To be able to use your Cricut machine to the fullest, it’s a great idea to know all of the different file types used by cutting machines. Having a basic understanding of the Cricut file types can be helpful to your design process.
One of the things I hated most about starting working with digital media was the lack of explanation when it came to the “nuts and bolts” of everything.
It’s been years since I started working with Cricut machines (and I worked with others before Cricut even) and I’m still learning new things. That is a steep learning curve.
So, I’ve been trying to take some of the mystery out of it, not just for beginners, but for other people too!
Let’s start by explaining what the file types you can use for Cricut projects are and why you’d want to use them.
Cricut File Types Explained
To get you a super basic run-down of what the basic Cricut file types are:
- SVG files are excellent for logos or images that will be frequently resized since they remain high-quality no matter how big or small they become.
- JPG Image Files are also great for photos or basic images where maintaining a smaller file size is more important than image quality.
- PNG Images work perfectly for images that need to keep a transparent background while still being high enough quality for printing.
- DXFs are perfect for vector illustrations that need to be cut out on a silhouette or other cutting machine.
- GIFs are best used for images with a limited number of colors, like logos, or for creating animations (but animations aren’t really pertinent to the whole Cricut thing).
- BMP or Bitmap Images are ideal for images that will be printed on a home printer since they have a wide range of colors.
Now let’s get into a little more detail about each of these different file formats and when you might want to use one vs. the other.
The first type of file we will discuss is the .svg file. This vector format is the most frequently used file type by the Cricut User. Whether you have a Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore Air, or another cutting machine, this file type is my favorite to use within the Cricut Design Space Software.
A scalable vector graphic is made up of mathematical lines and curves, as opposed to pixels, which is what you’ll find in raster images. This means that SVG images can be scaled up or down without losing any quality.
For this reason, they are often used for complex designs, so if you’re looking for high resolution images that can be easily resized, a .svg format is a good option.
Since they are vector images, this allows Cricut Design Space to break down the image into cuttable shapes based on color (it can read the math directly – not just pixels). Having the shapes defined allows you to work in different materials, material types, and cut types, all within one file and project.
Being vector images also allows the images to be resized without losing quality, which is great if you want to make a design larger or smaller. So, for example, rather than being stuck with a fixed size of the design, despite making a child’s size shirt and an adult’s size shirt, you can achieve the same level of quality in the design after resizing for the corresponding shirt size.
SVG files can also be layered on top of each other in Cricut Design Space, which allows you to create complex designs with multiple colors. This allows for more flexibility when you’re creating the design and a much more interesting result.
Another popular file type for Cricut machines is the .jpg file. JPG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, and it is a lossy compression file format and is a very simple image compared to an SVG. This means that some of the data in the image is lost when the file is compressed. However, JPG files are still very high quality and can be used for many purposes. If you need a small file size but don’t want to sacrifice quality, a .jpg file is a good option.
JPGs (or JPEGs) are best for photos or other images where file size is more important than image quality – like when you’re posting an image online and you want it to load quickly. They’re also good for images that will be printed at a small size since the lower quality won’t be as noticeable.
JPG files are best for images that don’t need to be resized frequently since some quality is lost when the file is compressed. However, JPGs are still high quality and can be printed at a large size without losing too much detail. So if you’re looking for an image to have your Cricut do a print-then-cut project with a consistent size that you don’t plan to expand or shrink, a .jpg file is a good option.
Next is the .png file. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics, and it is a lossless compression file format. This means that no data is lost when the file is compressed, making it ideal for images that need to be high quality but don’t need to be resized often. PNG files are also great for transparency effects and can be used in designs where you want the background to show through.
They are best for images that need to be high quality, like when you’re making a print-and-cut file with transparent elements, for example, when you want the background of your design to show through. So if you’re looking for a transparent image to use in your design, a .png file is a good option.
The .dxf file is next on the list. This file format is used for CAD (computer-aided design) applications. Similar to SVG files, DXF files are vector-based images, allowing Cricut Design Space to break up the file into shapes based on color.
DXF files can be opened in a variety of programs, making them very versatile. They are often used for plans and designs that need to be accurate and precise, making them a good choice for projects that require precision cutting. If you’re looking for a file format that can be opened in many different programs, a .dxf file might be the right choice for you.
GIFs are a file format that is best used for images with a limited number of colors, like logos. They are also good for creating animations. If you don’t have your image in another format, GIF may be your only choice and will still work similarly to the JPG.
The last file type we will discuss is the .bmp file. BMP stands for the bitmap image file. This file format is best for images that will be printed on a home printer since they have a wide range of colors. BMP files are also good for images that need to be very high quality. If you’re looking for an image that has a wide range of colors and can be printed at a high quality, a .bmp file might be the right choice, similar to a JPG.
Which File Type is Best for Cricut?
These six Cricut file types are not only the most popular file types used with Cricut machines, they’re the only file types that Cricut Design Space will accept. There are many other file types out there, but these are what the software is compatible with.
To be honest, that might feel a little limiting at first blush. But really, it’s not. There is so much that can be done with these six types of files, but what you really want to know is: Which file type is best for Cricut.
Honestly, I feel like it’s a question of what you want to DO with that file. Basically, with an SVG file, you can do ANYTHING. If you have an SVG, you can pretty much make any project a Cricut can make. So, if the question was “what’s the most versatile file type” it would be SVG.
But if you wanted to know which file type is best for print and cut projects, with access only to JPGs, well, obviously, the JPGs will have to do.
So, it really very much depends on the supply end. For me, I always supply the SVG. I may also supply other file types, because, for example, on the off chance that someone is not using a Cricut to make a project, maybe they need a JPG to print it and cut by hand. But I would never tell someone that the SVG is the only file type they can use.
If you want to learn to make your own images into new files, the best way to do that is to learn How To Create Your Own Cut Files in Adobe Illustrator.
There are lots of free designs, free images, and free SVG files out there for different Cricut Crafts, but the best file types are the ones you make yourself.