This tutorial was created using the new version of Cricut Design Space. I will show you how to upload an image into Design Space and modify it to create a stencil. It may look like there are a lot of steps, but I wanted to include lots of pics. It should be fairly easy for you. Email me and ask questions if you get stuck! That is how you learn ;0)

I downloaded a free fish scale stencil to my desktop from Public Domain Pictures. Then I uploaded the image and modified it using the Contour Tool.

To complete this tutorial, you will need to download the fish scale image from the link above.

Be sure to check the end of the post for a link to another kind of scale stencil using a Design Space image and also a Brick Stencil using a free image from Pixabay.

After you have downloaded the fish scale image from Public Domain Pictures, begin by opening a new project and clicking Upload.


After clicking Upload, you will need to click the box that says, “Upload Image”.


Click the box that says, “Browse”.


Navigate to the your desktop or folder where you downloaded and saved the fish scale image. Click>Open.


Click>Simple image type because it is only two colors with good contrast, then click>Continue.


Click the area that will not need to cut. The area that is not needed, is the black. Since the black area is all connected, all it takes is one click and the black will disappear.


Zoom in closely by clicking the plus sign in the upper right corner and look for areas around the scales that need cleaned up. A few of the scales have areas that are sticking out.


These little points can be erased with the eraser tool. If they don’t get erased, they may cut out as you see them. It is best to clean up areas like these. It is easier on the blade and the stencil will look neater.


Select the eraser tool.


Because the areas that need cleaned up are small, the eraser tool needs to be small. If it is too large, it will erase areas of the image that you may not want erased. Anything the eraser touches will be erased. You can change the size of the eraser, by clicking and dragging the circle on the slider tool on the left.


After you have looked over the scales using the Zoom Tool(this allows you to get a closer look) and erased any unwanted areas that are sticking out from some of the scales, click>Preview. This will allow you to see how the image will cut and what the image will look like on the next screen. If you are happy with the way the image looks, click>Continue.

**If you click “Continue” and then see you missed an area, click “Back” in the lower left hand corner to be taken to the previous screen and clean up what you missed.


Click the image on the right that has the scissor icon. This tells Design Space that you are saving as a cut image. If you clicked the image on the left, it would save as a printable image.

**It is best to give the image tags. If you should do a search, it will be easier to find. I tagged mine fish, scales, mermaid.

**If you accidentally save it as a printable image, you can change it later by clicking on the image in the layers panel. If any image has a printer icon next to it, it will print instead of cut. Click on the printer icon next to the image and choose the scissor icon in the tool bar that pops up. This changes the image to a cut image.


Click >Save in the upper right hand corner.


Name the project and click >Save.


Select the image and click>Contour in the lower right hand corner. Contour hides parts of the image that you don’t want.


The window that pops up will show the parts of the image that can be hidden(Contoured). The scales around the edge need to be contoured to make designing easier. Click on the scales in the window that are around the border of the image. They will turn light gray, which means they are contoured and they will also disappear from the black image.


See how they are light gray in the window that popped up and also gone in the black image where the green arrows are pointing? When you are finished contouring, click somewhere outside of the contour window and it will disappear.


Now that the image has been contoured(parts of it hidden), the scales around the border are gone.


The image is too large for a stencil. The scales need to be smaller. Keep the proportions locked and resize the image to 2.25″ then duplicate it.


Select the duplicated image and move it over too fit in between the scales. If needed, select both images, then go to Align>Align Top.

**Do you see why we contoured the scales around the border? Now the scales fit together and  line up straight.


Select both images and >Duplicate. Now you have more scales to line up on the bottom.


Move the duplicated scales off to the side.


Before going any further. Duplicate the scales that you just duplicated one more time. It is always good to have extras.


Select and move the lower set of scales under the first set that you lined up. Use Align>Align Bottom if needed.


Select all of the scales and weld them together.

**Notice that the extras are hidden. Click the extra scale images in the layers panel. Click the eye next to them to hide. They are just there if there is a mistake when modifying the current image. It saves time and you don’t have to start from the beginning.


Now that the scales are welded, there are a few scales around the border that make things uneven.


Contour the extra scales just as you did before. Select the welded image of the scales. Click>Contour.


Click on the scales on both sides to even up the image. You can see that they are turning light gray as you click on them, which means they are being contoured(hidden). When you are finished contouring, click somewhere outside of the contour window and it will disappear.


Insert a stencil frame. If you don’t know how to do that, click HERE. Move the scales over the stencil frame. If the scales go behind the stencil frame, select them and click>Arrange>Move to Front or select the stencil frame and click>Arrange>Move to Back.


Move the scales over the frame where you want them placed or use the Align tool to center them.

**At this point I am thinking that this size of scales looks ok, but maybe I need to make another stencil with smaller scales and more of them in case the cookie is larger or I want smaller scales.


I decided to resize them a little to fit the frame better, then I attached the scales and the stencil frame. This stencil on the left is complete.


Stencil #2–Smaller scales that cover more area in the stencil frame

For the stencil with the smaller scales, I duplicated the first stencil. This is the image you see on the right. I began working on the duplicated stencil by detaching the stencil frame and the scales. I duplicated the scales. You won’t need this many, but we can fix that now that you know how to use the Contour tool.


There are way too many scales for the stencil frame. Select and move the duplicated scales to the bottom and line them up. With the bottom scales still selected, click>Contour and the window will pop up. Start clicking scales on the bottom rows.


The pics above show the scales as I was contouring. I clicked on each scale in the 6 rows at the bottom until they disappeared and the scales that were left fit in the frame.


Select all of the scales, top and bottom, click> Weld. Unlock the proportions by clicking on the lock and resize to your liking. Center the image on the stencil frame.


Duplicate the scales and hide them if you want an extra set.


Attach the scales and the stencil frame. You are ready to cut!

See the cutting screen pics below–


Cutting the Stencils

Both of these stencils are ready to cut. Click>Make It in the upper right hand corner.


This is the screen you will see after clicking>Make It. Check to make sure the size of materials is correct. I leave mine set to 12 x 12 all of the time. If I cut Dura-Lar that is 9 x 12, the 12 x 12 setting is fine. Don’t click to turn on mirroring the image. That is for transfers. It will reverse the image. Click>Continue to go to the next screen.


  1. Set your dial to the material setting that you are cutting. Click HERE for cut settings.
  2. Load the mat into the machine.
  3. Press the flashing Go(middle)button on the machine to begin cutting.


This is what the screen looks like while the machine it is cutting.


Finished stencils–mermaid or fish scales(if you turn the stencil sideways on the cookie)

**When I cut stencils for the blog post, I always use the .005 matte Dura-Lar because it photographs well. When I cut stencils to use on my cookies, I prefer the clear .007 thickness stencil material because it is thicker, clear and easy to see through for placement on the cookie.


These stencils take a little time to cut because they are detailed. Be sure to remove the stencils from the mat slowly so they don’t tear.


This is what happens when a piece of cut stencil material gets stuck under the blade while the machine is cutting. You can see where the frame and some scales in the upper left corner didn’t cut correctly.


Attach or Slice? It’s totally up to you!

If you attach an image to a stencil frame, it can always be detached and modified even after saving a closing a project. If you slice an image out of a stencil frame, save then close the project, no changes can be made to the stencil when you open the project again. Slicing is permanent. Attaching is temporary. Whether you attach or slice, the results of the cutting will be the same.


The stencil on the left is attached. The stencil on the right is sliced. The two images of scales that are on the right are what was sliced out of the stencil frame. They can be deleted or you can keep one and hide it for later if you think you will need. I always keep one…just in case!

More ideas for you…


A different kind of scale stencil–

Here is another scale stencil using a Design Space image that comes with the Cricut Access subscription. If you don’t have the subscription, you will be asked to purchase the image before you can cut it. Click HERE to save the stencil to your projects.

Brick stencil–

Try this one for more practice using a free image from Pixabay. No need for contouring this one. It makes a perfect brick stencil if the image is duplicated once and lined up correctly. Click HERE to download the brick image.

**This brick stencil design project can’t be shared publicly through a weblink because it was created with a downloaded image. Only projects that are made using Cricut images can be shared publicly through a weblink with other Cricut users.

**The stencil files that I share are for you to cut and use on the cookies that you make and sell. Please do not sell stencils that are downloaded from the tutorials on the blog.

If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email by clicking HERE.


Be sure to visit the online shop for cuttable stencil files! Stencils are added daily. There are several new stencils and some freebies available for download at The Colorful Cookie Stencil Studio online shop. Click HERE to take a look.

Here are links to some helpful information on the blog–






Happy Stenciling!