Saturday, March 20, 2010

How to Weld with Cricut Design Studio

This post originally appeared on the Cuttlebug Challenge Blogspot on March 20, 2010.

Hi, it's Diane from the Design Team.  Welcome back for another Design Studio Saturday.  If you missed the first two installments, you can find them HERE and HERE.  I hope that the tips I shared last month were helpful.  The theme for this month is "All about Welding."  I will show you the two basic methods of welding and share some helpful tips.  (All of the images can be enlarged by clicking on them to see the details).

Before we get started, I want to be sure that you know that two days ago, on "Hello Thursday," quite a few new Cricut cartridges were announced.  "Hello Thursday" is the third Thursday of the month and you should always check the site to find out about new products and check for Design Studio and Gypsy updates.

If you have the current version of the software (1.0.31101.0), you will only need to download and install the updated Font Pack.  You can check your version by using the "help" menu and choosing "About" to pull up the information box.

To update your Design Studio program to include these cartridges, go to this LINK (you will need to be signed in to the site) and download the Font Pack.  Be sure to SAVE the download and then run it to install the new cartridges.  Your Design Studio software should be closed when you do this.  When you open the program, the new cartridges will be included in the "All by Category" list.
Now that you are up to date let's talk about welding.

There are two ways to created a new shape or a connected word by welding.  For the first, which is most commonly used for welding words, all of the letters are entered in the same selection box, kerned so they are touching and the weld box checked once for the entire group.  Here are some screen shots to help you see how this works.

I used the font on the new Nursery Rhymes cartridge to spell the word "LOVE."  I double clicked on the mat at the top left to place the cursor in position, selected the shift of the font feature and typed in the letters.  In order to weld items, they must be touching with a slight overlap.  A weld can only be made when there is contact between the letters or images.

The next step is to apply kerning to the word.  Kerning is used to adjust the amount of space between letters.  A negative number will bring the letters closer together and a positive number will widen the spaces between the letters.  I usually start with a value of -.1 for the average sized word.  To complete the kerning you must click the "apply" box directly to the right.

In this screen shot you can see the difference between -.1 and -.2 kerning.  You can move the letters to a position that you find attractive - as long as they are touching they will weld.

You can "fine tune" the location of the letters by using the nudge arrows.  Click on a line of the letter you want to move - it will turn into a dotted red line to show that it is selected.  Be sure to check the "weld" box while the word is selected (with the "handles" around it).

If there is more than one cutting line for the letter part will be dotted red and part dotted black - it doesn't matter for nudging but it can be easier to see the part of the letter that will be welding if you click on the center of any letter with an interior cutout such as "o."  As I mentioned in the tips last month, the first letter can not be nudged - it is positioned by using the handle at the upper left corner of the selection box.

When you preview the word the dark lines indicate the lines that will cut.  If you see color, the letters are not welded - you should click on the word to select it and check the weld box.

To see the welded word more clearly, create a new page and preview the design on that page.  You will see only the actual cutting lines - the overlapped areas that were pale lines will not show on the new page.

When you weld using this method you can copy and paste the welded word and apply all of the operations of the handles (resize, stretch, rotate, skew, compress) to the word as a whole.  This is usually the preferred method for welding but it does not work for all situations.

If you want to apply some of these operations to a single letter in the word you will need to use the second  method of welding.  For this method, you enter each letter or shape individually by choosing the letter and adding it to the mat, then clicking somewhere else on the mat to deselect it.

If you look carefully you can see the pale gray line around each letter.  When using this method, you have to check the weld box while each letter is selected.

This method gives you a lot of freedom in designing your welded word or new shape.  Unfortunately, there is no way to copy and paste the four letters as a unit.  In other words, you will not be able to easily fill a mat with multiple copies of the new word art you have created.  You also can't change your mind about the size of the item you have created and easily change it.   A "select all" and "group/ungroup" feature will be fantastic improvements to the program when they are added (they are "in the works" but there is no date for when these will be added to Design Studio).

Here is a tip to help you duplicate a word or image you created using the second method with individual selection boxes.  Copy and paste the first item (the "L" in this example).

Check the value in the "X" box (the horizontal axis).  Then move the pasted letter to the right to start a new group.  Try to position it so the difference between the two "X" values is a simple number.

In this case, I was able to add 5 to the value and have the "L" positioned to start a second group.

Repeat the process for each letter, by copying and pasting and then adding 5 to the "X" value (the letters will jump to the right when you press enter or click on the mat after changing the "X" value).

The same procedure can be used to duplicate the word lower on the mat by copying and pasting and then adding a consistent amount to the "Y" value.

You can create a vertically welded word all in one box but it will take a fair bit of nudging.  If you only need one copy, it will be faster to use letters in individual boxes, check weld for each and move them into position with the top left handle.

When you nudge horizontally, the letters to the right of the letter you are nudging will "follow" to preserve the kerning.  When you nudge vertically, the other letters stay put.  You can hold down the nudge button to keep the item moving - you do not need to click repeatedly.  (Beware - occasionally the nudge arrow will "stick" and the item will keep moving even after you release the arrow,  fatally corrupting the file.  Be sure to do a "save as" often as you work and rename the file with version1, version2, etc.  This problem was fixed and I hadn't encountered it for months and then it happened to me just a week or so ago.)

Here are some copied, pasted and altered versions of the vertical word.

The last tip for today is that you can add the items into a selection box at different sizes and from different cartridges and still have them stay together in the group.  You simply change the setting of the slider bar and browse to different keypads to find the items you want to add.  As long as you keep the group selected, all of the items will be added in the same box.

In the screen shot above you can see that I entered the Nursery Rhymes "L" at 3 1/2 inches, a heart from George at 2 inches, the "v" and "e" at 2 1/2 inches and a butterfly from Serenade at 1 inch.

After kerning they look like this.

After nudging and welding the word looks like this.

I can quickly and easily copy and paste and resize to create many small duplicates of the image I have created since all of the items are in the same box.

I hope that you will feel more confident with welding now - go ahead and experiment with creating interesting combinations in one box using different sizes and making good use of the nudge arrows.  There are a couple of old videos on my blog demonstrating the two methods of welding.  They are listed and linked in the side column.  Here is the link to my blog, Capadia Designs.

Be sure to check in next month for a lesson on more advanced welding techniques.  Please don't hesitate to ask any questions - I will check the comments and try to help you if you are having difficulty.
Have a great weekend!
Please note - This post was written before the update to the Design Studio program that added the ability to group and resize items in separate boxes.


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