Whether you’re a Cricut newbie or longtime user, this Design Space guide answers all the most commonly asked questions about the software along with some tips and tricks to improve your project making experience. Written in partnership with Cricut.
A Cricut machine is such a diverse tool and can make everything from home organization labels and planner stickers to holiday gifts and home décor. If you can dream up a project, you can make it with Cricut. But how do you bring that vision to life? With Design Space.
If Cricut Design Space is intimidating to you, or if you’re brand new and haven’t even installed it on your computer, I want to help you jump in and feel confident about creating your own custom designs. This guide will explain exactly what Cricut Design Space is, how much it costs, how beginners should get started with it, and how experienced crafters can up their creation game. Ready to start designing?
What Is Cricut Design Space?
Design Space is the software specially made to turn your ideas into real life projects. It’s basically the middleman between your brain and your Cricut machine. In a nutshell, if you want to have your Cricut machine cut out a bear-shaped sticker, you add a bear graphic into Design Space. Once your computer is connected to your machine, it will cut out exactly what you see on screen.
Cricut Design Space currently works on computers, tablets, and smartphones, but it functions best on a computer. You have to have a computer to connect your machine during the initial setup phase, but once your machine is configured, you can use the apps if you prefer. Learn how to set up a new Cricut machine here.
Design Space can now be used offline when working on your computer, and it lives in the hard drive versus online. You can use Design Space on both Windows and Mac operating systems, and the mobile apps work on both iOS (Apple) and Android devices. You can get a full list of compatible devices here.
Is Design Space Free?
Design Space is completely free to install on all your devices and there is no limit on how many devices you have the software installed on. When you get a new Cricut machine, there’s a card in the box with instructions for finding and downloading Design Space on your computer, or you can follow this link to get the version you need.
Once you have Design Space installed and your machine is connected, you can dig into the Design Space program and start learning how it works. Included in Design Space are lots of pre-loaded fonts, images, and projects at no cost to use. You’ll also see some fonts and images with the letter A in a green bookmark. These are premium bonus content available to Access members.
What Is Cricut Access & How Much Does It Cost?
Cricut Access is a subscription that opens up even more fonts, images, and pre-designed projects for you to make. It’s not a necessity, but if you use your Cricut machine often, you’ll find that you start to outgrow the basic offerings quickly and will want a larger variety. That’s where Access comes in.
In addition to hundreds of additional fonts and thousands of new projects, you also get exclusive discounts on materials, tools, licensed content, and even machines. It’s like the VIP club, and anyone can join.
There are currently two subscription options for Cricut Access: the Standard or Premium. Standard Access is $9.99 a month or $95.88 per year with auto-renewal. Premium Access is $119.88 per year with auto-renewal. The Premium Access plan offers additional discounts on materials and free shipping. If you shop for Cricut materials online often, the extra $25 is worth it in my opinion to upgrade to Premium.
How Design Space Works
Remember back in the old days when you were in school and your teacher let you have a free hour on the computer, and you always opened up “Paint” to make digital art? Design Space is just like that, except it pairs with your cutting machine to make your designs into a real-life tangible item.
When you open Design Space, you’re greeted with a Home Screen compiled of project ideas, recently uploaded images, and seasonal Cricut community favorites. You can choose a pre-designed project to customize, or you can create a new project from scratch by clicking the green New Project button in the top righthand corner.
The area you create your designs is called the Canvas. On the left-hand side toolbar, you’ll find all the elements you need to create a professional-quality project. To add something to the canvas, just click the category you’re looking for. For example, when you click Text, a generic text box appears. When you click images, you’re transported to the fully searchable image library. (PS: Learn more Design Space terms in this post.)
The upper toolbar is where you can customize the things you add to your Canvas. You can adjust fonts, sizing, colors, and spacing, as well as adjust images and add outlines to turn them into printable stickers. The right-hand toolbar shows each layer of your project (layers are each individual element you added) and allows you to rearrange layers and manage them.
Once you’ve created the design you want and are ready for the machine to cut it out, you’ll click the “Make It” button and follow the on-screen instructions to set up your materials. Design Space configures your cuts in a layout that conserves as much material and cut time as possible, so you might see your design showing a little differently on the cut preview than you did on the Canvas. Materials can get pretty pricey, so this is really helpful feature.
Common Design Space Font Questions
“I saw a blogger post a project with a certain font, but I can’t find it in Design Space.“
There are two potential answers to this. First, open the dropdown menu of the font selection bar and uncheck the “Only Kerned Fonts” box. Design Space defaults to showing kerned fonts only, so by unchecking the box, you’ll see all the fonts available.
Still can’t find it? The blogger may have a different computer type than you do. The font could be a Windows or iOS system font, and if you have a different operating system, it won’t be available to you.
“Is there a way to save my favorite fonts so I don’t have to search for them every time?”
Yes! The newest update added a Bookmark feature for saving fonts. Any fonts you bookmark get added to their own tab at the top of the font menu, so no more searching, scrolling, or memorizing font names before you start. Learn how to bookmark fonts in this post.
“Some fonts have a price next to them. Is this a one-time usage price or can I use it anytime after purchase?”
If you are not a Cricut Access member, you can purchase fonts and images individually for projects. The prices you see listed in the font menu are a one-time fee, meaning if you buy a font for $4.99, you can use it over and over again in the future.
“I’m an Access Member and some fonts still cost money. I thought I had unlimited access?”
As an Access Member, you have over 700 fonts available for use. However, some fonts are licensed and they must be purchased individually. Licensed fonts (and images) mean they are owned by another company (like Disney, for example) and that company allows Cricut users the right to use them. Since these licensed assets are not owned by Cricut, you have to pay for usage. Keep an eye out in the Cricut Shop for licensed bundles if you make a lot of projects using these types of content.
“How do I know if a font can be used with a Cricut pen?”
The font menu is fully searchable, and you can apply filters to find the fonts you need for your specific project. To ensure a font can be used with a Cricut pen and written by the machine, filter the font menu to “writing”. Keep in mind that bulgier fonts won’t be filled in with the Pen, you’ll only get the outline and you’ll need to color it in yourself if you want it filled.
3 Design Space Tips For Beginners
1. Experiment with the Design Space software before diving into your first project. This program takes a little time to get used to, so take an afternoon just clicking buttons and seeing what happens as a result. The more you can play around with the features, the more confident you’ll be when you’re ready to create something for real.
2. Register for a free Cricut workshop. Cricut recently launched an expansion to their website called Cricut Learn. There are recorded tutorials for just about anything you want to know, including an introduction to Design Space. There are also live workshops with Cricut experts if you prefer to walk through the process with someone in real time. These workshops are really fun, too!
3. Start with simple decal projects before jumping into fully customized designs. I know, you want to make intricately created projects…that’s why you bought the machine, right? But before you start making multi-layered designs and using tiny, skinny fonts, get comfortable with basic single-layer silhouette style images (like a shadow of an image) and simple fonts like Cricut Sans. These ease you in without overwhelm.
3 Design Space Tips For Experienced Users
1. Try out advanced features like offset, font kerning, image slicing, and welding to create truly customized projects. My recommendation is to sit down on a rainy day with no specific project in mind. Instead, try out features you haven’t used in Design Space to see what they do and learn how they can help you make better projects in the future.
2. Create a profile. Now that you’ve got lots of projects under your belt, why not share your creations to inspire others? Cricut Design Space now offers a personal profile similar to social media sites. You can set your profile and cover images, add a bio, and share projects publicly for others to recreate. It’s a great way to join a community of crafters just like you.
3. Try out new materials and tools. Cricut machines can do a lot more than just cut materials. You can have the machine write with pens for you, embellish with foil, create designs that can be printed with a laser or inkjet printer, and more. And the Maker and Maker 3 machines have additional tools and blades to cut patterns, perforate, and even engrave. Once you’ve nailed down the basics, upgrade your tool collection and try something new.
Ready To Jump Into Design Space Now?
Now that you know the basics of how Design Space works and the different subscription options available, it’s time to dive in and create a project. If you’re new to Cricut, I recommend making a decal to start. Select a single-layer image, adjust the sizing, and click Make It.
If you’re more experienced, try out a print-then-cut design and utilize the offset feature to try your hand at personalized stickers. Or play around with using Cricut pens to make “handwritten” cards.
Still feeling intimidated? Check out the Cricut Learn page to sign up for a free workshop to join a live Design Space Introduction class.