Using Cricut print and cut feature is an easy way to personalize anything. Let’s learn how to use it with a video tutorial and project ideas!
Have you wondered how to use the print then cut function on your Cricut machine or just want some ideas on what to use it for? Well, you are in the right place.
Today we are diving into Cricut Design Space and learning all about this easy feature. The great thing about it is that you can use it with both the Cricut Explore Air 2, Explore 3, Cricut Maker, and the Cricut Maker 3.
Unfortunately, the Cricut Joy does not have the print then cut capability at this time.
This is a long post with a ton of information and a link to the full video of every step at the bottom, so bear with me!
Table of contents
- What is Cricut Print and Cut?
- What Materials Can You Print then Cut?
- Cricut Print and Cut Size Limit
- Cricut Print and Cut Stickers
- Designing Images for Print then Cut
- Does Cricut Print?
- Materials Needed for Water Bottle Stickers
- How to Print then Cut with a Cricut
- Cricut Print Then Cut Video Tutorial
The Cricut doesn’t actually print your image. (Your Cricut can draw/write with markers, but that is different.) Design Space sends it to a connected home printer to print your image and then you place the printed sheet of paper or cardstock on your Cricut mat and the Cricut will cut it out.
Think of it this way… no more trying to cut out those very intricate images on cut lines you print with scissors. Let your Cricut do the work for you so there are no more uneven edges or hurt hands!
One of the main ways people use the Cricut print function is to make your own stickers. Whatever your printer can print, the Cricut will cut.
You can find printable sticker paper, clear printable sticker paper, waterslide paper, printable iron-on vinyl, printable vinyl, paper, and cardstock all in the required 8.5 x 11 inch size.
However, an inkjet printer is recommended for the majority of the materials because the thicker materials will get stuck in a laser printer. Make sure to always read the directions on your sticker sheets material.
As I mentioned, both the Cricut Explore family and Cricut Maker can print and cut but there are some differences between them. The Cricut Explore Air can only cut white material while the Maker can cut white to medium colored papers.
Update 2/2023: Cricut Design Space has a beta release of an increased maximum size of print then cut images! Woo Hoo!
To turn on the beta, click on the hamburger on the top left of CDS and click on settings. Then besides Application Experience, change to Beta. Then click Done.
So now if you insert an image to print then cut and size it too big, you’ll see a little red circle with an “!” in it over on the layers panel. Click on the red info circle.
A new pop up window will appear with an explanation of why your image is too large based on the size of your paper. The first option you have is to Auto Resize Image. Click on that and CDS will automatically change the size of your printable image or images to fit the paper size.
My image decreased and now no warning indicator is on!
The other option is to change your Paper Size. If you have a printer that is able to print larger pieces of paper, then you are in luck! Click on the warning sign, then click on Change Paper Size.
Under Print then Cut Page Size you can now change your paper size to Legal (8.5 x 14 inch), Tabloid (11 x 17 inch), and A3 (11.7 x 16.5 inch). If you are using the larger paper size you will also need a 12×24 cutting mat to place it on to cut. Make your selection and click on Done.
Once the paper size is selected, you’ll need to go back to the warning sign with an exclamation point in it and click on Auto Resize Image.
Once you are ready to cut, click on Make It and you have the option to move the image around on your cutting mat. Just click and drag it and you’re ready to send it to the printer!
If you are not using Beta, another drawback is the size of the images you are able to print and cut. They used to be dependent on which browser you are using. Now the limit is 9.25 x 6.75 inches. If you try to print an image or file larger than that, you will get an error message telling you to reduce the size.
You can cut and print multiple of the same image or different images until you’ve reached the max size. Cricut will group all of the printable images together and cut them out at the same time.
You will notice there is a black box around your entire image/ images on your Make It screen and also printed on your paper.
This is the registration marks or sensor marking that the Cricut needs to scan so it knows where to cut. It’s amazing to watch the process of your Cricut reading the black lines!
These images were cut out on cardstock and added to my coffee cup gift card holder I made.
So let’s use print then cut to make some custom stickers for a water bottle! Since these stickers are going to get wet I wanted to see which material was going to be the best to use. You can pretty much use any PNG file or SVG files to print and cut.
Cricut advises using an Inkjet printer with both of these papers. Laser printers heat the paper during the printing process which can melt the layers together.
From what I’ve read, most people don’t have issues, but if you have a laser printer and are experiencing difficulties printing on sticker paper or printable vinyl, that is probably why!
Printable Vinyl vs Sticker Paper
In general, sticker paper is much thicker and some people have problems getting it through their printer. It is permanent and very hard to remove. Printable vinyl is thinner and sticks very well but if you were wanting to get it off it you can and it doesn’t leave much of a residue if any.
Putting Them to the Test!
I put Cricut printable vinyl and Cricut sticker paper to the test to see which one would hold up to washing.
I cut out three of the same print and cut images on printable vinyl and three on sticker paper. If you are not using print then cut images, use the flatten tool to smush all the layers together into one single layer of a printable image (more about this below!!)
I printed them with a basic inkjet color printer and then applied them to a Cricut mat to cut (we will be going over all of these steps in detail later!)
I let the ink dry for 24 hours. Then I applied a layer of Mod Podge over one of the sticker paper stickers and one of the printable vinyl images. I sprayed on an enamel coating on one of each too. The other two images I left as is.
I let the sealants dry for 24 hours. I wanted to see if they would even stand up to water before I added them to a water bottle, so I put the stickers under running water.
After getting wet once, all of them did pretty well besides the sticker paper without any sealant. I could barely get it off the sheet and it just fell apart.
I let the rest dry fully and then I applied them to a stainless steel tumbler and let them sit for another 24 hours.
Then I hand washed the tumbler with mild soap and water three separate times and here is what happened!
The sticker paper started peeling up on the edges of both stickers that had sealants on them.
But the printable vinyl did amazing!
Actually, all three of the test stickers held up, even the one without a sealant! There was a little bit of chipped color on the one without anything, but I was still impressed.
Even though the printable vinyl is removable, it did not move at all during the hand washing process!
After the test, I decided I got the best results with images on printable vinyl with a layer of Mod Podge for a water bottle.
Update: I have a new tutorial on how to use self laminating sheets to make waterproof stickers and how to make holographic sticker sheets here!
So let’s get started in Cricut Design Space on how to actually design some images to use for print and cut. There are several options and I wanted to touch on most of them.
This entire process is in the video at the end if watching me do this in CDS helps more!
Using Images from Cricut Access
If you have Cricut Access, then you have tons of images at your fingertips. There are even images called “printables” specific for print and cut and sticker design.
The first thing you’ll want to do to find these is click on Images on the left side, type in something you are searching for, and then click Filter on the top right and scroll down and check Printables.
These images are made for print and cut so you don’t have to do anything to them once you insert them onto your canvas. You can see that there is one line that says Cut/Print on the Layers panel (this is what you always want before you print! One line)
You can also use almost any cut designs in Cricut Access in just a few steps. This is where you will use the Flatten tool.
Click on any image to insert in on your canvas and then while it’s selected click the Flatten button on the lower right. All of the layers of the image will flatten together into one printable image.
For example, say you want to print Mickey Mouse. Find an image in Cricut Access and bring it onto your canvas. I like to have a little white edge around my stickers, so I make sure the shadow layer is visible – click on the eyeball in the layers panel so that the strike goes away (but this is optional!)
You can tell it’s still a cut image by all the layers that say Cut in the layers panel.
Once all the layers that you want are showing, use your cursor and mouse to drag a box around the entire image. Then click on Flatten. That’s it!
You’ll notice that the six separate cut pieces on the layers panel now go to one line that says Cut/Print. Size it and it’s ready to print!
But what if you are printing out a saying or quote, how do you get it to cut around the edge and not around every single letter? I’m glad you asked!
The easiest way I found was to put a shape behind the cut file. Two of my favorite things are dogs and wine, so I found this super cute file in Access. (search “dog and wine”)
Now if you bring this in, flatten it, and go to cut it, you might be upset to see that it cuts each letter out individually. Or depending on what you are doing, you might want that.
But if you don’t, insert a square by clicking on shapes on the left side. Change it to the color of the background you want (I usually choose white). And Arrange it to the back if needed (click on Arrange on the top toolbar and select Send Backward)
I unlocked the white square since this image isn’t perfectly square and used dragged the green four arrow icon until it was the size I wanted. Then just for good measure, I used my cursor to select both of them and clicked on Align from the top toolbar, and selected Center.
Now with the image and square selected, I click on the Flatten button. All of the layers go into one line on the layers panel so it’s good to go!
Update: You can now use the offset feature in design space. The offset tool makes creating surrounds for stickers so much easier!
Using Photos as Stickers
Using your own photos or own images as stickers is super easy to do in the Cricut software. Click on the upload button and then browse. Find a picture you want to use on your computer drive and click Open.
The photo will upload and insert on the clean up screen. It might take a while depending on the size of your photo (you might want to reduce the size if it’s super big).
Click on Complex so that it prints all the details and then click Continue.
On the next screen click on the “Save Image as Print then Cut Image” then click continue. Now it’s in your upload section for you to insert onto your canvas.
If you want a border around it, repeat the steps we did above. Insert a square and change it to the color you want (I used white).
Size it so it fits behind the photo, select them both and use the Align drop-down menu to Center them to each other.
While they are both selected, hit the Flatten icon.
Use the blue size arrow to make it bigger or smaller and it’s ready to print!
Uploading Images from Google to Print
One of my favorite aspects of Cricut Design Space is the ability to upload almost any image from the internet and use it as a print then cut image.
Before we go further, I need to remind you of the copyright laws. Just because you can upload any image, doesn’t mean you should or that you are allowed too. Especially if you want to sell anything, you need to make sure you have permission to use it for commercial use.
Pixabay.com is one of my favorite sites to find commercial use illustrations.
There are a lot of great sites that offer images free for personal use which is what I’ll be showing you. You’ll have the best of luck using a PNG which has transparent backgrounds. You can still use JPEG, you just might have to remove the background within CDS. The family photo I showed you above was a JPEG.
I start by typing what I’m searching into google.com and then add PNG to the end of it. This will bring up more illustrations vs photos. For this example, I google watercolor sea turtles PNG. I found one that I liked and clicked on the image.
This one brought me to kindpng.com which looks like a website with a bunch of different PNGs for personal use. This is also where I found the Fortnite images.
I followed the prompts to download the PNG.
Once it’s download on my computer, I went back into Design Space and clicked Upload on the bottom left. Then click the Browse button and find the image on your computer. Click open or insert.
After the image uploads, click on Complex and then on Continue. If it is a PNG you won’t need to do any clean up of the image, so click Continue on the following screen.
Then click on “Save as a Print then Cut image”.
Click on the image and then insert to bring it onto your canvas. You can stop here and just size it to your needs and be done, but I wanted to see if I could get a little border around it.
A lot of images that aren’t circles or shapes don’t do well when making shadow layers, but this one did fine. I clicked on the image and then hit duplicate on the top right. Update: You can now use the offset feature in CDS for this!
Then I made that image into a cut image by changing the Fill (left-hand corner of top toolbar) to No Fill. This will make it all one color and I then changed it to white.
I sent it backward and then pulled the double arrows to make it slightly bigger.
Then I centered the sea turtle over it, used my cursor to select both images and hit Flatten.
All of the printable images are now one line in the layers panel that says Cut/Print. Now it’s time to print!
Using a Hand Drawn Image
Another fun thing to make stickers out of is hand-drawn images. I love making sentimental gifts using my kid’s handwriting and artwork. I’ve even made Father’s Day shirts with their handwriting and drawings by cutting it out of iron-on vinyl.
But for this project, I wanted to make some stickers for my water bottle with my daughter’s cute drawings. I first tried to use some of her drawings that were on a polka-dotted background and it was pretty time consuming to clean up. (I do talk more about this in the video).
I had her draw on a white piece of paper. She likes using colored pencils, but I would recommend using markers. Cutting around the edges of something that was drawn with pencils took a long time!! And cut it up some!
After the Cricut took a really long time to cut the image above, I grabbed a Sharpie and just drew over the edges to outline it. It definitely took away from the lighter colors of the colored pencils but it cut much easier.
Take a picture of the drawing with a smartphone. My phone automatically uploads all my pictures into my Google drive so I can access them on my computer easily. If you don’t have this option, email it to yourself or use a USB cord to transfer to your computer.
Download it on your computer and then use the same methods above to upload it into design space. These pictures do take a little extra work in the clean up screen, that’s why a picture with the sharp contrast works best.
Once the image shows up, click on Complex and then on Continue.
If there is an edge you want to remove, click on the crop icon on the top right. Hold down your cursor to highlight only the part you want in a box.
Then select the wand tool in the top right corner. Place your cursor anywhere on the background of the image that you want removed and click on it. The background should turn to a checkered pattern which means it’s now transparent.
Then I like to Preview my image by clicking on the Preview button located at the bottom center. This will show all of the parts of the image that will be cut.
If there are some little black spots in places, I click on the erase tool and while holding down my cursor I run the circle over the extra spots I want to be removed. Make sure to watch the video below if this doesn’t make sense!
Once it’s how you want it, click continue, then on the next screen click on the left picture that says “Save as a Print and Cut Image”.
Now you know the main ways to get images to use for Cricut cut then print, let’s move on to the actual printing process.
No, a Cricut does not print images but the Cricut software will send the images to your home computer to print an 8.5×11 inch material. A print dialog box will pop up for you to select a printer and you can use the advanced options or use system dialog to select paper options and printer settings if you want.
You also don’t need to cut after you print! If you are wanting to do something else with your images or cut them out yourself, simply cancel the cut after the printing step.
Let’s move on to the actual project now! Woo Hoo!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, and Amazon.com. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Printable Vinyl
- Cricut cutting machine – Explore or Maker
- Mod Podge and flat paintbrush
- Stainless Steel Tumbler
You will notice when you get to the printing screen, that a line inside the box will say Add Bleed and have a toggle switch.
A bleed is a small smudge that your printer will add to the edge of the image so that when the Cricut cuts it, it won’t cut into your image and also won’t leave some of the white paper on the edge.
If you are not going to have your Cricut cut out the image, you might want to turn the bleed off so there’s not a smudgy line around your decal. But I almost always leave the Bleed ON if I’m printing and cutting with my Cricut.
The software will put as many images as possible in that maximum printing area. Then I add a sheet of printable vinyl to my printer and click on Print.
Once it prints out, place the material on a clean Cricut cut mat. Use the drop down setting menu to select Printable Vinyl or whatever material setting you are using.
Load the cutting mat into your Cricut and when the cut light starts flashing, push it!
Remember the light sensor will read the cut sensor marks first and then cut out your images. The time it takes will depend on the edges of your printed image and how intricate they are.
When the light flashes again after it’s done push the unload button. If you are not wanting to put your new stickers on a water bottle, you can stop here and add the stickers to whatever you want. I like to put them on notebooks.
As I mentioned above, to preserve the sticker, I applied a layer of Mod Podge with a flat pain brush all over the stickers. Then I let them dry for quite a few hours to overnight.
I cleaned my mug with rubbing alcohol and then added my stickers on.
I let it sit for a few days before I got it wet. You’ll notice the printable vinyl doesn’t move when I hand wash it.
I love my new water bottle! If you want to learn more ways to customize tumblers, make sure to check out my guide to personalized stainless steel bottles.
More Cricut Print and Cut Projects
There are really so many ways to use the print then cut feature so to get more inspiration check out the following posts:
I also added some of the stickers to a notebook. I didn’t add any Mod Podge on these. I just printed and cut then peeled them off the sheet and added them to the notebook.
Below you can watch the full 45-minute video tutorial on using the print then cut feature. I apologize, my software was giving me some crazy problems, so there are a few weird red lines during it. Please let me know if you have any questions by commenting below!
And here are simple printable directions.
- Printable Vinyl or Sticker Paper
- Cricut Explore or Maker
- Upload a picture or choose an image from Cricut Design Space you want to use as a sticker.
- If the image has words, place a square or circle behind it a little bit bigger than the image to give it a border. Make sure to choose the color you want the border. I usually pick white.
- Center the image and shape and with both items selected, click Flatten on the lower right side. Size it no bigger than 6.75 x 9.25 inches.
- Click Continue. Design Space will send it to your printer. Leave the Bleed set to on.
- A black rectangle will print out around the image, this is a sensor guide for the Cricut.
- Place the entire sheet aligned with the top left corner of a Cricut Mat. Set your material to printable vinyl, load your mat, and click the flashing button.
- If you are wanting to apply the stickers to a water bottle, apply a layer of Mod Podge over the sticker. Let it dry for several hours and then add it to a tumbler.
- Let the stickers sit for a few days before you get them wet. Enjoy your new personalized stickers!
Make sure to read the full post for detailed step by step instructions and to see the entire full length video tutorial.
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Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!