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Welcome to Cricut Design Space Tutorial Part 2!
We’re ready to move on to toolbars, the layers panel, and getting your project ready to cut. In part one, we talked about downloading and installing the Desing Space software, navigating the Home page and menu, and began to discuss the options found in the canvas area of Design Space. If you missed part one, you can find it here.
Let’s dive right in and pick up where we left off.
Cricut Design Space Tutorial Part 2
Cricut Design Space Canvas – Top Toolbars
The top toolbars on the canvas won’t become active until you have something selected on the canvas – an image, shape, or text. I’m going to create some text and select it so we can see what options we have:
Starting from the left, the first option we have is the operation. The options you have for operations will depend on the machine you have set up with Design Space. I’m using a Cricut Maker so if you’re using an Explore, your options may be different.
This is where you set the action for the object selected – cut, write, deboss, etc. You can have different operations for each object in your design so this doesn’t have to be the same for everything! The selections you choose here will let Design Space determine the correct tool to use so it’s important to set this up correctly for your project.
For me, the cut operations are basic, perforate, or wavy. The perforation and wavy blades are specific to the Maker. For drawing, I have pen, foil (for the foil transfer kit), score, deboss, and engrave. The debossing and engraving tips are for the Maker only. Finally, there’s the print then cut feature.
This does exactly what it says…clicking the Select All button will select everything that’s visible on your canvas. This is helpful for grouping or attaching objects together. Conversely, if you already have everything selected, this option becomes Deselect which releases all objects.
The edit button will allow you to cut, copy, or paste an object to the canvas. The paste option won’t be available unless you’ve already cut or copied or something.
The align feature is handy when you’re trying to space or line up objects perfectly in your design. This option won’t become available unless you have more than one layer selected. The distribute option doesn’t become available unless you have 3 or more objects selected.
You can align your objects however you need to by using the options available. To create an equal amount of space between objects, use the distribution options.
When you’re working with multiple layers, sometimes you need layers to be in a specific order. You can use the arrange function to move layers forward and backward within your design. The Send to Front or Send to Back options will move the layer to the very top or very bottom of the design. Move Forward and Move Backward will only move the object one layer at a time.
The flip function allows you to mirror your object either horizontally or vertically. For example, this is what my text Hello World looks like when it’s flipped horizontally.
Flipping it vertically would put the bottom of the letters at the top.
You can use the size dialog box to change the height and width dimensions of your object. By default, the padlock at the top of the sizing box is locked. This will size your object proportionally so the height or width will automatically resize when you change either one of those values.
If you click the padlock to unlock it, you can change the height or width independently of the other.
You can also use the sizing handles on your object to resize it too using the arrow icon. There’s also a padlock that you can lock or unlock to size the object proportionally or independently.
The rotate box is used to rotate the object by the number of degrees you specify.
You can also rotate the object manually using the sizing box on the object with the icon that looks like a circular arrow.
The position box is used to determine the location of the object on the canvas. Specify values for x and y to reposition your object.
You can also drag and drop your object on the canvas to reposition it.
Text Formatting Toolbar
The toolbar in the 2nd row doesn’t become visible unless you have text selected on the canvas.
I could write an entire series of posts just on fonts. In fact, I probably will!
For now, let’s just say that this is where you can change the font style of your text in your design. The fonts that are displayed here are a combination of fonts that are installed on your computer and Cricut fonts. Anything that’s on your machine is free to use and there are some free Cricut fonts available. A lot of the Cricut fonts are included with the Cricut Access subscription but you can also purchase them too.
There are filter options to help you find fonts for your specific use – writing, single-layer, multi-layer – or you can search by keyword.
If you do have an Access subscription, you have the option to download the font and install it on your computer to use in other applications. Pretty cool!
You can change the style options of your font to regular, bold, italic, etc. You can also turn your font into a single-line writing font, which I think is new because I just realized that as I was putting this tutorial together!! Single-line fonts are really nice to use in writing or engraving projects.
Normal fonts that are installed on your computer will render as outlines when you select the pen or engraving tip.
A single line font is just that – a single line for each letter in your text.
Change the size of your font by entering a value in the text box. You can also resize your text using the sizing handles on the object.
You can change the spacing between the letters in your text to bring them closer together or space them out more.
Sometimes when I’m working with script fonts the spacing between the letters is off a little so the letters aren’t quite connected correctly. I’ll use the values for letter spacing to arrange them to get the look I want. You can also input negative values into the text box if you need them even closer than the default baseline.
Adjusting the values for line space will change the distance between lines of text in a multi-line text box.
Align multi-line text to the left, right, or center within the text box.
Did you know you can curve text in Design Space? You can and it’s easy! Curving text can really add a wow factor to your designs.
To curve text downwards, enter a positive value for the diameter.
To curve text upwards, enter a negative value for the diameter.
Sometimes adjusting the letter spacing for your chosen font isn’t enough. If that’s the case, you can use the Ungroup to Letters function in the advanced formatting options.
What this does is break apart your text into individual letters so you can move each letter independently. You can also change the size or even the font. Yes, you can choose to display each letter in a different font once it’s ungrouped into letters.
One thing to consider is that when you ungroup your text into letters, a new layer is created for each letter in your text. This isn’t ideal when you go to cut your design because Design Space will arrange the letters to use the least amount of material.
You’ll want to either attach or weld your text together so it will cut together. We’ll talk about welding and attaching a little later.
That takes us through the top toolbars used to format the text and objects in your design. Next up, we’ll talk about the layers panel and some advanced functions in Design Space.
The Layers Panel
The Layers panel is extremely important when it comes to managing all the objects in your designs, especially if you’re working with complex designs with a lot of layers, text, and images.
Each element in your design has its own layer. So if you have a design with a square shape, some text, and maybe an image, each will be represented by a layer. Each layer will display a thumbnail image depicting what’s on the layer and also the operation for that layer – cut, print then cut, write, etc.
I’ve added an image from the library and a heart shape along with my text to illustrate how layers work.
Each element shows up on its own layer, separated by color or operations type.
You can use the options in the layers panel to customize your layers before you make your project.
Let’s go through how each of the different options works.
You can select different layers and group them together. This is helpful if you want to resize or move around objects together. Grouping objects together does not mean that they will cut that way. It’s really only for organizing your objects on the canvas.
If you no longer want your layers grouped together, choose UnGroup to release them. All your layers will become separate.
Use the duplicate function to make a copy of any selected layer or group of layers. If you have layers grouped together, using Duplicate will create a copy of everything that’s in the group.
Delete a selected layer by using the Delete function. You can also use the Delete key on your keyboard to remove an object from the canvas.
You can hide or unhide a layer from the canvas by clicking the eye icon to the right of the layer name. An eye with a line through it means it’s hidden. If you choose to hide a layer, it will not cut when you go to make your project.
You can also rearrange the order in which your layers appear on the canvas by dragging and dropping it into the location you want it.
Slice, Weld, Attach, Flatten, and Contour
The functions at the bottom of the Layers Panel are a little more advanced but are also important to learn as you grow your Design Space skills!
I think it’s easiest to illustrate each of the functions and then talk about what’s going on for each.
You can use the slice feature to cut one object from another one. For example, take this heart shape which I’ve placed a circle on top and to the right of. At first, when you hit Slice it doesn’t look like anything happened. But if you look in the layers panel, you’ll notice some new layers. When you move the slice result layers out of the way, you’ll see that the circle shape has been cut out of the heart. You can delete the extra slices if you don’t need them.
This is a pretty awesome little feature of Design Space. You can only use the slice feature with 2 overlapping objects but still, it opens up a new world of possibilities for your designs!
The weld function can be a little confusing because it’s similar to attach in some ways. If you weld objects together, you merge or unite them into one shape. When 2 objects are selected and you choose Weld, any overlapping cut lines are removed and it just becomes one shape with one cut line around the outside. There is no “Unweld” option so if you want to reverse this, you’ll have to use the undo button or delete and start over.
If you attach objects together, you “fix” them in their positions relative to each other. When you go to make your project, attached layers will cut exactly as they appear on the canvas. This can be important if you’re cutting a design and want the layout to stay the same as it looks on the canvas. If layers aren’t attached on the canvas, when you go to cut your design, Design Space will rearrange them on the mat to save material which means you’ll have to manually arrange your design on whatever material you’re using.
Use the Flatten option when you want to use the Print Then Cut feature. Flatten will remove the cut lines and combine it into one layer. And Design Space is smart! It knows that when you flatten a layer you want to Print Then Cut and automatically updates the operation.
I confess I don’t use the contouring function very much at all. You can use contouring to turn cut lines in your image on and off. Contouring only works with images and not text or shapes.
Make It (Your Project)
The Cricut Design Space tutorial train is pulling into the last stop. Wow, that was cheesy.
Finally, we’re going to go over the last step – sending your project to your Cricut machine to make!
Set Up Your Cutting Mats
Once you have your design exactly the way you want it, you can hit Make It in the top right and set up your mats.
Design Space will separate every layer by color onto a separate mat. If you’ve attached any of your layers together, they should show up that way on the mat preview screen.
You should always double-check the operation and the material size for each mat on this screen. And if you’re working with iron-on vinyl, make sure that Mirror is set to yes. Friendly reminder! Whatever mat you have selected on this screen will cut first. I sometimes forget this and load the wrong color into my machine and then I need a glass of wine.
Click continue when you’re ready.
Select Your Machine, Base Material, and Tools
In the final screen, you’ll want to make sure your machine is connected to Design Space. If you have more than one Cricut connected to Design Space, just double-check the right one is connected.
Next, select your Base Material. For the Explore series, you can set your base material using the dial on the machine or by setting the dial to Custom and selecting your material from here. For the Maker, you only have the option to select materials from this screen.
I like that you can set favorites so that materials you use a lot will always show up here. If the material you’re using isn’t a favorite, hit Browse all Materials and select it from the list.
Once your material is set, Design Space will choose the recommended tool for the material you’ve set. If for some reason, it’s chosen the wrong tool, you can hit Edit Tools and select yours from the list. I will caution you though, using a tool that isn’t designed for the material you’re using can potentially damage your machine or your tool. Design Space is usually correct when it sets the tool for you.
Next, place your material on the cutting mat and load into it your machine. Once Design Space has detected that the mat is loaded, the Cricut button on the machine will start to flash. Push the button and your Cricut machine will do its thing!
Now It’s Time to Do Glorious Things With Your Cricut!
I hope my Cricut Design Space tutorial gave you the confidence you need to dig in and start using Design Space to create amazing projects! Like any new skill, it takes practice to master it. So get in there and start playing around with things. The more you work with Design Space, the easier it will be to remember where everything is and how to use it.
And making new crafts is always fun so enjoy the journey!
If you’d like to learn more about Cricut, including tools and other tutorials, check out my other posts! I plan to add a lot more tutorials and projects so check back often for new stuff.
Cricut Design Space Tutorial – Part 1 of 2!
Types of Vinyl for Cricut: The Complete Guide to Craft Vinyl
Cricut Maker Tools Explained – Your Ultimate Guide for Tools and Blades
Cricut Maker Overview – What Makes the Cricut Maker So Special?
How to Clean Your Cricut Cutting Mats – It’s Easier Than You Think!
How To Upload SVG Files to Cricut Design Space Like a Boss
How To Use Iron On Vinyl (and Grab a Cut File)