One of the things so many people love about having a Cricut is that they can upload images to Cricut Design Space and then cut those images with their Cricut. When you upload an image, you have to remove the background. This process is commonly called how to clean up images in Cricut Design Space by people in many online.
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In this tutorial I will show you how to upload and clean up a basic two color image you find online and turn it into an image you can cut with your Cricut. You don’t have to use this same image. This is just the one I am using for an example. I will often call an image like this a coloring book style image, since it is just a black outline with large open spaces much like you would fine in a coloring book.
Coloring Book Images
I like to use a coloring book style image since those typically just have the black outline and then you just have to remove the white areas with the magic wand tool in Cricut Design Space™. If you have a more complex image, cleaning up and removing the various colors will work but it could take more time. I actually have a tutorial for that process HERE. For a beginner, I strongly recommend that you start with a black and white image to start to understand the process of uploading and cleaning up an image before you jump into images with multiple colors in them.
The first step in this process is to find the image you want to upload to Design Space. For me, I go to Google and search for what I am looking for but I add the words coloring page or coloring book into the search. For example to find the image I use in the video below I Googled Disney coloring page. Then I created a folder on my computer where I was going to save this image. How to save an image to a folder on your computer is different depending on what operating system you have. For me, I can just right click on the image and I get a save as option, which allows me to save the image to the folder I created on my computer.
Also, make sure you are using a good quality image. If the image you start with is blurry and pixelated then you will never get a good clean cutting image.
If you are doing this on an iPad, you can follow the directions HERE.
Once you have your image saved to your computer, the next step is to upload it into Design Space. Click on the Upload button in Design Space, which I point out with the blue arrow in the image below.
Once you click on that button, a new window will open up, that will look like the image below. The portion I circled in blue tells you the different file types that you can upload to Design Space. When you look at a file, the portion after the dot is the file type. The two most images you find online would be a .png or .jpg file.
Click on the Upload Image button that I point out with the blue arrow in the image above. This will open to another screen, which I am showing in the image below. You can see that Cricut is once again reminding you of the file types that you can upload, which I point out with the blue circle. You can either go to where you saved your coloring book style image on your computer and drag that file into this screen, or click on the button I have pointed out with the blue arrow and then navigate to where you saved the image file to upload it.
Clean up Images
Now we are to the process that many people refer to as how to clean up images in Cricut Design Space. This is when you will do things like removing the background of an image so that the Cricut knows what portion of the image to cut.
The first screen you will see with have a preview of the image you upload on the left. On the right, it is asking you to tell Cricut Design Space if the image is a Simple image, Moderately Complex or Complex image. If we read the information in the description of a Simple Image, it says high contrast colors and transparent or monochromatic background. Since black and white are the highest contrast we can get, and the background of this image is all white (which is monochromatic) we want to choose that option for this example.
After you click on Simple, choose the green continue button in the lower right corner. That will take you to the next screen in the process, which I show below.
Using the Advanced Options
Now, if you have ever tried to clean up images in Cricut Design Space and it came out blurry or grainy, and seemed to have a lot of little spots around it, I am going to show you a little trick for that. Click on the Advanced Options button that I have indicated with a blue arrow in the image above. This will allow you to tell Cricut Design Space how many colors to look for an focus in on. You see, even in a black and white image, there could be small pixels that are shades of grey in there. For this image, since it just has two colors in it, black and white, I change the top number to 2. I am telling Cricut Design Space to reduce the colors it is looking for to just 2 colors.
The Magic Wand
Next I am going to click on the little Magic Wand icon in top of this image. The Magic Wand tool will remove entire sections of the image that are the same color in one click. This works great for an image like we are working with in this example.
When I click on the background of the image, it turns into a checkerboard pattern. This tells me that the Cricut Design Space software has remove that portion of the image and will not cut it.
Now, some people make the mistake of thinking that this is all you have to do if you want to cut this exact image, but let’s click on the preview button at the bottom of the screen and see what happens.
This preview shows you exactly what the Cricut is going to cut. So right now, it is going to cut the outer glove shape, but not any of the inner details. Why is that? Because we only removed the background for this image. We did not remove the white for the inner portions of the image. So let’s do that now. Click on the button on the button, indicated with the blue arrow in the image above, which now says Hide Preview. This will bring you back to the black and white image of the glove. Click on the Magic Wand icon again, and then click anywhere on the white inside of the glove. As you can see in the image below, it turned the white portions inside of the glove image to the same checkerboard pattern, which means it removed those from the image and now what it will cut is just the black lines.
This is usually where I click on the preview button one more time to make sure I like the way the design looks, and there are not any stray dots or speckles that I missed in the clean up process. If you are happy with your design, click the green Continue button.
Print then Cut or Cut Only
This next section is probably where most people struggle with choosing the correct option. Let’s take a look at the screen, shown in the image below. If you look at what it says under the preview image on the left, it tells you to use that option of you want to save this as a Print Then Cut image. That means it will print the design from your home printer, then cut the outline on the Cricut. For some projects this might be the option you want, for example if you are making stickers those are usually a print then cut project.
I have a whole tutorial that shows the difference between a Print then Cut and a Cut Only project that you can check out HERE. For this example, we are assuming that you only want to cut this design, from vinyl for example. That is why we need to click on and choose the second preview to the right that says Save as a Cut image, which I have circled in blue and indicated in the image above. Once you click on the preview on the right, there will be a green outline around it and you can fill in the name information to the far right and then click the green save button.
The video below will show you the full process that I just walked you through in this tutorial.
Congratulations! The image is now saved in your Uploaded Images. You can now insert that into Cricut Design Space to cut it. If you want to take this whole process a step further and add a white layer to this design so you can cut both the white glove and the black outline, make sure to check out my tutorial on using Contour which you can find HERE.
Now, if you are working with a really detailed image that has a lot of small areas to clean up and remove, you should check out the tutorial HERE that shows you how to use an online converting tool.
Working with Photographs
If you have a photograph you want to turn into a cutting image, you can use an app to first convert that photograph to a sketch style image that has a black outline, making it even easier for you to clean it up in Design Space. Once you have converted it into a simple black and white image, you can use the process in this tutorial to clean up and remove the white parts of the image, just like I did for the coloring book style image.
If you found this helpful, you should join my Teach Me Cricut Design Space Facebook Group. You can ask me questions and I will share all of my best tips and tricks with you.
I also have a lot of great resources on my Classes page of this website including my Teach Me Cricut Design Space Online Course. In this course I take you step by step through how to use every button and function in Design Space. I have compiled the most frequently asked Cricut questions along with the answers to those questions into one online course. This is my most in depth and detailed Cricut resource ever! It contains over two years worth of Cricut knowledge and research in one course!