Can anyone recommend reasonably-priced rhinestone software?

I’ve been using “Make the Cut,” which came with my vinyl cutter. It is honestly kind of terrible and so I would like to replace it with a new product, maybe even an Illustrator plugin.

I know that this sort of software is available at many price points–if anyone can vouch for a more modestly priced package I would like to hear about it. If my only upgrade path is the $500 pro-level product I just found, I will stick with the slow torture of Make the Cut. :slight_smile:

(My last rhinestone projects were done on the vinyl cutter since I had the materials, but I cannot see a reason why you couldn’t find a laser-safe substitute.)

Silhouette Design Studio has a rhinestone feature. I have never used it, but it might be worth looking into. Reasonably priced, and I use it to design my projects for the Glowforge.

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Create a pattern brush. It literally takes five minutes, and applying the brush to the paths and Expanding leaves the little perfectly spaced holes exactly where you want them.

Illustrator is a very powerful tool. :slightly_smiling_face:


Guess it is time to finally learn pattern brushes!

Yeah, just open the Brushes palette and start playing with it.

Make a circle slightly larger than your rhinestone, set the spacing and how you want it to handle partials, and then save it. Then create your paths and just apply the brush, then Expand.


Cool, thanks!

I assume you can use this for fills, too? A common use case is making a design with shapes (such as letter outlines) and filling it in with only whole circles for the stones.

Not sure about that…I suspect you would need to run actual engraving lines (back and forth inside the shape) to fill it up. Might be a little trickier. (Someone else might know, but I’ve never tried it.)

Just off the top of my head, once you expand it, it should be no problem to switch between fill and stroke.

Hmm, I just realized… I have Astute’s Phantasm plugin. It does halftoning, and it lets you halftone with arbitrary shapes, as well as letting you specify a grid pattern instead of normal halftones. Maybe I can use it to fill a shape with rhinestone circles of a specific size…

I ended up spending $60 on cutting machine driver/design software called Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL). It’s basically an Illustrator-lite which can talk to digital die cutters like Rolands and Cricuts.

I needed to buy this software anyway for some other reasons, but since it has good rhinestone features, I will use them.

Here is what rhinestone features let you do. This may be of interest to laser people too… There is no reason you cannot use a laser to make rhinestone templates as long as you find a laser-safe material.

Rhinestones come in a few fixed sizes, and you need software that will outline or fill a shape with matching holes.

What makes your work a lot easier are features that let you manipulate a rhinestone shape as a smart object. For example, if you resize the object, it ought to automagically re-fill with stones instead of making all the circles bigger.

Or, you might need to adjust the stone spacing.

I am sure you can accomplish all of this in Illustrator. A pattern brush will certainly let you do shape outlines. There’s probably a way to do the fills, too. But rhinestone-specific software makes some common operations super fast, and has all the stone sizes built in, which is nice.

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