If you have been following my tutorial for the Up Classroom project today we are going to be talking about how to cut extra large images with Cricut. These are commonly called a Larger Than Mat project because the overall size of the final project is larger than a standard 12″x 12″ Cricut mat.
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When we left off on the last post in this tutorial, we had just completed making the colored layers for this house. The house looked like the one in the image below.
Make a large selection window around the entire house. We want to make sure we have all of the various layers and pieces of this image selected. Now click Group, in the upper right corner of the screen.
What does Group do to images in Cricut Design Space?
Group allows all of those separate layers to work together as a group. Now if you want to resize, rotate or flip this image, you can apply these changes to all of the layers at once while still keeping them separate layers. After doing all of that work to you make the layers for this image, we want to make sure that everything fits together when we make it an extra large images in Cricut Design Space. Below you can see that I changed the with of the house to 23″ wide. Since the layers were grouped, all of the layers scaled up correctly with each other.
Why did I make this image 22″ wide? I am making this for a classroom display for a friend of mine. After I make it, she wants to laminate the whole thing to protect it. The laminator is 23″ wide, so we wanted to make sure that this image would fit in it.
Check the layers panel for your image
Let’s take a look at the layers panel for this image. Look where the blue arrow is pointing in the picture below. That is the black layer of the house. Do you see that little orange triangle inside that layer? I circled it in blue to help you see it. That warning is telling you that the black layer is too large to cut on a standard 12″ x 12″ Cricut cutting mat. To work around that, we are going to slices the black layer of our extra large image into sections that each fit on a 12″ x 12″ Cricut cutting mat.
Prep work before Slicing your Extra Large Images with Cricut
There might be other ways to do this process, but I am going to take you through the way I like to do it. I will explain the reason I do things this way as I go along.
First, with just the black layer of the image selected, click on the Contour button in the lower right corner of the screen. Remember, you can click on the black layer from your layers panel to ensure that you are ONLY selecting the black layer. The Contour window will pop up, and you want to click on the Hide All Contours button, which I have circled below. This will make your entire black layer a solid piece.
Why do you want the background layer solid?
Good question! I like to have this background layer solid on all of my extra large images that I cut with my Cricut for three reasons. First, it creates a solid base that is sturdier for the finished project. Second, when I get to the step of gluing all of the layers on to the background it gives me something to actually glue the layers too! Think about it, if I left it as a black outline then how would I glue down the colors on top of that? Third, if things do not line up perfectly when you are gluing down the layers, all that will happen is that your black outline will be a little thicker or a little thinner on one side. At least you will not have a gap or space showing through between the colors.
Isolating the background layer
Now I want to isolate the background layer so I can work with just that layer to slice it into sections that will fit on my Cricut cutting mat. To do this, I will have to UnGroup the layers. Just click on the house and then click the UnGroup button in the upper right corner of the screen.
Now we want to move the background layer over to ensure that we are only slicing that layer. With just the black layer of the image selected, go to the top of the screen and change the numbers in the section called Position. Remember, you can click on the black layer from your layers panel to ensure that you are ONLY selecting the black layer.
I think I increased the number in the first position section by 20, and then it moved just the background layer over to the right. Now the background layer is in a spot where I can grab it and work with it without worrying that I am accidentally grabbing other layers.
Now we are ready to slice!
When doing a larger than mat project the most important thing to remember is that the Cricut cutting mat is 12” x 12”. Cricut Design Space takes off 1/4” all the way around the mat as a sort of buffer space to make sure that your cut images do not come out too close to the edge of the material. So the actual cutting space is only 11 1/2” x 11 1/2”. This means that everything you cut needs to fit inside of that 11 1/2” x 11 1/2” space. To do this we are going to insert a square.
Next, I change the size of that square to be 11 1/2″ x 11 1/2″, to match the actual cutting space on a standard Cricut cutting mat.
I changed the square to yellow only to make it easier to see for the rest of this tutorial.
Place the square over a portion of the background layer. Then, with both the square and the background layer selected, click on the Slice button in the lower right corner.
Once you do that, you will be able to separate that section of the background from the rest of the layer. See the image below.
Tip: Slice will only work when you have two items/layers selected.
This is why we have to do this process one square/section at a time. If we tried to put four squares in there and just slice the background into four sections at one time it would not work. You can only have two items/layers selected for slice to work. What you are slicing from and what you are slicing with.
After I pull that first piece away, I also delete all of the yellow scrap pieces that are left over. Now just keep repeating this entire process.
- Insert a square.
- Resize to 11 1/2″ x 11 1/2″.
- Place the square over a section of the background.
- Select both the square and the background layer.
- Hit Slice. (lower right corner of the screen)
- Move the black piece you sliced out away from the image.
- Delete the left over yellow scraps.
I always like to double check my layers panel when I work on projects like this. Look at the layers panel in the image below. Remember before how the background was giving us a warning triangle telling us that the layer was too large for a standard size Cricut mat? Now you can see that the triangle is gone for all four of the sections. This shows us that we did everything correctly. The sections will all fit on the Cricut mat.
All that is left now is to cut all of this out and assemble your larger than mat project. I will show you all of that in my next post, which you can find by clicking HERE.
To see all of the steps for my UP Classroom Project Tutorials follow the links below
Uploading and Cleaning up an Image
Using Contour to Create Layers
Slice Extra Large Images
Assemble Larger Than Mat Projects