Get Yearly ALL ACCESS, now just $3.99/month
  • $3.99/month, billed as $47/year (normal price $348)
  • Discounted price valid forever - Renews at $47/year
  • Access to millions of Graphics, Fonts, Classes & more
  • Personal, Commercial and POD use of files included
  • Upgrade Now
  • Cancel anytime

How to Fussy Cut With the Cricut Explorer Air 2

How to Fussy Cut With the Cricut Explorer Air 2 main article image
Posted on March 10, 2021 by Julie Richards

The Cricut Explore air 2 has changed the way people fussy cut these days. The Print-then-Cut feature allows us to pick an image, upload it to Design Space and have the Cricut fussy cut it for us. Yes, it actually does fussy cut those detailed images without leaving bits and parts behind.

I am going to walk you through the process to take one of your own images that you cherish and upload it to Design Space so you can turn it into a Print-then-Cut file. It was a bit of a learning curve when I first started out. I made quite a few mistakes. I even fussy cut the image up-side down the first time I tried to fussy cut on the Cricut Explore Air 2. Now that I know what I am doing, I figured I would share with you.

For your first attempt at fussy cutting on your Cricut, the image should be simple, not too complex. Save that lace doily picture for when you have mastered all the little do’s and don’ts of the technique using your Cricut to do your fussy cutting. Be forewarned, it can be addictive.

Select the Image

Find an image that has a neutral background. A black or white background is best because it is easier to remove from the picture. You can use just about any photo editing software to remove the background. Just make sure when you remove the background, that the editor doesn’t take part of your image away. You can skip this step if you use a PNG file of the image. The background has already been removed.

I have several PNG files from Creative Fabrica that I use for fussy cutting on the Cricut Explore Air 2. I think they are just so cute!

Choose an image that has a defined outline. It doesn’t have to be outlined in black. The image lines need to be smooth. The Cricut machine fussy cuts every single notch and section with marked precision. If you choose an image that has a beautiful fairy holding a wand with a star hanging from the tip, the Cricut may not pick up the line holding the star and fussy cut it right out of the main fairy image. The result is that the Cricut fussy cut an image that was not what you pictured in your head.

The more simple the design of your image, the better it is for good results. The details of the fussy cut image are in the printing part of the process. The color and fine features on the image will show in the printed design.

Upload to Design Space

Open Design Space and select “New Project”. Once the canvas opens, go to the bottom left and select “Upload Image” to upload the image you want to fussy cut. Upload your image as usual.

Upload Image

 Once the image pops up on the screen, choose the “Complex” option. This ensures that your printer will give you the best quality image.

Choose Complex

Prepare the Image for Canvas

The next screen shows your fussy cut image and you have the option of removing the background. The upper left corner has three symbols: Magic Wand, Eraser, Crop. The magic wand removes much of the background on an image that is in stark contrast to the background. For example, the wand removes the entire white color in a picture of a red ball on a white background. You can try the magic wand first and if that does not do what you want, click “UNDO” in the upper right corner of the screen.

Erase Background

Choose the eraser if the image you want to fussy cut has a busy background or one with many color variations. Remove as much of the background as possible. Once you think you have removed all the background, hit the “Preview” button located in the middle of the bottom of the screen. This brings up a screen showing you what has been erased.

Preview Image

All the gray on the screen is what the Cricut will cut. This lets you know what else needs removed. If you need to remove more of the background, close the preview and continue erasing. Repeat this step as many times as necessary to erase everything except your fussy cut image.

If your image is a PNG file, the background has already been removed and no erasing is needed. It is time to go to the next screen to select either Print-then-Cut or Cut Image. Select Print-then-Cut. At this time you have the option of naming your print-then-cut file. Click “Upload” to upload and take your fussy cut image to the canvas.

Edit Size of Fussy Cut Image

The largest size Design Space allows for a print-then-cut image is 6.75 inches by 9.25 inches. I find that all my fussy cut images are much smaller. On the right side of the canvas screen you can see the layers listed. Do not be alarmed if you see a warning triangle. This just means you must reduce the size of the image before you can send it to the printer.

If you want more than one of your fussy cut images on the canvas, use the duplicating tool. Depending on the actual size of the fussy cut image, I generally duplicate the image 12 to 15 times. After duplicating, select all the images and “Flatten” them. This puts the images in one group so you can resize with ease.

Click the down arrow at the top of the canvas where it says “Size”. Continue to slowing click the down arrow until the red warning triangle goes away in the layers column to the right. Select “Make It” to go to the next screen.


On this screen you have the option to send the fussy cut images to your printer. The program asks how many copies you want to print. I always print at least three. If you look closely to the right side of the screen, you can see that is says “I’ve Already Printed”. I choose this option when I have a sheet of fussy cut images already printed.

You should always print on white paper or card stock. A patterned or colored paper may interfere with the tracking eye of the Cricut machine. This results in the cuts being done in the wrong place.

Another option on this screen is whether or not to add “Bleed” to the fussy cut images. If you want a white border around your images, then do not add bleed. If you want the Cricut to cut as close as possible to the edges of the image then add bleed.

Always add bleed

Pay close attention to the way the fussy cut image is on the canvas. You must have the printed page the exact same way on the cutting mat. The Cricut cuts the shapes of the image and does not know whether it is in the right direction on the cutting mat.

Remove From Mat

The best way to remove your fussy cut images from the cutting mat is to first remove the excess paper from the mat. Now that the fussy cut images are left on the mat, bend the mat so the edges of the fussy cuts lift away from the cutting mat. Gently lift the fussy cut images straight up from the mat. This allows the fussy cut images to retain their shape and not bend or curl.

I love making my own fussy cut images from pictures I have taken or sketches I have done. I have lots of unique fussy cut images for all my paper crafts. I love using them on the greeting cards I make. It’s also very enjoyable to send some off as happy mail to another crafter.

I hope you will share pictures of the fussy cut images you have done.

Receive Digest

Receive a weekly digest that highlights the most popular articles on The Artistry.

To show your appreciation, you can add this article to your favorites or share it.

4X Added to favorites

No comments yet
Get access to all 8,288,107 designs. Get 10 downloads 100% free
Free Graphics

Every week we release new premium Graphics for free, some available for a limited time only.

7864892 Graphics

Get access to 7,864,892 Graphics as part of our Graphics subscription. Check them out now.

Discount Deals

Our discount deals are premium products for just $1. Available for 1 week only, so act fast!


This article was written by

Download 8,288,107 designs

Get 10 downloads 100% free

Activate Free Trial
Daily Gifts

Download Now

Read Next

Paper Piecing with SVGs
Draw a Crystal Geode in Procreate
A Painting of the Tiger for Your Living Room
CF Spark: NEW App Launch Giveaway
How to Make Wood Candlesticks
Daily Gifts

Download Now
Discount Deals
Daily Gifts

Download Now