What Are SVG Cut Files + How Do I Make Them?


Sometimes I get so caught up in my own little working world, that I forget some of my followers are new and may have no clue what an SVG cut file design is, let alone how to design one. I am so passionate and excited to share everything I do that I forget about the basics. Why I chose graphic design? How I started my online business?  And...How does it work? This is the backbone of my business...my bread and butter...my everyday! Why in the world haven’t I posted about this sooner? *facepalm**

What exactly do you do, Kasey?

I design and sell SVG cut files full-time and I LOVE IT!!!  My background is in graphic design, internet marketing and computer information technology.  Designing digital files on a computer and selling them online was a perfect match for me. If you want to give designing SVG’s a try but not sure where to start...Don’t worry.  I got your back! No experience required. Just keep reading and you’ll see what I am talking about.

What are cut files?

Cut files are the graphic you load into a cutting machine (Cricut, Silhouette Cameo, etc.) in order to cut vinyl, leather, paper products, fabric...and tons more.  These graphics enable you to make anything from stencils and gift boxes to elaborate designs on t-shirts. The possibilities are endless my friends! Not to mention the ability to customize designs…..the SKY IS THE LIMIT.  **mind blown**

A passive income opportunity...NO WAY?!?

Yes, cut files are the up-and-coming thing people! Many people aren’t aware that this is even a possibility...AND..cut files are just one of the MANY things you can do with your designs.  For instance, you have the option of partnering with a Print on Demand company to apply your designs to t-shirts, mugs and sooo much more. Because everything is on-demand, you don’t have to warehouse ANY inventory.  This is what I do with my other business, Pen and Posh Apparel.  I currently use a Print on Demand Partner. The process is pretty straightforward. Upload your designs to your selling platform which integrates with your partner. Once an order comes in your fulfillment partner receives a notification, they fulfill and ship the order to your customer including your logo and branding on the package.**mic drop** Done!!!  Now, I know some of you are wanting more information...don’t worry. There will be a future post that will go further in depth oh this topic including 3D laser printers. And, guess what?  They accept SVG cut files! This is where it’s at people and this is the whole reason I do what I do. **mic drop** 

Designs = Passive Income

Passive Income = FREE, Flexible, Profitable Life

Every time I hear the “cha-ching” notification on my phone means another sell on Etsy.  What’s even better is that I am making money while I sleep, eat, and being the best wifey to “DA MAN” and mom my littles! (He made me say that. **wink wink**)  I am living the life! I want you to be able to live that life you have always dreamed of. Which is why I want to share everything I know about the online cut file design business as a passive income opportunity that will enable you to live a Free, Flexible, Profitable Life.  Today, we are getting back to the basics. For some of you, today’s post will be a review, for others, we are heading into new and exciting territory.  LET’S GET STARTED!

What Are SVG Cut Files + How Do I Make Them?

What, specifically, are SVG’s?

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic, which means it is a vector graphic that can be sized to whatever scale you can imagine without losing its sharpness.  Ever tried blowing up a photograph just to have it turn out blurry? This will never happen with an SVG file. You can start with a small file (easy to send via the web and downloads quickly) and turn it into a very large beautiful banner.

But Wait….That’s not all!

Another giant perk to SVGs is they are EDITABLE.  Once uploaded to the cutting program, such as Cricut Design Space, you can change just about anything to customize it to whatever you want...stroke or fill color.  You also have the option of printing or cutting the design, depending upon the program and machine. ‘Each part of the separated meaning you can use different pieces of vinyl for different parts of the design.  Another option is using leather for one part of the design and vinyl for the other or both. This is such a fun skill to have and even more fun if you have a cutting machine. Now that we have identified what a cut file is….Let’s Move On...

How Do I Create An SVG File?

There are many different ways to create a cut file. The option you choose will depend on what you plan on doing with the file. If you want to create custom design files to sell, like I do, I suggest using either options 3 and 4.  However, at times, I have been known to draw a design in Procreate and clean it up with Adobe Illustrator. So, basically, it’s all about personal preference and what you feel comfortable with. By listing several different options, it will help you make the decision that is best for you.

  1. Tracing (Not really an SVG file but the same outcome) - Some people trace an image within their cutting program which automatically turns it into a cut file.  Warning: This is an act of copyright infringement. Make sure you have the rights to the image.
  2. Ipad Pro, Apple Pencil and a drawing app (ie. Procreate) **Again, not really an SVG file but the same outcome.** - You draw a design and send it to the cutting program to trace.  This is a fun option if you like to draw. 
  3. Adobe Illustrator- I create designs from scratch using Adobe Illustrator.  It is my design software of choice because of the design capabilities, the shortcuts and how easy it is to use.  Adobe now offers a “cloud” subscription instead of an install. At the time I’m writing this post, the subscription for Illustrator only (there are many different subscription packages) is $20.99/month.  This is what I use in the tutorial video in this post.  I use Adobe Illustrator from start to finish for my entire design.  Other options include exporting other file types for just about any of your design needs. 
  4. Procreate and Adobe Illustrator- This is a mixture of both options 2 and 3 listed above.  By using Procreate first, I can draw a design and then upload it to Adobe Illustrator for fine tuning or adding more design elements.  At times, I will start in Adobe Illustrator then upload to Procreate to add embellishments and then back to Illustrator to clean it up and export it.  This is how I created the design below. I used a hand-written font for the wording then added the barn silhouette in AI. Then I transferred the design to Procreate, added the pretty things ;) and then back to AI for clean up. By cleaning up, I refer to imperfections such as the wobbly lines I get after using Procreate, because I am not that great at drawing.  I always clean up and finalize in AI. AI has the ability to make the multi-layer SVG which enables the user to customize cut file further within the cut program. Which can be done with a flat (traced) file. Sometimes the trace function in the cutting program isn't that great either when sending directly from Procreate. 
  5. Inkscape- Inkscape is a FREE program! I don’t really recommend this option because I have found that it is harder to learn and is glitchy (on my computer).  Another issue, I have found because I design A LOT, is the design process takes longer because there are more steps involved. But, if you only need to design the occasional SVG, Inkscape is a great alternative. I just wouldn't count on them being around in 10 years with their site code being open source - but that's my opinion. 

  6. Silhouette Business Edition- For $100 Silhouette Business Edition is another option. You can export SVG’s, it’s pretty easy to figure out and is faster to create than Inkscape.  The design ability is fair. I was able to create any shape I wanted and the text ties into my computer fonts so that's always a plus. However, the drawing tool is limited (no brush calligraphy) that I could apply and there are no shortcut keys as there is in Illustrator. Altering graphics and exporting are also limited. So, as an intermediate option, this is a good program.  But, if you're serious about taking your designs to the next level and don’t want to be tied down to just cut files, Adobe Illustrator is your best bet.

See How It’s Done!! 

If you'd like to watch how I turn a design into an SVG file - from preparing the design to exporting it - be sure to watch the video.  I also include a step-by-step guide on how to do this with any design in Adobe Illustrator so be sure to grab it if you're interested!  This is the basic process I use, if you have tried SVG design before you have probably ran into an occasional error when loading the design into your cut program. My process minimizes these errors.  However, the more intricate the design, the more possibility for errors. For a more in depth explanation of how to deal with these errors, sign up for my Designer's Course to SVG. By joining my email list, I will keep you in the loop regarding course launch dates and details, along with other juicy tips, freebies and fun stuff.  

I used a hand-written font for the wording then added the barn silhouette in AI. After this I transferred the design to Procreate, added the pretty things ;) then transferred it back to AI for clean up. I usually have wobbly lines after using Procreate - I'm not great at drawing! That's why I always clean it up and finalize it in AI. Plus AI has the ability to make the file a multi-layer SVG. This gives the user the option to customize further within the cut program. This way once they are in the cutting program they aren't limited to one flat design, everything is ready to go. Sometimes the trace function in the cutting program isn't that great either when sending directly from Procreate.

Today, we went back to the basics of SVG’s and cut file design.  I explained my background in design why I got started designing cut files.  I love graphic design and helping others. Designing SVG cut files and selling them online is not only my passion, but also, my bread and butter.  My online SVG cut file business enabled me to replace a corporate income within 6 months while freeing up my time, being my own boss and obtaining the flexibility I craved.  SVG’s are the files that are uploaded to your cutting machine. They are customizable! There are many methods to design an SVG file. My process includes the use of Adobe Illustrator.  By doing so, I have created good, reliable error-free designs that my customers love! You can design your own SVG’s too! Whether you choose to sell them or not, allow me to teach you how. 

What about you?  Do you want to learn how to create your own SVG cut file designs?  Or do you have questions about this post? Or you liked the post? Give me a shout out or ask your questions in the comment section below.  

I hope this was helpful for anyone interested in designing cut files! 

Cheers!

-Kasey

ALSO MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST:

Designer's Course to SVG Files - click here 

6 comments

Kasey | Pen + Posh

Hi Angela, to make a true SVG file end in .svg you’ll need to have a program like AI or Inkscape to create these. If you are wanting to sell your files then this is what you’ll need. They do not have AI on the iPad Pro right now, the app they have doesn’t save it to an SVG format. I have high hopes that they are moving in this direction but AI is such a BIG program that I do not if the iPad Pro at this time can handle it. I do use the Procreate app to draw some of my designs, this is on the iPad Pro. But I still have to export them to png format, then import them into AI to vectorize and save as an SVG file. Hope that helps!

Angela

Can AI be used on an iPad Pro or do you have to have a computer? I am interested in making svg to sell but do not own a computer. Can it all be done from start to finish on an iPad?

Thank you,
Angela

Kasey | Pen + Posh

Hi Sherry,
It is confusing! And can be very frustrating at times. The process I have may be different than others you have seen because I have created this myself. I have found that by expanding the type or object, actually works a lot better than outlining and results in far less errors.
I dive into this process with my students in the Designer’s Guide to SVG’s at www.penandposh.com/course It is pretty confusing to do over text so I think the course would definitely be a great option for you where this course is geared towards those who will be selling SVG’s or making them for their own cutting business.
Anyways, hope that helps some.
-Kasey

sherry

signed up already LOL. Firstly i apologize for the long message
i just loved this tutorial, the first video that explains in depth.
I’ m in the process of teaching myself to create svgs in illustrator to hopefully sell but i just seem to be going in circles looking at videos making sure that i have done every right so that, the customer will have no problem opening and cutting the file , because once i start selling i want my customers to be happy with their purchases.
I have a question about the video instead of creating outlines for the words you expanded them. the videos i saw said to create outlines for the words have i been doing wrong. If you have time i would appreciate if you tell me if the method i have figured out is correct.
This is a step by step guide i used to create svgs.
1. create image
2. create outlines
3. unite
4. make compound path
5. then save a svg
Lastly from the same file i create a SVG, AI , DFX , PNG FILE AS WELL or do you not do so from the same file.
many thanks

Kasey

Absolutely! I will add it to my list. In the meantime, look up Merch by Amazon! That’s another big one if you’re interested in shirt design..

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