Mastering Contour Cutting In The VDW With These Advanced Tips!

Advanced feature Contour Cutting Variable Data WizardLet’s take a look at contour cutting functions in the Variable Data Wizard, such as Inside/ Outside contour, Offsets, Corner style, and how to work with the threshold transparency filter.

To access the Variable Data Wizard or VDW:

  1. Right click on a job loaded into the queue.
  2. Select “Variable Data Wizard”.

With the VDW window open you can select the graphic with the “Select” tool located on the top of the tools to the left. Once the graphic is selected, the contour cut tool icon becomes active.

Click on this icon and the smart bar on the top will populate with settings for the contour cut. On the left you can select Inside/Outside, when ticked, it will give you a contour cut on the outside as well as any holes in the design on the inside. Unticked means the contour cut will be created on the outside only.

Below this box is the Bitmap frame option where the frame of the bitmap file will be used as the contour cut line.

In the center you can define the color, corner shape, the offset of the contour cut and a bleed vector amount.

monochrome settings VDW

On the right we have a Merge function for Labels.

Once you’ve selected the position of your cutline and your offset, the “Monochrome Filter” dialog will open. This is where we define what is seen as transparent the contour cut will cut out transparent areas. A value of 255 is completely transparent. If you are working with a transparent background in your graphic, you’ll likely want to have the value set between 245 and 255.

Once you’re happy and click ok, a contour cut will be applied to the job.

To send this graphic to your queue:

  1. Deselect the graphic by clicking somewhere outside the object. The smartbar will change and you will see a button on the right to send it to the queue.
  2. Click “Send to Queue”. Your job is now ready for printing and cutting.

You can see by the icon to the left of the job that it now is ready for contour cutting.

For more advanced features of contour cut settings, let’s take a closer look at contour inside/outside and bitmap frame.

Once in VDW:

  1. Click on the graphic.
  2. Click the Contour Cut Icon to the left.
  3. Change the contour cutline color by selecting the color picker in the smartbar.
  4. Say you want an offset of 1/16th or 0.0625 inches. Change the value in the offset field to decimal 0625.
  5. Click apply.

corner styles vdwWhen working with Outside, Inside/Outside and Bitmap Frame contour cuts, remember:

  • With Inside/Outside unticked, the cuts will be Outside only. As a result, the cutline appears off the outside of the graphic.
  • With the Inside/Outside ticked, the cutlines can now be seen not only on the outside, but also in holes on the inside.
  • Using the Bitmap frame option, the cutline follows the outside perimeter or bounding box of the full graphic file.

When working with corner styles, remember:

  • Using the point corner style, you will see the sharp corners in the contour cutline.
  • Using the round corner style, you will see that the corners have been rounded
  • With the mitred corner style, noticeable edges will be applied to the corners.

When working with semi-transparent areas, you may find your cutlines appear too far away from your graphic. By clicking apply again, you can bring down the Monochrome Filter value. This allows the contour cutting feature to interpret a lesser value of transparency as fully transparent. Once you’ve lowered the value and applied the changes, the contour cut will be closer to the graphic.

You may need to try a few times to get the offset that looks best for you. 

For a more in-depth look at these advanced features, check out our video below: