Tutorial: Calibrating Your Silhouette Cameo or Portrait For Silhouette Studio V2/V3

Last Updated: August 6th, 2014

The subtitle to this should be:  A Cautionary Tale!  How I Broke My Cameo, But Then Fixed It.

You see, I have lots of Print-and-Cut projects that I want to do, but I wanted to calibrate my Cameo to ensure that the cuts were as accurate as possible.  I headed over to the official website for support on how to do the calibration.  I didn’t understand the instructions very well, but I forged on anyway.  I shouldn’t have!  Long story short, I ended up making my Cameo cut parallelograms instead of squares, but I fixed it.  So, of course, now I have to share my newly found knowledge to help you not make the same mistakes as me!

 Before You Begin

You should calibrate when:
  1. You have made sure you’ve done all other things necessary for Print-and-Cut correctly.
    • Registration marks are checked to show on your paper.
    • Your design is not in the areas that cannot be cut in during a Print-and-Cut.
    • Your printer has printed accurately what is on the screen.  (Some HP printers, in particular, are known to give inaccurate Print-and-Cuts.)
    • You’ve placed your paper onto the cutting mat the same way as shown in Silhouette Studio.
    • You’ve loaded the cutting mat with proper alignment to the rollers and chose the correct load option.
    • Your Cameo is in a well lit area.  The machine uses what is called an “optical eye” to see the registration marks.  (You may need to put a lamp over the Cameo to ensure enough lighting.)
  2. The distance that the cut is off is the same across the paper.  If it is 2cm off on the far left side, but only 1cm on the far right side, Silhouette America recommends that you don’t calibrate.

If you meet these two requirements, you may proceed to the instructions!

WARNING:  Do not attempt to do this while you are distracted.  Do not attempt if you’re not willing to read all the instructions before starting.  You can break your machine’s ability to do Print-and-Cuts if not careful!!


I have taken a screenshot of the calibration window and made some notes on it and symbols that I will refer to in the instructions.  This screenshot was taken in V2.8.16, but V3.1.417 looks very similar.

Part 1

  1. Turn your Cameo or Portrait on.
  2. Open Silhouette Studio.
  3. Go to File->Cut Settings.  Lower your thickness to make shallow cuts instead of cutting all the way through your card stock.*
    • *I normally have a thickness of 15 for my card stock, so I lowered the thickness down to 10.  This will make the paper easier to remove later and allow you to make double cuts.
  4. Go to File->Calibration.  What I have shown in the screenshot will appear.
    • ***Silhouette Studio V3 users will need to access Calibration this way!***
  5. Print the Calibration Test Page with your card stock.
  6. Place the printed out test page on your cutting mat as shown in Silhouette Studio.
  7. On your Cameo/Portrait, use the arrow keys to choose Load Cutting Mat, align your cutting mat against the machine’s rollers, and press the Enter key.

Part 2

  1. In Silhouette Studio, use the blue arrows to move your blade to the inside of the first green box.  (I have marked the first one with a 1. in my screenshot.)
  2. Click Calibrate in Silhouette Studio and wait for it to finish reading the registration marks and cutting the two cut lines.  (Calibrate is labeled with a 2. and a red outline.)
    • Watch the area that I have starred in the screenshot.  Notice that when you press “Calibrate”, it goes from “Ready” to “Working”.  This is important.
  3. Unload your cutting mat from your Cameo/Portrait.

Part 3

  1. Starting with the horizontal test line, use a ruler to measure the distance in millimeters between the cut line to the the middle of the test line and write it down.
    • The calibration will accept as small as a .05 millimeter change for V2.
    • If the cut line is closer to the orange arrow in my screenshot, your measurement will be positive.
    • If the cut line is closer to the green arrow in my screenshot, your measurement will be negative.
  2. Now with the vertical test line, use a ruler to measure the distance in millimeters between the cut line to the the middle of the test line and write it down.
    • The calibration will accept as small as a .05 millimeter change for V2.
    • If the cut line is closer to the blue arrow in my screenshot, your measurement will be positive.
    • If the cut line is closer to the purple arrow in my screenshot, your measurement will be negative.
  3. Reload your cutting mat into your Cameo/Portrait.

Part 4

  1. In Silhouette Studio, use the blue arrows to move your blade to the next green box.
  2. Click Calibrate and after the cut is complete, click and drag the arrows in the area of Silhouette Studio that I have marked as 3. in my screenshot.
    • This is time sensitive!  You need to do this while the Status is still “Working”!
    • If Silhouette Studio reverts your adjustment back to what it was before, it was not accepted and so your calibration has not been changed.
      • Wait until the Status says “Ready” and try to Calibrate again.
        • Move your blade to a new green box first, if needed.
  3. Once Silhouette Studio has accepted your adjustments, you can press the X to exit the calibration.
  4.  Unload your cutting mat from your Cameo/Portrait.

Did It Work?

You should do a test Print-and-Cut to try out your new calibration settings.  You can use the one that I made.  Download it here.

You’re Done!

If you have done the calibration correctly, the Print-and-Cut test should be perfect or very, very close!


30 thoughts on “Tutorial: Calibrating Your Silhouette Cameo or Portrait For Silhouette Studio V2/V3”

    1. Don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to look printed out. I got confused by it too! My guess is that they thought it would be too hard to see the cut line with the green boxes.

      The green box is just an onscreen indicator of where you move the blade.

      1. Thank you! It was worrying me and Silhouette just doesn’t believe in documentation.

        Your tutorial has been very halfway. I’ve been able to get this … I have no nice words for this machine… machine halfway calibrated. Both test lines are being cut horizontally. I can’t calibrate it because no matter what numbers I pick it won’t cut the vertical test line on all the boxes. Just two.

  1. Easiest answer is ….. Do not buy this machine in the first place!

    I’ve been trying to run a small home business which involves a lot of print & cut and the results have been terrible. I have tried everything under the sun to rectify the problems but have finally come to the conclusion that the the machine simply isn’t fit for purpose.

    Don’t waste your precious materials. Instead, take the money you’ve saved by NOT using the Cameo and buy a decent, laser guided machine, such as the Silver Bullet.

    1. Actually, since making the above post, I finally bit the bullet (pun intended!) and bought myself a Silver Bullet Pro machine. Bad registration and copious amounts of wasted material are now, thankfully, things of the past, along with software that can’t even save an svg file.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. By following all the steps I’ve acquired almost perfect print and cut registration if I print directly to my laser printer.

  3. Oh my gosh, you are a lifesaver! I followed your directions and finally finally FINALLY got my silhouette back on track! Thank you!

  4. Mine never says working? It just says ready forever. The only time it has working is when I’m dragging the adjuster. It doesn’t help that 80% of the time, every setting I put in, it never affects the cuts, even if I restart Silhouette Studio, the settings are still there, but do nothing. So frustrating… I wish I could get this fixed after years of dealing with it.

      1. The newest version (i have 3 silhouette cameos), I have Silhouette Connect as well and it still does the same thing! I also replaced the little strip bar in 2 of the cutters with the one from Silhouette Store.

        As a test I even stretched the distance adjustments to -2.00%, tried recutting and it cut in the exact same place. :(

  5. I have been trying to do a print and cut for several days. I have re calibrated it multiple times. FYI it was seriously off the first time I calibrated it. However it doesn’t change the cuts. Just to see what would happen, I changed the settings to the full 2mm but it only moved the cut the slightest amount. It was still way off of what it needed to be. The whole cut skews slightly up and to the right. I have an Epson printer and the newest cameo.

    1. Epson printers don’t always play well with Cameo when it comes to print and cut. Cameo is extremely picky about the registration marks being exactly where it expects it to be when it tries to read them.

      Reset your calibration settings to default and double check printer settings regarding margins, scale, paper size, and any option that will ensure a darker black. I’ve had a printed page rejected by Cameo because it fed into the printer slightly askew. This is more likely to happen with the cassette tray. You should use the rear tray if you have it.

      Make sure you have good light for the optical eye to see the marks and that the cutting mat is butted against the alignment mark on the machine before you load the mat.

      Little things like this can make the difference between it working and it not! Even with me knowing this stuff, I’ve still had some bad cuts because of one of those things being off enough that it makes Cameo cut badly.

      1. Ok so I’ve done all that and no luck. I even put the page back through the printer and the new design did not line up with the old design. Although most of the time it recognizes the registration marks, it still doesn’t cut right. So I’m thinking it’s the printer. Assuming I was going to buy a new printer , which brand typical works the best?

      2. I have never read any unsolved problems from people with Canon PIXMA printers and I also have one. The newer ones may not have a rear feed tray, so that’s something to watch out for. The older models are about $100-150. I have the MG5220. Jin from Under A Cherry Tree also has a PIXMA and her printed projects always look great. :) She refills her ink at Costco and I buy Sophia offbrand ink from Amazon.

  6. Thank you so much for the information about the Epson printer. You have saved my silhouette from the dump I originally had it hooked up to a brother printer and got beautiful cuts. The brother broke down on me and bought an Epson because I could print on dvd’s For the past year I could never calibrate it, no matter how hard I tried. I have a brother on my other computer and put it on this one and a perfect cut rite away. Thank you so very much. Hugs to you.

    1. That’s wonderful! I’m very happy that your problem was solved, Cheryll! It’s so frustrating when it does not work!! I HAVE heard of Epson PNC success, but I don’t know if that is isolated to certain models or maybe they were making “fussy cuts” (a white border around objects on purpose). Maybe I should dig to find an answer to that, if there is one. It’s harder for me to determine the problem with Epson printers and PNC because I don’t have one.

      Could you do me a favor and print out a sample PNC on both printers and stack them on top of each other and hold them up to a light source? Do the printed registration marks match up on both pages? And which Epson model do you have?

      1. I printed out the samples and it looks like they line up perfectly. I have an Epson-610 Series.

  7. How can you tell if it’s the printer versus the Silhouette? I have a new HP printer. My old printer never had issues, but now, when I print to the new HP, but cuts are all of the sudden off, but ONLY at the bottom of the page. The top of the page seems fine, so I’m wondering in my print is slightly elongated and it’s a print issue. However, how can I really know?

  8. I have two HP printers. The funny thing is the first two or three times I tried it, it worked fine. Now it cuts wrong but the same using either printer. I tried three of the same flowers and with each flower, the distance cut from the print increased. Calibrating had no affect and besides, it seemed to cut the crosses okay. I then tried my new PixScan mat and it was a little off but usable. I wasted all day and several cardstock so I’m ready to give it up for now.

  9. I did this exact to the directions and it cut on the bottom of my mat a straight line and then tells me to unload

  10. I need HELP!! I have tried for 2 days to get my lines to cut properly. Strange thing is is that I did several print/cut projects a week ago and NO PROBLEMS. I open the same project to do a repeat and all of the sudden it does not want to cut on the lines as indicated. I have performed the calibration test page and cuts are exactly on the printed lines. I do not know what else to do. I have uninstalled the software and then reinstalled and it still does the same thing. I am very frustrated!

  11. Hi I’ve been trying to follow your tutorial, thank you it is so detailed and just what I needed! The only problem I’m having is that silhouette studio is NOT remembering the number I change the calibration to, it keeps going back to 0.00 so my cuts are still off. I’ve tried changing the number whilst it’s cutting, when it;s finished and when my maching still says “busy”. Any ideas? Thanks

  12. My calibration stopped during first + alignment. I tried a print & cut to check it and it will not read the 3rd registration mark. Does this mean that a failed calibration has damaged my machine?

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