How to Create SVGs in Adobe Illustrator

Follow this tutorial to learn how to make an SVG in Illustrator and learn how to check for imperfections in the design that could lead to your cutting machine distorting your design.

See our Illustrator tutorial section for more great tips!

Step 1 - Create your design

Choose your font and create your design for your SVG, here I am using the font Holgand from Font Bundles. Once you have created your design, you need to select your text with the Selection Tool. Illustrator SVG

Step 2 - Outline your design

You now need to outline your design/text by selecting Type > Create Outlines. This will convert the editable text to an object/shape with lines and points, which will enable the SVG file details to be recognized by the cutting machine.

Make sure you have checked spellings etc before you convert to outlines, as you will no longer be able to edit the text in the text-box format.

Create Outline Illustrator

Step 3 - Using Pathfinders

As you can see, each letter has been individually outlined and in cases where the letters overlap, a cutting machine would cut these out as individuals. We, however, need all text to be one solid shape to avoid unnecessary lines between letters.

Letters overlap Illustrator

To fix this, you need to open your Pathfinder Panel by selecting Window > Pathfinder. For more information on Pathfinders, see our tutorial How to use the Pathfinder Panel in Illustrator.

Pathfinder tool Illustrator

Step 4 - Unite pathfinder tool

Use the Unite tool (as shown in screenshot) to form all letters into one solid shape.

Unite Pathfinder Tool

Step 5 - Identify stray nodes and open paths

Once you have created your design, it is important to ensure you do not have any stray nodes or open paths. Your cutting machine will recognize these and will distort your design. Stray nodes and open paths are not always easy to see as they can be hidden under layers within the design or be so small they cannot be seen - there are a number of ways to check these.

I like to use all of the following processes to ensure I don’t miss any. Steps 5-7 will outline how to do these checks, but these steps can be done in any order that you see fit.

Firstly, select Window > Document Info. Then highlight your whole art board, this is important as there could be a stray node in the corner of an art board which will still interfere with the design.

Illustrator Document Info

Select the burger menu on the right hand side of the Document Info window and choose Objects. As you can see, within this menu it will inform you of your number of paths, I currently have 1 open path.

Document Info Objects

Step 6 - Remove stray nodes and open paths

Now that we have identified the number of open paths, we need to find these and close or remove them. We can do this by selecting View > Outline. When in Outline mode, you can identify your stray nodes or open paths by recognizing small crosses within your design or art board. Open paths will appear as breaks within the paths outlining the shapes.

Outline View Illustrator

Here we can identify I have one stray node and by using the Selection Tool, it can be deleted from the design. In preview mode, I also like to zoom into the outlines to ensure these are smooth paths without any jagged edges, the cutting machine will pick up on all of these details. Once you have done this, you can select View > Preview to revert back to preview mode.

Outline View Illustrator

One final way to ensure you have removed all stray nodes, or any other elements that can distort your SVG, is to select Object > Path > Clean Up. I keep all options ticked and click OK.

Stray Points Illustrator

Step 7 - Create a Compound Path

Once you have completed your design and removed any imperfections, you need to create a compound path. This will ensure your cutting machine design software will recognize the design as 1 single layer. My design, for example, is currently 4 single shapes (1. ‘Font’, 2. ‘Bundles’, 3. The full stop and 4. ‘net’) as they are not joined within the design. Select Object > Compound Path > Make.

Make Compound Path Illustrator

Step 8 - Save your SVG file

Now that you have your design finalized, you are ready to save it as an SVG. Select File > Save As and in the dropdown menu, select SVG.

Save as SVG Illustrator

Your SVG settings are important to get right to ensure your design is communicated to your cutting machine accurately. Follow the settings in the screenshot provided below.

SVG Settings Illustrator

You have now successfully designed and created your SVG in Adobe Illustrator. I personally always check my SVG in Cricut Design Space and do a test run to make sure nothing has been missed and that the machine cuts and understands the file perfectly. Once complete and you are happy with the outcome, you can cut, draw or even sell your designs!