How to easily convert a PNG or JPG file into a Silhouette cut file

Have you ever looked at an image and thought how great it would be if you could make something out of it?  Turn it into a design for a tee shirt, sign, or other application? Good news, you can, and it takes just minutes!

Did you know you can take your own file–PNG, JPG, GIF–and convert it into a Silhouette cut file, so you can use it in a multitude of different projects on your Silhouette Cameo or Portrait? It’s true!! It really is very simple to do, and since I was just working on a project this week using this method, I thought I would share it with you. Knowing how to utilize your own images will greatly enhance your creative options.

Think of all the possibilities! Turn those image files into cut files for vinyl, heat transfer, and more. I love the Silhouette Design Store, and utilize it often, but it is nice to be able to use custom and personalized designs as well. Sometimes I just haven’t been able to find what I’m looking for, and I loving have the option to take my own image or design and turn it into a useable Silhouette cut file. If you’re brand new to Silhouette, or even if you’ve had your machine for awhile, this is definitely a trick you want to learn!

How to Convert a JPG into a Silhouette Cut File

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How to Easily Turn A JPG or PNG File Into a Silhouette Cut File!

You’re going to utilize the trace function, and if you’ve never used it before, it could very well become your new best friend after this tutorial. Really. It opens up SO many possibilities!! You’ll also love how easy it is, and definitely something anyone from beginner to advanced can do. Don’t worry, it’s not complex, it’s actually very easy! I’ll walk you through it from start to finish. I quickly drew an arrow in Photoshop and saved it as an image so I could show you what the process looks like, and give you a simple example.


Open up your Silhouette Studio Design Edition software, click File > Import > Import to Library. Browse your hard drive to find the image and file type you want to use and upload.

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

There’s my arrow!

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

Find the trace function icon at the top of the page–it’s the yellow one with the blue butterfly in the middle–click it, and it will give you a list of options in your right sidebar.

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

Click on “Select Trace Area”, then draw a box around your image, and it will turn yellow. Click on “Trace Outer Edge” if you only want the very outside lines to be cut, or “Trace” if you want everything cut. For example–if you had a pumpkin with stripes, and you only wanted the outline of the pumpkin and not the stripes, you would select the outer edge option. If you wanted the pumpkin and the stripes, you would select trace. I chose the outer edge option here, because of all the inner arrow details I didn’t want.

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

You can see that there is a red outline around the black arrow. Click on the black part, and it will move–you can separate the two from each other.

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

Once you’ve separated them, delete the black original image–you don’t need it any more!

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

Now, let’s say that I selected “trace”, because there were details that I wanted, but I didn’t want ALL of them. You can see in this image if I chose “trace”, so that all the inside bits and pieces are showing. If you want to remove some of the details, it’s easy to do!  Click on your image, then go up to the top an select Object > Release Compound Path.  Then you can click and delete little “bits” you don’t want.

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |
How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

Once you’re finished, use your mouse to select all of your desired image parts, then click on Object > Make Compound Path. It’s once again a complete image! Make sure you save it as a studio file, so you’ll always have it in your library! They will show up under “My Own Designs”, and you can see here that both my original PNG file and the cut file are there.

How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files |

Now that the image is in your Silhouette library, you can use it anytime you need it! This arrow is a perfect example of a design that can be (and will be used over and over again). Sometimes it might be an image like this arrow that’s reusable, and sometimes it might be an image used once for a special project. Either way, it’s a valuable resource that’s worth learning how to do! I suggest practicing it a few times so you can get a feel for how it works, and what the steps are. The first time I went through the process I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right, but the more practiced, the easier it got. I’m excited for you to see how many things you can create! 

For even more Silhouette tutorials and projects, check out my Silhouette collection. I’ve got ideas for organization, gifts, home decor, holiday projects, and more. Head to the Silhouette America website and Silhouette design store to check out all of their awesome machines, software, and more.

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  1. Thanks so much! Your instructions were so clear and easy to follow. It is always nice to learn new techniques!!!


    I’m new to all of this and your tutorial was heaven sent. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge. And in such a thorough and charming way :)

    1. Jessica, you are SO welcome!! I’m so glad it helped you, and I so appreciate the kind words!! xoxo

  3. Thank you! I was struggling for an hour on how to do this! And your instructions made it so easy I was done in less than 5 minutes!!! <3

  4. I have to say, this is the best and I mean best Tutorial I have ever read!! I’m sure a Monkey can do it…so I guess I can too!! Thanks so much for making it easier for me!

    1. YAY! I’m so happy to hear that helped you so much!!! Thank you for letting me know!! xoxo

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