This is an introductory tutorial on how to make an SVG file in Inkscape and other software used to create SVG files.
One of the easiest ways to make (semi) passive income these days is to sell digital goods.
My Facebook feed is inundated with expensive e-courses on how to make money selling printables and other e-goods.
While I feel the market is saturated with bloggers selling planner printables, there are a few niches that still have a lot of opportunities mostly because it takes a little more skill to create these digital goods.
I’m talking about SVG designs for cutting machine crafts.
What is an SVG cut file?
Most images you see on your phone or computer are bitmap images. This means the computer stores the image information as a pixel, little dots of color. Common file formats include PNG and JPEG. You can tell the type of file it is by looking at the extension on the file name or by right-clicking and selecting properties.
The cutting machine has no use for pixel information, it needs directional information so the blade knows which way to cut.
An SVG file (also known as a cut file, vector image, vectorized image) is a set of directional information describing how to cut the shapes in the image.
You may have also come across DXF files. This is another vector format used by older Silhouette machines.
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What software is used to create SVG files
There are so many free and paid software tools in market today to make SVG files.
If you are looking to just turn a bitmap (JPEG or PNG) image into a SVG file, there are several free and paid SVG converters that work well for this function. I’ll go over my recommendations in a bit.
The problem is, the vast majority of cutting craft designs involve more than a flat simple SVG conversion. Especially if you are going to sell the SVG files, customers expect the graphics to be grouped, attached, sized properly among many other things.
To be able to control and edit these aspects, you need to use a vector editing software. There are two main ones in market today – Inkscape (free) and Adobe Illustrator (subscription).
Inkscape is an open-source free software tool that is the most comprehensive of its kind that is still for free. Adobe Illustrator on the other hand is the dominant and probably most comprehensive graphics editing tool in the market today that is used by many professionals.
If you are serious about selling SVGs, I would highly recommend Adobe Illustrator. If you just want to give it a try, Inkscape is a great way to get started.
How to save Cricut Design as SVG files outside of Cricut Design Space
This is one is a bit tricky. Cricut purposely do not let you export your designs for a reason. They do not want every taking their Cricut Access design outside the app.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this on Facebook groups or posted on forums but Cricut crafters spending hours designing their own stuff and just want to share it with a friend.
I have a little hack on how to do this for free. Sign up here to get your free copy of this quick reference guide on how to export your Cricut designs:
How to make your own Cricut Designs cut files for free
There are a lot of free software out there that will convert your image for free.
They are totally fine for simple shapes but will likely be bad at even slightly more complicated shapes and completely fail for photographs.
This tutorial will be centered around one of those free pieces of software but one that has a lot of editorial functionality so you can correct the mistakes to your liking manually.
How to Download Inkscape
As you may have guessed, that free software is Inkspace. You can download it here.
Install the software once you’ve downloaded it and open it up from your desktop.
How to use Inkscape to make SVG cut files
I have no idea why the default settings are so inconvenience but the toolbar is super tiny and the page is really zoomed out.
You can make the tool bar bigger by playing with the resolution of your screen. I almost immediately zoom to page, see image below for instruction.
Upload the Image to Inkscape
I have a bunch of farm animals silhouettes in this image. Aren’t they cute? I made them myself. To import this image, select “Import” from the drop-down menu under File in the upper left corner.
After importing, the image should show up on your page.
Tracing the Image in Inkscape
Make sure your cursor is on the Arrow. Select the image if it hasn’t been done. The image should look like this when selected:
After the image has been selected, select the “Trace Bitmap” function under “Path” in the toolbar
After this function has been selected, you should see this pop-up box in the upper right corner.
For this particular image, I have selected the selections you see in the image above, you may need to adjust this if it is another image.
If you click and drag the image, you should see a duplicate. The image on the bottom is the bitmap image and the top layer is the vectorized image. An easy way to see the difference is to select the image and look at the note on the bottom left corner. If it says something about “nodes” it is the vector image.
Delete the bitmap version of the image to reduce confusion.
How to Save the SVG File to Sell
To save the image as a cut file, select “Save As” under “File” in the toolbar. When prompted, name your file and save it as “Plain SVG” under Save As Type.
How to make an SVG file from an image using an SVG converter
If you are just looking to turn a bitmap image into an SVG format file, I would use one of the online converters.
There are many free online SVG converters but all of them are terrible. The reason is it takes A LOT of math and engineering to turn a bitmap image into an SVG image and most of the free versions are made by people who aren’t up to the task.
Especially if you plan on selling you files, the only reliable SVG converter is Vector Magic.
Oh, did I mention it’s fully automatic?
Sometimes, I am so lazy, I just take a screenshot of the image, (Ctrl+Alt+PrintScreen), paste it to Vector Magic (Ctrl + V) and it AUTOMATES the vectorization!
I don’t even have to select a button to do start the process.
It takes me 5 seconds to turn ANYTHING I can see on my screen into a cut file for my Cricut.
Just saying…how much is your time worth?
How to sell my Cricut designs
Be sure to zip your files and add a licensing disclosure with your files to make sure people don’t misuse your work.
Interested in making your own SVGs?
Learn how to use Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator with my ebook series Crafty Designs.