I am going to reference a program called Inkscape in this post. Inkscape is a program that can be downloaded for free HERE and it is one of the programs that can be used to create SVG files.
Here is the most important thing to understand...not all SVG files are the same! SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic, meaning that this is a file that when it is enlarged it will not pixelate. SVGs are very common in the graphic design industry for this very reason. You kind of need to think of an SVG file as a graphic file. When you compare an SVG to a JPG, a JPG will pixelate if you make the file too large. You can make a SVG into a JPG pretty easy, but it is not quite as easy to make a JPG into an SVG file.
When we reference an SVG as a cutting file, we are ASSUMING that this SVG will cut, but we can't really make that assumption. Since an SVG is a graphic file, there could be several shapes and these shapes can overlap, which means that a die cutting machine, doesn't know what to cut unless we tell it what to cut. The way that we can tell the cutting machine what to cut is by putting those shapes on a PATH.
Tom Meeks over at Create & Cut, kind of stumbled on this information earlier today and posted about it here on his blog. I am impressed that Tom figured this out so fast, as it took me quite a while to figure it out when I was trying to create my first SVG file! Great job Tom! I am going to elaborate a little on his post, so make sure you read his first.
SHAPES & PATHS
You can use Shapes to create your SVG files, you just have to make sure to set those shapes to a path before they can be cut. In the picture below, you will see that I drew an oval using the Circle, Ellipse Tool (located on the left hand side tool panel with the pink circle icon). For this example, I have chosen to have no fill, and a red stroke line. The stroke line is what we really need to be concerned with, so when you are creating an SVG, I recommend that you make sure to have a stroke color on to see where the die cutter is going to cut.
The next thing that I am going to do, is select the oval by clicking on the mouse pointer icon located on the left hand side tool panel, and then clicking on my oval. When I do this, notice that there are now handles located on the bounding box on the oval. This indicates that the oval is now selected.
Now I want to point your attention to the very bottom of the screen, under the color selection bar. When you have a shape selected, you will see this.
Notice that is says Ellipse in layer Layer 1. This is what I am going to refer to as the information bar. This will let you know what is currently selected, and will also confirm to us when something has become a path. Next up, we are going to go to the Path menu on the menu bar. Shown here highlighted in yellow.
From here, we are going to select the option titled Object to Path which is the very first option. You can also use the keyboard shortcut of Shift-Ctrl-C. Once we do that, when you go back to that information bar, we see this.
We now have a cuttable SVG file. If you have downloaded a file from the internet, and you are having trouble cutting it, it could very well be that the objects, strokes, etc. are not on a path.
Is there an easy way to tell if everything in the file is on a path...YES! Here is how you can tell. First off, here is a file that is similar to what you may see when you download SVG files.
A group, means simply that there are more than 1 shapes grouped together so that they can be selected as one. When we see this, there are two things that we can do, and I will show you each way.