3D Bear & Mountain Shadowbox with the ScanNCut

3D Shadow Box with the ScanNCut DX

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Today, I am showing how to create a 3D Shadow box with the ScanNCut DX. I couldn’t resist the adorable bear and mountain SVG I used (linked below) because I live in Colorado and have recently had my love of hiking in the mountains restored.

CO State FlagI admit the photo on DesignBundles.net inspired me to use cardstock colors for the layers that make the whole thing look like the Colorado state flag, hence the red sky.

This was also my first time making one of these and considering how easy it was with the ScanNCut, it won’t be the last. Cutting paper is one of the things I think the ScanNCut does best.

I share all the steps for working with a multi-layered design like this in Canvas WorkSpace, how to assemble, some tips for adding foam tape between the layers and more.

You may also want to check out my Heat Transfer Paper T-Shirt with the ScanNCut DX video

Please check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions with photos:

Open SVG in Canvas WorkSpace

To open an SVG file in Canvas WorkSpace, navigate to the left hand toolbar and click on the SVG icon.

Open SVG in Brother Canvas WorkSpace
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A computer navigation window will open. Once you locate the SVG on your computer, click on it and then click Open to bring it into Canvas WorkSpace. It will look weird when you first open it – like a plain black circle.

All Layers Black in Canvas WiorkSpace
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Click on the circle and drag the first layer off to the side. Continue doing so until all of the layers are separate from each other. Now you can see that the reason it looked like a plain black circle is because all of the layers are black and when stacked together, they look like a solid black shape.

Shadowbox Layers Separated in Canvas WorkSpace
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If you don’t need to visualize the completed design using different colors for the layers before cutting it, skip the next step. But if, like me, you want to see an approximation of how it will look, follow the next step. I think it is a lot easier to work with after changing the layer colors.

Prep The Design for Cutting in Canvas WorkSpace

I always want to see what a layered design like this will look like before I cut it, especially when using multiple colors. I also changed the size of the design from the about 6.8″ diameter that it opens at, to a larger 8.25″ diameter.

To do this, click on one of the black layers to select it, then navigate to the right hand tool bar and click on the Edit icon, the white box with handles, to open the Edit panel.

Edit Panel Icon in Canvas WorkSpace
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Make sure the Maintain Aspect Ratio box is checked (if not, check it) and then overwrite the Width or the Height in the appropriate box. As I mentioned, I changed the Width to 8.25″ which also changes the Height. You will see the selected circle change in size.

Where to Change Size in Canvas WorkSpace
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Now, let’s change the color from black to whatever color you plan to use. To do this, click on the Properties icon just above the Edit icon (it looks like a fat paintbrush) to open the Properties panel. In the Color section under Fill, you’ll see a black box showing the current fill color.

Where to Change Fill Color in Canvas WorkSpace
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Click on the black box to open the fill color menu and select a color that is close to the cardstock color you plan to use.

Select Fill Color in Canvas WorkSpace
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Once you click OK, the selected circle will change to the chosen color.

Repeat this step for all 9 or 10 layers. There is a frame layer that you may or may not need. I didn’t use it so didn’t bother changing its fill color.

Align the Layers in Canvas WorkSpace

Once the size and fill color of all of the layers has been changed, click and drag to select them all OR go to Edit > Select All and then navigate back to the Edit panel on the right hand toolbar.

Edit Panel in Canvas WorkSpace
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In the Align section on the Edit panel, click on the center vertically icon and then the center horizontally icon. All of the layers will come together in a circle so you can see how the colored layers will work together.

Where to Align in Canvas WorkSpace
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If you are good with the colors and the size, it’s time to set up the mat for cutting.

Choose Mat Size and Arrange Layers in Canvas WorkSpace

To save time, I used a 12″ x 24″ mat to cut the layers. The mat size allowed me to cut two layers at a time. But, if you don’t have a 12″ x 24″ mat, you can still do this with a 12″ x 12″ mat. There will just be more steps for the actual cutting.

To change the mat size, click on the Artboard icon on the right-hand toolbar (last icon, looks like a piece of paper with the top right corner folded over). Click on the dropdown menu under Artboard Size to change the mat size.

Where to Change Mat Size in Canvas WorkSpace
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Click to select the top layer of the design and drag it on to the mat, placing it inside the dotted red cut line that runs all the way around the mat and in the upper left corner of the mat. If using a 12″ x 24″ mat, select the second layer and drag it on to the mat, placing it inside the dotted red cut line in the lower left corner of the mat.

Layers on Mat in Canvas WorkSpace
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Hide Certain Layers in Canvas WorkSpace

It seems like you are now ready to cut the first layers with your ScanNCut machine, but Brother Canvas WorkSpace can only export design elements to the ScanNCut machine that are actually on the cutting mat shown in the Canvas WorkSpace window. Anything that is off the mat and visible will cause an error message to appear if you try to export it.

Export Mat Error in Canvas WorkSpace
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To fix this problem, you have to “hide” the layers that aren’t on the mat. To do so, click on the Layers icon on the right-hand tool bar (looks like a stack of papers) to open the Layers panel.

Layers Panel Icon in Canvas WorkSpace
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To the right of each layer, there is an eye icon that means the layer is currently visible. To “hide” the layers you aren’t going to cut, simply click on the eye icon to turn it off and the layer will disappear.

Toggle Visibility in Canvas WorkSpace
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NOTE: This is also how you “hide” the frame layer mentioned above if you don’t plan to use it like I didn’t.

Hide Layer in Canvas WorkSpace
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Export FCM File to ScanNCut DX

Once all of the layers that are not being cut are “hidden” it is time to export the file to the ScanNCut machine.

To do this go to File>Export/Transfer FCM File

Export File in Canvas WorkSpace
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A warning message will appear letting you know that hidden objects are not available for export. That’s what you want, so click OK.

Hidden Objects Export Warning in Canvas WorkSpace
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Now a box will appear asking you to select the method of file transfer. If using a USB thumb drive choose the top folder icon. If transferring via wireless, choose the middle icon (that’s how I do it). If transferring via a USB cable hooked up from your computer to your ScanNCut, choose the bottom box.

Choose How To Export in Canvas WorkSpace
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Once the transfer is complete, a box will appear saying the the registered device is ready, etc.

Device is Ready in Canvas WorkSpace
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Head on over to your machine.

Retrieve the File with the ScanNCut DX

Once your machine is on and you’ve clicked on the Home button, choose Retrieve Data.

Retrieve Data Button on ScanNCut DX
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On the next screen, choose the method you used to send the file.

Choose Export Method on ScanNCut DX
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The screen should now show you the design on the mat. If you used a 12″ x 24″ mat and the bottom half is grayed out, you need to change the cutting area size on the machine. To do this, click on the wrench icon. If it’s not grayed out, skip to the next step.

Click Wrench to Change Mat Size on ScanNCut DX
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Under Cut Area, click on the arrow to go to the mat screen.

Click Cut Area Arrow to Change Mat Size
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If the mat show is 12″ x 12″, select the 12″ x 24″ option or vice versa, depending on the mat size you are using.

Change Mat Size on ScanNCut DX
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Load the Mat into the ScanNCut DX

Place your chosen cardstock colors for layers 1 and 2 if using a 12″ x 24″ mat (just 1 if using a 12″ x 12″)  in the upper left and lower left corner(s) of the mat. If necessary, add some low tack tape to the edges to hold the cardstock in place; I used some pieces of blue painter’s tape.

Cardstock on ScanNCut 12 x 24 Mat
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Press the end of the mat with the arrow against the rollers and press the Load Mat button. The ScanNCut will grab the mat and feed it into the machine.

Load Mat into ScanNCut DX
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Cut the First Layers with the ScanNCut DX

If desired, do a Test Cut before cutting the actual layers. See my Making Stickers with the ScanNCut project for information on how to do that (about 2/3 down the post).

To start cutting, choose Start on the ScanNCut screen

Select Start to Begin Cutting
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Then choose Please Select> Cut

Choose Cut on ScanNCut Menu
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Hit Start and the ScanNCut will begin cutting. NOTE: If using a 12″ x 24″ mat, make sure you have enough space behind the mat (about 24″) to allow it to feed all the way into the machine.

ScanNCut DX Cuts Cardstock
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When complete, check the cuts and unload the mat. Remove the cut layers and excess cardstock from the mat to be ready to cut the next set of layers.

Change Visible Layers in Canvas WorkSpace

Back in Canvas WorkSpace, select the now cut layers and drag them off of the mat on the screen. Navigate to the Layers panel on the right-hand toolbar and click in the blank eye space to turn on the visibility of the next 2 layers and turn off the visibility of the now cut layers.

Toggle Visibility in Canvas WorkSpace
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Drag the new layers on to the mat, just as you did with the first two layers. If desired, you can change the placement of the layers to offset the cutting area on the mat. I placed mine in the the upper right and lower right corners this time.

Layers on Mat in Canvas WorkSpace
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Again Export/Transfer the FCM file to the machine just as you did with the previous layers. Return to the machine.

Cut the Remaining Layers with the ScanNCut DX

To Retrieve the new file, click the Home button on the machine. It will ask you if it is okay to delete the current data. Say yes/OK. Then follow the same steps as before to retrieve the new file.

Once you see the new designs on the screen, place the new cardstock colors on the mat and load it into the machine.

Cardstock on 12 x 24 ScanNCut Mat
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Follow the steps as above to cut these layers.

Finished Cut with ScanNCut DX
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Repeat this and the previous step until all of the remaining layers in the design are cut and ready to be assembled.

All Shadowbox Layers Ready To Assemble
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Add Foam Tape to Layers and Assemble

To assemble all of the layers, I added 1/8″ foam strips to the backs of each circle and layered them together. This worked well, but it took forever – I’m talking several hours. Not difficult, but very tedious.

Foam Tape on Shadowbox Layer
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  • Use the 1/8″ strips for the outer edges of each circle and along any detailed cut edges inside the design and then use thicker, like 1/2″ or more wide foam tape to fill in the solid areas on most of the layers.
  • While still on the carrier sheet, cut several of the skinny strips into 1″ segments and then peel off as you go around the circle edges and details cut edges. It makes it faster to complete these areas.
Cut Foam Strips Into Smaller Segments
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NOTE: If you want to add the gold accent I did to the top layer (see next step), do it now before you begin assembly.

To assemble, start with the back layer (the solid circle) and layer the next layer (birds cut out) on top of it. Do your best to keep the edges lined up so they layer directly on top of each other. If you get off, it is very easy to just trim off any excess that hangs over on the sides. Keep an eye on it as you go to make sure you don’t get too far off at any point.

Shadowbox Align Layers - Birds and Back

For the next layer, line the cut out in the moon with the bird wing and layer.

Shadowbox Layers Aligned - Bird Wing
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The next layer lines up right along the mountain edge on the layer with the moon.

Shadowbox Align Layers - Mountain Edge
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For the next layer, I had to refer to the photo on Design Bundles to make sure I was placing it correctly because there isn’t anything on the previous layer to line it up with.

Shadowbox Align Layers - Use Reference Photo
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The next two layers align with the mountains on the sides of the previous layer.

Shadowbox Align Layers - Front Mountain Edges
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The second to last layer (first with bear) can be aligned by making sure the bear is straight across the bottom in relation to the mountains.

Align Shadowbox Layers - Bear Straight Across
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The top layer is the trickiest to align since the bear and the two trees need to match up exactly with the bear and two trees on the previous layer. It is also the top layer, so needs to be properly aligned all the way around the edge. I just went slow and didn’t press the foam tape down until I was sure each area was aligned.

Align Shadowbox Layers - Bear and Trees
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If your alignment on the top layer is off on the edges, you can always use the frame layer that I didn’t use to cover up the misalignment along the edges.

Add Gold Accent to Top Layer

After I assembled the entire piece, the top layer wasn’t standing out enough against the blue mountain layer behind it, so I decided to edge the bear and trees with a Gold Plate Spectrum Noir metallic marker. I really like how it turned out and if you want to do the same thing, you can always do so to the that layer before you add the foam tape to it and layer it on the shadowbox (it would be easier).

I added it after assembly and just carefully went along the edge of the bear and trees with the gold pen, making sure to not hit the layer below. It wasn’t too tough and adds a bit of a rustic accent since it is clearly hand done (aka uneven) – lol.

Bear & Mountain Shadowbox Closeup
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With or without the rustic gold accent, I hope you greatly enjoy your new 3D bear and mountain shadow box! Mine is super sturdy and will now sit in a place of honor on a shelf above my electronic cutting machines.

Completed Bear & Mountain Shadowbox
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Questions or Comments?

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you soon. Want to just tell me how much you loved this tutorial? Please leave me a comment below (lol!).

I would also appreciate any ideas you may have for topics to cover related to the software for Cricut (Design Space), Silhouette (Studio) or Brother (Canvas) and any suggestions you may have on projects to make with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo 4 or the Brother Scan N Cut DX. Please leave any requests you have in the comments. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and read my blog. Thanks!

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