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Monday, August 30, 2010

How to "CUT-and-PRINT" Lettering Delights images with MTC and the Cricut

This tutorial was written before the release of MTC version 3.0.0 beta.
MTC v.3.0.0 beta includes a print feature and you can now do print-and-cut with MTC alone (without the use of Adobe Photoshop.) To learn how, please visit the MTC forum and search for more info on "print and cut". Thank you.

"Cut-and-Print" or "Print-and-Cut" essentially means the same thing. Instead of creating a complete cutout image with layering or paper piecing, the image is printed on a cutout of its own outline. In my last post I have mentioned that you can use the cut-and-print method on the Lettering Delights images that are too challenging to create layers with. Today I will show you how I do this with Adobe Photoshop, Make-the-Cut, and the Cricut.

For this post, I will be using the Garden Kokeshi set.

Using Adobe Photoshop, I open the image and print it on regular printer paper.

I set the size of the printed image and note the dimensions as I will need these numbers later.

Once the image has printed in the required size, create the shadow by filling it with black using the Paint Bucket. I also use the Adjust Brightness/Contrast feature to hasten the process of blacking out the image. I set Brightness to -150 and the Contrast to +100.

Save this image. Use a different file name so that you do not overwrite the original colored image.

Next I open MTC and "Pixel Trace" the blacked-out image. Import and set the size with the same dimensions that were used to print the colored graphic. I usually just enter the Height or the Width and not both as I do not want to distort the image. Sometimes you can't get both dimensions the same as what you got in Photoshop. For example, for this doll, when I enter "2" for Width, I get "3.3771" for Height in MTC instead of "3.298" like in Photoshop. It does not bother me that the MTC sizing does not match exactly as the one from Photoshop because I am going to create a border around the printed image anyway. We will talk about this later.

Since all I need is an outline of the original image, I use "Break Apart" and delete away the extra cuts if there are any. If not, you may skip this step.

To create a border around the final printed cutout, I use "CTRL-H". Set the shadow width to your preference. I usually use a number between 0.7 to 0.9.

Delete the layer of the original imported image.

What I am left with is just the shadow layer.

Using a tiny strip of double stick tape (e.g. Scotch Scrapbooking Tape), temporarily adhere the cutout over the printed image. To make sure that the cutout is in the exact position, I hold the page against the light and shift the cutout as needed. Using a light box would probably be a good idea too.

The cutout in the image above has not been taped down yet. My mat is new and very sticky so the cutout curled when I removed it from the mat. It should lay flat and directly over the printed image on the paper.

Once the cutout is in place, put the page back into the printer feeder tray and print the image again.

Ta-da! The printed cutout is done!

This method works great for images that are challenging to create layers with. I also used it to create these cutouts from LD's Mad Tea Party graphic set.

Of course, you can always print and cut with a pair of scissors but I find it strangely satisfying to use my Cricut instead.



  1. Love these little dolls!!!!

    I am giving you the Cherry on Top Blog Award.

  2. Thank you for this timely tut. The time you take to create, explain, write and share is very appreciated.


  3. Works like a Charm!! I did the same thing with "Paint" in Windows and I'll be doing it in Word too.

  4. Help! I'm trying to do this in MTC but this is the first time I've worked with MTC. After I've blacked out the image in PS (I'm using PSE), what format do I save the file in so that I can open it in MTC? Thanks!

  5. Oops! Sure, now I figure it out right after I've asked the question!! embarrassing

    Thanks for blogging these instructions. Cannot wait to see the end result!

  6. awesome - this is really great. tfs

  7. Gosh, this is awesome! but i am confused about how you reprint it after its been cut out (sorry if that sounds like a stupid questions, i am new to this..but would love to learn more)

  8. Hi Jenny, I print out the image on a sheet of regular printer paper and then stick the cutout over it with removable tape. Then I feed that page (with the cutout stuck to it) back into the printer and click Print again. :-)

  9. Hi Jin,
    so i decided to try my hand at the MTC print and cut however its been updated to 3.21 and i can't seem to find any tutorials on how to do the print and cut on this new version.. please help