Scan It Saturday – Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using The Direct Cut Feature On The Brother Scan N Cut

September 13, 2014 — 42 Comments

It’s been a while since my last Scan It Saturday blog post and I’ve been deliberating what I should tackle in the next batch so I had a think about some of the most commonly asked questions that I get about the Brother Scan N Cut and decided to base this next collection of posts around those.

This first post will be about using the Direct Cut feature, in particular for cutting hand stamped images.

I have previously mentioned this feature in the following archive blog posts.

It might be worth a quick browse of those posts too (maybe after this one?)

The steps via which to complete a direct cut are also covered in the instruction manual so I won’t be going into detail on the operational side of things, just a few of my findings, conclusions and tips.

First, here are a few examples of hand stamped images that I have cut using the Direct Cut feature of the Brother Scan N Cut.

I am still as amazed now as I was when I first got my machine last year – this is certainly an impressive feature.

Now I will be honest, not all of my attempts have worked as well so I set about trying to find some common factors that may help me (us) find what variables work best, what doesn’t and most importantly, why.

The results of my findings actually turned out to be more obvious than I thought and they came down to three things; these three things are also quite easy to remember as they all begin with a ‘C’.


Why not chant this to the Wizard of Oz classic, Lions and Tigers and Bears – haha I can’t believe you did it!

Ok, back to business – allow me to expand on each of these – I think that will answer a lot of our FAQs.


The design that you use needs to have a good level of clarity in it’s detail. What I mean by this is a design that does not have a lot of fine lines or shaded detail forming the outline or extending beyond the overall outline.

This design, for example, did not seem to work no matter what I tried.

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 4

The fine lines around the centre area I think are where the issue resides.

This design on the other hand, with it’s plethora of detail, still worked because it was predominantly contained within a “box”. The detail that extended beyond the box still gave the machine a clear line to “trace” against.

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 15


This next point comes down to a standard requirement for any scanning operation completed on the Scan N Cut and it is the need for contrast between the image and the surface on which it is printed.

For example, a black stamped outline on a white sheet of card would be a good example of 100% contrast. You can even use bold coloured inks on white paper however, as an example, a citrus yellow ink on white paper will present very little difference in contrast and the machine may not be able to ‘see’ the stamped image.

The idea therefore follows that as the contrast decreases, it will also decrease the success rate of the scan.

Here is a quick pic of one of my tests back in the Brother Scan N Cut Test Lab 1 post

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Direct Cutting In Different Colours

The red, green and blue were fine, but the yellow just didn’t offer enough contrast.


Again, as with any scanning operation, your design needs to have a “closed” outline in order to achieve the best results.

Shaded, stippled, dashed or otherwise broken shapes or outlines will probably not give you the result that you expect.

Here is an example of what will happen with this type of image.

When I tried a scan of this image …

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 5

You can see from the scan results that the machine did not pick up an outline.

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 7

If you take a closer look at the outline, you can see that it has “open” sections.

To resolve this, I used a fine Pigma Micron pen to “close” the outline (both in the hair and the frilly edges of the dress) …

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 8

… and then rescanned the whole sheet.

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 9

As you can see, by closing the outline, the machine was then able to complete a successful “tracing”.

Here is the final cut.

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 10 Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 11

Sassy isn’t she?!

Whilst we are talking outlines it would be worth me mentioning that the results that you get out are broadly speaking going to be mirrored by what you put in.

In the next image, you can see how I mis-stamped the image.

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 18

There was enough of an outline for the machine to detect however you can see that it has followed the flattened areas where I haven’t made a good impression so it’s worth taking the time to make sure that you make a good impression with your stamp before asking the Scan N Cut to find the outline – first impressions do count in this case.

Final Thoughts

I guess that if you are as stubborn as I am and will probably be adamant on using a particular design that is presenting one or more issues. In this case you might like to try one of the following.

Clarity – Try using a fine detail pigment or archival inkpad and allow it to dry before scanning. This will hopefully give you a clear defined line for the machine to “see”. You may also like to look at the paper that you are using – a textured paper for instance may change the outline by leaving gaps where the “pits” in the texture are – it might be worth trying a smooth stamping paper and see how that works for you.
Contrast – Try different combinations of colour/paper. That’s an obvious one really.
Closed – If the outline is broken, try closing it with a pen that matches your ink. Alternatively you could try the acetate overlay technique as shown here –

I should also say that I have been surprised on occasion by attempting a scan that I thought would not work but then it did, or it worked in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

For example, in the next example, there were two surprises for me.

Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using Direct Cut On The Brother Scan N Cut - 17

For the cut on the left, as there was a gap in the line between the lid and the jar, I anticipated that the machine would cut this as two separate shapes however it cut it as one.

For the cut on the right, I mis-stamped the outline so the machine ignored that and tried to find an alternate closed outline, which was the central area of the jar.

For me, this actually turned out well as I have now realised that I can isolate areas of specific stamps by leaving gaps in outlines that I don’t want – bit of a billy bonus really :)

Anyway, before I go I feel it only right to remind you that these are not ‘rules’ to prevent you from using certain stamps and nor are they ‘failings’ of the machine – they are instead my own findings and experiences of working with the Scan N Cut (which I love) that I hope will help you to achieve greater results and give you more confidence in using the Direct Cut feature.

In conclusion, I shall leave you with this thought – give it a go or you will never know.

Don’t forget, this particular feature does not store the outline and therefore should be fine for cutting out the majority of designs however please remember to gain permission if you are planning to sell (for whatever reason) your hand-stamped (and cut out) creations from the copyright owners.

Right, that’s me about done here. I am sure that I have only scratched the surface but hope that I have helped enlighten some of you who may not have got to grips with it yet and that you are now equipped to make more informed choices. If however you have any further questions, comments or tips of your own about this feature then please feel free to pop them in the comments section below.

That’s it for this post. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time fellow scanners!

J :)

Now where did I put those Jaffa Cakes?

42 responses to Scan It Saturday – Cutting Hand Stamped Images Using The Direct Cut Feature On The Brother Scan N Cut


    Hi John
    I recently received my S&C for Xmas and have been cutting out my stamped images.
    I wanted to see if I could use it to create paper piecing pieces from patterned paper. I was wondering if there was a way of fooling the scanner into increasing the contrast when using darker papers?
    Also, if the outline it selects is not correct, can you correct it just on the machine or would you have to take it into canvas?



      There is a way to adjust contrast levels after you have scanned the design in Scan To Cut Data but unsure if it would give you the result you want. Might be worth exploring the acetate overlay technique. As for outline editing, this would need to be done in Canvas Workspace.



    I love that all the demonstrator are able to cut out great with this facility, for me it is very hit and miss, I have tried numerous designs on preprinted paper, stamped images and preprinted ones with black outlines, sometimes the cut is perfect which leads me to think that there is nothing wrong with the calibration other have notches in with a very uneven cut which means I then have to trim around again, tried light papers, dark papers, even had issue where two things on the same sheet with the same colours one has cut out and the other is not even recognised, this is with the update of the colour scanning, getting very depressed with the whole thing regarding scanning to direct cut :-(
    Still getting to grips with the settings for blades pressure etc but that will come with practice but just can not crap the scan to cut.



    Hi John, Just received my Scan n Cut and am relatively pleased. I’m trying to put an outline around an image to give a border and have read your blog regarding this. I’ve scanned in a welded 70 on black card, when I scan this in on the sticky mat it only selects the hole in the centre of the zero, not the outline of the 70. How do I go about getting a complete 70 cut out so it’s larger than the patterned paper I’m using for the smaller version? I can’t understand why the machine doesn’t have the outline feature on the pattern side of things, rather than the scan side, it doesn’t make sense. I hope that makes sense! Look forward to hearing from you. Fiona.


    Patricia Forward Australia October 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    lots of catching up to do now I have my pc working again after 3months without it.


    Patricia Forward Australia October 19, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    can’t seem to get the red x to show pictures of which stamped images you are refering to in your blog.



    Please would both you and Mel make a cd of all the hints and tips for the |ScanNcut for people like me who are having trouble reading the instruction manual the way its been written. so much easier to watch and replay a cd until it sinks in. than shuffling backwards and forwards with instruction Manual . I am losing the will to carry on. Thanks John I am glad I am not the only one struggling and des`perate to get going.



      Hi Jean,
      That’s not something that I am financially able to tackle, given the cost of production and production of DVDs, but it’s great to hear that I have been able to help in some way.
      J :)



        Oops Sorry John I had no idea it would be down to you for the costs involved, perhaps we should ask Brother to foot the bill as You and Mel are also the Star attractions, with all your helpful hints and tips, Many thanks Happy Crafting.



    Hi John, I agree that an instructional DVD would be exceptionally helpful for beginners
    ( Like me) Hoping this would be possible.
    Thank you
    Gina B



    John – sorry to bother you but I am soooo frustrated with my SnC – I bought it last month, haven’t used it a lot but found that it wasn’t cutting well so I bought a new blade which didn’t cut well at all, replaced the blade holder and find that to cut plain card the blade has to be on 10! even then it isn’t cutting properly. Am I doing something wrong – brother helpline just told me to replace the blade!!! I living in New Zealand at the moment and if you have ever been here you will no it is not crafters heaven. Many thanks for any suggestions Linda



    Hi john

    What material would I use if I want to make name plates for the back of my sins hockey top.


    Maryelen Mcphail



    Delores Hutcheson September 14, 2014 at 4:19 am

    I just want to say “Thank You” for all your postings on the ScanNCut. With all of the very easy to understand information and tutorials you and Applelover53 post, learning this machine has been so easy. And that makes it easy to love to use.



    thanks once again John, where would some of us be without your help. x



    Just a quick thank you for all of the help that you so freely share with us. I have just found your blog and I am now loving having your posts show up in my email inbox each day. Thanks again :)



    I recently heard you can you a regular pencil to outline your stamped image an then erace when it is done cutting…. Haven’t tried it myself yet…It was from Ken’s Kreations…..



    Re: Setting Image Detection: page 53 in Operation Manual? Does this help with cutting scanned images?


    deborahcelticheart September 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for all the information. I’ve been having a different issue though, with images that fit the 3 C’s, that is a white margin of about 1mm on one side only of my cut image. This is jolly aggravating, as I am sure you will understand, and try as I might I cannot resolve it. If you can visualise the entire image, edged in black, when it cuts out one edge has a sliver of black that remains on the scrap paper, and part of the remaining edge has a 1mm approx border of the scrap paper. It is as if some sort of calibration is needed, but how? Consequently, I don’t use it for this function now. I wonder if anyone else has this issue, or if you, or someone else can shed any light on it. I’ve spent too much time ‘re~edging’ my cut edges by hand, defeats the purpose of the machine.



    Can you address the Image Detection Level setting in relation to scanning to cut? Thank you so much, John. Would never have been able to understand without you. Sharon



    Thanks John for taking the time to blog about all the things that are driving me mad in my crafting, have an extra Jaffa cake as reward for making another old woman happy!



    Hi John, great blog. I love my Scan n Cut, but like others, I sometimes have a problem cutting out a stamped image. I will keep in mind what you have written here, thank you so much.
    Would it be possible to blog a list of C&C guests who don’t mind stampers using the Scan n Cut to cut out their stamped images? I know some of them are very kind, like Chloe and the wonderful Stephanie Weightman, but it would be great to have a list so’s not to infringe copy right.
    BTW, did you know Jaffa Cakes taste different depending on which way up you eat them? lol have fun with that.
    Love and Light
    Sioux x



    I have been reading your blog for some time and wish to add my thanks to you for all the work you share with us and making it so much easier to use my scan and cut (with I also love) CardMaker65



    Thank you john. Just love the education on brother scan n cut. So happy I baught one. Keep up the great work.



    John, thank you, thank you. I had given up trying on some of my shapes and now you have switched on the light for me.
    Hope you found and enjoyed the Jaffa cakes :-)



    Hello John, many thanks for the hints & tips you give us for the Scan n Cut, each one helpful. Please carry on the good work.
    kind regards – Mary Drew



    Now that’s a cool thing to do, I detest fussy-cutting so might have to start saving my pennies for a scan-&-cut!



    Hi john,I’m new to crafting & I’ve recently purchased a brother scanncut,I’m trying to work out how to cut appitures in my cards but can’t seem to get them central ,can you help.jenny



      Couple of things to try –
      1. Cut the shape you want. Use it as a template to draw on your card then use one of the scanning features to cut it.
      2. Draw two lines (lightly in pencil) on your card then use the preview scan feature and line your shape up onscreen with those lines.
      Hope this helps.

      J :)



    great thank you i am going to put a link to this on my blog for others to read too.


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. ScanNCut Direct Scan for Stamped Images | aandhcrafts - September 13, 2014

    […] John over at Gentleman Crafter has done a great blog post about using the Brother ScanNCut direct scan feature for stamped images, if you have had problems using this feature with your machine have a read of his comprehensive blog post Here […]


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