What Makes a High-Quality SVG

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A little backstory. I am throwing my daughter an Encanto-themed party for her second birthday. I was looking for some fun decor and already started to design the cake topper and a cute shirt design. Then I stumbled upon someone who had made the candle from the movie. I wanted one. I thought to save time let’s see if someone made one I liked instead of designing my own. The craft blog I found the idea on actually offered a free file! Sweet! So I handed over my email address and got the file. I was less than thrilled with the file upon opening it. So ultimately I designed my own high-quality SVG anyway. (Which will be in the shop soon)

Not all SVGs are created equally. There are a few ways to make an SVG, and not all of them produce good results. Many creators use shortcuts to make these files, which leads to an imperfect SVG with many jagged lines and unclean edges. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the different ways to create SVGs and discuss the pros and cons of each method.

What Is An SVG?

If you are in the world of cutting and engraving with machines such as Cricut, silhouette, or lasers then you have heard the term “SVG”. What is an SVG? It is a Scalable Vector Graphic that can be used on the web and in print. The difference between an SVG and a photo like PNG and JPG is that an SVG is not made with pixels, to keep it simple is made with math. SVG files are great because they can be resized infinitely without losing quality. This is great for cutting and engraving.

How an SVG is created

There are a few ways to make an SVG file. I use Illustrator myself but you can use any vector software like Inkscape. In these programs, you will use the tools to design your SVG with fonts, shapes, and lines. This method gives you high-quality SVGs and is the best method to use when designing SVGs.

Another cool feature about these programs is they often have the option to trace existing art. This is great if you are an artist and want to take your work from the page to the screen, but this tool also becomes a shortcut for some people to “vectorize” art that isn’t theirs. AKA stealing.

The Issue With “Vectorizing”

Many creators use this method as a shortcut to make these files but often leads to an imperfect SVG with many jagged lines and unclean edges. Aside from the fact that if it isn’t your art it is stealing.

When you “vectorize” art it isn’t a perfect science. Computers are intelligent but they are not artists which brings us to the important point of this post. Not all SVGs are created equally.

When you make an SVG with these tracing methods there are a few things that will make it less than perfect.

The quality of the image. This tracing tool was designed for artists and works best with line art. dark lines on white paper but it isn’t a one-click solution and requires some tweaking to get a good result. When this tool is used on graphic images it does its best to outline what it sees and does an ok job but the more detail the harder it is to get it right. A low-quality image will also make it much harder for the program to find the edges.

Some Common Issues

There are a few problems with this. First, the program just fills in anchor points all over the place, you can clean up the amount it uses in the settings but then the overall quality of the image goes down. All of these little anchor points create a less than smooth line in the final cut or engrave. The second issue is that the program tends to fill in what it can’t see so parts might blur together. the resulting image then looks a little blobby or blurry. The last thing that can happen is many curves are not actually curves but just a bunch of straight lines put together which leaves a jagged ugly edge.

No matter how much clean-up you do to a scanned image you will rarely if ever, get the results you get from “hand” drawing.

The free SVG I downloaded was clearly one of these traced images. In fact, they even left the image they traced in with the file. Judging but that image it was traced also, not are playing a game of vector telephone. (Do you remember that game? Do the “kids” still play that?)

Let’s Compare the Free SVG To High-Quality SVG I Created

When looking at the anchor points here you can see a difference. Mine on the left has fewer anchor points and they are consistently placed. The lines are straight and clean, you see this really well in the two lines that are going across.

From this close up you can see that my design on the left is very clear and crisp. The one on the right has blobby leaves. The inside of the butterfly wing at the top has a strange shape instead of a clean teardrop shape.

So, What Makes a High-Quality SVG?

A high-quality SVG file has clean lines, few anchor points, and a consistent stroke weight. When you zoom in there are no jagged edges, everything is smooth. The best way to know if an SVG is high-quality is to open it in your vector software and take a look. If it is made up of hundreds of tiny anchor points, it will give you a less than smooth output. If it was made with the pen tool in one stroke with no fill it would be a clean image.

The SVG I made in use on this cool LED Candle!

When looking for high-quality SVGs make sure they were created in vector software from scratch or hand-drawn line that was scanned at a high resolution. These are the files that are going to give you the best results.

Just remember, not all SVGs are created equally. Sure, the free one is ok and may work out for a quick project but wouldn’t you prefer an SVG that was sure to cut clean and be of the highest quality, especially if you are selling your final product?

I can promise you all of the files on my shop and on my Etsy shop are handmade by me. I only put files up that I would cut myself and they are carefully inspected to be of the highest quality, even the free ones!

If you want to make your own Encanto Candle you can find the SVG here.

Now that you know all this go forth and create beautiful things!

PS if you are interested in learning to make your own high-quality SVGs then be sure to be on my mailing list so you are the first to know when that course launches!