Help with SVG Shapes & Files




When we were young, we learned about circles, squares and triangles.  These are shapes. 
 
However, in today's high-tech world, people often use the word "shape" when referring to the computer format by which a shape is made available for use in a software program.  This often leads to confusion. 
 
Your personal cutting system can cut any shape.  However, it can only cut shapes when presented in a specific computer format known as a "vector graphic."
 
This is a vital detail to remember.
 
Many cutting system software programs present shapes in the computer format your cutting system understands.
 
I would like to help you understand a few concepts about shapes and to explain the term "SVG." With this understanding, you'll move very quickly and comfortably into working with shapes of different formats in either software program.
 
Do you see "ScrappingTable.com" to the right? It is an "image." An image is simply a representation of shapes and color. An image may be as simple as a single circle or as complex as a photograph.
 
Moving forward, I will refer to shapes as images because this is the word that is used by most software programs. 
 

There are only two ways computers can present images and they are quite different from each other.

The first way is to place very tiny pieces or bits of the image next to each other like building blocks.  Using different shades of color, this creates the illusion of smooth lines.  

But, when you enlarge it, you can see the "bits" along the edges.

 
In this method, the computer screen is "mapped" and "bits" are presented next to each other as needed. This is why it is called a "bitmap" image. Most images, including digital photographs, are this type. Bitmap images are also called "raster" images and the words are used interchangeably.
 
The second way computers present an image is to "describe" it. In other words, to chart a course for the computer to "draw" it on the screen. This method is called vectoring and this is where we get the term "vector image." In the preceding picture, notice how smooth the "vector" image is when compared to the "bitmap" image. This comparison provides a big clue as to why your cutting system can only use vector files. "SVG" is simply a vector format for presenting images and SVG simply stands for "Scalable Vector Graphic."
 
As you can see by looking at the preceding bitmap and vector images, your cutting system simply cannot cut a bitmap image because it can't cut the miniscule edges nor can it shade colors to give the illusion of a straight line. Instead, it must have images presented to it in a vector format. The SVG format presents the image as a set of directions which then causes the cutting mat and blade to move together in a coordinated way.
 
  Believe it or not, your cutting system is very similar to the famous Etch-A-Sketch(R) toy. If you have ever watched your cutting system while it is cutting then you have noticed that the paper and the cutting blade each move in a coordinated fashion.
Like a pair of hands that turn the knobs that scrape the silver screen, a software programs guide your cutting system with vector instructions to move the cutting mat and blade to cut shapes.
 
You might be asking yourself: "How can I cut shapes on my cutting system if they are bitmap images?" The answer is this:  Most cutting system software programs feature that traces the bitmapped image and presents vector instructions. The feature is easy to use and opens a world of creative possibilities because you can use bitmapped images, clip art, scanned designs and even certain photos.