How to Use SVG/DXF Files to Cut Watercolor PNG Designs

How to Use SVG/DXF Files to Cut Watercolor PNG Designs

watercolor PNG heat press design

Our watercolor singles are new and I know there are a lot of questions.  So here is a tutorial on how best to use the SVG or DXF file to cut around an image and make your projects quicker, easier, and never give you those dents that you get in your fingers when you hold scissors for a really long time!

First you need to open your cutting machine software.  I'll be using screenshots from my Silhouette V3 software, so if you have something else it will look a little different.  (But the steps are all the same!)

Open the PNG file and either the DXF or SVG depending on which your particular software likes.  (Silhouette likes DXFs).  Mine open in two different tabs.  The SVG/DXF tab looks like this.

Copy and paste the PNG image so that it's behind the cut lines.  If it pastes in front of the lines there is usually an option somewhere that will say "move to back" or something like that.  In V3 it's under "Object" then "Arrange" and says "Send to Back".   So if you have the PNG image selected and click that, it will go behind those cut lines just fine.

 You'll notice that the cut lines and the PNG image different sizes.  This is because life isn't fair and software is dumb. 

I originally wanted to have the image and cut lines in the same document so that all you had to do was open it up.  But the files were so large that my computer was just like, "hahahahaha, NOPE."  And I didn't want to make everyone else's computers crash.  

So then I made the cut lines the same exact size as the PNG image.  Seriously. EXACTLY THE SAME SIZE.  But like I said. Life is dumb.  So they're going to open at whatever size they want.  I'm sure there's a technical reason for this, but I don't know what it is.  

But all you have to do is select the PNG layer and size it until that it fits within the cut lines just like you want it.  I intended the outside line to leave a small white border around things, and the inner lines to go just barely inside the color so that it will leave you with a smooth, borderless, image (which is good for heat pressing on dark fabrics).

When it's the right size, it will look like this.  And don't worry, it's not very difficult.

Now you need to get rid of one of the cut lines.  You really really don't want it to cut both.  

If you're project includes a light or white colored background (fabric or paper or whatever you're making), or if it's not going to matter to see a little bit of white around it, I highly recommend using the outside cut line. That's because watercolor has naturally rough edges, and it looks more authentic when you see the little "splotches" that sometimes go outside the lines.   

This picture is a good representation of how the line options differ.

See how one includes "splotches" and one is going to give you that smooth edge?

Once you have decided on the cut line, just go ahead and delete the other one.  And then it will look like this.

Some designs have "holes" or white areas with cut lines that are inside the designs - make sure you're taking care of all the cut lines for every part of the design.

Now you'll need to size the PNG and cut lines at the same time.  Select both and just drag it until it's exactly the size you need for your project.

You're nearing the end stages!  

Now that you have the image and cut lines aligned and sized and ready to go, just go ahead and print the file straight from your cutting software.  (As long as you haven't applied a color to your cut lines they shouldn't print.)  

Make sure you have your printer settings to whatever you need for your particular paper choice.  All printers and papers are a little different, so this is totally dependent on what you're using.  (A lot of papers will come with suggestions, so that helps.)

Also, if you're doing an iron-on or heat press that requires mirroring the image, DO NOT FORGET to do that before printing.  Because it's a giant bummer to discover something like that after it's on a shirt or bag or whatever.

Once the image is printed you'll need to stick it to your cutting mat PERFECTLY.  My software has a grid that matches the mat so it helps know where to put the paper.  Once you're confident in your paper/mat placement go ahead and click cut!

It should cut around the image just like you want and make your project that much easier to do!  And if you're doing a large number of the same project (like shirts for a party or club) this is going to really help!

And remember, you can always print the PNG with whatever software you choose and just trim around it with scissors.  That's 1 billion percent a valid option!  And, honestly, if I'm just doing a single white shirt or something I'll probably just do the scissors thing.

If you have any questions about the process or want to share (or get) project ideas, join the Dorky Prints N Doodles facebook group!


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