Let’s Talk About Layers

I get so much feedback from people that they do not understand Cricut layers, how to create layers or why layers are important in Cricut Design Space. Let’s talk about layers and see if we can answer your questions. We are going to look at the Layers Panel in Cricut Design Space.

If you are using an image from Cricut Design Space, each color in that image will already be separated into its own layer.  You then cut each one of those layers, out of cardstock or vinyl or whatever material you choose, and then you put all of the colored pieces back together to assembly the final image.  Sometimes it is like making a puzzle.

I hope to give you a basic overview of what layers are, how to look at the Cricut Layers Panel in Design Space and also show you how to create your own layered images. If you want a deeper dive into layers, including how to make them click HERE to go to my Easy Cricut Layers Guide.

Examples of Images using Cricut Layers

examples of layered projects layers Cricut layers

Layering is about cutting the colors and then putting them back together to make the image. I start with the background color and then build up. It is like a puzzle.

Practice Cricut Layers with Cardstock

The first layered example above of Lady and the Tramp is layered cardstock.  I started layering with cardstock first just to get the hang of the process. HERE is a tutorial I did using cardstock. The idea is the same with other materials.

Move to removeable vinyl

The second layered example above, of Mickey and Minnie on the laptop, are from vinyl.  HERE is the tutorial for that project.

Advance to HTV/Iron on vinyl with Cricut Layers

The next two pictures, which I am showing below, are showing examples of layered HTV/iron on vinyl.  Same idea as working with cardstock or the vinyl on the laptop . . . start with the background color and then do a short press so that the vinyl sticks, and add the next color. Keep going until all colors are on the shirt.  For both of these I used a Multi Layered Font to type up the word.  Then I set each layer as a different color.  HERE is my tutorial on using the filter when choosing a font.  This will help you find Multi Layered Fonts.  

layered iron on vinyl cricut layers

The very last image also shows how you can combine using HTV/iron on vinyl along with a Print then Cut image on printable iron on vinyl.  The team mascot was created with printable iron on vinyl since he has so many colors . . . I did not want to try and layer all of those.  If you want to see my tips and tutorials on Print then Cut click HERE.

The Cricut Design Space Layers Panel

I think this might help a lot of people to really understand layering.  For this I am going to use images from my Donald Duck Larger than Mat project, which can be found HERE.

When I insert Donald Duck from Cricut Design Space this is how the canvas will look

Cricut Design Space layers panel cricut layers

We are going to really focus in on the Layers Panel in Cricut Design Space on the right hand side.  This is where you see one layer for each color of this Donald Duck image.

Cricut Design Space layers panel Cricut layers

Let’s take a look at these Cricut layers

If we look at each layer/line item in this list, the first one is the white of Donald’s scarf. The second layer/line item is the red of Donald’s scarf.

The third layer/line item is white on the cuffs of Donald’s sleeves and his buttons.

The forth layer/line item is Donald’s had and shirt, which I changed to blue for the final project.

The fifth layer/line item is the white of Donald’s body.

The sixth layer/line item is the yellow of Donald’s feet and beak.

The seventh layer/line item is the black, which is a full image piece.  This would be your base layer and you set this down first and the build the other layers on top of this.

The eighth layer/line item is a second full image piece.  (I am not really sure why Cricut includes 2 background pieces with some images . . . maybe to give it more depth)

The ninth layer/line item is a shadow layer, so if you wanted to have this whole image outlined or shadowed in another color you could do that.  If you look to the right of this layer, you can see that I have they eyeball icon turned off.  The Cricut will not cut any layers where the eyeball icon is turned off.

When you click Make It for this image, Cricut Design Space will prompt you on the color of material you should have on the mat.  Load that in and let it cut.  Unload and remove from the mat and load the next color until you are done cutting all of the pieces.  Then piece them together to build your

Use Quality Images

Layers are a big reason that I recommend that people use images from Cricut Design Space or from other high quality svg companies.  If you are buying on a site like Etsy, read the reviews first.  If you see bad reviews or the store has only been in business for a short time, you might want to think twice.  I have helped people to fix a bad svg file, that was created with way too many layers.  If you would like to see the tutorial on how I fixed it, click HERE.  I knew it was a bad svg right away since the image only needed 8 colors, but there were over 100 layers in the image!

Another great site for svg files is LoveSVG

Can you make your own Cricut layers?

I have also had some people ask me how to make their own layers, in other words how to take an image and divide it up into layers for different colors.  If you have an image that has multiple colors in it, you can upload that image and clean it up once for each color you want to cut.  Here is an example of a mulit colored image.

images with multiple colors cricut layers

I have a full tutorial on how upload a multi colored image for cutting HERE.

You can also check out my Easy Cricut Layer Guide for a more in depth discussion on this topic.

Another way to create layers is to upload a coloring book style image, and then use the Duplicate and Contour functions to create the various colored layers that you want for the image.  Using this method you can take an image like the one on the left and transform it into an image like the one on the right.  If you want to see the full tutorial for a Duplicate and Contour project, click HERE.


I also put together a video showing you an example of a two layered iron on vinyl project from start to finish.

Here is another question I have been asked. What if you type up someone’s name and then want to make every letter a different color or layer. How would you do that?  And how would you tell the Cricut to cut all of the red letters from the same mat of red cardstock?

You would type up the name, and then use the Ungroup button to separate the letters so instead of being one word/name they are now separate individual letters.  Click on each letter and change it to the color you want it to be.  If two of the letters are red, the Cricut will sort out your letters for you by color when you click the Make It button.  It would then cut all of the red letters at the same time from the same piece of red material.

I hope this helped you to understand the Cricut Design Space layers. Keep following me and join my Teach Me Cricut Design Space group on Facebook!

I do have several tutorials on the topic of Layers, but if you are reading this and feel that there is something about layers that I am missing from my information I want to hear from you! This will help me to make my Cricut Design Space Layers information even better!

To start, I talk about some basic layers information HERE

I can teach you how to create a layered cutting file from an image you find online. Click HERE for my Cricut Layers Guide tutorial.

Another common way to make layers is to start with coloring book style image and use Duplicate and Contour to make your colored layers. I show that full process HERE.

If you are looking for information on how to assemble the Cricut Design Space layers for your finished project, then you should check out some of the information that I have listed below.

I have shared how to layer vinyl on a shirt HERE and cardstock. Honestly I feel that you should start with a layered cardstock project just to get the concept of how Cricut Design Space layers work, and how the Cricut will sort pieces by their colored layers for cutting.

Now, after looking at all of this information on Layers what questions do you still have? This is a honest request. I want to create the best resource on the topic of layers out there! I want to answer every question a Cricut owner could have on layers . . . to the point where when ever there is a new Cricut owner that has a question on layers everyone will say “Oh, you need to read this Cricut Design Space layers info from Shawn Mosch”

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One Response

  1. I just discovered your website and was SO impressed! You make it simple and easily understood – unlike so many others. Can I keep you????

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