Of .png, .svg, and cutting machines…

Or really, just MY cutting machine, he one I can’t stop feeding paper seasoned with cut files, and watching mesmerized as it zips through intricate designs the mere sight of which makes my hands hurt. And my patience, too.

It’s a Cricut Maker, in case you wanted to know.

Before I bought it, I borrowed my generous neighbor’s Cricut Air 2 and played with it for a while. I wanted to know what I could do with it, but especially what I could learn to do with it. I didn’t doubt that I could master the software for the machine itself, but I also knew that I would want to go beyond. Especially if making the things I could imagine making would push the limits of the package.

I played with the borrowed Cricut for a while, taking scanned images from Photoshop into Design Space (that’s the software that makes the Cricut machines run).

I turned some simple designs into layers and I cut some shapes. I made some cards. I watched a lot of YouTube videos. The latter could become a problem… Oh, and I had to reorganize my craft storage to accommodate all the card bits and cut pieces.

What does all that have to do with file types? with pngs and svgs and stuff?

PNG files are just fine to import into Design Space. They can have a transparent background, they have simple lines and they can have clear separation of colors (unlike JPG/JPEG files which don’t give you transparency, among other things, but they have their place).

The mysterious file types that Design Space uses can’t be exported (as of today — and don’t try to explain what exactly those file types are, I have an inkling, and it doesn’t matter if I can’t get them and import them into something besides Design Space).

To make the birds in the image above, I had to become acquainted with a type of graphic file I’d been ignoring until recently: SVG files.

Let me digress. If you haven’t realized it yet, I like digressions.

Why do we need all these different types of files and why don’t all programs read them?

I’m sure I’ll annoy real computer scientists and probably quite a few computer engineers and ordinary computer geeks, but rather than try and explain (so I’ll admit I don’t know this one off the top of my head), I’ll draw a comparison.

Why would you need a pen and a pencil, much less, several colors of pens, a pencil, and a highlighter? And why can’t you just switch out the pen cartridge when the highlighter dries out?

There’s the issue of the ink type, and the pen shape, and the point/nib shape, and of course the pencil is something entirely different. And you know those 10-color ball point pens? Not as good as they sound, are they?

The same goes for software. It’s just too cumbersome to have one-program-fits-all, assuming there’s a computer that could run that AND surf the web AND play music AND…

Doesn’t mean I don’t wish I didn’t have to switch from Photoshop to Inkspace to Design Space to whatever else I decide I need to use today… and back.

(Note: I have no interest in Photoshop or Design Space except that I use them, and Inkspace is free to use, similar to Adobe Illustrator — but not identical. The links are for convenience and not affiliate links),

So I learned to use Inkspace just enough to make a mess and now I’m making cut files for my Cricut.

Is it that easy? Weeellll… It’s easier. More precise.Less fussy cleanup (or if there is, I can do it faster before I get to Design Space).

The secret geek in me is also enjoying a bit too much the opportunity to play with yet another program. Especially one that’s fancy and free.

And I’m sharing a few of those SVG files if you’re interested — no instructions, no tutorials, just the files and maybe a rambling commentary on this blog.