New To The Vinyl World - Tips and Tricks
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New to the vinyl world? Let me give you some tips and tricks that may help you out.
If you are new to the world of vinyl and are super confused, you are not alone! Everyone has started exactly where you are right now. Everyone. At some point, every person is a beginner at something. The length of time we are a beginner is what is different for everyone. Some learn a new skill super quickly while others take a bit longer. The length of time it takes someone to learn does NOT determine their skill level though, not one bit.
I remember when I got my Cricut. It was at Christmas and my husband put it under the tree early. I knew I was getting it because I got the whole order ready so all he had to do was click the payment button. For about 2 weeks the box sat under the tree teasing me. I would google every and all videos on how to use the machine. It took me a couple of weeks after Christmas to even open the box and use the machine. Once I started however I couldn't get enough. It wasn't easy though. There was a massive learning curve with a ton of swearing. Design Space is an extremely frustrating program to use. While it has gotten a smidge better in its abilities, it has gotten more frustrating with the number of users. I have written a blog about the differences between two different machines and companies and my honest opinions here.
However, like me, most of you didn't have any real opinions from people who weren't being paid to say only good things about Cricut. To help you out I am going to give you some tips and tricks for using not only Design Space but other sites as well to assist in designing your amazing creations.
Ah, Design Space .... You will experience a love-hate relationship with this program as most of us do. The downfall to this program is that it is required to cut your designs if you are using a Cricut. You will also find there are two groups of people when it comes to Design Space (DS from here out). There are those people who LOVE and I don't mean that lightly, these groups of individuals will go done fighting to the end that Cricut can do no wrong. Then there are those people who wish they knew what they knew now and have taught themselves to design anywhere BUT in DS and simply use the program to cut their designs. If you can't tell I fall into the second group.
**** Just to prove a point, DS decided to stop working on me when I went to open it and it needed yet ANOTHER new version and update downloaded. Honestly, there are updates constantly with this program. I deleted the whole program and reinstalled it and still did not work. Every time I try to say something nice about the program and do a tutorial this happens. Very frustrating. I had to walk away and come back to it so that I didn't toss my computer at the wall. *****
Before you start to use your machine you will need to set up DS. This is pretty easy to do really. Keep in mind that DS is a web-based program for the most part. They say you can save it to the computer to work on later but for the most part, you do need internet access. To help you with some basic DS skills, I am including a video here.
Want to know exactly what the phrase you want to include in your design will look like? This site will show you EVERY font you have on your computer and what it will look like in those fonts. It takes the guessing game out of which font to use.
Windows users, be sure that when you are installing your fonts you install them using the 'install for all users'. This will make sure that it installs on all the programs you use on your computer.
This is a web-based program and can be found at www.wordmark.it
Want those extra swirls and characters that are included in some of your fonts? This program will show you which extra characters are available for each font. You are then able to copy it from this program and paste the special character in the font you are using to replace the character that is there.
I have a blog on how to use this program here.
MainType is also a downloaded program that can be found here.
I can NOT say enough about this program! It has been the ONLY program I use while designing ANYTHING to cut with my Cricut. It was honestly the only thing that made it so I was still willing to use my machine.
The downfall to this program however is that there is a learning curve with the program. Not one that should put you off wanting to use it but it isn't plug-and-play.
There are many amazing content creators out there to help you learn this software, however, if you want me to do a simple breakdown of more features and skills you can learn from this program comment below.
To download the program click here.
Here is yet another AMAZING website! This has been the ONLY site I use to get my fonts and graphics. Up until the beginning of this week, I was NOT affiliated with them in any way. This week that changed though. They accepted me as an affiliate for their site. All this means is if you use my links for them I will get a small bit back. Like I said though, I was promoting this site LONG BEFORE this happened. I was even grandfathered in when they changed the membership program about 3 years ago.
When you use ANY designs or fonts in your creations and EVER plan on selling the end product to make money, you will need a commercial license. Most 'free' sites are only PERSONAL use fonts and designs. DesignBundles is not like that though. The designs and fonts from them are commercial use.
Do you need to be a member? Nope, not at all! They have free designs, with commercial use, and designs you can purchase as well
I have Cricut Access, do I need this too? Here is the difference between the two. Think of Cricut Access as a rental program. When you use a design or a font from them it is just on loan, it is not yours. Unless you are downloading something to your computer, it is NOT yours to keep. The downfall to this is that when you decide to stop paying for Cricut Access for whatever reason, and there are plenty of reasons to NOT want to use it, the designs and fonts you have used in the past are NOT free anymore. If you go to cut those same files with these designs or fonts, you will need to pay Cricut BEFORE it will let you cut. Whereas, with this site, you own the files. You download them to your computer.
Here is a link to check out DesignBundles.
This is the instrument that is used to remove the bits of vinyl within your design.
You can use anything with a sharp tip; a push pin, a sewing needle, or even tweezers will work.
Here is a good option if you want to try out a few options.
When you need to burnish an item to a carrier mask or transfer tape.
There are 3 types of mats to use with your Cricut; green, pink, and blue.
Green - Standard Grip
Blue - Light Grip (paper)
Pink - Strong Grip
I am including a couple of links here.
I carry the Standard Grip Mats in my online store in both 12" and 24" lengths. Get them here.
Light and Strong Grip Mats can be purchased here.
Used for application of HTV
Mini Heat Press - used for smaller items
Portable Heat Press - used for larger items and can be moved around. Great for smaller spaces.
Heat Press - Desktop.
Used for when more space is available and will do a larger area.
Think of this as two best friends that never go anywhere without each other.
When you group something together, it will be collected and moved around as one unit. No change to the color of objects or design. Objects that are grouped do not stay together the way they appear when they go to the mat to be cut.
You can ungroup an item even after cutting and/or saving.
The friends are now dating. They dress in matching outfits and do everything together. Even when they go to the 'mat' to hang out with friends.
When you attach an item the item becomes one family of several pieces BUT they will ALL be one color. The design will stay as seen in DS when you go to the mat.
You can detach an item after cutting and saving it.
The friends are now living together in a small apartment.
The item is now ONE piece. It will be cut as one piece and will be the same color.
Weld is needed when using cursive letters otherwise each letter will be cut separately.
Weld CANNOT be undone once you cut or save a project!
This function works to make one piece into two.
For Cricut users. You can only slice two pieces at one time. If it is not slicing or giving you the option of the slice tool, check to see that you have detached or ungrouped your item.
For Silhouette users. Use the knife tool to drag along the area you want to cut apart.
Scalable Vector Graphic
This is the file needed to cut detailed images with the Cricut.
Portable Graphics Format
This is a picture/image.
It can be either used with print and cut or as an image outline within DS.
The background on a PNG is clear.
Joint Photographic Expert Group
This is a picture/image
It can be used as print and cut or as an image outline within DS if the background is removed.
The background on a JPEG is not clear.
The act of rubbing something onto something else. IE rubbing a piece of transfer tape onto a piece of vinyl that has been cut.
You will want the transfer tape to be burnished onto the vinyl well so that it can pick up all the pieces of cut vinyl.
When you weed vinyl, you are removing the areas cut in the vinyl that you will NOT use to create your design.
Think of it like when you are working in a garden. You remove the weeds because they are not the items you wish to see or eat, while you keep the flowers or vegetables.
Warning - Be prepared to use words that would make people run and hide. Words that are generally only used when your patience has reached level 1000 out of 10. You've got this but just have people near you stay out of the throwing area to avoid getting hurt.
If you thought you couldn't learn new words that would scare even Jason, reverse weeding came along and said 'Hold my weeding tool'. Yep more grey hairs will appear and even the word 'hello' from something could bring danger to them.
Reverse weeding allows you to remove the vinyl without losing all the small pieces that may come up while weeding the regular way. The small bits are attached to the transfer tape, while you remove the excess vinyl.
To reverse weed, you place a piece of transfer tape over the whole piece of unweeded and freshly cut vinyl. Burnish well from the front and the back. Then remove the larger area of vinyl while leaving the area that you want for your design.
This features pretty much does what it says. When you highlight the whole image or a specific piece and click duplicate, it will make a copy of it.
Flatten will take an object being 3D to 2D. It makes it so that it can be printed (by a printer) and cut as a shape by your cutting machine.
When images or words, don't have a shape or a shadow behind them even when flattened, the details of them will be cut out as well. To stop that you will need to use the offset feature.
This feature will create a border or a shadow effect around your design. This is great for making stickers or simply making a font look a bit thicker.
Adhesive vinyl can is divided into two categories. You have your permanent vinyl and removeable.
I have a great blog here talking about adhesive vinyl here.
Permanent vinyl has more tac to it. It can be used on items that will go into the elements. To learn more about permanent vinyl you can read a blog I did here.
Removeable vinyl has less tac. It is easier to remove from surfaces like walls. To learn more about removeable vinyl you can read a blog I did here.
If you would like to purchase some of this vinyl here is a link to it from my store.
Heat Transfer Vinyl.
This is used on clothing, any fabric, and wood it can be used on most any surface.
To learn more about this type of vinyl read the blog I wrote on it here.
To purchase some HTV click here.
This is a thinner vinyl with a lot less tac.
Used for making signs.
Here is a great blog I wrote which explores the different stencil films out there. You can read it here.
To purchase some of the BEST stencil film I have used click here.
I hope this blog has helped clear up a few of the questions you may had about this area of crafting. If there is an idea you want to learn more about and are wanting a bit of help with it,
leave me a comment and I will try my best to help you with it.