This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.
There is no doubt a steep learning curve to using a Cricut machine. And while the machine itself (not to mention all the materials it can cut!) is one thing, by far the most questions I get from readers are related to Cricut’s design software: Cricut Design Space. The software itself is not difficult; but admittedly, some things are not as intuitive as many of us would like them to be. And when you are just getting started, it can sometimes feel like even the most basic techniques are overly complicated. However, once you get rolling on your first few projects, you will soon see that Design Space does in fact include everything you need to create amazing projects, AND that there are lots of great shortcuts that make creating not only easy but really efficient! Today, I want to share 20 Cricut Design Space tips you may not know. These tricks and hacks come from spending HOURS in the program myself, and are sure to save you tons of time and stress so that you can create anything your heart desires with ultimate ease and confidence!
I’m going to break these tips and tricks into two categories:
- On the Design Canvas – where you create your projects and edit/manipulate your designs
- On the Cut Screen – the series of screens that allow you to set your cut settings after you click the green “Make It” button
On the Design Canvas
1. Customize Your Designs with Weld, Contour, and Slice. Any image, whether it’s one from the Design Space Image Library or one you upload yourself, can be endlessly changed, customized and personalized using the three main editing tools: Weld, Contour, and Slice. All three of these tools are located along the bottom right-side toolbar and will only highlight when the functions are available for a specific design. At first glance, these tools may not seem like they do much. Nonetheless, they are incredibly powerful and are the keys to completely personalizing your designs. Go in-depth and learn the ins and outs of each tool here: Weld | Contour | Slice
2. Experiment with Your Search Terms. I’ve learned that the search function in the Design Space Image Library can be a little particular. A pretty generic term that I think should yield all sorts of images sometimes won’t. Yet if I change a single word or even a single letter, suddenly more images populate. As such, I recommend playing around with a lot of search terms in order to find exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s what I mean…
Leave off the “s.” If I type the word “Dots” into the search bar, it yields about 115 images.
But if I type in the word “Dot,” it yields over 200 images. As a rule, I find that leaving off the “s” in my searches yields a lot more results!
Search by synonym. Another good idea is to search various synonyms because each image is tagged with different search terms. For example, when I am looking to cut labels, I will often search: label, tag, rectangle, circle, and square to make sure I am seeing aaalllll the possible images! In the same way, I’d search flower, plant, Spring, garden | Heart, love, Valentine, etc.
3. See More from the Same Cartridge. When you use the search function, you may find one image that you love amidst a whole variety of other images that you don’t. What do you do when you want to see more images similar to the one you like? The best place is to start is with the cartridge (set) that it came from. To quickly and easily access the cartridge, simply click the small information circle (i) in the bottom right-hand corner of each image within the Design Space Image Library (below left). It will open up the image details with a clickable (green) link that will take you to the full set of images (below right)! This is my favorite way to find coordinating/matching images to the one I found via search!
4. Utilize Free Images & Text. I am a HUUUGE fan of the Cricut Access memberships if you are a habitual crafter like I am. However, I realize that many people, especially newbies, may not want to spend money just to practice cutting on their machines, especially not at first. If you’re just learning your way around, want to see your machine in action, and/or really want to keep your crafting costs to a minimum, be sure to utilize the FREE resources within Cricut Design Space.
To find FREE images…use the Filter within the Design Space Image Library. Simply select the “Free” option to see an array of images you can insert into your projects at no cost!
To find FREE fonts…Your Cricut machine can cut any font you have installed on your computer. This not only means that you can cut any font that came pre-installed on your computer, but also any awesome font you find and download from some of your favorite free sites such as Font Squirrel or DaFont. To find the fonts you can use without incurring additional charges, simply choose “My Fonts” from the font menu filter. This will show you ALL the fonts installed on your computer, as well as any Cricut fonts you may have purchased (either individually or via a Cricut Access pass), and is a great way to ensure you are using fonts you won’t have to pay for!
5. Re-Color Quickly. The Color Sync tool is a great way to save time on your projects and ensure you are using the same colors across different designs. When you place several designs onto your Design Canvas, you may end up with various shades of the same color (e.g., 3 different greens, 4 different blues, etc.) Instead of selecting each layer to re-color it, navigate to the Color Sync tool along the right-hand tool panel…
Here, you can not only see all the colors currently in use on your project, but you can also drag-and-drop any layer of your design to another color already represented. Whether you want to keep consistent colors across your designs or quickly make certain layers a particular color for more efficient cutting, this is the quickest and easiest way to do it!
6. The Hide Tool. When I am working on a project, I often pull lots and lots of images to play with. However, when it comes time to cut out my projects, I rarely need to cut everything on my canvas. Also, there are times when I just need to cut/re-cut one part of the design. Instead of deleting images off my canvas simply to avoid cutting them, I will “hide” them by clicking the eye symbol next to the exact image on the right-hand Layers Panel. Any image that is “hidden” is not removed from your canvas, but it will not be included when you send your project to be cut. The “Hide” symbol toggles on/off, making it oh-so-simple to cut only what you need and/or keep your design canvas clutter free without loosing track of images you may still want to play with!
7. Change Any Line to Cut, Score, or Draw. Once upon a time, if you wanted a line to be drawn or scored (rather than cut), you had to find a design with those specific attributes. However, a recent change to Design Space now allows ANY line to be easily changed from cut to score to draw with the simple Linetype drop-down menu on the top toolbar:
Most designs will populate on your canvas as a “Cut” design. But you can easily change the outline of the image to be drawn (using the pens) or scored (using the scoring tool or scoring wheel). Just make sure your layers are un-grouped and un-attached in order to change how your design will ultimately be created.
8. Manipulate Patterns. You can now also change how the image is filled with the new Fill tool along the top toolbar. With an individual layer selected, you can swap out colors or assign a pattern to the inside of the image.
Filling the images with one of the pre-loaded patterns is a fun way to add interest to your projects without relying on patterned scrapbook paper or cardstock. In addition to countless designs being available, you can also manipulate the scale and orientation of the pattern by clicking “Edit Pattern” in the Pattern menu (under Fill). NOTE: The pattern option can only be used via the Print-then-Cut technique.
9. Use Keyboard Shortcuts. There are buttons on the Design Space canvas for almost every command you can think of (e.g., Duplicate, Delete, Copy, Cut, Paste, etc.) These buttons exist on the corners of the images themselves, the top toolbar, and in the right-hand Layers Panel. However, to save time, try using many of the keyboard shortcuts that work in other computer programs. Specifically, these shortcuts come in quite handy and can save you a lot of time when working on big projects: Copy (control C) | Paste (control V) | Delete (delete button) | Undo (control Z).
10. Use Slice to Crop. One tool that may appear to be missing from Cricut Design Space is a Crop tool. Yes, admittedly, I’ve often yearned for a tool that would allow me to quickly and easily slice designs apart or shave off certain details like you can in many other programs. However, there is a work around! You can use the Slice Tool in conjunction with the free shapes (e.g., circle, square) to achieve what a typical Crop tool would do. It can be a little tedious and not at all intuitive, so check out my full tutorial on how to do it here.
On the Cut Screen
Once you finish desinging your project and send the images to be cut via the green “Make It” button, you might think your ability to manipulate the project is through. However, there are LOTS of things you can do on the cut screen itself to not only save time but also save on materials. These 10 tricks are some of the best things to know about Cricut Design Space, so let’s run through them!
11. Move Items Around on the Mat. Did you know you can move the items around the mat on the cut screen itself? While the Design Space software will auto-populate your images onto the mats based on their color and orientation, it may not be exactly where you want them to be.
Simply by dragging and dropping the images, you can move a cut anywhere on the mat and even rotate it using the handles on the upper right-hand corner.
This not only allows you to scrunch things up tighter than the software originally suggests, but it also ensures your cut is precisely where you need it to be (like if you are trying to use a scrap or oddly-shaped piece of material). Just make sure you match the grid lines on the screen to the grid lines on your mat to ensure your design fits your material wherever you have it!
12. Move Images from One Mat to Another. In addition to moving images around a single mat, you can also move any image from one mat to another (without having to go back to the design canvas and change its color). Simply click on the 3 dots on the upper left-hand corner of any image on your cut mat. Then select “Move to another mat”…
Design Space will then allow you to choose which mat you’d like to place that specific image on…
Notice how the one star has moved from the turquoise mat to the pink mat!
I use this feature ALL THE TIME in order to conserve materials. With some maneuvering, I can often fit much more on one mat than Design Space originally lays out. This is also a great way to quickly change the color of any part of your design without having to exit out of the cut screen and change the color manually!
13. Save Your Most Commonly Used Cut Materials. I just discovered this feature and I’m somewhat embarrassed that it took me so long. When I was using my Cricut Explore Air 2, I wouldn’t utilize the Custom materials option very often because I mostly had my machine set to Vinyl, Cardstock, Iron-On, etc.
But when I transitioned to the Maker, I learned I had to use the Custom Materials menu within Cricut Design Space each and every time because there is no dial to select the material you are cutting.
I was so tired of searching through the 200+ custom material options to find the same Vinyl, Medium Cardstock, and Everyday Iron-On settings over and over again. Then I realized you can “Favorite” them, and it was a game changer! It took me all of a few minutes to go through the Materials menu and identify the ones I use the most often. By clicking the star within the Materials menu itself…
…and then choosing “Favorites” instead of “Popular” under Materials, you will be left with a mini menu of all the materials you cut the most often! This is a serious sanity saver!
14. Skip and Repeat Mats. One of the nicest things about how Design Space works is that you don’t have to pay much attention once you send your design to cut. As long as you feed the right color and size paper into your machine just as it’s shown on the left side of your cut screen, your project should turn out as you designed it! However, you may find that you want to skip around which mat is cut next, re-cut a particular mat, or skip a mat all together. Thankfully, it’s super easy and doesn’t requiring exiting out of the cut screen. Before you load your mat into the machine, you can manually select which mat will be cut next simply by selecting/clicking it on the left-hand side. The machine will automatically jump to whatever mat you manually select…
You can also do the same thing to re-cut a particular mat, even if there is a checkmark next to the mat (which indicates it has already been cut). This is a great way to cut multiples of the same design without having to duplicate it on your design canvas. NOTE: Just a warning though…if you do skip around, repeat mats, or skip mats all together, always double check that what you’re loading into the machine matches which mat is highlighted while on the cut screen. I’ve been known to cut the wrong design out of the wrong color because I didn’t pay attention to which mat was selected!
15. Connect Several Machines At Once. I realize most people likely do not have more than one Cricut machine. But if you do, you CAN connect both machines to your Design Space account at the same time either via Bluetooth or USB. And don’t worry about cutting the wrong design out with the wrong machine. No matter how many machines you have connected (1 or several), your very first step on the final cut screen is to select which machine you want to use via the top dropdown menu. In this way, you can always be sure you’re using the intended machine for your project!
16. Edit Cut Settings for ANY Material. One question I get a looooot is related to cutting specific materials. For example, even with the machine set to Vinyl, some folks have told me that their Cricut won’t sufficiently cut through it. Thankfully, you can adjust the settings for ANY material (including depth, blade, and how many passes the machine will make) right from the Materials menu.
Here’s how you do it:
- On the Cut Screen, you will have the option to select “Materials” (if you’re not on a Maker, set your Explore machine dial to Custom)
- Then select Browse All Materials (small green letters on top of menu)
- Down at the bottom, in small green letters, it says Material Settings
- From there, you can select any material and adjust the settings…to include how many passes the machine should make and the depth of each pass!
If you find that for some reason your machine won’t sufficiently cut through a material you use all the time, this is a great way to adjust the settings so you don’t have to make manual adjustments every single time!
17. Easily Adjust Cut Pressure. While it is awesome to be able to adjust the settings of any material, sometimes you just need a little more or a little less pressure in order for your material to be cleanly cut through. To do so… after you select your material on the final cut screen, alter the pressure to be either Default, More or Less via the dropdown menu:
This is a great way to quickly and easily get your cutting depth right without having to fuss with the custom settings!
18. Fill Mat By Changing Project Copies. I will admit that one of my favorite features from the oooollld Cricut machines isn’t available anymore: the Autofill feature. I loved that I could put a single star on my design canvas, select my paper size, and then select “Autofill.” The machine would then fill up my paper with as many stars as could comfortably fit. While this exact feature is missing from Design Space, there is a pretty easy workaround.
On the very first cut screen, there is an option at the very top to set your “Project Copies.” This function allows you to cut whatever is on your design canvas as many times as you want.
Although it may take some trial-and-error to figure out how many copies you need in order to fill up the mat, it’s a much quicker solution than playing around with duplicates on the design canvas itself.
19. Set Mirror on the Cut Screen. There will be times, especially when you are working with Iron-On projects, that you will need to cut your design in reverse (aka: Mirror). Although you can horizontally flip your design on the design canvas, there is actually an option to Mirror your designs on the cut screen itself:
This not only enables you to mirror just the mats/images you need flipped around, but also allows you to create and tweak your design un-flipped on the design screen (which is much easier to look at and customize).
20. Fool-Proof Instructions. One of the best things about taking the time to select your custom material on the cut screen, is that Design Space will provide you with invaluable reminders to ensure your projects turn out just right. For example, when you select “Iron-On,” you will be given the reminders to Mirror your designs and place the shiny side of your vinyl down onto the mat.
When you select something like Chipboard, it will prompt you to check your blade, secure your material to the mat, etc.
The key here is not to overlook these subtle instructions because they really can save you lots of valuable time and product!
Phew! Alright my Cricut-loving friends! I realize this was a doozy of a post. But instead of sprinkling all these tips and tricks into a multitude of posts, I figured it was best to get them all listed out here in one easy-to-access spot! And as the Design Space software is updated and I learn more and more, I will be sure to keep this post refreshed…so be sure to bookmark/pin it for future reference!Posted In 3 - Cricut, California '16, Cricut Explore for Home Decor Series, Sewing & Crafts