Getting a basic understanding of Design Space software is key to getting your Cricut machine to cut and draw, but there are some functions with names that might confuse you if you’re a beginner. For example, are you confused by the difference between weld vs attach? What about grouping or flattening?
This guide offers a straightforward explanation of all of these basic tools and instructions on how and when to use them:
- all the new Combine tools: Unite, Subtract, Intersect, and Exclude
- and bonus: how to avoid filled-in letters when Welding script fonts
(And if you’re just starting out, don’t worry! Most people in the Cricut community eagerly admit they get confused and make their share of mistakes. Learning to use Design Space and your Cricut machine is a journey. Even the most practiced Cricut users are always learning!)
Weld vs Attach in Cricut Design Space – what’s the difference?
Here’s the basic difference between these two functions.
Welding is a function that combines multiple shapes or letters into a single object for cutting or drawing. Welding has been a permanent operation, with no option to undo or unweld. That is until the new Design Space release in late October 2022. (More on this below.)
Attaching has 2 purposes:
- Attaching to maintain cut placement. If you have multiple cut shapes and you want them to be cut in a specific relation to each other, Attach will do this and cut in the arrangement you want.
- Fastening other linetypes to a cutting operation. For example, if you are creating a birthday card with a scoring line and a written greeting on a cut rectangle, Cricut Design Space will read these as separate functions to be performed on 3 different mats if they are not all attached. When the linetype operations are attached, you are telling Design Space they are all related and to be executed on the same mat.
Video: Weld vs Attach in Cricut
Download a printable reference sheet to Design Space Weld/Combine/Attach features here.
How to Unweld in Cricut Design Space
There is only one way to undo Weld itself: immediately after you have welded objects together, you can type Ctrl + Z to undo the weld. Once welded, and outside that brief window, you cannot undo weld. But now, you have way more flexible options than just Weld…
In October 2022, Cricut released a suite of new options to combine objects in Design Space. These functions are now collectively known as Combine, but they let you edit and manipulate shapes in new ways. Most importantly, these new functions can be undone, giving users the opportunity to “unweld” and redo certain functions.
New Combine menu options in Design Space, explained
Besides the original Weld function, the new Combine menu includes:
- Unite – this does the same thing as Weld, except you have the ability to undo the operation and edit your original shapes or text
- Subtract – subtract the top shape from the bottom shape. Similar to the Slice function. This operation will cut or draw one shape, but it can be undone
- Intersect – When two shapes overlap, this function will show only the overlapped portion.
- Exclude – the opposite of Intersect. When two shapes overlap, this function will delete the overlapped portion. The remaining portions will be treated as one object and cut together on the same mat.
The big benefit to Design Space users is that all of these new functions under the Combine menu can be reversed. Not just by undoing (control + Z) but even after you’ve saved the project. Even after you’ve closed the project and quit Design Space. Even after re-opening it.
This addresses a long history of requests from the Cricut community for an Unweld function in Design Space. Now, when you use the new Combine functions, Design Space creates a new group in the Layers panel. This layer shows the results of the unite, subtract, intersect or exclude function plus the original elements of your design. Note: the original shapes are retained, but now are just one color. Why? I have no clue, it is one of the great Cricut mysteries.
That means the the original elements are always held in reserve, just in case you need to modify them.
Weld vs Slice tools in Design Space
The Slice function in Design Space cuts any 2 intersecting shapes. But unlike the Subtract, Intersect or Exclude functions, all of the new pieces of the sliced shapes are retained as new shapes.
For example, if you use the Slice function on 2 overlapping shapes, you will get 4 independent shapes on the canvas. Imagine layering 2 pieces of bread, then making one cut with a knife. The result will be 4 pieces of bread.
If you use Subtract, Intersect or Exclude, the resulting shape will be seen as one object by Design Space.
What’s the difference between Attach and Group on Cricut?
As explained earlier, Attaching multiple elements together makes Design Space treat them as one unit on the same mat during the Make cycle. The example I gave earlier is that a score line and pen image are attached to a cut shape to make a birthday card.
How is the Group function different? Grouping is just a function that is in effect on the Design Space canvas. You can group different shapes, text and image together so they can be moved or highlighted as a single unit. But all of those grouped elements are treated as separate items once you click Make It.
Many Cricut Access images are multi-layer files that are grouped by default. For example, image #M409993FC (panda) is 3 cut layers that is grouped by default when added to the DS canvas. The layers move as one unit when you are working in Design Space. But once you click the Make It button, each layer shows up on its own mat in the Preview Screen, based on the color selection.
Short version: Attaching tells Design Space what goes together when the machine does the work. Grouping helps you keep the Design Space canvas organized while you are prepping your masterpiece for cutting.
What is Flatten vs Weld?
Flatten turns any image into a printable image, merging all selected layers into a single layer.
When you Flatten a layer, text or shape in Design Space, you are telling the software that you want to print it then cut it out. If you flatten an image then press the Make It button, Design Space will show you a preview of the image inside a bounding box. You will then be prompted to print the image, then cut it out.
The Flatten function comes with an “unflatten” option so you can restore the image to a cuttable object.
A welded group of shapes or text can be cut, drawn or foiled, and even further welded or sliced with other objects.
How to Weld (or Unite) letters in Cricut Design Space
When you are working with script, cursive or calligraphy fonts, there are times when you want to weld all the letters together so they cut as a unit, instead of each letter being cut individually, even though the letters overlap.
You can now use the Unite feature instead of the Weld tool to combine your text – you will get the desired cutting effect, but you will still be able to undo the function and modify or correct your text.
How to fix filled-in letters after welding in Design Space
There are some rare occurrences where welding or uniting your text will cause the counters in certain letters to fill in (the open space in an “o”, “a” or “e” for example). This is less of a problem since Cricut introduced advanced kerning features in Design Space version 6.9, but it still occurs from time to time.
If you get welded letters filling in, a lot of blog posts will tell you to ungroup the word and change the order of the letters in the layer menu. That is time consuming and tedious. Try this trick instead:
- Open the Offset tool and create a new offset around your letters, but set the width value is set to zero.
- Make sure the “Weld Offsets” box is checked and you have a perfect welded version of your letters, and your original text remains as its own layer in case you want to make changes later.
I hope this article sheds some light on the different tools available in Design Space. It’s to everyone’s benefit the Cricut keeps adding and refining their software to make it more accessible to people who don’t have formal training in professional caliber design software.
I’ve always said you can do a lot with Design Space. With the new tools that allow you to Unite, Subtract, Intersect and Exclude (as well as the ability to undo all of these functions) Cricut users will be able to increase creativity and make new, wonderful things.
Did I miss anything in this tutorial? I’d love to get your feedback. Please leave a comment below!