Optimize PDF Planner Stickers for Cricut Design Space using Photoshop
Memory planning has taken over craft world, but buying all those supplies is insanely expensive. As a result, my Pinterest feed is full of hundreds of designers who have made their own sticker sheets and posted the files for free. There are sheets themed for every holiday, life event, and even culinary obsession (cupcakes anyone?) I’ve even seen a sheet of little trash can just for garbage day.
Unfortunately, all these sheets are PDF files, and I am not going to spend an hour cutting these little devils out by hand. This job is better suited to my Cricut. In a recent upgrade, Cricut Design Space eliminated the option for importing PDF files. This was no loss because the limited tools made this process clunky and the results were poor quality. Fortunately, these pages are simple to optimize in Photoshop Elements.
Using Photoshop Elements will create a file Design Space can recognize
In this tutorial, I will show you how to modify those PDF files using Photoshop Elements to import correctly in Design Space.
The file I use for this tutorial is by designer Maryam Nasim. I find her designs produce the best results with this method. The example file is available from this post. I would also recommend you browse the rest of her site for more ideas and fantastic sticker sheets.
Open PDF in Photoshop Elements
The program will default to 8 1/2 x 11
Remove white background from file
Step 1 Select white space surrounding sticker elements
Select magic wand tool
Set tolerance to 0
Click inside the white space to select
Step 2: Refine selection (if necessary)
Check your selection to make sure you have not selected any white areas inside your stickers
Click selection brush
Click “subtract” option
Remove any areas that are part of the stickers from your selection
Step 3 hit delete
This will remove the white background surrounding your pictures. Now the Cricut will recognize them as individual images and will cut them out. Finish the step by clearing the selection. (Select-Deselect, or command D)
Remove unwanted elements from file
Use the crop tool to remove anything you don’t want your Cricut to cut out
Use the eraser tool.
In this example, I removed the logo and the licensing info from the side. If you don’t remove these, the Cricut will attempt to cut out all those tiny little letters. It won’t ruin your cut, but it will take forever.
Save file as a PNG
You must use a .png file. If you save it as a pdf, photoshop will add a white background to your image and you have lost all your work, and Design Space no longer allows PDFs.
select: compression= none, interlace= none
*Tip: If you need to preserve the larger size, i.e. for Erin Condren or The Happy Planner, you will need to do these additional steps.
- Crop the image to half size and “save as”
- “Undo” the crop
- Crop the other half of the image and “save as”
If you import your image as a single page, Design Space will only allow you to print up to 9.25″ x 6.25″ images. This means the individual stickers will be too small to fit in your planner.
Now you are ready to upload into Design Space.
Open Design Space in your preferred browser.
Click: New project
Click: Upload image
Click: Browse and select your PNG file
Select: Simple image
Since you uploaded a PNG there is nothing to select and erase
Click: Advanced options-Reduce colors-unmodified
It will take longer to render, but you will have better-looking results. You can play around with this option. The fewer the colors, the faster it will upload. Since the program is painfully slow at this step, it’s a compromise between image complexity and your personal patience level.
When you are satisfied, click “continue”
Now the waiting begins
How long? that depends on the image. This step took a full minute before the “save” option turned green. Use the time to title and tag your image. Then, sip some coffee.
Choose: “Print then Cut” and then hit save. This is the default setting. (Do not click on the “save as cut” option. You will be sad later.)
After I clicked save, it took Design Space a full five minutes for it to finish. I know it’s just sitting there, but don’t refresh the page, just let it work. Walk away if you have to.
Your image should now be ready to use in Design Space.
Because Design Space is so slow, it’s critical to optimize your images before you attempt to import them. This will save you literally hours of frustration and wasted time and will help guarantee that after all your efforts you will have a usable file.
Some tips to make your project a success:
- Choose images that have fewer colors. i.e. less shading and detail as these take longer for the program to upload
- Look for images that have a defined border. Watch out especially for white elements that connect to the edge of the sticker
- Look for images that have whitespace between all the elements. Many designers will place elements against each other (especially washi tapes). The Cricut will interpret these as a single image rather than cutting them into individual strips
Hopefully, this tutorial will help you make better use of all that free material available out there and turn your projects into a source of fun, rather than frustration.