Convert a .PNG to a .SVG file…works for .JPG too!

Huh? OK we are getting a bit techie today but I swear this is easy! I get many emails form my fabulous blog readers on how to convert jpg and png files to svg files so they can cut them on the Cricut. Not that I don’t LOVE the emails, I thought it would be easier to explain it here with pictures because it is so easy. Expect to say “duh!” before this post is over. Don’t worry, I did not forget my non SCAL/Cricut readers you can do this project “old school” with paper and scissors and you digi-scrappers can play as well!. You will need Sure Cuts a Lot (SCAL) Software, a Cricut and a free program called Inkscape for this tutorail.

Here is what my 4 year old daughter made with what I cut:

Ooh-La-La, a fancy mask!

Ooh-La-La, a fancy mask!

Here are the free png mask files I used for this project. They are a freebie from Digi-Designer Meredith Fenwick and you can grab them on her blog here. Don’t forget to leave some love if you download, a simple thanks will do and it is sure to make her day!

Halloween mask freebie by Merdith Fenwick

Halloween mask freebie by Merdith Fenwick

A note about converting files. The files still belong to the original creator, that means you cannot share them or sell them without permission. This is for personal use only, otherwise I would just give you the files I made but that would be uncool since these freebies promote the designers business and drive traffic to their blogs. Yes, I’m a total square…OK I’m off the soapbox :-)

Step 1. Find a file you want to convert (simple is best like a coloring book page or png file with a transparent background). Open that file in Inkscape.

open the file in Inkscape, select the mask.

open the file in Inkscape, select the mask.

Click the arrow in the upper left column, then click on your graphic.

In the “Path” menu choose “Trace bitmap”

click "path" then "Trace Bitmap"

Click "path" then "trace bitmap"

A box pops up, click update, and you will hopefully see your graphic. Click “OK” and close the box by clicking the “x” in the upper right hand corner.

A window appers, click update and you see your graphic, click OK then "X".

A window appears, click update and you see your graphic, click OK then "x"

Save the file as a .svg then you can import it to SCAL. * this is important, you don’t open a svg file in SCAL you need to choose “import”.

Open SCAL, click "File" then "Import SVG"

Open SCAL, click"file" then "import SVG" and select your file.

Yay! There it is just like magic! resize as needed.

Yay! There it is just like magic! resize as needed.

That is all there is to it. I you have a multi-colored image you can use a graphics program like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro to separate everything with the “magic Wand” tool first then cut and paste them in a new document before opening it in inkscape…I think you can even do that in inksape but I haven’t tried (if it ain’t broke why fix it!). Have fun and if you have trouble leave me a comment and I’ll see what I can do…feel free to comment if you are successful too…I like the success stories!

I’m gonna cut a bunch of these for my kids classes, they had a ball decorating these and it will be so much easier than cutting them by hand! Honestly, I can’t wait to make some myself!

Thanks for sitting through this long post. Until tomorrow, Happy Crafting!


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98 Responses

  1. [...] thefrugalcrafter wrote an interesting post today onConvert a .PNG to a .SVG fileâ?¦works for .JPG too!Here’s a quick excerptHalloween mask freebie by Merdith Fenwick. Halloween mask freebie by Merdith Fenwick. A note about converting files. The files still belong to the original creator, that means you cannot share them or sell them without permission. … [...]

  2. [...] thefrugalcrafter wrote an interesting post today onConvert a .PNG to a .SVG fileâ?¦works for .JPG too!Here’s a quick excerptFind a file you want to convert (simple is best like a coloring book page or png file with a transparent background). Open that file in Inkscape. open the file in Inkscape, select the mask. open the file in Inkscape, select the mask. … [...]

  3. This is so cool, Lindsay! Great job!

  4. WOW! You’ve been busy! So Sorry I haven’t been around in a while! But I am back! :)

  5. Excellent blog! Interesting article and very informative! I will necessarily subscribe for this blog.

  6. That’s so helpful. I got SCAL yesterday and I was not doing some steps in inkscape. Watch out. I need some new cutting blades, this one is going to burn out!

  7. Awesome info! Thanks so much for explaining! Inkscape has way too many options for me to every figure that out on my own!

  8. thanks for doing this and explaining! I’m still on the fence about getting SCAL. Is there anyway you can show how to work with an image that has more then one color? for example a pic of a disney character like this one: ? How do you seperate all the pieces (say in photoshop) and then ‘reassemble’ them in inkscape so that you can play with them – ie put them together to create a mat or resize them? after all you probably will want to resize the full image with all it’s parts to use in a project.

  9. OK cloetzu, here goes… First I want to say that that image is copyright protected so don’t share the file or Disney may have your butt in a sling LOL but I’m here to teach so here is how to do it: Open the file in Paint shop or Photoshop. Open a new document 6″x12″ 72 dpi will be fine. Use the magic wand tool to select tinkerbell. Copy and paste tinkerbell in the new doc. Go back to the original pic, use the magic wand to select her dress, copy and paste it into the new doc. Do this for each part of her except the wings.. Make sure when you arrange the peieces you spread them out accorss the page so there is plenty of space for you to lay ou the diffrent colors of paper you will cut. After everthing is arranged on the page flatten the layers and use the magic wand tool to select every peice by clicking on the background (white) then go under the ajust menu and pick hue/saturation/lightness and pull the slider so the peices are black. Save an a jpg. Do the setps listed above in the post to make them an SVG file then import in in to SCAL to cut. If you cut the image of tinkerbell whole out of vellum and peice the other shapes on top it will be lovely! That way the wings will be vellum. good luck!

  10. great thanks! and yes I won’t share. I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes – assuming I can still get a trial version.

  11. I followed your instructions for converting files to .svg in Inkscapes and importing with SCAL. It worked perfectly and I can’t thank you enough for posting this valuable information.

  12. Thanks so much! This was incredibly easy. I had no idea. I’m all set for another crafting adventure.

  13. Why would there be no picture when I go to import to SCAL? Thank you for the instructions. They worked great on one image.

  14. Hi Beverly,
    I’m guessing then tou didn’t “trace bitmap” correctly. Open the image in inkscape again and select the arrow at the top of the left hand toolbar, then click on the image, it will make a box around the image, then go under the path menu and “trace bitmap” click update (you will see a picture of the image in the little window) clik OKm and clost the window. You will notice that the box aroung the image is smaller now touching the edges of the image. It’s happened to me before when I forgot to select the image before i did the trace. It should work now. good luck!

  15. Im sorry I know you are tired of explaining this.
    The steps were so easy but…………..
    I did all the steps. When I saved as, I have a screen
    Name……………….(my name of file)
    Save in folder……………….(my name of folder)
    the far right has (inkscape svg)(plain svg), etc.
    I hit save……..
    Went to my SCAL and hit import SVG. Can’t find it anywhere?
    I also tried (plain svg).
    I have Vista so I don’t know if this makes a difference.
    Thank you for your time.

  16. Huh Tami, that is weird. When you import SVG you should be able to see the svg files only but you can’t find the file right? My first step would be to make sure you are looking in the correct folder. Maybe try to save it to your desktop, then when you import look on your desktop for it. I have a newer tutorial too: that you may have more luck with. And I don’t mind explaining;-) I just hope I don’t confuse you more!

  17. Thank you so much for this tutorial, i am going to try it sometime this week once I get inkscape. This will be great. Thanks again. The masks are great.


  18. To separate colors in Inkscape you just click on color from the trace menu box, choose the amount of colors (sometimes its actually a few more than you see), (update) close box, and then go to Path and click break apart. Move each color its on part of screen or save separately.

  19. I did all the steps but when I go to save it still says jpg not svg, Why?

    • Nina, are you sure it is not filename.jpg.svg? Inkscape adds the .svg after the original file name unless you retype the name in. Try to import it into SCAL and see what happens;)

  20. So easy – thank you so much!

  21. Great Lindsay, thanks for the tute, I’ve just loaded SCAL this weekend and love it, now it’s time for Inkscape and a play with my jpgs. I’ll let you know when it works.! regards

  22. thank-you for all that info….

  23. VERY helpful! Simple and thanks for reiterating the “click on left arrow” to one other poster – that was my issue. Thank you for sharing!

  24. I can only say one word DUH. Thank you.

  25. Whats this man, i did’t get anything.

  26. Suh-WEEEET!!! Thanks soooo much for posting this! I’m a new cricut user and I’m just learning to use the machine period…much less all this other fancy stuff!! I followed your instructions and it worked like a charm!! I’ll probably have many questions about other stuff as I go….thanks for the help!!

  27. Hi Lindsay, thanks for the great instructions! I was loving using Inkscape & SCAL together to cut anything I want on my Cricut, but I’ve done something wrong & now I don’t see anything in the preview window after I select the image & say trace bitmap. It was working just fine a few weeks ago, now nada. I tried adjusting the brightness & edge detection, but I’m worried that I may be making the problem worse! Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Katie

    • I would remove inkscape and redownload/install it. I think your factory settings have been messed up. There was another way to do it too, maybe holding down the control button when you opened the program but I am not 100% sure.

  28. Thanks so much – easier than I thought!
    But I can’t find the trace menu box to separate colors…..where in the world is it?!

    • Hi Vicki,
      I think you want to choose “break Apart” to seperate the colors. In the new version of scal you can break apart the lines right there. It is more time consuming to make a layered clip art then a simple shape. So first you want to click “path” then “trace bitmap” and click OK on that box, use the arrow in the upper left hand corner and select the shape then click Break apart under the path menu. Then you can drag apart the pieces and arrange them the way you want to cut them. I think this might work better for a coloring page than a color clip art but give it a try:)

  29. DUUUUUHHHHHH! DUH! duuuuuHHHHHHH! What more can I say…you are amazing. You just taught me in 2 minutes something I have been trying to learn for weeks, but I was so confused. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  30. Thanks so much Lindsay for all of you wonderful tips and how-to instructions! I’m super excited to try this out! I’ll let you know how it goes! :-)

  31. Can someone help? I did all of the steps and when I import my saved svg, it says it contains embedded images and must be converted to outlines first. How do I do this?

    • Are you using scal 1 or scal2? I have never had that message with files I’ve made but I’ve gotten it with files made by oters in Abobe Illustrator. Open the file in inkscape, select the arrow tool at the top of the left hand side and clcik on the design so there is a box around it, if it douse not enclose the whole design drag a box around the entire design so everything is selected. Click path, trace bitmap, then click “OK”, click save and make sure you type .svg after the fiole name and save it as an inkscape svg. That should do the trick;)

  32. I just started using Sure Cuts Alot. Every website I look at says you can trace PNG files. But when i try and upload a png file, it won’t accept it. Am i doing something wrong?? PLEASE HELP!!! i am going crazy. I have a million png files and don’t want to have to go throught he process to convert them all before using them.

    • Hi Laura,
      What you need to do is open scal2 and click the picture that looks like a tree (that is the trace button) a window will pop up and you can choose the png file you want, then click preview, you should see the image in the box, then if you want to save the cutting file for later clcik save, if you only want to use it once click “OK” and it will appear on the mat just like an svg file. Try it, it is easy! Now I will warn you that not everything converts well, dark colors and simple designs are best. After you trace it, and it shows up on the mat you can remove any extra stuff you don’t want to cut buy going under the object menu and clicking “break apart” then you can select lines to remove. play around with it and you will see it’s easy;)

  33. where is this pattern now?

    • Hi Kimberly, that was not my file that I converted, therefore not mine to share on the site, I do not know if that freebie is available any linger but I have a mardi gras mask svg set in my shop if you want a set all done:)

    • I can’t find it on Meredeth Fenwicks (the mask designers) blog, sorry:(

  34. This tutorial can be used with photoshop, too??

    • yep, you can replace the steps done in Paint Shop Pro with Photoshop or the free GIMP software. You need to do the converting to SVG in either the FREE program inkscape or you can convert the clean jpg files in SCAL or MTC.

      • Sooooo….Inkscape will convert the jpg to SVG and then that can go into photoshop to be edited and then to die cut machine? and what is the link for the download? I went to google and that site was all in greek…isn’t there a link for geekers like me that says ‘download HERE’?? lol sorry, so many questions….just trying to understand it

      • Ok, I just saw your lin k for inkscape…but I was talking about the download here

  35. Thanks so much. I have been struggling with this for 2 days and now I did it in minutes. Your a real timesaver.

  36. I downloaded inkscape a month or so back. I haven’t used it – until tonight!! I followed your instructions and was able to convert my jpg files to svg so I can cut them with my Cricut. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  37. so what does it mean if no image appears when you click update?

    • Hi Jody,
      I noticed that sometimes the image does not show up when update is clicked with the later version of inkscape, it is a bug but do not worry, just click “OK” and it should be traced;) I wrote this tutorial with an older version of inkscape:)

  38. You saved the day!!! I can’t even thank you enough!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!! I searched and searched for an SVG file needed to create a birthday banner and came up empty! Even searched stores, and found nothing. I was starting to stress about to change my idea…but then I Found your post and was able to create my own file! AMAZING. THANK YOU so much!!!!

  39. You really do make this sound easy. I downloaded Inkscape but have never used it until now, guess today will be the first time. Thanks for the tutorial.

  40. this post is almost 3yrs old but im so glad its still here. The step by step instructions with pictures made it so easy to follow. Im a newbie with scal and inkscape so this is a big help. Thank u so much for the effort!

    • I’m so glad it helped you! I think inkscape has had a few updates since I wrote this but it is basicly still the same;)

  41. I too am just finding these instructions. I’m having a little problem though. When I open the PNG file it pops up and asks “Link or embed image — Embed results in stand-along, larger SVG files. Link references a file outside this SVG document and all files must be moved together” Which do I choose? In playing with it, I chose “embed”. I then followed your instruction about the arrow and clicking on the image going to Path and Trace Bitmap….. no image comes up in the window. I tried hitting the “update” button and it gave a very sketchy image – not a all the full image. I just got out of it and didn’t save the file. Am I doing something wrong?

    • I choose embed. You are not doing anything wrong, the preview box does not work correctly in the new version of inkscape BUT just click OK beacuse it will still trace the path just fine;) After you do that continue with the instructions and save the file, it should cut just fine;)

      Even when the preview box workds the image is sketchy looking.

      • Great! Thank you! I haven’t gotten a chance this week to look at it again, but I plan to do that this weekend. I appreciate your help!

      • This is exactly what was happening to me and I’ve just posted a question here about it- so ignore that one! I’ll go back now and see if ignoring the preview window still gets me an image for SCAL.
        Sorry to be a mither.
        This is an excellent helpful post -SCAL should be paying you!!

      • no bother at all, I’m so glad it worked for you;)

      • It worked!! Me is an excited bunny now!! Thanks so much

  42. THANK YOU!! I too have been trying to figure out this process off and on for sometime now and you cleared it all up. Thank you also to those who have left comments and questions, those were helpful also! Fantastic post!!!

  43. OMG…this worked for me. My mind cannot stop racing…I am going to be a Cricut cutting fool! Thanks!!!!

  44. Hello
    Thanks for this. I haven’t been able to view my image when I press ‘update’. I selected a png line drawing mask from Google images but my image won’t appear at this early stage.
    I’m sorry to be a nuisance but your instructions are so clear, I feel so stupid to not be able to make it work :-(

  45. Hey, thank you so much for the instructions. I know it is supposed to be easy, but I am having trouble. I am not able to open my file in Inkscape. I am going to OPEN then picking my folder, but when I pick the image inside my folder, It said not found, but it is in there. HELP!

    • Hi Denisewe,
      Make sure the file you are using is jpg or png. If not save it as a jpg. If that still does not work try opening another jpg file. If you cannot open anything just redownload and install inkscape again, maybe there is a glitch in the software. We will figure this out;)

  46. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your knowledge and simple step/photos to do this! Thank you a million times over!!

  47. So your instructions are so easy but when I go into Trace bitmap and click update my image does not appear. I save it as a svg file but when I go to import it in SCAL I receive an error message that says “the file is invalid or does not contain any vector information”. What does this mean and how do I fix this. Thanks.


    • Hi brandie, the preview does not work right in the new version of inkscape but don’t woory, just click OK and you should see the dotted box around your image has gotton smaller. now save it as svg. If you did not click OK when the preview window was open it did not trace it;) try it again and see if that works;)

  48. Hi, I really wanted to try this, but cannot find the link to download from Meredith’s website. Can you help?


    • Hmm, if it is not on her website I don’t know, you can try to contact her through her website or blog:)

  49. WOW-this tutorial was awesome. I’ve been using SCAL for about a year, but hadn’t ventured into converting digi images into SVG files. I also didn’t know about inkscape. Following your tutorial, I converted a file. I didn’t say “duh” but it was easy. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  50. You are awesome for helping so many people out with this! Thanks for the tutorial. I’m going to give it a try now and will contact you if I have questions. You rock!

    XO ~ Amy Jo (new email subscriber)
    amyjrockstar at gmail dot com

  51. Thank you so much for the directions! I can’t wait to give it a try!

  52. Hi, Please can you help? When I’ve used SCAL\ 2 or Inkscape to convert file to SVG, when it comes up on the mat it’s way too big & I can’t seem to adjust the size. How can I adjust size as I also have photoshop elements. Size of image is 2480 x 3508 pixels this is the image I’m trying to convert to SVG I know it’s too big but tried always to make it smaller & just can’t do it. Thank you

    • the easiest thing to do is to import the file in scal then click the “keept proportions” box and type in the desired heoight, like 8″ for example. If that does not work open the file in photoshop and resixe it to about 800 px wide then convert it again. Good luck!

  53. will try that & let you know how I get on. Much appreciated.

  54. Um, new to the PNG, SVG conversion task. Just got my first die cutting machine yesterday. I read that SCAL was sued by Provo Craft/Cricut and so is your method in the conversion tutorial compatible with eCraft die cutter by Craftwell Inc.? I want to learn how to make my own cutting designs, and I don’r\t have a cricut.

  55. I’m getting into dyeing disc golf discs and I needed a way to cut vinyl to transfer onto the disc before dyeing. This help me a ton because I couldn’t figure it out and this was one of the top pages when I searched google. Thanks

  56. Hi Lindsay, I just googled how to do this and found your post. I should have know to look her first! Thank you. Have a great day!

  57. Thank you so much for explaining how to convert the files!! I’m completely new to the Cricut world…lol I have one question, is there anyway to save the file into my SCAL v2 library so I don’t have to open the files on my computer everytime or am I missing something?

    • Hi Christy, you can add the SVG files to you library with the free program “Lib it Up”, you can get it from the craft edge (SCAL) website. Let me warn you that it slows down the program a lot! I thought the same thig when I first started using scal and I made librarys of all of my SVG files by topic, it started to make my SCAL take minutes to load (I could have found my file in a few seconds:) I would only do this with your absolute favorites so you dont make your program too slow. Also it takes quite a while to sort the files into libraries. Instead of that I just sort my files into folders such as: “Favor bags/boxes” “animals” ” shaped cards” “baby” “Scallop shapes” or whatever makes sence to you. good luck! If you decide to make libraies start with a couple and see if you can live with the extra loading time:)

  58. just wanted to say thanks for this tutorial! you made it so easy to follow and i have used it several times now. :)

  59. Wow, it feels like I’m kinda late getting into the digital crafting world but I am SO grateful for all of your information here! I have a Sizzix Eclips and the eCAL software on order and really looking forward to applying this information! Thank you in advance!

  60. I use to use SCAL and inkscape and then went through a divorce and lost all of my programs. Now I have a new computer and see that I can not use SCAL with my Cricut. Is there any way to get around this?

    • see if you can find your old email from craft edge listing your registration number. Then you just need to put scal on the new computer and enter it. I backed up my scal2 several places should this happen to me. I can email you the exe file but you cannot use it unless you can find your reg number…you might be able to look it up from craft edge in the “find registration number” section of the website:)

    • You can email Steven and he can sell you another scal v2 if u need. I bought mine from his etsy shop a few mths ago. Here’s his email address:
      Tell him I sent you and he can get you up and running again!! Good luck

      • The guy listed above is very helpful in getting the program activated, but there seems to be some disconnect on when it is possible to reach him. I bought a copy from him last year and weeks and weeks went by and we were never able to get it activated. Tried to reach him several times over the last few months to no avail. Anyone know how to reach him? It worked the first time we opened it and that is it. A friend referred us to him and she says he is super, but we cannot get anywhere to get this moving again. Our version has been deactivated and CE seems to have no record of our serial numbers.

      • Are you using the program with a Cricut machine? that might be why, I don’t think they are offering support for Cricut after 12/11 as part of a settlement they came up with when Provocraft (Cricut) sued them for making the compatable software. I think ther is a serial number lookup servise on their site though where you put in your email and they will email you the serial number. Good luck!

      • It did take a few days for him to respond to me but I emailed him everyday until he answered me :) I emailed him directly and through the etsy shop. Hope that helps!

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