How to Create SVG Cut Files. Turn your hand-lettering and illustrations into custom SVG cut files for use with Silhouette and Cricut machines!
How to Create SVG Cut Files
I’ve shared a tutorial for How to Create Hand-Lettered Silhouette Cut Files, but I also wanted to show you how to can turn your lettering and illustrations into SVG cut files.
I shared what you’ll need and how to create the lettering in the Silhouette Cut Files post already, but to make it easy for those of you coming straight to this post, I’ll include it again below. If you’ve already read this part, just scroll down to the SVG tutorial part of the post. 😉
What You’ll Need to Make Custom SVG Cut Files
- Basic Lettering Supplies. Traditional supplies or iPad Lettering supplies.
- Camera or Phone. You’ll only need this if you did traditional on paper lettering.
- Silhouette Studio. I use the Designer Edition but the standard version will work just a well. Among its many other upgraded features, the Designer version allows you to open SVGs.
Creating the Hand-Lettering
You can do this on paper or on your iPad. I’ve included basic directions for each method below.
- Start by sketching out a phrase or illustration in pencil.
- Trace over it with a black marker. Allow to dry and erase out your pencil lines.
- Snap a bright, clear picture of your lettering with your camera or phone. I use my iPhone.
- Right on my phone, I crop the photo close to my lettering and turn the photo black and white (using the “edit photo” function on my phone). Usually, I increase the brightness and black point to get the background bright white and the text/illustration nice and black. This step is helpful for the tracing step we’ll do soon in Silhouette Studio.
On Your iPad
- Create your lettering in the program of your choice. Procreate is the only lettering app I use for iPad Lettering (along with my Apple Pencil) so I’ll be using Procreate for these instructions.
- To keep today’s tutorial simple, design everything in black. For cut file designs, I don’t usually add color until I move to Adobe Illustrator for SVG creation and creating a promo image.
- As shown in the screenshot below, uncheck the background layer so it is transparent.
- On the top left of your screen, click “Gallery” to go to the main screen in Procreate, swipe left on your file and select “Share” and choose to export as a PNG format.
Now that our lettering/illustration is complete, we’re going to move to our computer, so AirDrop, Dropbox, or email the PNG file or photo to yourself. Open your computer and save the PNG or photo to your desktop.
Creating the SVG Cut File
Ok, now let’s turn our lettering/artwork into an SVG. The first few times you do it, it may feel like a lot of steps. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll get faster. I’ve been doing it for more than a few years now and I fly through them.
You will need Adobe Illustrator (AI) for this tutorial. I work in AI allllllll the time and I love this program! I’ll walk you through it in the below video. I’ve also taken a bunch of screenshots of the process and will list the steps shown in the video in a written tutorial below the video.
Can you create SVGs with a different program? I’m sure there are other programs out there that you can use to make SVGs, but this is the only one I use and am an “expert” in. If you plan to sell your designs, I’d call Adobe Illustrator a necessary program to learn.
Open Adobe Illustrator. I usually create a new document with the following settings, also shown in the screenshot below.
- Two 1500×1500 pixel artboards
- RGB Color Mode, 300 dpi
Once you’ve filled in those settings, click the blue Create button.
Go to File>Open and select the PNG or photo of your design from wherever you’ve saved it on your computer.
With your image selected, click the dropdown arrow next to the Image Trace button. Choose the Sketched Art image trace option.
If you’re happy with how the tracing came out, click the Expand button.
If you’re not happy, you can click choose Edit>Undo or simply press Command+Z (Ctrl+Z on a PC) to go back a few steps. To have more control over how accurate the trace is, open the Image Trace panel by going to Window>Image Trace. I explain this in more detail in the video tutorial.
Next, you may want to clean up some lines or points. I do this using the Pencil Tool and Smooth Tool, both of which are in the dropdown panel of the Shaper Tool, as shown below. Again, I discuss this in more detail within the video, so be sure to watch the video lesson see how to do this part. These are two tools I use very frequently for SVG Cut Files!
I’ve labeled the artboards in the below screenshot for this step.
- Once you’re happy with the design, you can add color to the main design on the left artboard. This is optional but I usually add some color, especially for designs that aren’t just lettering.
- For the SVG artboard, you’ll need to cut and paste a copy of your design and place it over on the second artboard. Select the design on the SVG artboard and change the fill and stroke as shown below. (No Fill, Black 1 pt Stroke).
We’re ready to save our work! For the main promo image, I save it as a JPG and PNG. Do this by going to File>Export>Export As>PNG (or JPG) or you can go to File>Export>Save for Web (which is what I usually do).
When I do Save for Web as a JPG, I always like to have it at Maximum and 100% Quality. Click the Save button save the file to your desired location.
For the SVG, go to File>Save As and this box will pop up. From the format drop-down, chose the bottom SVG option (circled in the screenshot below). Click the blue Save button.
Another box will pop up. Leave the settings as is (you can double check that they match mine below. Click the OK button and save the file to your desired location.
To double-check that your SVG works, open Silhouette Studio.
Note: Designer Edition or higher is needed to open SVGs. I have the Designer Edition and got my upgrade for about half price on Amazon.
Go to File>Open and select the SVG you just created. You should see red cut lines around your design. If you don’t, go to the Send panel and be sure “Cut” is selected under the action panel (as shown below.)
See the red lines? you’re good to go! If you don’t you’ve missed a step in the SVG creation and will need to go back and try again.
More Mermaid Vibes!
- You can snag this design over in the Silhouette Design Store here.
- Grab my Mermaid Vibes trio of Free Coloring Pages here.