How to Prepare Cutting Files with Intricate Detail for use with Cricut Design Space and Scan N Cut
You may love cutting lovely projects with lots of intricate detail as I do. But sometimes the cutting files for those projects load very slowly, if at all, into your cutter software! In this post you will find some tips for making your SVG cutting files easier to use. Learn to prepare SVG cutting files that are optimized to load quickly and cut more efficiently in Cricut Design Space and Scan N Cut Canvas Workspace.
Note: this post may contain affiliate links.
Supplies Needed to Make the Valentine Popup Card
One sheets white 80# cardstock
One sheet colored cardstock for card backing
Glue that dries quickly.
Cutting File from the Free Resource Library
Here is a cutting file for a popup card with intricate detail that could be problematic for use with some cutters, if it were not properly prepared. You can find the free cutting file for this project in the Free Resource Library. Before you go any further, download the zipped files to your computer, double click on the downloaded file, and select Extract All. Then you can follow along with this tutorial.
What can you do if the cutting files won’t work correctly or require lots of tedious editing? This can be very frustrating. Sometimes details do not load properly into the software. Lines or shapes may be missing, or they show up in very odd places on the screen. What can you do to prepare your cutting files so that they load easily into your favorite cutting software?
You may wish to learn more about third party software that can be used for creating your SVG cutting files on this blog post.
What do Good Cutting Files look Like in Cricut Design Space?
Upload an SVG cutting file into Cricut Design Space
Now that you have downloaded and unzipped the cutting files for the Valentine Popup Card, upload the SVG cutting file for CDS to Cricut Design Space . Cricut Design Space is a free program that you can use, even if you don’t own a Cricut. Open a New page in Cricut Design Space.
Click on the Upload icon at the bottom of the left toolbar. A window will open allowing you to search your computer for the file you wish to use.
Click on the Upload Image button. Then click on Browse, to search for the file named ValentinePopupCard2-CDS-JulieFlanagan.svg that you saved to your computer. Double click on the file name, and it should open in the next window you see in Cricut Design Space.
Add as many tags as you might like to use when searching for this design once it has been loaded into Design Space. I use popup, card, valentine, heart, scallop, lattice, JulieFlanagan. I can search using these tags later. Now, click on the green Save button in the lower right corner of the screen. Another screen opens allowing you to select the image you wish to use. Click on the image you just uploaded, and you will see a green outline around the image.
Select the green Insert Images button in the lower right corner of the screen. The design will now appear on the Cricut Design Space Canvas. Your cutting file is now open in Cricut Design Space. But it is not quite ready to use.
Preparing to Cut a Design in Cricut Design Space
Before doing anything else to this design, notice the Layers on the right side of the screen. There are four layers, two with score lines, and two with the card shapes. You first need to click on the score line layer at the top of the panel. This highlights the score lines on the popup portion of the card. Currently these lines are designated as cutting lines. You need to change them to score lines. Under Linetype at the top of the screen, select Score. Now these lines will not be cut. You will be directed to use the scoring tool with these lines when you go to Make the project.
Repeat this process with the second score line layer for the card back. Select Score from the Linetype drop down menu. Now all score lines will be scored rather than cut when you send the file to cut.
Attaching Score Lines to their Cards
Before you can cut your project, you still need to Attach the score lines to their cards. You cannot do that yet, because all design pieces are grouped. Right click on the shapes on the Canvas and select Ungroup. Now on the Layer panel on the right side of the screen, hold down your Shift key, and click on both of the layers, Score and Cut for the popup portion of the card (light pink in this case. These two layers will now be highlighted, and you will notice that both layers on the Canvas are now selected.
Now select just the backing card (Burgundy) and its score layer from the Layers panel on the right side of the screen while holding down the Shift key. Right click your mouse, and select Attach.
Ready to Make It
Click on the green Make It button in the upper right corner of the screen. You should now see only two mats ready for scoring and cutting.
Other Files Not so Ready for Use in Cricut Design Space
You may have experienced SVG cutting files with Intricate details that need a whole lot more preparation for use in Cricut Design Space. If you are making your own SVG files in third party software, you may have run into some frustrating issues in preparing them for cutting in Cricut Design Space. Are your files very slow to load? Do you get error messages indicating that the design is too large to load? Are each of the tiny shapes in the design on its own layer?
Are each of the many tiny score lines of a popup card on its own layer, and needing to be changed to score in the Linetype window? These tiny lines are very hard to select either from the Canvas or from the layers. Changing each tiny line from cut to score takes way too much time!
How to Prepare Cutting Files with Intricate Detail for use with Cricut Design Space
There is a solution for this issue. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of our multi-layered, intricate projects would import into Cricut Design Space in just a few simple layers, instead of hundreds of layers? The solution lies in the preparation of your files in your design software. Not all cutter software includes the necessary editing features to achieve this. What is the secret?
Layers or Line Colors.
Create your designs with score lines on different layers from the cutting lines. An alternative is to assign one line color to score lines, and use another color for the cut lines. If you need to cut pieces out of different colors, keep the score lines for each colored piece separate from score lines on other colored pieces.
Select by Layers or by Line Colors
Once you have arranged your design pieces by layers or assigned line colors, you need to be able to select all the same linetypes by layer or by line color in your software. Not all software can do this. For example, The Valentine Popup Card has blue lines for mountain folds, red lines for valley folds, and black lines for cut lines. However, the score lines need to be on different layers or different line colors from those used for the backing card. For my design, I needed four layers or line colors; two cards, and two sets of score lines.
For example, you can select by line or fill color using Illustrator, Inkscape, and Silhouette Studio. You can select by line color in Pazzles software. You can select by layer in Make The Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot.
Make Compound Paths from Selections
Once you select everything that has the same line color (stroke) or the same layer, you need to make a compound path (Illustrator and Silhouette Studio), or use Combine (Inkscape), or Group with Transparency (Pazzles) or Join (Make The Cut) or Merge (Sure Cuts A Lot). Most cutter software includes a simple group or ungroup feature, but Cricut Design Space does not recognize all groups in imported SVG files. Properly designed Compound Paths should import into Cricut Design Space in fewer layers, making it easier to select the layers that need to be assigned a different line type. Cricut Design Space does appear to recognize compound paths. Those compound paths may not be broken in Cricut Design Space, so keep that in mind.
DPI sizing for SVG Files in Cricut Design Space
If sizing of your project is important, then the SVG file needs to be exported with a DPI of 72 for it to import into Cricut Design Space at the correct size. This is the standard DPI exported by Adobe Illustrator, Pazzles InVue software, and Silhouette Studio Business Edition.
Sure Cuts A Lots has the option to export SVG for Cricut Design Space, which automatically exports at 72 DPI.
If you want your SVG export from Inkscape or Make The Cut to import at the correct size into Cricut Design Space, you will first need to Select All (Ctrl+A) in your software, and reduce the size by 80%. To do this in Make the Cut, lock the aspect ratio for the Height and Width fields at the top of the screen. Type in 80% in either the W or H field and press Enter. Now export SVG (Ctrl+Shift+S) and import SVG into Cricut Design Space. It will import at the correct size.
For tips on how to cut and fold popup cards, see this blog post.
To learn more about importing and using cutting files for a popup card in Cricut Design Space, see this blog post.
Learn how to prepare cutting files with intricate detail for use with Scan N Cut
The built in software on Scan N Cut machines is limited in the number of shapes or layers that it can use. It may not recognize all of the tiny details, and tell you that the file cannot be used. Brother Canvas Workspace software, a free software download, may also give you a message that tiny details may be lost when a design with intricate detail is imported. As a side note, my CM350 would not load some detailed files, while the newer SDX225 loaded it fine.
Avoid overloading Scan N Cut memory by using the same suggestions listed above for making compound paths in your design software, before trying to import into Brother Canvas Workspace or before trying to import your cutting file designs directly into the machine. By making compound paths in your design, you should have much less difficulty getting your Scan N Cut machine to handle your designs with intricate detail.
Page Size Limitations for Scan N Cut Machines
When creating cutting files for use with Scan N Cut, it is very important that all design details fit on a single canvas, either 11.5″ wide and 11.5″ long, or 11.5″ wide by 23″ long. Any design pieces outside of this workspace will cause the design to be automatically resized to fit the workspace. All design pieces in the cutting file will be reduced in size so that all of them fit within the cutting boundaries of the virtual mat.
While many cutter software programs allow designers to move pieces off of the virtual mat so that all of the pieces of a huge project are in the same file, this practice will be problematic for Scan N Cut users.
Larger designs need to be broken up into several separate files. Select all design pieces that will fit on one virtual mat, and export as SVG as a page, such as PopupCardPage1. Then select the next set of pieces and export with the same file name, but with Page2, such as PopupCardPage2. Then you can place all of the necessary files for a single project together in a single folder on your computer.
DPI sizing for SVG Cutting Files for Scan N Cut
If sizing is extremely important for your designs, make sure your SVG files are exported with a DPI of 96 for use with Scan N Cut. If the DPI is set to the Illustrator standard of 72 DPI, then the design pieces imported into either Canvas Workspace or directly to the Scan N Cut machine will be too small.
Inkscape SVG exports are automatically sized to 96 DPI. SVG cutting files exported from Make The Cut follow Inkscape parameters, so those files import into Canvas Workspace and Scan N Cut at the correct sizes.
Sure Cuts A Lot has an option to save your designs in the native FCM format for use with Scan N Cut. FCM export is better for use with Scan N Cut. The DPI sizing will automatically be correct, and FCM files will often load more quickly and efficiently to the Scan N Cut.
Converting Files from SVG to FCM
Using Brother Canvas Workspace, import your prepared SVG file by going to the File menu in the upper left corner of the screen. Select Import.
Now you need to assign the score lines layer to draw instead of cut. To do that, click on the Layers icon, third icon down on the toolbar on the right side of the screen in Canvas Workspace. To do that, click on the blade icon on a layer that appears to be black, You will have a cut or draw option. Select Draw for those layers which you want to score rather than cut.
Your Layers panel should now show a pen icon on each layer that you want to score rather then cut, and a blade icon on each layer that you wish to cut.
Now, you can go to the File menu, and select the option to Export FCM file. You may get a Warning: “Tiny objects are automatically removed when converting to FCM because it is too small to cut.” Ignore this warning if you have prepared your SVG file with compound paths. Click on OK. You will not lose Intricate or tiny details in your cutting file, if you have properly optimized it in your design software.
A window will open, allowing you to type in a File name and to select a location where you would like to save the FCM file. Click on the Save Button.
You can now share this FCM file, or add it to a thumb drive you plug into the USB port on your Scan N Cut. Then you can load the file from the USB thumb drive to your Scan N Cut.
Sending your prepared file to the Scan N Cut Wirelessly
You do not have to export your design in FCM format if your Scan N Cut has wireless capability. All SDX models have wireless capability. Older Scan N Cut models may require the purchase of a wireless card in order to send files wirelessly from Canvas workspace directly to the machine. To send wirelessly, go to the File menu at the upper left corner of your screen and select Transfer FCM via Internet. You will get a message indicating the the file is ready to use on your Registered Machine.
Turn on your machine, place your media on the mat, and load the mat. Select the option to Retrieve Data either from USB thumb drive, Machine, internet wifi or USB cable.
After you load thedesing into your machine, edit the design. Next, select the portion of the file you plan to cut this pass. Indicate whether you will be drawing or cutting. You may use an embossing tool in the universal pen holder. Or you may use the Brother embossing tool for your score lines. Select Draw for the score line portion of the design. Then select Cut to cut the cutting lines.
Assemble Your Popup Card
When you have finished cutting and scoring the popup card, you repeat the process to select the card backing. Then cut and score it. Fold it and assemble it.
Additional Tips for using SVG files with Scan N Cut
See this blog post for more tips for using SVG files with Scan N Cut. See also this blog post for more help with folding popup cards.
Make a Valentine Popup Card
Cut and assemble this card. Create and use a topper, sentiment, or image of your choice on the front of the card. I would love to see a picture of your creation! You can send me a picture in the CutterCrafter Facebook book, so others can see it. If you have any further questions, please let me know! If you enjoyed this post, please share on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Be sure to follow my blog for more great tutorials and free cutting projects!
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