Learn the most common words, terms, phrases, and lingo used in Cricut Design Space project tutorials in this easy-to-understand glossary guide.
Last week I covered all the words and phrases you, as a Cricut Newbie, might see in a project tutorial and be like, whaaa??? This week I want to keep that glossary train rolling with even more words you should know. But this time, let’s talk specifically about Design Space. There are a lot of buttons and options within Design Space, and some of them get pretty confusing, even for me.
So for the sake of keeping you from quitting before you even get started, I’m going to cover only ten basic functions you’ll use as a beginner. We can save the difficult stuff for later once you’ve gotten comfortable enough not to cuss through a whole project. Deal?
*Quick note: this guide is published on May 5, 2021 and all screenshots are from Design Space Version 6.6.134. Cricut updates the Design Space software often, so your screen may look a little different if you have a different version.
Common Cricut Design Space Functions And What They Do
Here we go, the most basic of basic Design Space words. The “canvas” is the blank gridded screen that comes up when you start a new project. You’ll often see the word “canvas” when you’re reading through a Cricut project tutorial on blogs, and that just means basically ‘the on-screen page you put your designs on’.
Handy tip: You can change from small grid lines to bigger grids to even a blank grid-less canvas by clicking the gray square in the top left corner between the two zeros on your ruler lines.
When you “size” an image, shape, or font set, you are adjusting the measurements it will be when it is cut out by your machine. The grid lines and measurements you see around your design elements are true to size, so if the box around a circle you added says 4.5×4.5, you will get a circle that is four and a half inches in width and length.
You can adjust the sizing by either dragging the box around your image, or by typing the measurements you want into the size boxes found in the “more” tab.
Quick tip: use the lock button (the picture of a padlock) to lock or unlock the size ratio. When your sizing is locked, that means if you increase the length, the width will automatically increase too. If you unlock your sizing, only the length would change and the width would stay the same. Unlocking allows you to stretch the size and is handy for making rectangle and lines.
The material color option helps Design Space know which shapes, words, and images go on which mat. It does not actually cut or write in that color. (Unless you’re doing a print to cut project) Choosing the material color is completely optional when you’re creating your designs, and not necessary at all if you’re only cutting one color of vinyl, paper, fabric, or other materials. The only time you need to use this option is if your design involves more than one color of materials.
For example, let’s say you want to cut three yellow circles and three green circles. If you left all the circles gray be default, all six of them would be cut on a single mat. By changing the material colors, this tells Design Space that half of the circles are one color and the other half are another color, so it will put three on one mat and the other three on a different mat. This allows you to put the green vinyl on one mat and the yellow on another.
Quick Tip: If you’re only cutting one color of vinyl, for example, a word in white vinyl, you don’t actually have to change the material color option to white. You can leave it as the default color and just load white vinyl onto your mat.
Group / Ungroup
To group elements together means to combine only for the sake of easy movement. Grouping elements does not mean that they will be cut together. They will still be cut individually. Grouping is great for when you’re creating something that has multiple layers, like a label or an iron-on decal with more than one color. When you “group” the elements, they stay together if you move them around the screen. This is super handy for duplicating multi-piece elements, too.
Hot Tip: The “ungroup” option is great for connecting cursive-style fonts. You’ll notice that if you use a script font like Babette, the letters have spaces between them. By “ungrouping” the word, you can move the letters closer to each other to look connected. Then regroup and weld them together. (More on that next) Here’s a full tutorial for connecting script fonts.
Welding in Design Space basically fuses multiple elements together to create one single image or “sticker”. Let’s use a word as our example. If you type the word “group” into Design Space using the text option, that becomes a group of five letters. But each letter will be cut separately. In the instance above where we are using a script font, we don’t want them to be cut into separate letters. We want them to be cut all in one piece like a decal you’d buy from the store. That’s where the Weld option comes in.
Welding turns individual elements into one single piece, like a sticker. It’s really handy for connecting script fonts, but also good for creating your own shapes and designs.
Attaching elements means grouping them together for the cutting/writing process. Earlier I said that “grouping” elements means they stay together on your canvas but they are separate pieces during the cut process. Attaching is the function that keeps them together during the cut process. The most frequent way you’ll use the Attach function is when you’re making projects that involve a font on top of a shape.
Let’s use a label for our example. A spice jar lid label consists of a circle for the lid and written text on top of the circle. In order for Design Space to align the font on top of the circle on the mat-prep screen, you will need to attach them together. You can experiment with how this works by attaching and unattaching elements then clicking Make It to see the difference. It’s easier for you to see it than for me to explain it.
Helpful Hint: Sometimes a blogger-created template shared on their website (mine included) may have elements attached already for easy replication. If you want to edit a project you got from a blogger’s website and for some reason you can’t change the words, it is likely attached. Just unattach it and you should be able to make edits. Just don’t forget to attach it back before clicking Make It.
The Operation tab in the top toolbar tells Design Space whether your designs should be cut or drawn with a pen. Depending on which machine you have, there will be more or less options than the example photo above, but there are really just three basic operations the Cricut can do. Cut materials, draw on materials, or print-then-cut. (Cricut does not actually print, but you can connect your printer to print the design you made, then have Cricut cut it out.)
Writing Tip: Just choosing “draw” in the operation tab will not give you a perfect handwritten font. There’s a second step involved. After you choose “draw” in the Operation tab, you’ll need to look below that for the Style tab and change that option from Regular to Writing. Then your words will look handwritten. (You must choose a font that allows for writing capability)
The contour button is a little intimidating for beginners, and for good reason. It’s kind of glitchy, so don’t expect it to work right for you every time, and don’t think you’ll hop right into using it on day one. But you do need to know what it is. The Contour function allows you to hide certain elements of an image so those lines or parts are not cut.
This function is best-used when you are choosing an image from the Cricut library and you want to alter it a little. Let’s say you love this moon image, but you don’t want the three stars included in your design. You would open the Contour tab, click all three stars to “hide” them, then exit out of that section. You’ll notice the stars on your canvas have disappeared.
Mirror means to flip your design backwards as if you were looking at it in a mirror, and is used in all iron-on (HTV) projects. Any time you are doing a heat transfer/iron on project, you have to mirror your image in order for it to look right when it’s applied to your base material. The Mirror option is not found on the main canvas, but instead, on the Make It screen.
As soon as you click Make It, you’ll be taken to a screen with a preview of how your design will be cut on the mat. You’ll need to switch on the Mirror function here and verify that the image is now backwards on the mat preview.
Last but not least, let’s talk about how to get custom designs into Cricut Design Space. The Upload function allows you upload your own images, fonts, or SVG files into Design Space. It’s a pretty straight-forward process and works just like it does when you upload a file to your computer.
Bonus: The New OFFSET Feature
Cricut recently added a new feature in Design Space called Offset. Offset allows you to create kind of like a shadow around your design. It’s most helpful when designing stickers and decals. Cricut released this feature in early spring of 2021, and they wrote a great guide that covers everything you need to know about it. You can read their Offset guide here.
Are You A Cricut Newbie?
This post is part of an ongoing series for complete Cricut Beginners. You can view all the beginner educational posts in this section, along with Part 1 of the Cricut Words And Phrases You Need To Know to help you up your Cricut game and be a pro crafter in no time. Be sure to sign up for my Wednesday Cricut emails, too. Every Wednesday I let you know when a new Cricut post is live on the blog, plus helpful tips and product info you might not know about. You can get on the list by dropping your email address below.