We’ve been playing with the new Infusible Inks for Cricut! They are pretty wonderful. Once they’re heat set, both the Cricut ink transfer sheets and the Infusible Ink pens result in colors that are bright and saturated. But, the best part is that the ink becomes so fully integrated into the object that fabric remains soft and flexible unlike iron-on vinyl which retains its plastic feel.
We’ve learned a lot from our first experiments with Cricut Infusible Ink. In this post, I’ll focus on the Cricut Infusible Ink pens and share a design file we used in one of our first projects, so you can experiment with it as well. You can download the mandala frame file from our free Resource Library.
Our First Designs for Infusible Ink Pens
For our first project, we created a mandala to not only test the process but also to learn multi-color and shading techniques to see if the Cricut would color the entire image.
Our first mandala design
To try the process, we created a full mandala on a 14 inch Cricut tote bag using the .4 point Neons Infusible Ink set and one pen from the Basics set. What I love about this mandala is that it has a hand-drawn, imperfect look. The Cricut Infusible Ink colors, especially the neon blue and neon pink from the Neons set, are gorgeous.
The mandala frame design
Once the main mandala was completed, I decided to create a variation of it with the center removed to leave an area for customization. The design can be used over and over as a frame for text or other graphics. For this design, I tested pens from the Cricut Infusible Ink Basics set.
In this post, I’ll describe how you can create your own customized version of the mandala frame project using our file. You’ll upload the design into Design Space, set it up on the Canvas, customize it with whatever text or graphics you want for the center, and choose your own pen colors. Then I’ll explain how to process it on your Cricut machine. Stepping through the tutorial is a good start for learning how to use the pens.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Create Your Own Custom Version of the Mandala Frame Project
The first thing you’ll need to do is download the file (mandalaFrame.svg) from our Resource Library. If you haven’t downloaded our files before, you’ll find instructions at the end of this post.
Gather what you need for the project
- Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker cutting machine and Design Space account
- Cricut LightGrip mat (the blue mat)
- Cricut medium size tote bag (14 inches)
- Cricut EasyPress or EasyPress 2 – at least the 9 inch square version – Cricut recommends not using an iron
- Cricut EasyPress mat
- Color laser copy paper
- Cricut Infusible Ink pens – size .4 point (the size is important for this design)
- Cricut heat resistant tape
- A couple of pieces of white cardstock
- Butcher paper
- Our mandala frame file
That’s a lot of stuff, but if you’re planning to use Infusible Ink in the future, you can reuse many of these supplies.
Note: This is a complex project that uses a lot of ink
Upload the mandala frame file into a new Design Space project
Log in to your Cricut Design Space account. On the top of the Home page, click New Project.
Once the new project Canvas appears, click Upload at the bottom of the left menu and then click Upload Image.
Browse to where you saved the frameMandala.svg file, select it and on the Upload Image screen, click Save.
The file will appear under the Recently uploaded images screen. Select the mandala image and click Insert Images.
Preparing the graphic for drawing with the Cricut pens
The mandala graphic is just under 8.25 inches square. Because of the complex shading, it’s best to leave it at this size.
When you upload the graphic into your project, some parts of it may appear filled in with large areas of color. Design Space often does this with shapes that are to be cut. Here’s what my graphic looked like when I inserted it into my project. Don’t worry. We’ll be changing those shapes to drawn lines.
Work with the Layers panel
Notice that the mandala consists of a group of 5 layers in the Layers panel. Also notice that they’re defined as Cut layers. Select the graphic, click the Linetype dropdown field, and select Draw.
The layers should now all be labeled as Draw layers, and your graphic should look something like this.
Decide on colors for your mandala
You can assign a specific pen color for each of your layers. When you’re ready to process the project, Design Space will draw each layer using the assigned color. It will pause the project without ejecting the mat and ask you to insert the pen for the next color. Once the new pen is inserted, it will continue drawing the image.
Because this project has 5 layers, you can use 5 different colors. You can also choose to limit the total number of colors you use by assigning the same color to multiple layers. In this scenario, Design Space will draw the lines on layers with the same color all at once before pausing and asking that you insert the pen for the next color.
Cricut Infusible Ink Pen Colors
Cricut currently offers 4 infusible ink pen sets:
- Infusible Ink Markers, Basics – size 1.0 point
- Infusible Ink Pens, Basics – size .4 point
- Infusible Ink Markers, Neons – size 1.0 point
- Infusible Ink Pens, Neons – size .4 point
The Basics sets include Cardinal, Ultra Violet, Black, Bright Green, and Tawny pens.
The Neons sets include Neon Blue, Neon Orange, Neon Yellow, Neon Pink, and Neon Green.
The Neons sets have beautiful blue and pink colors. The Basics sets has a wonderful red and violet and a very useful black marker. So, I had to get both.
Because I’ve shaded this design to work with the .4 point size, you should only use pens in the .4 point size. The design won’t work in the 1.0 point size. So what that means, if you bought both of the .4 point sets, you’d have a total of 10 colors to choose from. If you buy one set, you’ll have 5 colors to choose from.
Assign pen colors to your layers
To assign pen colors to parts of the image, select a layer then click the outlined box next to the Linetype field. Scroll down in the colors to find the Infusible Ink colors and click the one you want for the layer.
Continue to assign colors until you’ve done all five layers. Play around with the color combinations until you find a color scheme you like. Remember you can use the same color for multiple layers.
In the graphic above, I’ve assigned a different color to each layer so you can get an idea of what parts of the graphic are on each layer. The orange color is Neon Orange from the Neons set. I tried this color and when it’s heat set it doesn’t show up very well. So after my first test of the project, I chose a different color.
Add your own text or images
Once you’re happy with your color choices, it’s time to decide what to put in the center of the graphic. You can add text or even another graphic like an illustration.
In my example, I have the word “breathe,” but you can add anything; your initials, a short phrase, a different word, a name.
To add text;
- Click the Text icon in the left menu
- Type your text in the text box that appears
- Your text displays as a graphic. You can use the graphic icons surrounding it to resize or rotate it.
- Use the text menu at the top of the screen to choose a different font, change the style, adjust the spacing between letters and even add a curve to your text. For a full explanation of how to work with text in Design Space, refer to our article How to Design with Text in Cricut Design Space.
Change the text layer to a draw layer
When you’re done adding your text, change the Linetype of the text layer from Cut to Draw. Notice how Design Space shows you the outline of the letters. Unless you use a “writing front,’ Cricut renders drawn text as an outline. Since we’re using a .4 point pen for our design, writing text won’t show up very well. It’s too thin. It’s better to have Cricut draw the outline of your text. Once drawn, you can use the pen to color it in by hand.
Change the color of your text
Assign a pen color to your text layer. Click the outline icon next to the Linetype field and choose one of the colors you’ve used in your design scheme.
Add a graphic
You can also add a graphic to the center of your mandala with or without text. You can add one of Design Space’s built-in shapes. Or, you can upload another graphic and insert it into your mandala project. Here I’ve uploaded and inserted a simple embellishment image above my text.
Change the new graphic layer to a drawing layer and give it a color
Select your new graphic layer, access the LineType drop-down list and change it from Cut to Draw. Notice that like the text, you’ll get an outline of your new graphic. Once drawn, you’ll color this graphic in by hand. Assign a pen color to your graphic.
Here’s what my Design Space file looks like now. There’s only one thing left to do before we process the file.
Attach the layers
You want Cricut Design Space to draw your mandala all at once loading only one mat. To ensure that it does this, select all of your layers and at the bottom of the Layers panel, click Attach.
That’s it! You’re ready to process your file.
Processing your Mandala Frame Project
Make sure your Cricut machine is turned on and plugged in to your computer. Adhere a piece of color laser copy paper to the Cricut LightGrip mat (blue mat) and insert the mat into the machine.
In Design Space, click Make It at the top of the screen.
On the Prepare screen, toggle on the Mirror button. You’ll need to reverse your text so when it transfers to your tote it will will read correctly. Your file should only show one mat. If you see multiple mats represented, cancel, go back to the Layers and make sure they’re all attached. When everything looks good, click Continue.
On the Set material screen, click Browse all materials.
Type “copy paper” in the search field on the All Materials screen. There will be one result. Select it then click the Done button.
Design Space will direct you to insert the first pen into the pen holder. In this example, the first pen is the Ultra Violet (Infusible Ink) pen. Design Space knows which pens to load because you assigned pen colors to individual layers in your project. As directed on the screen, load your mat by clicking the flashing double arrow button on your Cricut machine.
Drawing the design
Once your mat is loaded, click the flashing Cricut icon button. Cricut will begin drawing your design. Be patient. The mandala frame design is detailed and has a lot of shaded areas. Don’t let your computer go to sleep or Cricut will stop drawing. Depending on what you’ve added to the center area, the project will take about an hour to draw.
Cricut will start with the design elements in the first pen color. If you have assigned the first color to more than one layer, Cricut will draw the elements on that layer as well.
When Cricut is done with the first color, your machine will stop. The mat will still be loaded, and you’ll see the Tool change required screen. Cricut will ask you to insert the next pen. In my project, it’s the Neon Blue (Infusible Ink pen). When the second pen is loaded, click the flashing Cricut icon button to resume drawing.
Cricut will continue to draw and pause for pen changes until it has finished the entire design. Then it will stop and the double arrow icon button will flash. Click it to unload your project.
Here’s my original design in the Black and Cardinal colors right after Cricut had drawn it.
Color in areas by hand
My design has the word “breathe” that Cricut drew as an outline. I want that colored in, so I’ll choose the same pen that Cricut used to draw the outline, in this case the Cardinal pen. I’ll color in the word by hand. For your design, decide what areas you want to color in by hand. You can also draw new elements right on the copy paper if you’d like to add to your design.
Getting ready to heat set your design
Remove the design from the mat
Carefully remove your copy paper with the drawn design from the mat. Copy paper is thin so be careful not to tear it!
At this point, I turn off my Cricut machine. After an hour of solid drawing, it deserves a rest.
Prepare your ironing area and tote bag
If you have an Easy Press, you probably already have a set up for using it. Cricut recommends you use the EasyPress mat covered with a piece of cardstock. You’ll also need your tote bag, butcher paper, lint roller, and card stock ready.
Prepare your tote bag
Cricut recommends you place a cardstock covered EasyPress mat inside your tote bag to protect the back of the bag. I use a piece of masonite that I had left over from another project and covered it with cardstock before slipping it inside the tote.
Use your lint roller to clean the front of the bag. Lastly, cover the top of your tote bag with butcher paper.
Turn on your Easy Press and set it to the optimal temperature for your model. (Note: to find all of Cricut’s suggested heat settings, access https://cricut.com/heatguide ).
- Cricut EasyPress Original: 360 degrees, 15 seconds
- Cricut EasyPress 2: 385 degrees, 15 seconds
Here’s what my ironing set up looks like:
Set the EasyPress on your tote bag, start the timer, and preheat your tote bag for 15 seconds. When the timer beeps, remove your EasyPress. Let the tote bag cool completely.
Prepare your drawn transfer
When the tote is completely cool, locate your heat resistant tape, your drawn copy paper transfer, and a piece of butcher paper.
I cut off the extra paper at the bottom of my transfer to make it more of a square.
Place your transfer ink side down on your tote where you want the design to be. To hold it in place, use the heat resistant tape all around it. Here’s what my transfer looks like taped to the tote.
Cover your transfer with butcher paper. Set your Easy Press to the optimal temperature for your model. (Note: Again, to find all of Cricut’s suggested heat settings, access https://cricut.com/heatguide ).
- Cricut Easy Press Original: 360 degrees, 80 seconds
- Cricut Easy Press 2: 385 degrees, 40 seconds
Here’s what my set up looks like.
Heat set your design
Carefully place your EasyPress on your tote. It’s important to place it correctly the first time. Once you’ve set it down, DON’T MOVE IT. You’ll smudge your design. Turn on the timer. When the timer beeps, lift the EasyPress straight up without disturbing the design. As long as the ink is hot, it can smudge.
Note: I used an EasyPress 2 for which Cricut suggests heating the design for 40 seconds. I got better results at 60 seconds. You’ll have to find what works best for you.
Let your design cool completely then reveal your design!
After the project is completely cool, remove the butcher paper and carefully pull off the transfer sheet. Finished!
Subscribe to Access the SVG Infusible Ink File
You can find the Mandala frame as well as other free files in our Resource Library. You need to be subscribed to our site to access the library. If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up using the form below. We’ll email you updates on what we’re making as well as a password to access the library where we’re building a collection of projects and information you can use to continue making great stuff!
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