How to Convert a signature to an SVG: 2 minute Free Tutorial

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You know something’s trending when you start getting a bunch of newsletters in your inbox saying the same thing:

  • Learn how to convert a signature into an SVG!
  • Transform handwriting into a Cricut cut file!

And then it’s a 15 minute tutorial video that requires you to download and learn Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator. Just no.

There’s a much easier method to transform a signature into an SVG that can be used in Cricut Design Space, Silhouette Studio or Leonardo Design Studio. It takes 2 minutes and you don’t need any premium software and you don’t need to download and learn Inkscape.

What you need to turn your signature into an SVG:

  1. pen and paper (use a black sharpie and plain white printer paper to get the best results)
  2. camera or scanner (using your phone is 100% OK)
  3. the internet, either on a laptop/desktop or on a mobile device

Video: Convert Signature to SVG YouTube tutorial

Step 1: Write your signature on the paper

That’s it, just write your name on the sheet of paper. Use a marker if you want a thick signature to cut out of vinyl. Use a pen or gel pen if you want a thin signature to write, foil or engrave. A gel pen gives a more consistent thickness of line than a regular ballpoint pen.

write your signature on a plain piece of paper. Use a thick marker if you want to cut it out of vinyl, use a gel pen if you want to draw or foil

Step 2: Scan or photograph your signature

Take a clear photo of your signature, make sure it’s not cropped or out of the frame. Then upload the photo to your computer. If you are using a scanner, make sure you scan at a high resolution preferably 300 or 600 dpi.

You can also take the photo on your phone and complete the following steps using Photopea on your mobile device.

Step 3: Open Photopea.com in your internet browser

Navigate to photopea.com in your internet browser and click the button that says “Open from Computer.” Open the image file containing your signature.

If you’ve taken a photo of your signature, you might need need to clean it up. Here’s a photo I took in bad lighting just to illustrate the process.

image of the signature before being converted to svg

You don’t even need to fiddle around with color adjustments or contrast. Once your image is open, in the top menu bar go to Image > Vectorize Bitmap, and set the number of colors to 2 and click OK.

screencap of image being converted to vector svg in photopea.com
screencap of image being converted to vector svg in photopea.com

After the signature has been vectorized, delete the background layer and then go to File > Export As > SVG and save the file to your device.

screencap of final adjustments being made to svg in photopea
screencap of final adjustments being made to svg in photopea

Step 4: Open Signature SVG in Design Space (or other software of your choice)

Now, the last step is to open it in Design Space (or whatever cutting program you are using). Open a new Design Space project, click the upload icon, upload your SVG and add it to the canvas. In this case, there is a closed space between the “t” and “h” that is still left over from the vectorization. Objects like this, or the shapes in closed letters like a/e/o/g etc. (called “counters”) are easily dealt with in Design Space.

Simply select the leftover object and the main shape in the layers panel, then open the Combine Tool in the lower right hand corner and select Exclude. Repeat this for any remaining counters until your signature is a perfect reproduction. You are now ready to cut, weed and apply!

screencap of signature svg imported into cricut design space

So that’s the quick and dirty 2 minute method for converting a signature to an SVG file. You can put in more time in Photopea before you vectorize your script to clean up small details, but these are the basic steps of turning a signature or other handwriting into an SVG file you can cut with a Cricut or other vinyl cutter.

Option: Convert Signature to DXF for Silhouette Studio

In an effort to make this tutorial inclusive for Silhouette users, I wanted to include steps you can take to make this technique work with the same effort for use with Silhouette Studio.

If you have a paid version of Silhouette Studio (Designer, Designer Plus or Business Edition), you can follow steps 1-3 above and import the SVG you created in Photopea into the Studio software with no problems.

But, if you use the free Basic version of Silhouette Studio, the only vector format you can open is DXF. Photopea includes an option to export to DXF, but I have not gotten good results when importing those files to Silhouette Studio.

Instead, here’s what I do: instead of exporting as DXF, I export it as a PNG file then use the trace function in Silhouette Studio.

screencap showing difference between dxf and png version of signature in Silhouette Studio
screencap showing difference between dxf and png version of signature in Silhouette Studio

Can you turn any handwriting into an SVG or Cricut cut file?

Signatures are easy to convert, but turning Grandma’s hand-written oatmeal cookie recipe into a file that can be cut out and transferred to a tea towel (a popular project) can require more finessing. Here are my tips to get better results with converting regular handwriting to vector files:

  1. Scan the writing, don’t photograph.
  2. When you open the file in Photopea, adjust the saturation and levels to give your letters a more high-contrast, black and white look.
    • If your original handwriting is on lined paper, for example, use the saturation tool to desaturate the lines without affecting the rest of the text.
  3. Use the magic background eraser to erase as many counters as you can – erase the open spaces in letters like a/b/g/o before you vectorize!
  4. Be patient. Getting a usable cut file from handwriting with a ballpoint pen is tricky. You may need to vectorize the writing line by line or even word by word.

I have more tips available for converting images to vectors that involve making more adjustments to saturation, threshold values, etc. that might offer more useful advice for conversion projects more complex than a simple signature.

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