How to Turn a Picture into an SVG for the Cricut

This is a tutorial on how to convert photo to svg for the Cricut.

The question I get asked the most is how do you convert JPG to SVG for Cricut vinyl projects? While this seems like a simple question, the answer is not. The reason is there are many ways to do this. I will highlight what I think is the easiest way to convert images for vinyl cutters in this tutorial but keep in mind there are other options.

convert jpg to svg for cricut

Can you cut pictures with a Cricut?

Yes is the general answer but there are many ways to cut pictures. You can cut around the photo into different shapes. You can print and cut images as well. But in this tutorial, I will focus on a particular type of picture cutting with the Cricut…the kind where we turn that photo into a vinyl decal.

I don’t actually have a dog but if I was to get a dog, I’d get this super cute beagle in this photo.

In the meantime, I will just have a decal of him.

This is a quick tutorial on how to turn any photo into a cut file WITHOUT ADDITIONAL SOFTWARE in Design Space.

This applies to wedding photos, your dog, your cat, grandma and a raccoon if that is what pleases you.

I see a lot of tutorials out there on how to make SVGs with different software. People seem to gloss over the fact that it is possible to just convert your bitmap image into cut files within the Cricut Design Space app.

how to turn a picture into a cut file for cricut

How to turn a picture into a cut file for the Cricut

First, let me provide a little technical primer on different file formats.

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic. It is a type of vector image format. A vector image format is different than a bitmap image because it contains directional information (paths) as opposed to pixel information (dots).

The bitmap images you see on the web, that your camera takes, that your printer uses, typically use common bitmap formats like PNG, BMP, or JPEG. Your Cricut, doesn’t know what to do with information that comes in little dots. The Cricut blade needs direction, literally.

Cricut knows the inconvenience of having to only use SVG files or turn bitmap images into SVG files. You might wonder why can’t they just do this for you?

Well, it is actually technically really difficult to transform a bunch of dots into lines. You can just “connect the dots” in any random way.

It takes a lot of math to do this and even Adobe Illustrator (probably the most popular vector image editor) is not great at this.

Cricut Design Space has minimal vectorization functionality. But there is functionality there to convert PNGs to SVGs. They just cloak it in all sorts of terrible what they probably consider consumer level terminology so both the technical and non-technical people have no idea what is actually happening.

How to Export Your Cricut Designs

Did you spend an afternoon designing the perfect card that you just want to share with your fellow Cricut crafting friends?

And then you realize Cricut doesn’t actually let you export any of the designs you make in the app.

Well, I have a small hack I share with all my people. I’ve included this quick tutorial in my resource library.

Also, I have other fun project templates like this spiral betty photo project and tutorial all for free when you sign up for the newsletter.

convert jpg to svg for cricut

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    There are many other options that require no graphics editing skills.

    I use a software called Vector Magic to do all my conversions. It takes at most 30 seconds to do anything on this platform. It is best in class for converting bitmap images to vector files.

    I did this in about 10 seconds. (and no, I’m not making an affiliate cut from promoting them)

    how to turn a picture into a cut file for cricut

    However, I do understand the need to just deal with one piece of software.

    Thank you for indulging me in my technical rant. Let’s get back on topic…

    How to turn a photo into a cut file in Design Space

    Step 1: Convert photo to SVG in Cricut Canvas Upload

    how to turn a picture into a vinyl decal cricut

    Step 2: How to turn a photo into a SVG using Cricut Advanced Options

    For this project, select “complex”.

    Then select the “Advanced Options” on the following screen.

    how to turn a picture into a vinyl decal cricut

    Step 3: How to turn an image into a cut file using Cricut Select & Erase

    Each photo will require a different setting so you will have to play with the flowing steps to get the image to your preferences.

    First, we want to vectorize the image. There are a few different ways to control this in Design Space. In this current step, it is easiest to control the number of cut paths by how many colors you want to simplify the original photo down to. The original photo contains many different colors (lots of different shades). I see 3 main colors in this image. I like to start with 3x the number of main colors I see. This gives about 3 variations on each other to make sure the cute beagle here maintains some “resolution” so we can continue to see his cuteness. In this example, I start with Reduce colors = 9. (I ended up using 8.)

    The next step is to “erase” part of the image. Use the “erase” wand in the upper left corner.

    I usually start by just removing the color that is closes with the background.

    I then remove chunks but leave an outline so the essence of the beagle is intact. If I don’t like a particular move, I can always “redo” in the upper right hand corner.

    how to turn a picture into a svg for cricut

    Step 5: How to make a decal out of a picture

    When I am satisfied with this part, I hit Continue.

    Then I “Save as Cut Image”

    That’s it! Cute beagle decal is all yours!

    how to turn a picture into a svg for cricut

    How to convert picture to decal

    In this next example, I’m going to show you how to convert a picture into a vinyl decal in just a few clicks. Here for this example, I’m going to use a hand-drawn logo my son made for his baseball helmet. (not bad for a 7 year old right?!)

    You can do the same with other drawings, hand written notes or doodles. Just take a picture of it with your phone. Try to adjust the lighting and contrast of the photo such that you maximize the difference between what is dark and what is lighter (the background).

    For this next part, you just need to copy and paste the photo, you took into the Clippingmagic browser and it automatically isolates the drawing.

    This next part is important. Now, there are tons of background removal tools out there but Clipping Magic is the one that allows you to make editorial changes to your photo after the fully automated background removal. And, it’s the only one that lets you download as an SVG file!

    Now, full disclosure, I did make some editorial changes with this graphics with another editor but only because I was trying to use it as a base for another type of design rather than just vectorized the drawing as is.

    Interested in making your own SVGs?

    Learn how to use Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator with my ebook series Crafty Designs.

    Related Articles:

    The Most Profitable Cricut Projects to Sell

    How to turn handwriting into cut files

    29 Beginners Cricut Projects with Free Templates

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    34 thoughts on “How to Turn a Picture into an SVG for the Cricut”

    1. Tami


      1. Tammy Burris

        Do you have any idea how to do it for for silhouette?
        Tammy B

        1. Great question! It’s on my to do to explore the Silhouette design studio but haven’t had a chance yet. Sorry I can’t be of much help right now :-/


      Can you engrave your photos??

      1. You could but I don’t think that would durn out all that well. The engraving tool will just draw lines so it’s like just drawing the photo in small slivers and patches.

    3. Mary

      This was wonderful. I read your tips then tried it myself I think i did okay for my first time.

    4. Pat Ferryman

      Im not a stupid person but this baffles me. I scanned in the shape for a quilt pattern (I have to cut 96 pieces) I clicked on the buttons all of them and the eraser thing did not come up. when it did finally I tried to erase all the back ground stuff around the piece was only partially successful now I can’t get the eraser to come up again.
      I am so frustrated does anyone know how to help me see what it is Im not seeing.

      1. Are you doing this in Cricut Design Space? If so, I don’t think CDS has the ability to do that level of vectorization and editing. I would recommend just buying a premade SVG file.

    5. Andrea

      so I made something IN cricut design space using shapes and cutting for what I needed. How do I download it FROM cricut as an svg? is this possible?

      1. Hi there, unfortunately, Cricut doesn’t let you export their files. You would need to use an external tool for that. I use all the time but it is a paid service.

    6. Michele Buhr

      Can you do this on a cricut joy?

      1. Hi there, the interface for the Cricut Joy is pretty much the same in Cricut Design Space perspective. There are obvious size and material limitation but not design ones. There is a dedicated Cricut Joy app and no, you cannot do this type of conversion on that app. There is so little you can do on the dedicated Cricut Joy app, you might as well just download and use the full Cricut Design Space app. Hope that helps

    7. Lindsey

      When weeding out the vinyl is there and easier way then having to weed out every little dot??

      1. This is why I hate vinyl projects sometimes. My best advice here is to convert your picture into bigger blocks so there are fewer scraps to weed.

    8. Christina

      How do you do this with an iPad Pro?

      1. There are some apps for SVG conversions but their algorithms aren’t great. I would just use in your browser.

    9. Andrea

      How do you do this on a iPad? I’ve tried following your instructions but when it comes to choosing “complex” I can’t find the option?

      1. Ah, ok, I get your question now. If you don’t see a complex option, the file you are uploading is likely not a bitmap (pixel based) file.

    10. Andrea

      Do you know how to do this on a IPad?

      1. There are a few vectorization apps but I would consider just using in your safari browser.

    11. Mandy

      When I upload my picture it is HUGE! what can I do?

      1. You mean within the Cricut Design Space canvas? You can zoom out to make it easier to work with. Otherwise, you might want to resize the original file in another graphics editor first.

    12. Tammy

      I was unable to subscribe to your news letters or anything but I would like to.


      I have a black & white photo of (dog) a French Mastiff wearing white glasses and a red polka a dot bow on her head how would I simplify this photo without changing the look of the breed?


        hmm, I’d have to look at the photo to see :-/

    14. Gail

      Can the Cricut Maker draw my photo?

    15. Jodi Mouton

      I figured out how to do this with design space…..however I cannot figure out how to add the colors back in. I can create the shirt, but with only one color. How can I add the other colors back in that were part of the original image? Tank you for your expertise!!!


        Ah, that’s a tricky one. It depends on what you mean by “add color” back in. Are you trying to do a print and cut? You can also just recolor it with one color by using the color selector.

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    17. Margaret

      Do I have to have a membership to access free file?

      1. Elf @DomesticHeights

        For all subscribers who sign up for our free newsletter you have access to the free resources library.

        1. Margaret

          How do I sign up for newsletter

        2. Elf @DomesticHeights

          We have a sign-up box at the bottom of the page on the site, please scroll down, alternatively, please send a request to and our elf will sign you up.

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