Making a Dog Photo into an SVG file for Cricut

Start with a Photograph

You can use your phone. Then get the image into Photoshop.

This is not a tutorial. Instead, what I’m showing you is what is possible and not complicated. When I do cartoon portraits of people? That’s complicated, and uses advanced Adobe skills.

Making an svg file for Cricut using a photo of your pet? You can probably do this. Here are the necessary Adobe Photoshop skills: selecting parts of an image to make layers, applying color overlay to layers, and cutting out a few lines strategically (using select and delete). Necessary Adobe Illustrator skills: image trace, smooth tool, select tool, export. That’s it.

Dog portrait starting photo
Morgan the Dog’s photograph of him standing in a living room, looking pretty chill, ready to be made into a Cricut vector.

Separate by Layers in PS then “color overlay”

dog portrait cartoon process
Three images are shown left to right: original photo of Morgan the Dog in the living room, cartoon Morgan in the living room, and final image of cartoon Morgan with black outline on white background.
Morgan the Dog portrait using Cricut
Morgan the Dog graphic representing the final vinyl as assembled with all four colors layered in place.

This is the End Result

In Photoshop, remove background and select subject. Then, select key parts of the subject to make different layers for colors. In this example, I had layers for eyes, ears, collar, bum spot, main body, and black underlayer.

I recommend the black underlayer because then you can use cuts in the top layers to reveal the black, and use this to “draw lines” in your vinyl, which is a nice effect.

Once you like the look in Photoshop, you can vectorize in Illustrator and then upload to Cricut Design Space. Or, since this is a simple graphic, you can export each whole color as a PNG file from Photoshop (skipping Illustrator).

In Cricut Design Space, upload the four PNG files, place them on top of each other, press [ctrl]+[left] click and group them, so that you can resize and position them as one collective graphic.

“Prepare 4 mats” in Cricut Design Space…

Dog portrait Cricut canvas layouts
Three images are shown left to right depicting the separate pieces of the Morgan the Dog portrait for Cricut to cut out of heat transfer vinyl, solid black full shape, off-white main body with cut-outs, and then brown ears and bum spot and red collar.

This was a fun little graphics project, and I’m really glad to have a cut file for Morgan the Dog ready to be added to our Cricut Design Space projects.

What are you making with your Cricut?

making a dog portrait in Photoshop
Photoshop screenshot of the rasterized graphic created from the photograph of Morgan the Dog.

About Erika Sanborne

Erika Sanborne has been producing digital media since 2010, specializing in portraiture for people who hate it but need it, digital graphics restoration of many kinds, accessible explainers and instructional technology (corporate explainers, classroom tech), data visualizations and animation.