Updated with videos!
Cricut Design Studio video
Cricut Craft Room video
Ever wished you could bring an image “into” Cricut Design Studio or Cricut Craftroom, and plop it on your mat so you could “trace” it as you created your design with basic (or not-so-basic) shapes or text? I am happy to share that I’ve learned a fairly easy way to do just that, so put away your old school methods and prepare to be overjoyed!
The secret weapon in the fight against blind designing is a utility that can make selected windows on your computer transparent – and it turns out there are many to choose from. So far I am having good success with Afloat for Mac and Chaos Crystal for PCs. You may need a different utility depending on your OS version, browser, etc.
Once you have a suitable utility installed and running, open your “go by” image, then open CDS or CCR and set the transparency of its window to whatever value makes it easiest to see through to and work with the image below. No more measuring from a hard copy, or guessing, or trial and error, all the information you need is right there in front of you.
If the exact size of the final cutout is important, then you will need to adjust the size of your image on the screen relative to the size of the grid on CDS or CCR. I use a simple 1 inch square on my image for reference to accomplish this as it can easily be lined up with the gridlines on the virtual mat. The default preview applications on both Mac and PC have the basic resizing ability you need for this. (Size matching is not as critical in CCR, as you can easily group and resize your entire design once you are done.)
If you have done much designing in CDS or CCR, you probably have plenty of ideas in mind for this already, but in case you have been deterred by the limitations of those programs, here are a few ways this new tracing capability will come in handy:
-Create Cricut versions of existing (download or scan to PDF or jpg) craft templates.
-Work from a card or layout sketch, or “scraplift” from a photo of a finished project.
-Re-create images from line art or photos from scratch for paper piecing or vinyl … your business logo, or the house you grew up in, for instance.
-Make custom mats for your rubber stamp images or digital stamps as shown in the pocketwatch example above.
-Planning layouts and making custom frames/mats with the photographs you want to use visible (thanks, Khrista)
-Curve text for decorative purposes or to lie properly on a curved surface. Let your favorite graphics program do all the hard work of curving and spacing, then just drag your Cricut letters into position accordingly, as shown in the tumbler example above.
-Match clip art to Cricut shapes for print and cut with the the hinge method.
-Design or open a rhinestone pattern, then just drag circles into place for Cricut cutting.
I’m pretty excited about this and hope you are, too. Be sure to let me know how you’re using this trick in your designing.
One more tip: If your desktop wallpaper or general window clutter are distracting when using this, you may find one of these utilities helpful Backdrop for Mac or Screenshot Backdrop for PC. They are also great when making tutorials.