Jul 16, 2009


Hi everyone! Welcome to part 2 - the fun part. If you haven't already, please read Part 1 below. We ended the last session with an image that consisted of only 5 pure colors (including white). We've eliminated all the other shades which will give us cleaner outlines to cut. The first thing we need to do is to open our saved Tweety image in Paint.net. Now click 'Image', on the drop-down menu click on 'Canvas size...". A new box will appear as shown:

In the new box click the 'By percentage' button and change the value to 300%. Leave the 'Anchor' value as 'Top Left' and click OK. This will give you the Tweety image on a larger work area, which you will need to move the various colors around.

Next click 'View' then 'Zoom in'. Do this 4 times and you will have a large view of Tweety. You will have to use the scroll bars to get the image where you can see it. *HINT* You can move the toolboxes out of the way by clicking and holding on the title bar of the box and dragging it out of the way.
NOW for the 'FUN' part. First we'll take the yellow part of Tweety and set it aside. There is only one yellow area in this image so it's easy to break it out. Using the 'Magic Wand' tool, click it anywhere in the yellow area. The yellow part is now selected. Using the 'Move Selected Pixels' tool, click and hold on the highlighted yellow area and drag it downward until it is clear of the remaining image.

You'll notice that where the yellow used to be, there is a checkerboard pattern. This area is transparent as far as the computer is concerned, and Inkscape doesn't handle transparent well, so we'll have to make it white. Using the 'Magic Wand', click on the transparent area to select it, then using the 'Paint Can' flood tool color it white. When you zoom out you'll have a white Tweety with the yellow part below like this:

Now zoom back in so we can separate the orange parts - Tweety's feet and beak. Using the 'Magic Wand' tool, and while holding the 'Crtl' key, click on each of the 4 orange areas to highlight all of them at once. This will create another layer consisting of the orange areas only. *Remember* that you can drag the toolboxes out of the way. The image should now look like this:

Click the 'Move Selected Pixels' tool. An area will be 'boxed in' that includes all of the orange areas that were selected in the last step. Click and hold anywhere inside the box, and drag it to an open area on the work area. You may have to zoom out to make it easier to position the orange layer on your canvas.

Select and paint the transparent areas white as we we did before. Now you can use the same technique to separate the blue and finally the black areas. Don't forget to paint the transparent areas as they are created. *HINT* You can use one of the 3 'Select' tools to re-arrange the layers to make the best use of your work area. You should now have an image thet looks something like this:

One more step and your image is ready to be converted to SVG in Inkscape. Use the 'Rectangle Select' tool to select all the layers together. Click 'Image' on the toolbar then click 'Crop to Selection'. The finished image will look like this:

Save your work and it is ready for conversion to SVG in Inkscape. If you have gotten this far with me you are probably familiar with Inkscape and will know how to manipulate the image and its layers, but I think I'll do the next post on converting this image for those of you that aren't quite sure of what to do next. Stay tuned! Until then.......


Jul 5, 2009


Hi All! I'm sorry that its been so long since the last post, but we have been very busy getting the new website organized. Anyway, I'll show you a really easy way to get a color image image ready to cut with the SURE-CUTS-A-LOT software. I'll break this lesson into 2 parts: First - selecting and editing the image with PAINT.NET and Second - Separating the colors with PAINT.NET and converting the file to SVG in INKSCAPE. Below is the "Tweety" that we will work on. To download it, just right click on the picture then select 'Save Picture As...' and save it to a file where you can find it easily.

When selecting a color image to cut I have some basic guidelines that I follow.

1. - Select an image that is fairly large so you get most of the detail
The image above is 237 pixels X 433 pixels.

2. - Select an image that doesn't have any tiny details.

3. - Select an image with as few colors as possible. If there are some areas of
the image with shades of the main colors, that's OK because we'll deal with that in this lesson. There are 5 colors in this image (including white).

In this part of the lesson we want end up with 5 'pure' colors only (no other shades of the main colors). The first thing we need to do is open PAINT.NET and then open the Tweety image file that you saved. Next click on 'Image' in the toolbar then click 'Zoom In' from the drop-down menu. Repeat this step until you have an image like this:

You'll notice some 'mottled' areas near the color transitions that we will eliminate. This will result in cleaner cut lines when you convert to SVG. Using the 'Magic Wand' tool, click on the yellow area where there is no mottling. The yellow part of the image is now high-lighted. Next click the 'Color Picker' ('eyedropper') tool. Notice that your primary color is the exact yellow of Tweety. Lastly select the'Flood' ('paint can') tool and click it on the yellow part of the image. Presto! the mottles are gone! Remove the mottles from each separate area the same way. Be sure to pick the right color and don't forget to do the background. **HINT - You can select or paint several areas of the same color by holding down the 'Crtl' key as you click on them.**

Your 'de-mottled' image (at actual size) should look like this:

In the next post (which won't be as long coming as this one) we will separate the colors the easy way and convert it to SVG.


May 3, 2009


Hello and WELCOME BACK! While trying to help a member from the 'Surecutsalot Users Group' , we realized that we should do a tutorial on making a silhouette from a line drawing. We have found this to be the easiest technique for making monochrome cutting files. A great source for these types of images is free on-line coloring pages. To follow along in this lesson you will need 'Paint.net' ( a super FREE! software program) and Kristina's Teapot image: GET IMAGE . First download and install Paint.net if you haven't already, then open the teapot file that you downloaded. In the 'Tools' box on the left select the 'magic wand'. It looks like a little torch. Click the'+' part of the wand cursor on the spout area of the teapot. Notice the sparkly line that appears around the spout area. This means that everything inside the sparkly line is selected and can be modified and everything else is ignored. Click the 'Paint Bucket' cursor with black for the color inside the selected area.

Use the wand and bucket to fill in the other large areas until your image looks like this:

Next click the wand on the pattern area near the teapot handle. Notice that the area inside the handle is also selected. This is because the area we need to color isn't completely enclosed by the black outline. In this image, a couple of pixels are missing from the pattern outline. This isn't visible at this magnification level. Using the 'View' and 'Zoom in" feature, increase the magnification level to 300%.

The gaps in the outline are now more easily seen. To replace them, use the paint brush with black as the color. Set the brush width to 1 or 2 pixels. Be sure to select the entire image using 'Edit' and 'Select all' from the drop down menu. Now just click on the image where the missing pixels should be.

Now that the missing pixels are replaced, you can click the wand on the pattern area and fill it with black. While we are at this magnification you can paint in the little areas of the pattern until the outline of the teapot is more distinctly defined. You can move the various boxes out of the way by clicking and dragging on the blue bar at the top of the box. Next increase the brush width to about 20 and paint in the rest of the teapot except for the bottom. We have another technique to make painting that area easier.

All that is left to complete the silhouette is to paint in the bottom area. Make sure you have the entire image selected. To thicken the bottom in order to make it easier to 'stay in the lines' just use the 'Line Tool' with a brush width of about 4 and black for the color. Draw a straight line across the bottom and the use a wider brush to paint in the rest of the teapot.
Finally, click 'View->Actual size' to return the image to its original size. Save your work and it is ready to be converted to SVG in Inkscape. The next post will be Kristina's Teacup.


Apr 18, 2009


Hello Everyone! This little instruction is on making a folding card using Microsoft Paint, a program that almost everyone has. Image selection is important. You want an image that has a wide left side or 2 or 3 areas along the left side for the hinge. You also want the card to stand by itself so an image with a large base or several points along the bottom is important. The image we are using here as an example is a POOR choice because of the round bottom (we had to use tape to make it stand up). So select a suitable image (jpeg, png, gif, or whatever) and open it in Paint. Using the little 'handles' (the tiny dots at the middle of the right and bottom of the white area) drag the white area out to at least 4 times the original size. This will give you room to work. Using the 'rectangle select' tool, select the image and drag it away from the top left area.

Next you must clone another copy of the same image. With the image selected, click Edit>Copy.

A copy of your original image will appear in the top left of your work area. The duplicate will be selected. Next click 'Image>Flip/Rotate. In the box that appears be sure to select 'Flip horizontal', then click 'OK'.

The copied image is now mirrored. Next select the original image, making sure that 'Transparent' mode is active, and drag it towards the mirrored image. Carefully line up the images so that they touch symmetrically at the hinge area. Because the images are touching they will be 'welded' when you convert to SVG.

The resulting 'welded' image should appear something like this:

Now crop the image using the little handles (to remove all that excess white area) and save it. You can now convert it to SVG in Inkscape. Ours looked like this:

Our finished card looked like this:


Apr 11, 2009


Hello All! We're glad that you're still with us to finish up separating the colors of the BADGE image. If you are just joining us, please read Parts 1 & 2 below. Let's get started. So far we have removed or painted over everything on the image that wasn't gold and was easy to access. There are few little areas left to be looked after; the middle of some of the letters and the 'phantom' outlines. To make these areas easier to work on, we have to enlarge the image using the 'Zoom In' function in the 'View' drop-down menu. When your image is enlarged the white areas will show up as gray. Click 'View' then 'Zoom In' a couple of times and your screen should something like this: With the image enlarged, you can use the 'Magic Wand' to select the centers of the letters and use the paint bucket (or brush) to change the black areas to white. If you use the brush, note that the brush size is enlarged the same as the image.

Next we will get rid of the outlines. Select a gold area with the 'Magic Wand'. Check to see if the wand included the 'phantom' outlines. It probably didn't. On the toolbar there is a box called 'Tolerance'. Increase the tolerance (by left-clicking and dragging) until the outlines are included with the gold area when you use the 'Magic Wand'. This will probably take a few tries to get it just right. Then paint the selected area black. The 'Phantom' is gone! Continue selecting and painting until all the gold areas are black. Sometimes you must work the opposite way; i.e. selecting the white areas while adjusting the tolerance and painting in white.

You will find that even after the selecting and painting there are still some areas with poor detail. We must eliminate these so that you don't get a 'raggedy' SVG. To do this last step I use a technique that I call 'Pixel Painting'. Zoom in a couple of more steps until your image looks something like this:

You should be able to see the individual pixels that make up the image. 'Zoom In' another step if you need to. On the 'Edit' drop-down menu click 'Select All' to select the entire image. Choose the brush size to be 1 pixel. Now you can add black or white pixels (one pixel at a time) to fix all the little problem areas that will show up on your final cut. You will have to use the scroll bars to move around the image to make sure you haven't missed any bad spots. When you are done, 'Zoom Out' to normal size. Your image will be improved and contain only black and white (a perfect silhouette) and should look something like this:

Now save your image so you can convert it in Inkscape.

When you trace the bitmap in Inkscape select 'Brightness cutoff', set the threshold to about .650 - .700, and uncheck 'Smooth' (to give you sharper corners). Save your file and that's it! The gold part of the 'Badge' image is ready to cut. Now use the same techniques to make a silhouette of each of the remaining colors.

REMEMBER - Make a silhouette of each color and don't be afraid to experiment. After you have done some images you will be able to separate the colors in just a few minutes. For the best results we always start with the largest image we can.


Apr 3, 2009


Hello all and welcome to our blog. I hope you have all downloaded the image we will be working on and have Paint.net (or other good graphics program) ready to go. The important thing is that you must have a 'Magic Wand' or 'Fuzzy Select' tool. This feature enables you to select an area consisting of a single color. It is represented by an icon that looks something like this:
The first thing we must do is to create a new folder in which to save our images. When we are done you will have an image for each color that you want to cut. Make sure that you remember where your folder is and what it is called.For the first part of this lesson we will make an image consisting of only the gold parts of the original image. If you remember from the post 'First Image' it is easiest to convert an image to an SVG if it is a silhouette, so we will make a silhouette of the gold parts of the image. Open the 'badge' image with Paint.net and select the 'Magic Wand' tool. The cursor will be a little '+' sign with a diagonal line. The 'Hot Spot' of the cursor is the center of the '+' sign.Since we only want the gold areas for this silhouette, we need to make all the other colors disappear. Click the cursor on the green area on the lower left of the shield. You will notice a dotted line that seems to flash surrounding the green area. This means the the selected green area will be the only area affected by the next coloring step.

All we have to do to make the highlighted green area disappear is to paint it the same color as the background, in our case, white. Select the 'paint brush', make sure you have white selected as the color, and pick a brush size. I like to use a fairly large brush so I can color an area in a couple of swipes. You don't have to worry about 'staying inside the lines' because the highlighted area is all that is affected.

Now, just paint the green area white by clicking and holding the left mouse button and moving the cursor over the green area. Just continue selecting everything that isn't gold and painting it white. If you happen to click or paint a gold area just click 'Edit' then 'Undo' on the toolbar. Don't worry about the small areas inside the letters or the remaining edges of the painted areas, we'll get to them later. You should now have an image that looks like this:

On the toolbar click 'Edit' then 'Select All'. Notice the the entire image is enclosed by the flashing outline. Select the paint brush and white as your color, and a brush size that you are comfortable with. Now paint out all edge lines, etc. that are easy to get to with the brush size that you are using. But BE CAREFUL here because the whole image is selected and a slip might cause you to paint some of the gold - REMEMBER THE UNDO FUNCTION!
You now should have an image that looks like this:

You should save the image at this point. Use the folder that you created earlier and use a file name that is easy to remember, like 'badgegold'. There are still some black areas and edge remnants but we will get rid of them and smoothen any jagged parts in the next post. If you have any questions -email us- . Until then;


Mar 28, 2009


Hello all. We're sorry to interupt the "Separating Colors" post but this is screaming to get done. Marla (Hi, Marla!) created some stick people on Facebook and asked me to convert them so she could cut them in vinyl to put on her van, which I did. She liked them so much that she wanted to share them, but the stick people created with that program are copyrighted. There has been some interest in stick people over at the YAHOO SCAL Group so lets get stick people to anyone who wants some. First you have to open Paint, then make a circular shape for a head, then draw........ Of course we're only kidding, but the point is anyone can draw stick figures and they are very easy to convert in Inkscape . You can use almost any graphics program there is and you should end up with exactly the stick person you want. We drew ours using a graphics tablet that we got from TIGER DIRECT for 50 bucks. You will even get a good figure using the mouse.
icon stick person who joined YAHOO! Groups

Personalize your figure with skis, scissors, golf clubs or whatever. If you can't convert them to SVGs send them to us. Maybe we should put up a page just to show what everybodies' stick person looks like. Let us know in the comments section or by email


Mar 23, 2009


Hello again everyone. There has been a lot of interest on separating the colors of an image over at the SURE CUTS A LOT group on YAHOO . Over the next few posts, I'll show you one way to do this using a free program called Paint.net. This is a super piece of software that rivals ADOBE PHOTO SHOP in features. I have found that Paint.net is easy to use and a very powerful program. When we are finished all the parts of this lesson you should be able to determine if an image is suitable for cutting and be able to make an SVG of each color. For this lesson we will use the image of a military badge that we recently converted for a member of YAHOO Groups. This image is a good place to start because it is very sharp and has excellent contrast. To download Paint.net click on the button. To get the image that we will convert, right click the image and save it (remember where you saved it).

Get Paint.NET!

So go ahead and install Paint.net and save the image. In the next post we will start to manipulate the image and break out the colors so that each color can be converted to an SVG for cutting. Remember to send us any good SVGs that you would like to share; we'll add them to the library. Until then:

Mar 13, 2009


A very useful resource for Windows users has been right there all the time - Microsoft Paint. It is included with Windows and is very easy to use. I find that welding letters in Paint is easier than doing it in SURE CUTS A LOT. For this post we'll make the phrase "ST.PAT" with welded letters but shapes use exactly the same technique. I am using a free font called MERLIN because it is stylish, cuts nicely, is easy to weld (because of the shape of the letters), and has a Celtic feel to it.
To start, open Paint and make your background a size that's easy to work with by clicking "Image" then selecting "Attributes". 4" X 3" is a good size so just type the values in the appropriate boxes. Make sure to select the proper units, then click OK. It's best to have a big background area so you'll have plenty of room to move the letters around. Now select the text tool (the box with the "A"). Drag a square a little bigger than the size of one letter. A text select box will appear so you can pick the font and size you want. When you have selected the font and size, type a capital "S". At this point, make sure that you have the 'transparent' background selected. There are 2 boxes with colored shapes inside; 'transparent' is the bottom one. Now make another text box in a different area of your image and type in a capital "T". Continue making text boxes and typing your letters until you have all the characters needed to make your image.

Using the "Rectangle Select" tool (the dotted line rectangle next to the star) drag a box around your capital "S" and drag the letter to the top left part of your image. Then drag a box around a "T" and drag it so the cross of the "T" is touching the top of the "S". The "S" is now welded to the "T". Continue with the other letters until your ST.PAT image is the way you want it.

Finally, using the "Rectangle Select" tool, drag a box around the finished text and drag the entire text image to the upper-left corner. Crop the image so the completed image fills the back ground using the handles (dots halfway along the right side and bottom of the background - you will get a 2-headed arrow when you're on the handle). The finished image can now be saved.

After your imaged has been saved, you can open it with INKSCAPE and convert it to an SVG file as discussed in the previous post.


Feb 14, 2009


Welcome to MY CRICUT SURE CUTS A LOT. We're just beginning to learn about blogging as a form of networking for people with similar interests, so please bear with us if we make a few errors. What we hope to accomplish is to have a library of ready to cut patterns and images that are "ready-to-cut" on your CRICUT machine. We will add our own images, but we also encourage you to send us your patterns to add to the library. We have set up a website to store the images. You can download them at: CRICUT SVG Images

Although the website is far from being done we are working on it all the time, so please come back every week or so to check out our progress and get more images.To use these patterns on your CRICUT, you will need the SURE-CUTS-A-LOT software which you can buy through the link on the right. The cost is about the same as one CRICUT cartridge but you will be able to cut thousands of free fonts and images. The other links are software programs that you can use to make your own SVG files. They are excellent programs and they are FREE! In later posts we will discuss how to use them to help you make your own SVG files. If you are already creating SVG files for your CRICUT and would like to share them, please email them to us at: cecilbadlands@gmail.com (please put 'svg file' in the subject line). When we add your submission we will acknowledge your contribution by putting your name or a link to your blog/website on the contributors'page. If you want to download the free software now and play with it; GO FOR IT! Remember - it's electronic, you can't hurt anything.

Our first tip is a general rule that we use when finding an image and creating an SVG file to cut on the CRICUT is try to find a silhouette of the image. Google Images is a great place to start: http://images.google.ca/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi . For example; type in heart silhouette, and save a black and white silhouette image that you like. You can use JPEGs, BITMAPS, GIFs, PNGs and other types of images.

Next, start INKSCAPE and click 'File' and 'Open' then select the image that you just saved. Now click on 'View'-Display Mode...- and click 'Outline...'. The image will be replaced with a red "X". Click on the border of the red "X" and it will be selected.

Now click on 'Path' then click 'Trace Bitmap...' and another window will appear. Make sure the red "X" is selected. In the new window, click on 'Brightness cutoff' and set the threshold value to about .650 then click 'Update'. Your image will appear the way it will look after cutting on your CRICUT. If you like the way it looks click OK. An outline of the image will appear in the red "X". The outline is the cut your CRICUT will make.

Close the 'Trace Bitmap' window. The outline image will be selected but you will need to select the red "X". With the red "X" selected, hit the 'Delete' key on your keyboard and the red "X" will disappear. You are left with your finished SVG file. To save it, click on 'File' - Save As... and a new window will appear.

Decide where you want to save your SVG file and navigate there. Be sure to name the file and change the file type to .svg (near the top of the 'Save'window) before you click the 'SAVE' button.

CONGRATULATIONS!! Your svg image can now be imported into the SURE CUTS A LOT program and cut on your CRICUT. REMEMBER - it's easiest if you start with a silhouette. We'll show you how to convert other images into silhouettes in future posts.

Send us your SVG files for cutting on the CRICUT machine: