Now that the Print Then Cut feature is available for the Cricut Explore, many people are asking which type of files to use for their projects to take full advantage of the printed images.
When you choose one of the images from the Cricut Imagine cartridges (which were designed to be printed and cut) you will see many designs with shading and fine details, like this pirate ship from the Buccaneer cartridge.
Multi-layered images like the characters on the Cricut licensed Disney cartridges can be flattened for Print Then Cut (see the blog post HERE) They will have many layers but each layer will be a single color without shading since these were designed to be cut and assembled.
If you have digital scrapping kits, the embellishments are usually done in PNG format and you can upload and print then cut them with the Explore (see this blog post for more details on how to do this). These images are often very detailed however, you can not make changes to them easily since they are already flattened.
When you purchase files from non-Cricut sites that offer various file formats, you might not be sure which format is the best to use for your project. Sometimes you buy a design that includes many file formats including both SVG and PNG. Other sites, such as Lettering Delights, sell cutting formats like SVG separately from the JPEG and PNG files that are normally used for digital craft projects.
Lettering Delights sells images as Graphics or Cut Sets. Here is an example of the Ice Princess Graphics Bundle. The alphabet letters are filled with a design and there are small details within the images.
This is the Ice Princess Cut Bundle. The letters are solid and the images are separated into cuttable layers without as many details.
When you import these images into Design Space they look like this. The PNG is already flattened and has more details in the hair, on the clothing and shows the feet within the shoes (looking at this reminds me of the "Spot the Differences" quizzes from some children's magazines!). There are 23 individual pieces that make up the SVG version of the princess. While the two are very similar, the demands of cutting require that some of the details be eliminated.
After flattening the SVG version and printing the images to cut they look like this. The mouth and eyes are slightly bigger on the SVG version of the princess and her hair is in front of the skirt of her dress which does not have a top layer.
There are similar differences between these two versions of the other princess. While they are small changes, they do alter the look of the character.
Here are the two princesses in the SVG version, flattened to print then cut.
These are the PNG versions which are already flattened when you import them into Design Space.
Both the PNG and the SVG versions cut equally well with my Explore. I usually buy both versions and probably will continue to do so since they are generally quite inexpensive (and even less expensive if you use a coupon code at Lettering Delights - the current code is FiveForMe to save $5 when you spend $10 or more). I am an affiliate for Lettering Delights.
This photo shows the difference for the Alphabets - in SVG format, just the shape will be cut but in the Graphic PNG file you see the snowy paper pattern in the image of each letter. You also could choose to import the PNG without preserving the original image in the shape and cut it from printed or solid paper.
You can easily combine the Lettering Delights and other PNG files with the Cricut shapes and images. I made this label with the Cricut Craftroom Basics free image set, the Lettering Delights alphabet and snowflakes from a variety of Cricut cartridges. Everything was flattened together and printed then cut as one image.
I hope this explanation helps you when choosing files to print then cut - please leave any questions in the comments and I will be glad to help with answers.
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