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.
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 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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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 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.