Silhouette Portrait Review

Update: There is a new version of the Portrait called the Portrait 2. The Portrait 1 is no longer available for sale by Silhouette. Read my full review of the Portrait 2.

The Silhouette Portrait is one of the most affordable and portable digital die cutting machines on the market. Not only is it one of the more affordable options, and portable, weighing only 3.5lbs, but it also cuts well and is used with powerful software to create or import your own designs. If you are looking for something affordable, portable, and accurate, this Silhouette Portrait review is for you!

Silhouette Portrait Review

Amazon Price

Silhouette Portrait Design and Features

  • Cut and draw
  • 8″ x 12″ (20.3 x 30.5 cm) cutting area with mat
  • Cut up to 10 feet with a lined media (such as vinyl)
  • 210 grams of cutting force
  • PixScan™ technology compatibility – create designs from pictures
  • Print then Cut
  • Weighs only 3.5lbs, making it great for travel

Differences between the Cameo and Portrait

If you are looking at the differences between the Cameo and Portrait, here is a list of major differences:

  • The Cameo is a larger machine, cutting up to 12″ wide
  • The Cameo can work without a computer, reading directly from a USB drive

Both the Cameo and Portrait cut equally well with the same amount of cutting force (210 grams), so they will be able to cut the same types of materials. They will also run on the same software, so both machines can share the same files.

Using the Silhouette Portrait

Using the Silhouette Portrait requires a computer. Unlike the Silhouette Cameo which has an LCD screen and can work without a computer, the Portrait can’t. Designs are created with the included Silhouette Studio Designer (basic edition).


The Portrait machine isn’t designed for heavy use, so you won’t be able to cut materials like balsawood. This digital cutting machine is more for cutting paper and cutting vinyl. There is a ‘double cut’ feature to help cut heavier materials.

Below are some materials that the Silhouette Portrait can cut:

  • Paper/Cardstock up to 350 gsm thick.
  • Tissue paper
  • Vinyl
  • Iron-on transfer
  • Cereal box chipboard
  • Craft foam
  • Light weight fabric
  • Rhinestone template material

As far as the quality of the cuts, the Silhouette machines cuts are top-notch. Designs can be complex and intricate and the Portrait machine will do a fine job of cutting them.

If you are cutting materials such as paper or fabric, you’ll need to use the included cutting mat. The cutting mat stabilizes the material when being cut. One of the biggest complaints about the Silhouette cutting mats is that they are too sticky. When mats are too sticky, it can be difficult to peel the material off from the mat without ripping. If this is the case, press a pillow a t-shirt against the mat to make it less sticky.

Some users have reported upon purchasing the machine, that they had trouble with the blades. If this is the case, contact Silhouette’s Customer Support to receive a new blade, which should be free.

Print and Cut

One feature of the Silhouette Portrait is the Print and Cut feature. Images can be sent to your printer to be printed off in full color. Registration marks are printed around the image. Once the paper is loaded into the machine, the Portrait will detect the registration marks to know where to cut around the image.

PixScan Technology

Another feature of the Portrait machine is the PixScan technology. This feature is similar to the Print and Cut, except that images are placed on a special mat. Once the image is on this special mat, you can take a picture with your camera or smartphone, and upload the image to the Design software for the image to be cut.


Drawing is another neat feature of the Portrait machine. This is great if you want to sketch designs or sign cards for wedding invitations.

There are two ways you can sketch with the Silhouette Portrait.

  1. You can purchase the Silhouette Sketch Pen Starter Kit
  2. Or, purchase the Silhouette Pen Holder

The Silhouette Sketch Pen Starter Kit comes with an array of 24 colored pens. To use these pens, simply swap out the blade and insert the pen. It’s that easy.

Silhouette Sketch Pen Starter Kit
Silhouette Sketch Pen Starter Kit

The Silhouette Pen Holder allows you to use your own standardized pens. To use the pen holder, swap out the blade, insert the pen holder, and then insert your favorite pen.

Create custom designs with the Silhouette Portrait

One of the biggest advantages of the Silhouette cutting machines is the powerful software that comes included with the machine. This means there is no money to spend on cartridges. With the included Studio Design Software, users are able to create, import, or purchase their own designs.

There may be a learning curve if you are creating your own designs, but there are plenty of Youtube videos and tutorials online to help you learn. If you do have some design experience already, you catch on more quickly.

The basic version of the Studio Designer is free. To use the more advanced features, you’ll need to upgrade. See the Silhouette Design Software feature chart below:

Silhouette Cameo Studio Designer Versions
Silhouette Cameo Studio Designer Versions

The software is compatible with Windows Vista and higher, and Mac OSX 10.6.8 & higher.

Overall Review

If you like the size and portability, the Silhouette Portrait is an excellent machine. The price can’t be beaten. It’s not the most powerful machine, but if you want to just cut vinyl or paper products, you’ll be happy with the machine.

One of the cheapest places I’ve found to purchase the Silhouette Portrait is from Amazon. Click below to read reviews from Amazon and purchase, or leave me a comment!

Amazon Price

20 thoughts on “Silhouette Portrait Review”

    • Hi Joanne! The Portrait offers the same features except it does not have a screen on the machine like the SD model.

    • Hi Kate, I would say the ease of using this machine is typical, not super easy nor super difficult to learn and work with. I don’t think it would bad choice for a beginner.

  1. I am a beginner with both crafts and sewing but I have been watching you tube videos and think I might like to quilt as well cut paper and emboss. I prefer to purchase a digital machine but the prices are prohibitive. This seems like a good compromise, but will it cut material for quilts? If it can do material, how many layers of mid weight material can it cut? Thank you. Love your reviews, they are so thorough.

    • Hi Tara, thanks for the compliment. Typically digital machines only cut 1 layer at a time. If the design is small enough, you may be able to cut multiple designs on 1 layer. Hope this helps.

  2. Hi, busy researching die cutters and considering the Portrait as a good fit. I cut personalized stencils and heat transfers with an Xacto blade and need to cut my production time! I like the portability, price and no need for cartiages.

    Question: is the software compatible with Windows 10 and is there a possibility that the software may become obsolete when Windows 10 is upgraded? I had to get new printers when Windows was upgraded.

    Thank you,

    Ms. Lee

  3. Do you have to have an actual printer to go along with your computer and the cutter for the Portrait? I am considering getting one.

  4. Hi i just bought a silhouette portrait on line and i didnt realize that its supposed to have a free dvd software that comes with it. I have got mo response from the seller and now im bummed.. will i be able to use it without it or can i download it for free? I have a cricut that i love but i want free fonts which i thought i can use and I couldn’t beat the price i got it for. Thanks for tour help!

  5. go to{
    }to download the software for silhouette cutters. Since my new Portrait will arrive tomorrow, I do not know if it will work but should. I use IllustratorCC and other design software and found this FREE program to be a great low end substitute. It is fast and easy to use. It uses my installed fonts and will print to my inkjet and possibly Laser printers. It is NOT a do all illustration program, ideal for special cutting jobs and Scrapbooking and party paper jobs, it does just fine. I will use it to cut arcs, notches, hook holes etc, in 110# index stock for prototyping including small folding carton prototypes for shipping product blister cards.

  6. Can the portrait be used to make stickers? That is what I mainly want it to do. That and heat transfers for shirts.

  7. I was wondering… if I have a photo, and want it cut in a special shape, will this silhouette portrait do it? (I want to make a photo album in a rolodex, and the photos need to be cut to fit the rolodex, leaving the excess out… can I make the vector in a third party software, and import it into the software of the shilhouette portrait? Will it be able to “see” the shape placed over the photo, to cut it right?)

  8. Hello, I’m hoping that you gonna see my question and help me.
    I’m thinking about buying a Portrait. I need it most for stickers.
    Question is, how small can letters be cut? I have to stick stickers on glass, in shape of name or in text. Probably name wouldn’t be a problem, so what about texts?
    Thank you for the answer!

    • Hi Ivana, the Portrait machine is quite precise, so much, in fact, that is can cut basic shapes as small as a millimeter wide!

  9. Ok so I have had my portrait for around four years but still not that good with it as I find if the design is small or intricate it never seems to cut well. I have always used the registration marks for cutting my designs and wondering about the Pixscan does this work better than the reg marks or is there no difference. I also don’t get the difference in the various software types. There is also the problem of the difference in US materials and Uk materials when deciding which cutting settings to use

Comments are closed.