This is the third and final post in my series on image tracing. With Cricut, image tracing isn’t called that. Instead it is done when you upload an image file to Cricut Design Space.
Taking an image you find and turning it into your own cutting, sewing, engraving, foiling or other kind of project is one of the best things about owning an electronic cutting machine. Am I right? But learning how to do that takes some practice.
Cricut Design Space’s way of turning a flat image file into a multi-layered, multi-colored cut file is a bit different. There are some good things about it and some bad things about it.
One of the good things is that the process is fairly straightforward and forces you to make decisions about what goes on each layer as you make them. The program doesn’t just decide for you.
One of the bad things is that you have to be a Cricut Access member ($10/month) to be able to really use the image upload function to its full capability. If you’re not an Access Member, you can basically only upload single color images or you have to pull them apart in another program first. I’ll go into the details of the work arounds below.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to assume you are a Cricut Access member. That way you can see the entire process and decide if you really need Cricut Access (if you’re not a member now).
If you have full ‘access’ (lol – see what I did there?), then uploading an image and breaking it into layers isn’t too tough. A bit time consuming, but ultimately worth it in the end. Let the fun begin!
Please check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions with photos:
To Cricut Access or Not to Cricut Access? Some Work Arounds
As I mentioned above, you pretty much have to be a Cricut Access member to be able to do what I’m about to show you here. There are some work arounds but you’ll need to be a bit tech savvy to use them.
First option – if you are familiar with Silhouette Studio and you own the Business Edition, you can trace and break apart an image there and save it as an SVG file that can then be easily uploaded and used in Cricut Design Space.
Second option – if you subscribe to the professional version of Canva.com, you can use the background remover tool to remove most of the elements in a image and then upload and use in Cricut Design Space. The Canva process for this is pretty similar to the upload process shown below using both an overall background remover and then an eraser to remove the various parts of an image to create individual layers you will need to download from Canva and then upload to Cricut Design Space.
Finally, various photo/graphics editing programs like Photoshop, Illustrator or Inkscape can help you remove parts of an image file to break it into individual layers and then upload each layer to Cricut Design Space or save it as an SVG file, in the case of Illustrator or Inkscape.
Almost all of these workarounds cost money and depending on the solution, have a bit of a learning curve. You need to balance the $10/month Cricut Access charge against the cost, skill level and usefulness to you of these other solutions. In many cases, it might just be easier to pay the $10/month. Not ideal, but unfortunately, that is how Cricut Design Space is set up.
Step One: Select the Image to Upload to Cricut Design Space
To get started, click the Upload icon at the bottom of the left hand tool bar to open the Upload Screen.
On the Upload screen, click on Upload Image and then Browse on the next screen.
This will open a navigation window for your computer/device. Find the image you want to use, click on it to select it and click Open. The image should now appear on a screen that asks you to ‘Select Image Type’. Choose Complex.
As an Access member, you will now be on the Background Remover screen.
Step Two: Remove All Elements Except the One(s) for the First Layer
With the default Background Remover tool (a crosshairs), click on the color that makes up the background of the image to remove it. It could just be white.
If there are any openings in the design, the background color is likely still filling them, so center the crosshairs over each area and click it to remove the background color from these areas too.
Now you need to decide which parts of the image you want to be your first layer. You might decide this by color or shape or pattern. This is an important step because you will now need to remove everything else in the image that is not that color, shape or pattern.
I decided that the word ‘Love’ would be my first layer so I now need to remove the heart. I use the crosshairs to click on the red of the heart to remove it.
At first glance, it looks like I’ve completely removed the heart but if I zoom in, I can see that there is an outline of the heart still showing. I have to remove this too. PLEASE NOTE: This outline problem won’t happen with every image but be aware that it can happen. So always zoom in to check for an outline before moving forward in the process.
It is virtually impossible to click on the outline to remove it all at once, so I need to switch from the default Crosshairs tool to the Eraser tool by going back to the left hand tool area and clicking on the Erase tool.
A sizing slider appears below the tool once you click on it. You can slide it up or down to increase and decrease the size of the circle that appears and will erase for you. I increased it a bit to erase the heart outline.
Now, I carefully click and drag over the outline of the heart to erase it. I have to be sure to erase the entire outline or the next step will be messed up and I’ll have to start over from step 1.
I zoom in with the zoom tool to get a better look at the red outline against the checkered background so I can more easily erase it all. I also take my time to make sure I don’t miss any of the outline AND that I don’t accidentally erase any part of the Love word (if you do, click the Undo arrows near the top left to Undo the mistake).
Once the outline is completely erased, I click on Apply & Continue in the lower right corner.
Step Three: Save the Layer (aka the Upload)
The next screen asks you to Select Upload Type. The choices are Cut Image or Print Then Cut Image.
Any time I upload something, if I have any doubt about how I will use it, I choose Print Then Cut Image. This will allow you to print then cut it OR change it to a standard cut file. If you choose Cut Image, you will only be able to cut it.
Click the Print Then Cut Image box to select it. A green border will appear around it so you know it is selected.
You can also change the name and add tags to the image if you would like to.
Once you’ve done this, click Upload in the bottom right.
After a moment or two, you will return back to the Upload Image screen and the new layer will show as the latest upload.
Phew! First layer done, now how to add the other layers/colors…
Step Four: Repeat the Process for All Additional Layers
This is where Cricut Design Space gets a little tedious. If you have additional layers you need to add for a complete image, you need to repeat everything we just did for the second layer, third layer, etc.
For my project, I need a second layer with the red heart by itself so I have to upload the same image again and get to the Background Remover screen.
After removing the gray background just like in Step 3, I now need to click on the black Love word to remove it.
Once again, it looks like I’m done but if I zoom in, there is an outline of the word left behind. Argh! So I need to repeat the process with the Erase tool. This time I increase the size of the eraser so it can erase both sides of the outline at once.
Once I have erased all of the word outline, I repeat Step 4 for this layer until I get back to the Upload screen, now with the heart layer showing as the latest upload.
Step Five: Select All Layers and Add to Canvas
Click on the last layer/image you uploaded to select it. A green box will appear around it to show it is selected.
Hold down the Shift key (same in PC and Mac) and select the second layer/image so both have green boxes around them. Continue until all of your layers are selected.
You may also notice that small thumbnails appear on the bar next to the Add to Canvas box. This allows you to double check what you’ve selected and you can remove layers by clicking on the thumbnails, when necessary.
Click Add to Canvas to add them to your project.
Step Six: Resize, Arrange and Use Your New Image Layers
The new layers will appear on the previously empty canvas. They might be large and will be jumbled together in a pile.
If you need to resize them, do it now while they are all selected and bunched together.
Go to the size section of the upper toolbar, ensure the aspect ratio lock is locked (that’s the default so it should be) and then type a new width in the width box to change all of the elements proportionally to each other at once.
If you need to arrange the new separate layers back into the original design (can help with visualization), select them individually on the Layers panel (on the right) and move them into the correct position.
TIP: If you have a very complicated design with a lot of layers that you need to arrange back into their original positions, you should upload the entire image as one layer as well as all of the individual layers following the steps above, just not erasing anything except the background color. Then you can use that layer with all of the elements as a template that you can move the individual layers on top of to get everything arranged correctly. Then, just delete or hide the layer with the whole design on it so you don’t use it when cutting your project.
Now you can change the different layers as you like and make something fun with it. If you plan to cut the layers, you’ll need to select each one and change them from Print Then Cut to Cut in the Operation box on the top toolbar.
That’s it! That’s how you upload an image to Cricut Design Space and break it into multiple layers. Trust me, it gets easier with practice.
I used my image to create these cards:
If you’d like the PNG image I created for this tutorial in order to practice, download it by clicking here (it’s an automatic download so if it seems like nothing happened, please check the Downloads folder on your computer or mobile device).
I hope this helps you upload and break images into layers so you can make your own fun multi-layered projects with them.
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 welcome any ideas you may have for topics related to the software for Cricut (Design Space), Silhouette (Studio) or Brother ScanNCut machines (Canvas Workspace). Any suggestions you may have on projects to create with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo 4 or the Brother Scan N Cut DX are also appreciated. Please leave any requests you have in the comments. I really appreciate you taking the time to visit and read my blog. Thanks!