Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lots of small circles in a hurry...

I have often been asked if there is any way to "auto fill" the mat with a certain shape when using Design Studio. Unfortunately, while this is a very handy mode which is available when using the Expression or the Create as a stand alone machine, this function is not available when using the software.

I was working on another project, when I noticed the shape key highlighted in the screen shot above on the Graphically Speaking cartridge.

Above you can see the preview of the largest size of this shape that will fit on the 12 x 12 mat.

If you select this design at the full 12 inch size and place it on the mat at the "0" value on both the X axis and the Y axis, you will be able to cut 100 circles that are about 3/4 inch in diameter. The curved corners of the outer shape will not cut completely since they are outside the "cuttable area" on the mat, but they could be hand finished.

I decided to see if I could fit even more small circles on this page. In the screen shot above you can see that I have selected the line of the outer shape (it is red). I used the "hide contour" feature in the software to hide this outer line. (To hide the contour, you select the line you want to hide by left clicking on the line to select it. When the line turns red, you know that it is selected and you can then right click and choose "hide selected contour" from the bottom of the list - the line will turn pale blue to show that it is hidden).

Above, you can see the preview of the shape after hiding the contour. This will result in the same number of small circles that will be cut out but you will also be left with a useful full page mesh with square corners that will not require any hand trimming.

I then added a second twelve inch shape and offset it from the first one. I hid the outer shape and the far right column and the bottom row of circles (as shown in the screen shot above).

This will produce an additional 81 three quarter inch circles. If you cut just this set of circles, you would also have an interesting offcut that you could use for a background.

Above you can see the two sets of circles placed on the same page.

It is a bit easier to see them in this preview shot. You will have 181 circles cut from the page in a very efficient manner - without the wear and tear on your hand that you'd have from hand punching that many circles!

Above is a close up (200 view) of the hidden contours.

If you needed smaller or larger circles, you could adjust the size of the shape to produce the size of circle you wanted. By offsetting two of the shapes as I did in the first example, you can maximize the number of circles that you can fit on a page.

Remember, when you are working with a shape that is so large that the "handles" are off the mat, you can use the arrow keys on your computer keyboard to move the shape around.

Obviously, you can just operate the Expression or the Create without the software and use autofill to cut your circles, but the Design Studio method has several advantages - you will be able to fit more circles on one piece of paper, you can control the offcut to make it symmetrical and useful as well and, if you have the original Cricut, you will be able both to "autofill" and to cut circles in a smaller size than you can without the software.

(I haven't cut these yet, so I am not posting a file tonight).


  1. Amazing design, I can think of so many uses for it. tfs

  2. Wow, I would've never thought to do that! You have so many amazing ideas!


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