March 16, 2010

Using Inkscape to easily create SVG files

Before we get started today, it might be a good idea to take a refresher and read yesterday’s post about how to use your Photoshop Elements software to transform a humdrum photo into a snazzy silhouette. Today I’m going to show you how to kick things up a notch by cutting out the same silhouettes you created with your Cricut!

I’ve mentioned the Sure Cuts A Lot software quite a few times before (see the post here for another great project idea using your bug). When I purchased the software, I was impressed with one of the selling points being the fact that by converting any image file to a scalable vector graphic (SVG) format, you can then use your Cricut and SCAL software to cut it out. The sky is really the limit to what you can do here! Until I created my first round of silhouettes, I hadn’t ever had a project that made me want to figure the whole conversion process out, but I couldn’t shake the thought of how incredibly handy (and downright cool) it would be to have the ability to cut out my childrens’ silhouettes with my Cricut. Think of the possibilities! So, I did some digging and found out exactly how it’s done.

Before you can get started, your first order of business is to find a software that is capable of converting your JPEG into an SVG file. Inkscape is a free program you can download to your computer that will enable you to do so. After you’ve downloaded the necessary software, the process of creating your SVG file to be cut using your SCAL software is a snap!
Step 1

In Inkscape, open your saved JPEG silhouette image. Click on your image to select it (arrows will appear around the perimeter of your photo).

Step 2
Choose Edit > Make a Bitmap Copy (or Alt + B on your keyboard).

Step 3
Move your bitmap copy over so your original image is visible. Select the original image by clicking on it; delete it using the delete key on your keyboard. Recenter your bitmap image over the orginal canvas.
Step 4
With the image still selected, go to View > Display Mode > Outline. Your image should now be covered with a red X.
Step 5
With your image still selected, go to Path > Trace Bitmap (or Shift + alt + B). In the dialog box that pops up, click “update,” then “ok.” Close this dialog box.
Step 6
Move the red X off of your traced image and delete it.
Step 7
Save your file. That’s all there is to it!
Now, all you have to do is fire up your SCAL software. Choose File > Import SVG (or Shift + Ctrl + I), and select your silhouette SVG. It is now yours to cut out as you wish! I honestly think the first time I did this I literally gasped with delight. 🙂 As crafters today, aren’t we lucky to be surrounded with such cool technology?

To create the tabletop photo vignette that I posted here and shared in yesterday’s post, all that was required was cutting out the silhouettes in my desired size to fit in my frame (which I purchased at Walmart for just $5). I then cut a piece of white cardstock to fit in the frame and adhered my silhouettes to it so each would be centered in its respective “nook.” I took some scrapbooking stickers I had on hand to spell out each child’s initials, and I used a heart sticker and smaller stickers indicating the year to fill in the fourth slot. After everything was adhered to the cardstock, I slipped it into the frame, and I was all set!

I had planned today to share my step-by-step for creating some darling silhouette wall plaques, but I think we all might be on systems overload after this photo- and information-laden post! Let’s pick up where we left off later this week, shall we? 🙂


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18 Responses to Using Inkscape to easily create SVG files

  1. Kelli @ RTSM March 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    That seems pretty easy! One more reason for me to invest in SCAL:)

  2. Katie's Nesting Spot March 20, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    Great! I am trying to figure out if I want to get the program you have or Make the Cut. What fun project with so many potential uses.

  3. Amanda August 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Can you tell me how I could go about this if I don’t have photoshop. I do have SCAL and I’ve downloaded Inkscape.

  4. Anonymous August 23, 2010 at 12:22 am #

    I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?

  5. stamping April 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Thanks so much, this was so helpful!

  6. Tina August 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    This was very helpful! Thank you.

  7. My Need 2 Craft February 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Thank you sooooo much for this tutorial. I needed a Dallas Cowboy star for a project I was working on and all the files I found were a rounded star and I needed to create one asap. LOL This worked perfect!

  8. Amelia Wesley August 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Can someone please tell me why some SVGs get messed up when you open them in SCAL even though they’re perfect in Inkscape? Is it because I have version 1 of SCAL?

  9. amy March 17, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    Im a day late and a dollar short. SCAL is not avail for cricut that I can find. Anyone have a source I can use for my Cricut Expression?

  10. Carol Comer August 25, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    This tutorial is awesome! Thank you so much. I have the Make The Cut Software and I have searched and searched for a tutorial on Inkscape that was easy, and simple to understand. I absolutely love your tutorial. I am so GLAD that I came across it!

  11. Ursula September 11, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Hi, I’ve used this tutorial, but when I open the file into Silhouette Design Studio, I get no cut lines. What am I doing wrong?

    My email is

    • Amy @ Positively Splendid September 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      Ursula, I am not really familiar with how Design Studio works when it comes to SVG files. Is there a forum specifically for Silhouette questions you could consult with? I am sorry not to be of any help!

  12. Deanna W. November 15, 2013 at 4:55 am #

    I don’t get a pop up when I trace the bitmap. Everything is the same up to that point. Any suggestions?

    • Deanna W. November 15, 2013 at 5:26 am #

      Nevermind. The popup was so far at the bottom that I didn’t see it…

  13. January 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    All this time I thought my sister to be a rocket scientist for knowing how to do this. I had no idea it was so simple!! I told her your tutorial must be exceptionally well written to be so easy to follow! 😉 Thank you so much!

  14. Charlotte February 4, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Amy, I never respond to blogs and information I find, but your tutorial is great. I had to let you know. I have had SCAL for a couple of years and had always just used other peoples free svgs, but I was looking for a logo and, even though I found pictures online, I couldn’t find an svg so I decided to try to make my own. This was so simple. Thank you so much for the instructions.

    • Amy @ Positively Splendid February 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

      I am so glad to hear you found this helpful, Charlotte! Thanks so much for stopping by to comment. registered & protected

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