Introduction: Animal Masks Using the Cricut Maker 3

About: To learn is to live!

Having just got a Cricut Maker 3 I set up looking for my first project. For this I decided to make some animal masks for my grandchildren. I thought it would be a simple matter of using the print and cut option. Alas things turned out to not be that simple as this option does not allow you to print wider than about 16cm and I wanted to use as much of an A4 page as possible.

After stumbling across the following video, I discovered that there is a work around.

This tutorial summerises the process take from the above mentioned video as well as shows you how to make your own masks by using images available on the internet.


  • Colour Printer
  • Laminator & laminator pouches
  • Cricut & associated tools
  • Glue gun
  • Wooden ice cream stick or skewer
  • Masking tape
  • Insulation or other coloured tape (optional)
  • Cardstock or paper
  • Inkscape
  • Cricut Design Space
  • Gimp (not always needed)
  • Scissors or guillotine

It is assumed that you know your way around any of the software used.

Step 1: Designing/Setting Up the Mask

Open Inkscape and set your document size to A4 (or size of paper that you are going to be printing to).

Create for layers:

  1. Markers
  2. Mask or Head
  3. Outline
  4. Laminator cut out

(see attached files for example)

Search for the image that you wish to use. If it does not have clean edges, copy and past it into Gimp and clean it up there. While there, add an alpha channel and remove any areas that you will want cut out. Once done, copy and past the image from Gimp to Inkscape.

If you don't need to do anything in Gimp then copy and past the image straight from your browser to Inkscape.

This image needs to be pasted into the Mask or Head layer.

For the rest of this tutorial, I will be using the Lion mask for my example.

Step 2: Creating the Outline Cut Out

Copy the Mask or Head image and paste the copy into the Outline layer.

Using either the snapping or alignment tool, position the copy exactly under the main Mask or Image layer (it does not really matter what order you have the layers in). Now lock the Mask or Head layer and hide it.

To create the Cricut Cut Image, select the image and then the "Trace Bitmap" tool, under the "Path" menu (See attached screenshot). On a side note, always save your work before running this tool as it can sometime crash Inkscape.

Once done delete the original image. With the traced image selected, remove the fill and turn on the stroke so that you now have a line drawing. Using the "Edit path by nodes" (N) tool, clean up the drawing so as to obtain the final cut image, turning the fill back on at the end (in this case the light brown filled image above).

Unhide the Mask or Head layer and make sure that they two images are lined up on top of each other.

Step 3: Creating the Outline for Cutting the Laminated Mask

Once your mask has been printed and cut out (these steps are coming later) you will want to laminate the mask so that it lasts longer. Once laminated this step will allow you to use your Cricut to cut it out.

Create another layer called "Laminator cut out". Make a copy of the "Outline" image and paste it into this new layer. Once again make sure that all images line up exactly on top of each other. Lock the other layers so that you do not accidentally move or change them.

Using the Dynamic Offset tool (you can see a Youtube tutorial here) make the cut out 5mm or so larger. Once done, click again on the "Edit path by nodes" tool to check that no strange or extra nodes have been created. If they have, delete them.

Check that the images are still aligned precisely on top of each other. As the images are not no longer all the same, the easiest way to do this is by using the align tool and centre aligning them both horizontally and vertically.

Step 4: Most Important Step: Add the Cutting Markers

This will make sense when you come to using the Cricut but you need to add the these markers to help you correctly line things up.

In the "Markers" layer, create two blue 5mm squares (any colour will do).

The squares need to be aligned as per the above image i.e. the left one in the top left inner corner and the right one in the top right inner corner. There positions can be determined but selecting the image in the "Laminator cut out" layer and then looking at the position and width and height values.

In this example, the left square would be placed at (0,0) and the right square at (205.426-5.916mm, 0) i.e. (199.510, 0); it appears I created 5.916mm squares :D

Once done unlock all the layers, select all the images/objects and then set the position to (0,0) i.e. position the entire drawing in the top right corner.

Because you are limitted to your Cricut mat and printer page size, select all your images and then with the sizing padlock enabled (to enforce proportional resizing), change your width or height to accommodate these restrictions.

Step 5: Setting Up the Cutting Mat Guides

Open Cricut Design Space and start a new project. All you want for now is a rectangle. Create a rectangle with the same dimensions as the paper they you are going to print on, using the Basic Cut operation.

No on the cutting mat place two strips of masking tape next to each, covering the two inch column and row.

Once done, cut the triangle, removing the inner sections of masking take.

What will remain in a mate with two masking tape guides; as in the photo.

Step 6: Printing the Mask

Hide all the layers, except for the "Mask" or "Head" one and send it to the printer, using your paper or card stock of choice.

Step 7: Cutting the Mask Out

Position the printed mask on the cutting mat so that the edge of the paper lines up with both the left and top masking tape guides.

In Inkscape, hide all layers except the "Markers" and "Outline" layers. Select all images and export to PNG.

In Cricut Design Space, upload this PNG, placing it on the canvas as a cutting image. Select the image, making sure that the padlock is on to enable proportional resizing.

In Inkscape, select the two markers and note the width of the bounding box. In Circut Design Space, set the width of the uploaded image to this value (i.e. these markers are now used to ensure that the images will be cut at the same size as what was printed).

Load the mat and cut the mask out.

Once cut, carefully remove the mask, leaving rest of the waste one the mat. This will be used later to help cut out the lamination.

Step 8: Laminating

Put the mask in a laminating pouch, leaving enough spaces on the edge to accommodate the last lamination cut. Laminate the mask.

Once laminated, trip any parts of the lamination that might get in the way for the next cut. Place the laminated mask on the mat so as to cover the hole that it left when it was removed. If necessary, hold it down using more masking tape.

In Inkscape, hide all layers except for "Markers" and "Laminator cut out". Export this as a PNG and upload it to the Cricut Design Space as a Cut operation. To cut the lamination I set the material to 270 gsm, heavy cardstock and increased the pressure. It might well be possible to use a thinner material setting or less pressure.

Step 9: Finishing Up

Using a glue gun, attach a skewer or ice-cream stick to the back of the mask so that it can be held in front of your face. Using some coloured take, neaten the stick attachment by covering the part that is glued.

On a side note, the Laminate cut out design could be modified to make place for tags that could be used to attach elastic or headbands for wearing the mask.