How To Flatten In Cricut Design Space

Wondering how to flatten in Cricut Design Space? Here is everything you need to know about using Flatten to make your Cricut print without cutting, and troubleshooting some of the most common problems with using the Cricut Flatten tool.


The Cricut Flatten tool is one of the five basic design tools that allows you to work with layers inside of Cricut Design Space (the others are Slice, Weld, Attach, and Contour).

The idea behind the Flatten tool is really simple: it flattens multiple images into a single Print layer so that it is ready for Cricut’s “Print then Cut” feature. Flatten removes all internal cut lines, “smushes” the shapes down into one layer, and sets them as a single Print image that will be cut out around the outside of the flattened shape.

The Flatten tool has SO MANY uses and you can make some really cool things with it. But it also can be a little frustrating because it has very specific rules that you have to follow before it will work properly. This article will teach you how to flatten in Cricut Design Space so you can get your Cricut to print multi-layered images without cutting, as well as troubleshoot the most common problems when using the Cricut Flatten tool.

How to flatten images in cricut design space to print only without cutting 2

Pin this post!

What does Flatten do in Cricut Design Space & why would I want to use it?

The Cricut Flatten tool has one basic purpose: to flatten multi-layered images (or multiple layers of single-layer images) into a single printable layer so you can use the Print then Cut feature. (Don’t worry, I’ll cover how to use the Print then Cut feature in more detail soon!)

Most images in the Cricut library are designed to be cut out (unless you specifically choose a Printable Image), so when you layer multiple Cut images on top of one another to make a single image with multiple colors, even if you Attach or Group them, your Cricut will still cut along all of the internal cut lines, slicing your design into pieces.

The Flatten tool removes all of those internal cut lines and flattens all of the colors/layers down into one single multi-colored image layer with a cut line around the outside border of the image. Then you can use Cricut’s Print then Cut feature to print your multi-colored image, then cut it out (without cutting anything on the interior of your image!)

Even though the Flatten tool just has one intended purpose, there are actually a bunch of pretty cool things you can do with the Cricut Design Space Flatten tool, such as:

  • make your own printable stickers or labels
  • turn multi-layered images into a single Print then Cut image
  • unflatten a Printable Image from the Cricut library so it can be cut
  • use Cricut Design Space to make mockups or other graphic designs

I’ll go into more detail about those uses after the next section, which shows you exactly how to flatten in Cricut Design Space (with screenshots!)

How to flatten in Cricut Design Space

The Basics

Using Flatten in Cricut Design Space is pretty simple, but there are a few rules you have to follow.

  • You must be working with at least one shape or layer. You can’t flatten nothing; the Flatten button will be greyed out if no layers are selected.
  • You can Flatten a single layer or multiple layers. Flatten converts an image from a Cut image to a Print image, leaving just an exterior cut line around the outside edge. If you flatten a single layer, it will just turn that layer into a printable image. If you flatten multiple layers, it will combine all of those layers into a single printable image.
  • Flattened layers are no longer editable. Flatten combines everything (all selected layers, shapes, images, text, etc.) into a single Print then Cut layer, so make sure that your text is correct, everything is in the right position, and the colors are the way you want them BEFORE clicking Flatten. After flattening you can work with the single flattened image like any other single image, but you will be unable to edit any of the “components” of the image.
  • Flatten works even if the images are Grouped, Welded, Attached, or multi-layered/hidden. Flatten only deals with the visible images, so when you click Flatten, the final Flattened image will look exactly like it does on the Canvas screen. Anything that was hidden will still not be visible; anything that was layered/grouped/welded/attached will still look exactly the way it did before, just with no cut lines around the interior shapes.
  • The Flatten button becomes an Unflatten button if you select an already flattened image. When you select layers that aren’t flattened, the Flatten button is activated at the bottom of the Layers panel. But if you select something you’ve already flattened or a pre-flattened Printable Image from the Cricut library, the Flatten button becomes a Unflatten button so you can easily undo the action if you wish. (Even after saving your project!)
  • Unflattening an image IS NOT the exact opposite of Flattening. Unflatten separates out the layers so they are individually editable, and it restores the original configuration of the layers in the Layers panel (i.e. hidden, grouped, attached, multi-layered etc.) It also restores the Cut lines for each layer, but the layers are all still printable images (meaning they all still have a “Print” Fill along with the restored “Cut” Linetype.) Basically it takes a single flattened Print then Cut image and Unflattens it into multiple Print then Cut layers. If you want to truly “Undo” the Flatten command, you also have to change the fill of each layer back to “No Fill” so that the images go all the way back to just Cut images instead of Print then Cut images.
  • Flatten works on overlapping OR separate images. Flatten just flattens everything down into a single Print then Cut image. If your shapes are overlapping, they become a multi-colored printable image. If your shapes are separate, they just become separate printable images.
  • Flattening text is the same as Flattening images. The Flatten tool only cares about the visible shapes on the Canvas. It doesn’t matter if the layer contains text, shapes, images, photos, or whatever else; Flatten will flatten it all down into one single Print then Cut image.

The Equipment

Technically all you need to use the the Cricut Flatten tool is Cricut Design Space, but without a Cricut machine and a printer you won’t actually be able to print your flattened design and then cut it out! I have shared the file I used for this tutorial below, feel free to use it for practicing.

The Instructions

How to Flatten

Start by opening the practice file in Cricut Design Space.

How to flatten in cricut design space

This practice file has two different sets of images and text for practicing, but for this initial tutorial we are just going to use the label and “flour” text, so hide the “Have a magical day” and white square layers.

Imagine you are making pantry labels and you want to print them out on printable sticker paper, then have the Cricut cut around the outside of the label shape to make a pantry label sticker.

Select the word “flour” and drag it on top of the label shape.

How to flatten in cricut design space position layers on top of each other

The two layers look correctly positioned, but they are still all Cut layers. If you click the green “Make It” button right now, it will cut out five separate layers (the four separate layers that make up the label, and the text layer) and won’t print anything.

In order to print the entire label + word as one image, you need to use the Flatten tool. And after you Flatten the label, the component layers will no longer be editable, so make sure the colors are the way you want them and everything is positioned correctly.

To Flatten, first select both the label and the word together. You can click and drag a square around the entire label to select both layers, or you can select one image, then hold Shift on your keyboard while selecting the other image. You can also select one layer in the Layers panel, then hold Shift on your keyboard while clicking the other layer.

How to flatten in cricut design space click flatten

Click “Flatten” to flatten the selected layers into a single printable image.

How to flatten in cricut design space image will now print without cutting

When you click Flatten, the layers will all combine into one single Print then Cut “Flatten” layer, and all of the interior cut lines will be removed. (See how the black lines around the outside of the word “flour” and the yellow border of the label are no longer there?)

The five layers that made up that label shape are now one single printable image layer. You can move the layer around or work with it however you like, just like any other single shape layer, but the “contents” of the layer are no longer editable.

And now if you click the green “Make It” button, you’ll see that the label appears as a Print then Cut image on the mat and the material size is automatically set to 8.5×11 printer paper.

How to flatten in cricut design space make cricut print only

If you click the green “Continue” button here, it will send the design to your printer to be printed, then ask you to load the printed design onto a cutting mat and load it into your machine to be cut.

How to Unflatten

As I mentioned earlier, Unflatten is not the exact opposite of Flatten. (If you want to completely reverse the Flatten action you just did, you can always click the “Undo” button and it will undo the last Flatten action.)

If you want to Unflatten something, or if it’s too late to use the “Undo” button to undo the action, you can use the Unflatten button to separate the layers out, then follow the steps below to change the images back to Cut images.

Start by selecting the flattened image and click Unflatten.

How to unflatten in cricut design space

The Unflatten tool separates the flattened image back out into distinct, editable layers, and it also changes the Linetype of each layer back to “Cut”, but if you notice in the screenshot above, the black lines around the word “flour” and around the yellow border of the label didn’t reappear, and in the Layers panel each layer says “Cut | Print” instead of just “Cut”…

This is because what Unflatten does is actually separate out a single Print then Cut image into multiple Print then Cut images on distinct layers; it doesn’t actually “reverse” the Flatten action.

If you click the green “Make It” button now, it will Print then Cut out each of the five layers separately instead of Printing then Cutting the flattened single image.

If you want to fully reverse the Flatten action and make the images back into Cut images, select an image and change the Fill dropdown from “Print” to “No Fill”.

How to unflatten in cricut design space change back to cut

You’ll see the layer change to “Cut” in the Layers panel, and the black line around the image will appear again. The image may also revert back to its original color.

If you want to change the color back the way you had it, click the little colored square next to the Linetype dropdown menu, then select the color you want.

How to unflatten in cricut design space change material color

Repeat this for all of the unflattened layers (including each layer individually of multi-layered images like the Label layer) until your design goes back to looking like it did before you flattened.

How to flatten in cricut design space click flatten

You should be able to see all of the black cut lines around each separate image, and all of the layers should be “Cut” layers in the Layers panel.

What can I do with the Cricut Flatten tool?

Make your own printable stickers or labels

If you want to make stickers or labels with your Cricut, use the Flatten tool to transform multiple Cut images into a single Print then Cut image.

The pantry label project above is a great example of this use of the Flatten tool! Here is another example of using Flatten to make your own stickers.

Turn multi-layered images into a single Print then Cut image

The Cricut Flatten tool is perfect for combining multiple images that are stacked on top of one another so that your Cricut will print them all together without cutting along the interior lines.

The “Have a magical day” image in the practice file is a great example of this use. If you select that image and click Flatten, then try to Print then Cut it, your printer will print the image correctly, but when you load it into your Cricut to cut out, it will cut out each piece of the design separately (i.e. each star, each letter, etc.)

This is because the Flatten tool only deals with the visible layers. The “Have a magical day” image is a single multi-layered image, but if you look at it on the Canvas by itself, it is “see-through”; you can see the gridlines behind each part of the image.

How to flatten a multi layered image into a print then cut image

In order to make it print the image and then make one single cut around the exterior of the whole image, you need to add a shape as a background layer. (And remember, your Cricut will cut out around the outline of that background shape when doing Print then Cut.)

Unhide the white square layer and position it behind the “Have a magical day” image. Now if you click Flatten you will see the image flattened onto a white background; all of the cut lines around the words and shapes will disappear, but the gridlines behind the image will no longer be visible.

How to make cricut print without cutting click flatten

If you click the green “Make It” button now, the image will appear as one single Print then Cut image on the mat and it will just cut around the outside border of the square rather than printing and cutting each piece separately.

How to make cricut print without cutting cricut will print only

This is great for designing a printable image in Cricut Design Space, then using your Cricut to cut it out for stuff like birthday party decorations or greeting cards.

Here’s another example of using Flatten to convert a multi-layered image into a single printable image.

Unflatten a Printable Image from the Cricut library so it can be cut

One really cool way to use the Cricut Flatten tool is actually to not use Flatten at all! Instead, this is a cool way to use the Unflatten tool (the one that activates when you select a printable image that is already flattened.)

Most of the images in the Cricut library are already set up as Cut images, but some of them are specifically designed to be Printable Images. You can find them by filtering for “Printables” when you do a search in the image library.

If you insert a Printable Image into your project, it will already be a flattened image ready to be Print then Cut. But if you’d like to use the image as Cut images instead of printable images, you can just use the Unflatten tool following the directions above to separate the image out into distinct Cut layers.

Use Cricut Design Space to make mockups or other graphic designs

Normally you would Flatten an image so that you can use the Print then Cut feature of your Cricut machine. But this use of the Cricut Flatten tool actually doesn’t use your Cricut machine at all! Some people like to use Cricut Design Space more like a graphic design software than a “send stuff to your Cricut for cutting” software.

If you don’t have access to or don’t want to learn to use another graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Inkscape, etc. you can use Cricut Design Space to create mockups or other graphics. It’s not quite the same because you cannot Export files out of Design Space like you can in other software. But if you get your design looking the way you want it, you can capture a screenshot of your screen and crop the screenshot down to just the graphic you want.

One great example of this is making a mockup of your Cricut Design Space design on a t-shirt. You can upload an image of a blank t-shirt and layer it underneath your cuttable image. Then select them both and click Flatten to remove the black outlines around your cut images, making it look like the design is actually on the blank shirt below!

Obviously there are some limitations to using Cricut Design Space this way (like you can’t export in different file types or specify the file size or dimensions), but in a pinch this is a great way to make mockups or graphics if you don’t want to learn a separate software in order to do it.

Learn how to flatten images in cricut design space to print without cutting

Troubleshooting common problems with the Cricut Design Space Flatten tool

The Flatten button is greyed out

In order to “activate” the Cricut Flatten tool (make it black and clickable instead of greyed out) you have to select something (any shape, image, text, or layer). If you have nothing selected, the button will be greyed out.

I don’t see a Flatten button, just an Unflatten button

If you’ve selected an image that is already flattened, you will see an Unflatten button where the Flatten button used to be. Try selecting a different image or layer that isn’t already flattened and the Flatten button should appear.

My Cricut is still cutting out the insides of my Print then Cut images

There are two main reasons why this might happen: somehow some parts of your image weren’t flattened and are still Cut layers, or there’s no “background layer” behind your flattened image for it to be flattened down on to.

For the first scenario, double check that ALL of the layers that you want to Print then Cut are in ONE single Flatten layer. If there are two Flatten layers, it will Print then Cut each of them separately, so Unflatten them both and then select all of the layers and Flatten into one single Flatten layer.

Also double check that the layers in the Layer Panel say “Cut | Print” and not just “Cut”. If there are some layers that are just “Cut” layers, those cuts may still happen inside of your Print then Cut image. Unflatten your image, then select ALL of the layers and Flatten into one single Flatten layer again.

In the second scenario, if you can still see the gridlines behind your flattened image (like in the “Have a magical day” example above), then you need to add a background shape for your image to “flatten onto.” Unflatten your image, add a white shape and position it behind your image, then select all the layers and click Flatten again. Now you should see the white background behind your flattened image and no gridlines. Here’s a great example of how to add a background before you Flatten.

I want to “unflatten” my images so I can use them for something else

No problem! If you accidentally flattened something you didn’t mean to, you can alway click Undo or press Command/Ctrl + Z on your keyboard to undo the action. Or, if you want to Unflatten a pre-flattened Printable Image from the image library, or if it’s too late to use the Undo button, just follow the instructions for How To Unflatten above.


Hope that helps you understand more about how to flatten in Cricut Design Space. If you still have questions, ask them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer!

How to flatten images and text in cricut design space to print without cutting 2

Want to share this article with your friends? Share to Facebook, Pinterest, or send the article by email—just click on any of the share buttons floating on the left, or find them at the top and bottom of this post.

Below is a printable version of these instructions; click the large “Print” button to print them out. (It defaults to just printing the text in the instructions, no photos, to save you paper and printer ink!)

If you like this tutorial, leave a review by clicking the stars or by clicking the Review button! That way I know which types of tutorials are most helpful and which I should do more of!

Learn what does flatten do on cricut design space

How To Flatten In Cricut Design Space

0 from 0 votes
Wondering how to flatten in Cricut Design Space? Here is everything you need to know about using Flatten to make your Cricut print without cutting, and troubleshooting some of the most common problems with using the Cricut Flatten tool.
Active Time 5 mins

Equipment

Instructions
 

How to Flatten

  • Create or open a project in Cricut Design Space with with a multi-layered label that you want to flatten into a printable image.
    How to flatten in cricut design space
  • Select the word "flour" and move it on top of the label.
    How to flatten in cricut design space position layers on top of each other
  • Select all of the layers.
    How to flatten in cricut design space click flatten
  • Click Flatten to combine all of the layers into a single printable image.
    How to flatten in cricut design space image will now print without cutting
  • Click the green Make It button to see the Prepare screen. The label appears as a single Print then Cut image on one mat, and the material size is automatically set to 8.5×11 printer paper.
    How to flatten in cricut design space make cricut print only

How to Unflatten

  • Create or open a project in Cricut Design Space containing a flattened image.
    How to flatten in cricut design space image will now print without cutting
  • Select the image and click Unflatten.
    How to unflatten in cricut design space
  • Select one of the unflattened layers and click the Fill dropdown menu. Change the Fill from "Print" to "No Fill".
    How to unflatten in cricut design space change back to cut
  • Click the small colored square next to the Linetype dropdown menu to change the material color if you wish.
    How to unflatten in cricut design space change material color
  • Repeat until all unflattened layers are "Cut" layers in the correct colors.
    How to flatten in cricut design space click flatten

Notes

Using Flatten in Cricut Design Space is pretty simple, but there are a few rules you have to follow.
  • You must be working with at least one shape or layer. You can’t flatten nothing; the Flatten button will be greyed out if no layers are selected.
  • You can Flatten a single layer or multiple layers. Flatten converts an image from a Cut image to a Print image, leaving just an exterior cut line around the outside edge. If you flatten a single layer, it will just turn that layer into a printable image. If you flatten multiple layers, it will combine all of those layers into a single printable image.
  • Flattened layers are no longer editable. Flatten combines everything (all selected layers, shapes, images, text, etc.) into a single Print then Cut layer, so make sure that your text is correct, everything is in the right position, and the colors are the way you want them BEFORE clicking Flatten. After flattening you can work with the single flattened image like any other single image, but you will be unable to edit any of the “components” of the image.
  • Flatten works even if the images are Grouped, Welded, Attached, or multi-layered/hidden. Flatten only deals with the visible images, so when you click Flatten, the final Flattened image will look exactly like it does on the Canvas screen. Anything that was hidden will still not be visible; anything that was layered/grouped/welded/attached will still look exactly the way it did before, just with no cut lines around the interior shapes.
  • The Flatten button becomes an Unflatten button if you select an already flattened image. When you select layers that aren’t flattened, the Flatten button is activated at the bottom of the Layers panel. But if you select something you’ve already flattened or a pre-flattened Printable Image from the Cricut library, the Flatten button becomes a Unflatten button so you can easily undo the action if you wish. (Even after saving your project!)
  • Unflattening an image IS NOT the exact opposite of Flattening. Unflatten separates out the layers so they are individually editable, and it restores the original configuration of the layers in the Layers panel (i.e. hidden, grouped, attached, multi-layered etc.) It also restores the Cut lines for each layer, but the layers are all still printable images (meaning they all still have a “Print” Fill along with the restored “Cut” Linetype.) Basically it takes a single flattened Print then Cut image and Unflattens it into multiple Print then Cut layers. If you want to truly “Undo” the Flatten command, you also have to change the fill of each layer back to “No Fill” so that the images go all the way back to just Cut images instead of Print then Cut images.
  • Flatten works on overlapping OR separate images. Flatten just flattens everything down into a single Print then Cut image. If your shapes are overlapping, they become a multi-colored printable image. If your shapes are separate, they just become separate printable images.
  • Flattening text is the same as Flattening images. The Flatten tool only cares about the visible shapes on the Canvas. It doesn’t matter if the layer contains text, shapes, images, photos, or whatever else; Flatten will flatten it all down into one single Print then Cut image.

Save your favorite projects!

Create a free account to easily save your favorite projects, tutorials, and recipes.

Create Account
Jessi signature

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

  1. Mike says

    3 months ago

    THANK YOU! I have been losing sleep over a graphic that would not flatten! Maddening to say the least. I have searched and searched and finally found your article. I cannot believe that it is this difficult to find an answer! I am new to this world and you know – guys don’t like to ask for help…but I asked. Again, thank you!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 months ago

      You are so welcome, I’m really glad you were able to get it figured out!

Leave a Comment or Review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rating