The Basics of Designing 3D Cut Files | Adobe Illustrator Tutorial

Designing cut files can be a tricky process—designing them to be made into three-dimensional objects can be an absolute headache. And while going over all the steps and mental processes that need to happen in order to turn a concept into a 3D reality warrants its own series, I thought I would take some time to go through a few of the fundamental tools you can utilize if you’re interested in 3D cut file design. Check out my latest tutorial, and learn the basics of designing 3D cut files in Adobe Illustrator.

The Basics of Designing 3D Cut Files

It’s not uncommon for me to receive a message that goes something like this, “I love your paper lantern designs! I’d like to learn how to make some myself. Can you tell me how you do it?”

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is incredibly complicated, and not something I could ever really explain through email or a DM. My paper lanterns take me 6+ hours to design; and that doesn’t include any revamping that may be required if the cut doesn’t turn out the way I had expected OR the assembly/photography process afterword.

BUT I do like to try and help anybody I can who is interested in learning new design skills. So, that’s why I decided that this tutorial could be a good place to start.

The main tools you will be using:

Rectangle Tool

Shortcut: M




Shortcut: ⌘G





Artboard Tool

Shortcut: Shift+O

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check some of my other Adobe Illustrator tutorials. As a designer, I use Adobe Illustrator to create all of the designs you see on my site, and I absolutely love it!

I hope you’ve found this video about the basics of designing 3D cut files useful! Give it a try, and let me know how your cute little box turns out. And, as always, if you have any questions or suggestion for topics you’d like to see me cover, be sure to let me know!

Miss Mandee Signature



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4 Comments on The Basics of Designing 3D Cut Files | Adobe Illustrator Tutorial

  1. Mischelle
    August 26, 2019 at 8:35 am (5 years ago)

    I just was able to get the internet 3 years ago. The last time I used a computer was when I had an Apple IIe in my classroom. Living out near Death Valley, just getting phone reception is a blessing. Updating my Cricut, from cartridges to Bluetooth, has opened up so much for me. Thanks, for offering an understandable video on how to make my own cut files. Thank you for sharing so much content for free.
    with regards,

    • Mandee
      August 26, 2019 at 10:13 am (5 years ago)

      That’s awesome Mischelle! I’m glad you’ve been able to make use of the technological advancements of Cricut!! And thank you for your kind words about my tutorials. I’m glad you’re willing to put up with my rambling. ^_^

  2. Wendy
    January 19, 2020 at 4:11 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you for this tutorial ( and all the rest of them) I teach high school graphic design and we just ordered a Cricut for our classroom! I have one at home, but now my students will be able to create so much more! So thank you for this!!!

    • Mandee
      January 21, 2020 at 8:24 am (4 years ago)

      Yay! That is so exciting!! Your students are going to have a blast designing their own cut files! 😀


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