Have you ever wanted to cut your own custom images or shapes for a project on the Cricut? Just like Cricut Print Then Cut images, being able to cut your own custom images and shapes opens up a whole new world of creating projects. By learning how to do this you can create custom designs for just about any project. This tutorial will teach you how to cut your own custom image or shape on a Cricut.
If you are looking for the Cricut Print Then Cut feature, where you first print your image, then cut around the design, then check out this other tutorial right here.
If you are looking to add custom shapes, outlines, text, or other objects to your Cricut project, then follow along with this tutorial. You can also follow along using the free template image. Learn how to get it from my FREE resource library at the end of this post.
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Supplies Used for Cricut Print Then Cut
- Cardstock paper in any color of your choice
- Cricut Explore Air 2 (see my product review here)
- Cricut standard grip cutting mat
- Fall Leaf Template file for practice (can be found in my FREE resource library – find out more at the end of this post)
TIPS Before Beginning
- If uploading a JPEG, PNG, GIF, or BMP the shape or image will be cut out as a shadow and not as the full artwork piece if there are designs on it
- If you use a SVG file it will include the layers of the shape or image and cut out all parts of the artwork
- This tutorial is done from the Desktop version of Cricut Design Space. The app version for tablets may be different.
What’s the Difference – Cut Your Own Image vs. Print Then Cut Your Own Image
A Cut Your Own Image/Shape is where you have a simple design that you want to cut that already contains color layers or you simply want the outline or shape cut out in one color (as you’ll see in this tutorial below).
A Print Then Cut image is where you want to print the exact design and have the Cricut help you cut it out (seen in another tutorial).
Step 1 – Import Your Custom Shape to Design Space
To import your custom shape, click on the UPLOAD button which is on the bottom of the left side toolbar in Cricut Design Space.
In the Upload section, you can choose to upload your own image or pattern fill. For now, we will focus on uploading an image. Click on UPLOAD IMAGE under the Image section.
Next, you’ll browse for your file using the BROWSE button or you can click and drag your file from your desktop or folder system directly into the “Drop file here” area.
Images can be a JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, SVG, or DXF file. Typically if you find an image that is free on the web to use or you paid for it will come in the JPEG or PNG format. If you get any Cut files online from Etsy, Creative Market, or another online blog like JenniferMaker, it will likely come in the SVG or DXF format. (Want to learn more about making your own .svg files? JenniferMaker has an amazing course. You can sign up here to get on the waitlist if you want to learn more)
Step 2 – Select the Image Type
After uploading your custom image, the image type needs to be selected. If it is simply an outline or an image with colors, but no shading then “Simple” is the best. Choose “Complex” if the image has a lot of colors, shading, textures, backgrounds, and details. If it falls in the middle of those two with a little bit of shading, but a good contrasting background, then select “Moderately Complex”.
For this Fall Leaf image I uploaded, I will select SIMPLE since it has a transparent background and the colors are simple and have no shading. Click CONTINUE after you have selected your Image Type. (This image I made is used as a shape to cut for the Thankful Fall Leaves Banner tutorial that you can find here.)
Step 3 – Remove Unwanted Areas from the Custom Shape
Next, you will begin to remove any whitespace or other areas that you don’t want printed and to help you form your image shape. This step tells Cricut where to cut around the image. In this particular shape, I already have a transparent background for the fall leaf, so you can see the checkered background.
Using another quick example, the Christmas Tree Template from the Cricut Print Then Cut tutorial, you can see there is a white background. Use the SELECT & ERASE tool that looks like a magic wand. Then click on the whitespace area that you want to “delete”. If you make a mistake use the undo button, as well as the zoom tools to fine tune any erasing. I don’t touch any of the Advanced Option settings in this area.
After using the “Select & Erase” magic wand, this is what the image looks like. The gray and blue checkered background indicates that it is “transparent” and only the image left.
Step 4 – Check Your Image Preview
As you are erasing any whitespace, you can also use the PREVIEW button to see what the outline of your shape will be. This is helpful to be sure it looks right before finishing. Once you are satisfied with the Image Cut format, click CONTINUE to accept the image shape.
Tip: If you miss any spots during the “Select & Erase” section, you will be able to remove them later on with a few different techniques. I talk more about fine tuning the object for cutting in step 8 and 9 below.
Step 5 – Choose Your Image Version and Save It
Now you will need to choose how you want to save the cut image you just Click on the first option that shows your image and says SAVE AS A CUT IMAGE. You can also rename the image in the right side panel and add a description. Then click on SAVE. This step may take a minute to upload into the Cricut system.
Step 6 – Insert Uploaded Image Into Your Project
Now that you’ve successfully uploaded your custom image, select it from the Recently Uploaded Images section to add it to your project. Click on the uploaded image, then click the INSERT IMAGES green button at the bottom of the screen.
Step 7 – Size Your Image for Your Project
It’s time to size the image shape for your project. When the fall leaf template is added to a project, it is rather large. So resize the image to start to approximately 6 inches wide.
Change the size of the leaf with the Size options in the toolbar menu at the top of Cricut Design Space. Or, you can resize an image using the blue arrow resizing button at the bottom right corner of the object.
Tip: The resize arrow button will automatically always display at the bottom right corner of any object.
Step 8 – Find Tune the Image Before Cutting
If you notice, in my uploaded image, there are also a couple of “blemishes” and missing areas that don’t need to be cut out on my image. To correct those missing spaces I could do a couple of things.
First, I could zoom in and add basic small shapes over them, then WELD the basic shapes to the sections that need to be filled in. For example, just above the bottom left leaf, I need to clean up a line. To do this, add a circle shape and resize it so that it covers the blank area. (Note: Zoom in to see the area close up).
Select both objects by clicking on both items and holding down the shift key. You can select both from the layers panel on the right, or click and drag on top of both items in the design area. Then click on the WELD button at the bottom of the layers panel. This will merge the two layers together.
Step 9 – Contour the Image Shape
Another great way to fine tune the image shape is to remove any tiny blemishes that may not be noticeable. The CONTOUR feature is very helpful to remove any areas that you don’t want to cut. The original intention of the CONTOUR feature is to be able to select the areas that you want to cut without having to delete them from the project in case you change your mind.
When I click on the fall leaf then click on CONTOUR a window will open up. In this window all of the parts of the image show on the right side. Anything with a darker gray background when you click on it will not be cut. There is also a button that says HIDE ALL CONTOURS.
When clicked, it will turn off all items with the exception of the fall leaf main shape. Once all of the small items are selected (darker gray background highlight in the panel), click on the X button to close the window.
Notice now, how the smaller spots that used to be on the shape are now not showing. (TIP: You may have to use the zoom tool to notice.)
Step 10 – Time to Cut the Custom Shape
Now that the fall leaf is cleaned up and ready, duplicate it as many times as you for your project. (You can do this Fall Leaf Thankful Banner tutorial using this exact leaf template.) Once you have the number of shapes you want to cut for your project, you can click MAKE IT.
Organize the items on your mat within a 11.5 x 11.5 square area for 12×12 paper so they fit in the cut area. You can then ATTACH them together so they will stay in place to save paper. You can find out more about this in another tutorial I made for a Hack to Save Paper when using the Cricut.
Click CONTINUE and you will be prompted with several options. First select your Cricut device to be sure that it is connected. Then be sure your material is set to CARDSTOCK.
Next, attach your paper to the standard green Cricut mat and check that my blade is in the proper clamp as noted on the screen. Once your mat prepped, load it into the Cricut and press the Cricut Go button on the Cricut machine.
Unload Your Mat and You’re Done!
Now, unload your mat and check the cut lines of your project. Peel the pieces off of your cutting mat carefully. Sometimes, if you turn your mat upside down and curl the mat, the paper will start to fold off. Doing this helps so that the paper doesn’t curl.
Cricut Cut Custom Image or Shape feature
Get the Fall Leaf template to practice on your Cricut!
Follow along with this tutorial! To get the fall leaf template, sign up below to receive my weekly newsletter. As a bonus you’ll gain access to my FREE resource library where the fall leaf template is stored. I am constantly adding more free printables, digital files, and paper crafting goodies just for my subscribers.
Let me know how you’ve used the Cricut Cut a Custom Image or Shape feature. I always love seeing projects from other crafty friends. Tag me on Instagram or leave a comment below.