As I mentioned yesterday, I was very happy that the first attempt to get something to cut with the Cricut was successful. However, the Cricut Design Space program is pretty much useless for composing all but the simplest shapes, and so, I cast about for a free drawing program.
I happened across Inkscape, which feels familiar enough to these old CorelDraw hands. So, I downloaded and installed it, and began experimenting. Unfortunately, the first experiments were not at all successful, and it took me a little while to figure out the right recipe of Inkscape and Cricut Design Space to yield the results I was looking for.
- In Inkscape, switch to sane units like inches or millimetres. Design Space defaults to inches, and so, I went with that.
- For model train purposes, we are most interested in shapes with holes in them, like walls with window openings. So, draw that.
- Select each wall, including all its openings, and Combine the paths. If you don’t combine the paths, Design Space will consider the windows to be separate parts; I think the intent is that you might cut them out of a different material, and glue them on, because, well you’re supposed to be making wedding invitations, not models.
- Use the ruler to measure the bounding box of all the parts – the total extents of the drawing.
- Save the file with the bounding box dimensions as part of the name. Thanks to Miles Hale for this super suggestion, which he shared on the Modeling with Cricut Explorer Facebook group.
- Upload and Insert the SVG file into Cricut Design Space.
- To save material, move it near the top left corner of the space, and then resize it to the right size. Use the edit tab, and type in the dimensions, rather than attempting to use the mouse.
- Cricut, being made for crafters, wants to float all the individual shapes into a row at the top of the material. If you’re like me, you want to control this. To do so, highlight all the parts, and weld them together. This ensures the shapes are cut out in the layout specified, rather than side-by-side.
My experiments with styrene were inconclusive last night, and so, I will continue with that another day.