• logden38

Design Basics For Beginners

Asked someone for help with a messy SVG in a group and they told you to just "contour it out"? Your grouped letters won't stop cutting over each other? Or maybe you're not even sure what I just said? Don't worry! You're not alone. Design Space, or DS, can be tough to get used to - especially when it feels like there's so many other things to learn. That's why I made this easy to follow quick guide to all Design Space's basic functions. Read on to get your learning on!

Design space has a lot of functions, and you can actually do some cool stuff with it if you're willing to play around and learn a bit. For now, here are the basic functions:

Selecting multiple things: To select more than one shape or layer, hold "ctrl" on your keyboard while you click them, or hold "ctrl" while you select them from your layer menu.

Group: makes it so that two items can't move independently from each other - this is different than welding or attaching. It's mostly useful for making sure that two layers stay together while you're rearranging thing on the canvas. Text is usually only "grouped" unless you attach or weld it.

Duplicate: This creates a clone of the layer you have selected.

Slice: This is one of my favourite functions. To use it, select two elements (shapes, lines or layers) on your canvas (your screen with the grid). Then, click "slice". Design Space will create new cut layers. You can use this to cut shapes out of other shapes or to cut text out of shapes.

Weld: This function permanently connects two elements. It can't be "unwelded", but you can press the "undo" button to undo your weld - but it will also undo any steps you took after the weld... so be careful! This function basically removes any cut lines between two objects and makes them one. One of the most important times to use it is when you are using a cursive or script font - the letters in those fonts overlap, but they cut individually, so you may end up with a bunch of detached letters if you don't weld!

Attach: This is different than weld. It keeps all your elements in place, but they still cut separately. It's a bit similar to the "group" option, except "attach" will make sure that your elements stay where they are when you start cutting, whereas "grouping" elements is only for the design phase.

Flatten: Is similar to a weld. If you select more than one layer and "flatten" them, it will smush them into one single layer. It's main difference from "welding" or "attaching" is that it will create a print then cut layer, rather than just a regular cut layer.

Contour: When you're working with an SVG, you will be able to "contour" it, which allows you to move, change or delete individual parts of the SVG, like certain lines or those pesky little pieces that show up if the background didn't remove properly.

Layers: These are your layers. Everything here is an individual "element", and will have its own "command". The layers will list the command (for example, if it says "print then cut" or "basic cut", then your Design Space is telling your machine that that element will be cut from your material. The little "eye" shape in the corner lets you "hide" the element. Once you click it, you still have to click it again if you want that shape to show up on your final project - hidden objects will not cut.

Arrows: These are your "undo" and "redo" buttons.

Operation: For each individual element, you can select what you want the machine to do with it. You can ask it to cut, draw, score, or a few other things. You can have more than one "operation" for each canvas, but you have to make sure you assign the commands to the shapes. You can check that this is done either by clicking on the element and seeing what shows up on the "operation" menu, or checking your "layers" bar on the side.

Deselect: This button just unselects whatever you have selected. It's useful for when you have multiple things selected.

Edit: This is where "cut", "copy" and "paste" are. The "duplicate" button also works to "copy and paste".

Offset: This is a relatively new feature. It creates an outline or a bubble-type element around your shape. You can change the colour of this outline independently from the original shape over on your "layers" bar. It's used a lot for offsetting text to give it a "shadow" feel, like this:

Align: This is useful if you have several items that need to be layered, but they have to be lined up perfectly. For example, text over a square and be "aligned" to centre - meaning the text will move to the centre of the box - if you simply select both the text and the box and click "align" and then "centre"

Arrange: this is also useful for layering. It lets you move items "to the back" - which you will often need to do if you add a shape in at the end, but it needs to be part of the "background" or "back layer".

Flip: This is like "mirroring" your image. It is very important to do if you are working with HTV or infusible ink! It turns your element backward.

Dimensions: The next buttons on this bar are your "dimensions". This tells you how big your elements actually are. You can change them right here in the boxes - for example, if you know that your design can only be two inches, you can click your elements and change the boxes to 2 inches. However, everything in Design Space starts out with the dimensions locked. This means that when you change the height to a certain size, the width will automatically change in proportion. You can turn this off by clicking the little padlock icon above the dimensions, and then you will be able to change the height and width independently.

Text bar: your text bar is pretty straightforward - for the most part

Style: this allows you to pick whether you want your font to be "bold", "italic", or "regular". Keep in mind that not all fonts support italics, for example. So you may not be able to use that function on some.

Letter space: you can make the gap between letters bigger or smaller to your heart's desire. You may need to do this with some cursive fonts, as some of them have unusual or undesired space between letters.

Line space: if you have two lines of text, this will bring them closer or (make them further apart). Again, you may need to do this with some cursive fonts, as they often have unusually large spaces between the top and bottom line.

Alignment: this will change whether your text is aligned in the centre, or off to one of the sides, of the text box. This button will not align your text on the overall image the same as the "align" button on the bar we talked about earlier - it only lines the text up with itself.

Curve: This lets you... well... curve your text! It will bend your whole line of text around an imaginary circle.

Advanced: You can use this button to "ungroup" your letters. As you may remember from above, letters in text are only "grouped" - they are not attached. This lets you "ungroup" them and move them around however you want. This is helpful for the times when you have a line of text, but only a few of the letters are awkwardly spaced. You can move those letters individually, and then regroup the text by selecting all the layers with letters from your "layers" bar and clicking "group".


1. Why does my design look good in the canvas, but its separated once I click "make it"

This is happening because you need go go back to your canvas and "attach" your designs. Remember to only attach things that you want to cut from the same material!

2. Why is it only giving me the option to "print then cut" my image?

This might happen for a few reasons! First, if you're working with a PNG instead of an SVG, make sure that when you uploaded your image, you clicked "cut image" instead of ""print then cut" image. If that's not the problem, double check that you haven't flattened two layers together, or tried to attach two elements that are set to cut out of different coloured materials.

3. My letters won't touch?

Some fonts have padding around their letters, which means that they won't overlap like you want them to do. The easy solution to this is to head up to your "letter space" button and hit the "down" arrow until they are close enough together for your liking. Once you're done, make sure you weld them all together!

4. When I welded my letters, all the little loops filled in?

This happens a lot! In my experience, it usually happens because the machine and software are trying to be realistic about what they can cut. When you make your font really, really small and try to weld, sometimes the two sides of your "o" are so close together that it just fills in the blank. Try undoing your weld and then making your font really big. Weld it again and see if it clears up your issue!

Don't see your question here? Ask it on my "contact" page, or in the comments below!