriately-designed breaks and glue tabs.
I cut the ModelMaker shape from white cardstock, then attached the assembled icosahedron to a bigger box and spray painted it all green. Here’s her cute “box turtle” valentine collection box.
If you are interested in reading the manual before purchasing the software, you can find it HERE. (Remember, if you have ModelMaker open, you can get to the manual from the Help menu.)
March 5, 2017
Do you know if you can design something in this program and export it to a 3D printer? Or export the file to use with 3D printer software? I’d really like to incorporate both machines with what I make. Thanks Allison
March 9, 2017
From the description on the website: “ModelMaker can export both 3D data and nets in the native TB4 file format, or can export the 3D data only in STL format, or nets only in an SVG format.”
March 7, 2017
This is very exciting! We use Silhouette at our school and would love to have this capability. Has Silhouette considered doing a free trial or a limited version, a try-before-you-buy? We probably would not purchase the software until we see how easy it will be for students to use.
March 7, 2017
You can download the software as a trial here: https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/modelmaker. Under the heading “Software Link,” choose your operating system and the program will download. The software will close your document workspace every 15 minutes, but you can continue to re-open a new document workspace and continue to try it out indefinitely. The trial also prevents saving or opening files, so the appeal of purchasing a license is being able to save your work and continue to build more intricate models that take more than 15 minutes to create and send to a Silhouette cutting machine to be cut out.
March 11, 2017
Interesting idea. I will definitely be checking this out in the store. Thanks for sharing!
March 11, 2017
Glad to hear it, Ruth!
March 14, 2017
Does the newest silhouette come with the software? I am very new and just trying to learn to use my new silhouette.
March 14, 2017
Kim, this ModelMaker™ software discussed in this post is an additional software to purchase. Your Silhouette machine uses the free software, Silhouette Studio®, which can be downloaded here: https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/software Most of the tutorials on this blog use Silhouette Studio® and will help you with your new machine. If you have more questions, you can contact email@example.com.
May 20, 2017
Do you know how it would be possible to import at sketchup file into modelmaker?
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