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How to Use Illustrator to Create Designs for Cricut

Updated April 17, 2017

Digital cutting machines have led a revolution in at-home scrapbooking, labelling, and other crafts, giving millions of users the ability to precisely cut shapes, words, and pictures from paper and cardstock with the touch of a button. Cricut machines, in particular, are widely admired due to their large library of pre-designed templates loaded onto cartridges that can be printed with a simple push of a button. Designing your own images, especially from a program such as Adobe Illustrator, adds a just few more steps to this simple process.

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  1. Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator by selecting "New" under "File" in the menu bar. Adjust the height and width of the document to match the size of cutting template you plan on creating.

  2. Use the tools available on the Tools palette in Illustrator to begin designing your cutting template. The Shape Tool offers the ability to create a wide variety of multi-sided designs, while the Pen Tool can be used to draw lines and complex curves. The Type Tool gives you the ability to add text to your design.

  3. Once the design is completed, select "File" in the program's menu bar, followed by "Save As." Name your drawing and select a location on your computer to put it. Under "Format" at the bottom of the window click on the drop down menu and select "SVG (svg)." This will create a file format that can be read by software that directs your Cricut machine.

  4. Download and install Sure Cuts a Lot software.

  5. Turn off or unplug your Cricut machine from your computer.

  6. Open Sure Cuts a Lot, click on "Help" in the program's menu bar, and select "Install USB Driver." Ensure that "Install USB Driver" is selected and click "OK."

  7. Follow the installation prompts to automatically install the drivers for your Cricut machine. Turn on or plug your Cricut back in to your computer.

  8. Import your newly created .SVG by selecting "File" in the menu bar, followed by "Import SVG." Navigate to your .SVG and click "Open."

  9. Click on the scissors icon within Sure Cuts a Lot to bring up the Cricut Firmware Window. Select the model and firmware of your Cricut machine and click "OK" to begin cutting.

  10. Tip

    Convert your text to outlines before exporting to an .SVG file by clicking on the text box and selecting "Create Outline" under "Type" in Illustrator's menu bar. Converting your text to outlines turns the letters into lines and shapes, which are more easily read by the Cricut. To figure out the firmware version loaded on your Cricut, look at the machine's display as you turn it on. The current firmware version will be displayed.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sure Cuts a Lot software

About the Author

Noah Christman is a planner and urban designer living and working in Northern California. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Science in city and regional planning from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, he has been working in the fields of architecture, planning and community design, public policy and marketing/branding.

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