Friday, February 28, 2014

CRICUT: Design Space... first impressions

These are my first observations of the Cricut Design Space program. 

I'm keeping in mind that it's new and that there may be changes/additions. And I get that I'm used to using CCR and the old Design Studio.... 

I had such high hopes for this program and really wanted it to be amazing! The Explore looks like such a great machine... it deserves great software. Don't get me wrong.... it absolutely does have its great points, but the negatives are big ones in my opinion. (And as it's my opinion, no-one has to agree with me...)

Many of us use other brand cutters beside the Cricut so we are used to other design programs. And those programs are amazing and have all the features you would expect to get the best out of your cutter. (Offset anyone???)

So, as I said... my first observations...

Pros
  • When you select an image and place it on the mat, all the layers are placed at the same time. (However if you only want one or two parts of the image you have to ungroup and delete or hide the unwanted parts.)

  • You can move the images around on the cut preview screen. That means you can load your mat up with different colour cardstock and just keep selecting which layer you want to cut. Just because the mat you see at the cut screen is totally covered with one colour, it doesn't mean you have to use full sheets of cardstock.


  • Not sure if this fits in the Pro or Con category, or whether it's just an oddity.....Dragging the middle left arrow to the right horizontally flips the object. Dragging the right middle arrow to the left flips the object. Same goes for bottom middle arrow, but it flips vertically. Unfortunately the shape also stretches while you're flipping... so I'm not sure how useful this is.

    (I'd much prefer one of these arrows be a move handle so you could move your object horizontally or vertically.)
   

  • You can do multiple lines of text in one text box and you can left/center and right align them. You can also increase the line space between the lines of text.
 


Once you've typed your text click on the All Fonts heading in the Edit box to change between All Fonts, System Fonts (those that are on your own computer), Cricut Fonts, Single Layer and Has a Writing Style.

Each time you select a different font the text in the preview box will change.
  • You can select multiple images from the carts/image library and insert them onto the canvas at the same time

  • There's a score line image that you can insert onto your shape. Yay!! No more ugly tick marks!!!
(Unfortunately.... that image currently says it's unavailable. Hopefully that will be fixed soon!)  Fixed!
It's a bit clunky to use. I think some more work needs to be done here. It's difficult to resize and also difficult to position in the correct place on your object. (Make sure after you have placed the score mark on your mat, you click on the little constrain proportions image between the width and height boxes. That will allow you to keep the width at 0.01" while setting the height to whatever you need.)
The score line is now easier to use since the April 2014 update! 

You can rotate the score line to make it horizontal or at an angle, but you can't curve it.

To find it type "Score line" in the Search box (with All Images selected) then press the search button.


  • And of course, the most important "pro" to some is the ability to import svg, dxf, jpg, gif, png and bmp image files and cut them on the Explore. For links to some popular online stores that sell svg's etc look in the sidebar to the right of this post.

Cons
  • There's no Cricut keypad..... not sure whether that's good or bad, or whether it really doesn't matter considering all the layers are placed on the mat for you.
  • You have to ungroup images/text before you can use Hide Contour.
  • Even on my brand spanking new souped-up computer and fast internet speeds there is still lag.
  • You have to ungroup images/text to weld. Remember Cricut Craft Room....where two images only have to touch each other and they are automatically welded....? 
  • You can't unweld!!! Seriously... so you've gone to all the trouble of ungrouping your images/text so you can weld them.  Then later you decide you don't like how/where you've welded them and want to move the weld position.... Too bad - you'll have to restart because you can't unweld them. (You can select Edit, Undo but say you've done 5 other actions since you welded... you'll have to undo all of those first before you can undo the weld.)
  • There is no offset function! This one really upsets me. Seriously.... how long have we been begging for this??  Stretching an existing shadow is in no way comparable to being able to create an offset. Or multiple offsets...  If I weld letters into a title (still rolling my eyes about the welding) and then attach an image to it, I want to be able to create an offset shadow around it.

    Just like the yellow offset around this image from the Groovy Times... this is what I want to be able to do.

  • There's no skew function
  • There is no Align function. If you want to align multiple objects (eg at the top) you'll have to change the Y coordinate on each of them individually to be the same. Selecting all the objects and changing the Y coordinate moves them all but only one of the objects you select will move to that coordinate. The others will move up or down but not to the Y coordinate you set.
Fixed! An align tool has since been added. 
  • There is no crop tool... or eraser tool. (There's now a slice tool though which is pretty cool.)
  • You can't cut images that have gone outside the mat boundaries. If the image is larger than 12" wide, when you click the Go button you will get an error saying the image is too large for the mat.
I think PC really did themselves a disservice here. They had an amazing opportunity to make their new machine able to cut a true 12x12 image and they didn't take it. I wanted to make a card base the other day that was 12x12... it can't be done!
  • Can't move images that you don't want to cut off to the side of the canvas as they are placed back within the cutting boundary. (Instead you click the Hide/Unhide button and that image won't appear on the Cut screen.
  • The middle left handle doesn't move the image to the left, it stretches it. (The same applies to the middle top, bottom and right handles.) This makes moving image horizontally or vertically on its X or Y measurement impossible unless you repeatedly use the arrows on your keyboard (because holding down the arrow doesn't work) or you use the X & Y coordinates in the Edit menu. Which leads me to......

     (The handles have since been moved to the corners of the image.)
  • The Y coordinate is fiddly to change...  To change the X coordinate you just drag your mouse over the figure in the box and you can overtype it. With the Y coordinate you have to hover to the right of the box until you see the little "I beam" then click and drag backwards to select the figure.. then overtype it. That's a pretty easy thing to fix though...
Looks like they fixed this problem. :)
  • Right clicking doesn't show you which font/image you have used. But the layers box will tell you the name of the cart. 
So, I'm sure it used to show you the name of the cart in the layers box, but now it doesn't even do that! 
  • There are no cutting boundary indicators on the canvas so you won't know something is too big or goes outside the cutting boundary until you click the Go button
  • The mat canvas sits at X 1.0" and Y 1.0" instead of at 0" (The screen you design on isn't actually a mat. It's more like your desk where you toss everything you're working with on it. Once you have everything where you want it you press cut and DS sorts everything by colour and moves everything that's the same colour to a cutting mat.
  • You can only have one canvas open at a time. 

That's it for now!  


29 comments:

Vanessa said...

Thanks for the info! I haven't played with Design Space yet, but it's nice to know some of the pros and cons before I do.

Renee said...

Thanks for the review. I agree with you, this new machine looked like it was going to be awesome. The fact that the software leaves so much to be desired is sooo SAD. PC really missed the mark on this. Anyone who has used any of the competitors' software is going to be disappointed. I know I am. I wanted a reason to buy the new machine and their new software isn't it. :(

Diane said...

Thank you for the review. I didn't buy this at launch as I bought the Cameo a year ago, and couldn't justify another purchase so soon. After using Design Studio, I'd be lost with the missing features in Design Space.

Dell said...

Thanks for the review Narelle. I too purchased a Cameo a year ago and have been a long time Cricut user with many cartridges. I am really not interested in learning another machine and between the die cutters that I have believe I am set for a long time. I do hope that all the bugs get worked out for the Explore users. Too bad that there are so many software issues.

danita K said...

Thanks Narelle. You did a great review. Just like the others mentioned, I expected a lot more out of this program than what is offered, especially since PC did a comparison chart to the Silhouette. I did not buy at launch because I was waiting for all the bugs to be worked out. Hopefully they will add some of the desired features in this software with some future updates.

Janis said...

I'm another who didn't buy at launch. I am one to wait & see how the reviews go & how everyone likes it. I know most everyone just received their Explores today & some are still waiting, but sadly seems like a lot of problems with DSpace. I played with it & the only thing that really empressed me was the fonts & how we can use them. I been using Cricuts since 2006 & was planning to eventually buy the Explore, but if things don't change soon I won't bother. I do LOVE my Expression. I appreciate & respect your review. Thanks....

LindaW said...

Thanks Narelle. I find that I have a Mac and they said oh! it is going to do great (QUOTE) Mac from PC. Well my computer is only 1 1/2 old and have a great internet, sometimes when it rains since I live in a rainforest in Hawaii, my satelite gets screwey...but it still is fast. Well it waited and waited it seems that it took a long time to load. I think that is about the worst thing just sitting waiting for our little wheel to stop spinning.....Maile Lei

Randi said...

thank you for your review I was playing a bit last night and was not real impressed, I love my original bugs and I also have another brand and I did not find Design Space as versatile either.

Linda said...

Thanks for a great review. I was a die hard cricut lover and user until last Sept when I sold all and bought the Cameo. It does everything that I always my cricut to do and more. I do love it but miss my cartridges as I loved the images. I saw that supposedly each image had a shadow now, wrong. Only the ones that had a shadow now have shadows. I also would want to shadow my entire grouping. I had problems getting the text to change to the font that I wanted so gave up. It was probably user error.
I so wanted to be able to buy this machine to use my carts that are in CCR but I think I will continue with my cameo and maybe later in the year PC will figure it out. I also love, love the print and cut feature.

Ms. Lucie said...

Thanks for your review Narelle. I have had my original Cricut since 2008. I work at Michael's as a PaperEd Instructor, so have access to the E and E2 (and we just got the display Explore--but no cords, so can't use it). I've experienced glitchy problems with CCR for years, and just felt like that was the way life would be forever. I finally took the plunge and bought a Silhouette Portrait two months ago for Christmas (2013), and from day 1, have had NO problems, just beautiful results!! News of the Explore came out just after my Portrait purchase. I knew instinctively that if it's a PC product, no matter how much hype they advertised, it would be glitchy! Your review confirmed that to me. I downloaded the DS program yesterday, so I could play with it, and Linda W, waited and waited for the program to load!!! What???? I walked away for an hour and a half!!! And it was still loading!!!! I finally killed it and low and behold, it had loaded. Not a very good first impression of what was supposed to be an impressive new program. Some of the things I am now used to on the Silhouette are supposed to be added to the Explore later!!! What?? I have them now. I won't be buying this machine. I will learn how to use the program, in case I ever have to teach it to anyone at Michael's, and assuming Michael's ever gets the cords to turn on the machine and connect to my laptop and wi-fi for my laptop to work in my store!!!!

Francine said...

Great review Narelle! You have affirmed my decision not to jump in on this one with both feet. I don't need any frustration in the little crafting time I have available now, so I'll sit this one out. Maybe this time next year one of your reviews will change my mind. Thanks!

Joyce Smith said...

You all are making me sad. I have an Expression 2 and actually since I am not a hard core craft Geek, I think CCR is great! It suits my needs perfectly. I have been happy to purchase cartridges or digital images and don't care about uploading random images from elsewhere. I thought that CCR was sort of intuitive to use and I picked it up pretty quickly. Not that I am an expert by any means, but I have made tons of banners and cupcake wrappers and cupcake toppers, etc. I love the new Cricut Explore hardware! BUT at least so far, I HATE the software we have to use in order to use the great hardware. I cannot even figure out how to make a banner flag and cut out three flags at a time on one mat! Trying to make a birthday banner for my grandson's first birthday and am about ready to break out my Expression 2 because I am so frustrated that I can't do something so simple......

Candace said...

I think the Explore is AWESOME! I have had no problem with the software atall. I have cut SVG's, my OWN signature and of course Cricut Images.

Narelle said...

I really need to do a follow up to this post. I've been using the software since it was released and while I still think there is a few things that should be added.... I have warmed to it! :)

Sabrina Ballenger said...

How do you edit text if you make a typo. I can't figure it out. Is it possible?

Narelle said...

Sabrina, so long as you haven't welded, sliced or ungrouped your text, you can open up the text box again and edit. But if you've done any of those mentioned actions your text has been changed to an image and can't be edited.

REBELLIOUS1 said...

how CAN I DO AN OFFSET ON THE EXPLORER ?

REBELLIOUS1 said...

I AM NEW TO THE CRICUT FAMILY AND I APPRECIATE THE INFO YOU PROVIDED. IM STILL LEARNING.

Narelle said...

There's currently no way to create an offset in Design Space. If you're using non cricut images and text you can create the offset in Inkscape and save it as a svg then import that into Design Space. If you're a member of the Cricut Lovers Guide to Design Space Facebook group we have a document in our files section called Easy Peasy Offsets.

GBOtis said...

QUESTION:
My design space gives me an error message saying that my image is too big to cut...I read somewhere else that even if you are cutting on a 12x12 paper, your image must stay within the 8.5x11 size...My image is within that size...does anyone know how to fix this problem?

Narelle said...

On a 12x12 mat your image must be within 11.5" x 11.5"

Are you just doing a cut image? Or a Print then Cut?

Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement said...

Please help! I just got the Explore Air. I bought a 12x24 mat and am trying to cut vinyl on it. I've got an image saved that is 9x16. No matter what I do, (I've rotated it 90 degrees) but it keeps telling me that my image is too large and I need to resize it. HOW do I tell the machine that I'm using a 12x24 mat?

Thanks so much!
Pam

Narelle said...

Pam, it should give you a message: Your project is too large for a 12“ x 12“ mat. We have updated your mat to 12“ x 24“...

Then you should see a Continue button for you to click.

alexis said...

Narelle, thank you so much for the information! Is there any way to delete images from the preview screen? I hate setting up my images in the preview (as that's the ONLY place to set where they cut out on the mat) and not being able to delete an extra image...I LOVE my cricut expression, and I do love everything I have been able to make with my explore air, but the design space program is absolutely the opposite of user friendly. It takes me far longer to complete a project on this than on the expression. I'm SO GLAD I kept my expression - just trying to cut out circles to a half a sheet of paper!

Thanks for your time!

Alexis

therowtins said...

can you tell me what font is a single layer font? i cant find one and the customer service isnt helping

Narelle said...

I'm not sure what you mean by a single layer font??

Narelle said...

Alexis... sorry I'm late to reply. I think you'll find the Attach feature will do what you want to do. Place your image on the canvas where you want them (within the 11.5 x 11.5" cutting area), select them all then click Attach from the Layers panel. The circle will stay together where you place them.

sadebelle said...

Does anyone know how to move images from one mat to another in Design Space? I am using 8.5x11 paper and it keeps telling me I can only fit 2, when I know for sure I can fit 4. If I turn them over (triangles) then I can fit 4 per sheet, but I don't know how to move the cuts from one mat to another. Please help! I have 16 of the same project to make and don't want to keep wasting paper and time!

Narelle said...

Sadebelle, what you want to do is select your four images then click Attach. Are you a member of my Facebook group? If you head over there and join I can show you some screenshots. Just post and tag me. Narelle Darley. :)

www.facebook.com/groups/cricutexploreandmore

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