Hi, I am Diane from the Design Team and today I am happy to give you some basic information about the Cricut Design Studio software along with my review of the software.
I have been using the Cricut Design Studio software since January, 2008. I received it as a Christmas gift but it took me a few weeks to get up the nerve to start using it. There were many problems encountered by the first users of the program. However, with several key software updates, many of the problems have been resolved. The program is now quite good and, with some additional updates and upgrades, it could be great!
The Cricut machines have opened a new world of possibilities for scrapbookers, card makers and crafters of all sorts by making it possible to cut thousands of designs in a variety of sizes with a simple push of a button (or two or three buttons). For some people, an attractive feature of the Cricut machines is that they function based on a cartridge system and do not require a
However, with the addition of a computer and the Design Studio software (or very soon the new Gypsy device) the design possibilities using the images on the Cricut cartridges you own are limited only by your creativity and imagination.
Here are a few of the advantages of adding the Design Studio program to your crafting tools:
- The Design Studio program contains the complete library of Cricut cartridges and all of the images are available for you to preview. Often, there are images on a cartridge that are not obvious from looking at the cartridge boxes and these can all be seen in the program. This can help you decide which cartridges to purchase (and make you realize that you "need" a cartridge that didn't appeal to you at first glance). The screen shot above shows some of the tags on the new Winter Woodland cartridge.
- Design Studio is a great tool for planning your cards and scrapbook page layouts. You can use the 12 x 12 mat as a virtual scrapbook page and plan the location and size of every cut. This will save you time and paper because you can see the completed page before you cut anything and make any adjustments needed. (If you have one of the smaller machines you can move your items to the 6 x 12 mat to cut them - but you will not be able to cut full page overlays.)
- One of the most exciting things you can do with the software is welding - combining letters and/or images to create full words and phrases or even using the basic shapes available to create entirely new images that you can cut. When items are welded, they are much easier to add to pages and cards since you do not have to fuss with the placement of each individual letter.
- As you get more proficient in using the software you can create totally new designs limited only by your imagination (and patience). You can also adapt patterns and designs, that you had previously needed to cut by hand, by creating new files for your Cricut machine to cut for you.
- You can share your designs with fellow Cricut crafters who also have the software. The files are small and easy to email, save on a flash drive or upload to a file sharing service. Many crafters generously share the files for items they have created through blogs and message boards.
Some of my favorite features of the software are the "hide selected contour" feature and the ability to weld words and images inside frames and openings in cards. I also find the copy and paste feature very useful because the items are placed in exactly the same location (which makes designing things like word books easier). The ability to keep the preview as a mat background is also helpful for more complicated designs and shadowing.
Although I enjoy using the software (and use it almost daily) there is room for improvement - a few of the features I would like to see added or upgraded are:
- True "grouping" - when you add all of your design elements in the same selection box you can use the nudge arrows to move them into position and keep the entire unit as a group - but you are limited by the inability to alter individual parts of the design by changing angles, stretching or otherwise manipulating them. If there were "select all," "group" and "ungroup" commands it would be possible to create more interesting designs and to save hours of designing time! You could also them copy and paste and resize to create multiples of the item quickly and easily.
- The hide contour feature has some annoying quirks - you are not able to hide only one contour and have it remain hidden when the file is reopened. It is also impossible to have the lines stay hidden when you copy and paste the item and you have to close the file and reopen it to be able to hide lines on a pasted object. If these problems were fixed, it would be a great timesaver.
- A great addition would be the ability to shadow a word with a single click, to be able to vary the width of the shadow and to be able to shadow words that are created in a font without a shadow feature on the cartridge.
I encourage everyone to download the trial version of the software and using it - there is a good basic video introduction to the software on the Cricut site (here is a LINK) and there are many helpful tutorials to guide you as you attempt more advanced projects. We will be offering some of these right here on Cutting Above.
Here a little bit of inspiration for you to enjoy.
Have fun and visit Cutting Above and the blogs of our Design Team regularly for help and inspiration.