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

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 Affiliate links are included below. All opinions are 100% mine. 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? 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! How to convert png and jpg files into Silhouette cut files | 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!!

Open up your Silhouette Studio Design Edition software, click File > Import > Import to Library . Browse your hard drive to find the image you want to use.  I designed an arrow in Photoshop that I wanted to use in a project, and needed to change it into a cut file first.

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 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 I’ve got a super cute arrow, ready to go anytime I need it! For even more Silhouette tutorials and projects, head to my Silhouette collection!  And head to the Silhouette website to check out all of their awesome machines, software, and more!!!

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About Simply Kierste Design Co.

Kierste is a blogger who shares her love of all things DIY. She is the mother of six, and focuses on simple ideas and projects to make a house a home! When she's not chasing around two sets of twins, a teenager, and a baby, she's working on a project, training for her next race, reading one of her favorite books, or baking something with chocolate in it.

47 thoughts on “How to easily convert a PNG or JPG file into a Silhouette cut file

  1. I have always stayed away from tracing as I thought you actually had to trace around the object with your mouse!! This is SO helpful, and just in time for some pumpkin projects I need to do! Thank you! Once again you saved the day! :)

  2. I did not know what the trace function was for. This is amazing!! I love that I can take an image I already have and trace it to cut in the Silhouette. Thanks so much for the tutorial!!! Can’t wait to try it!!

      1. Thank you for the fast answer.
        Do you know another softwere to convert jpeg to ngc or ncn or nc files ?
        Preferable a free softwrer.


  3. Hi! I know I’m doing something wrong, but…here’s my question! I went to the File > Import to Library to get my PNG. The image I want is in my Downloads file. However, it’s part of a zipped folder, and when I double click the folder to try to open it (to select the image), Silhouette tries to open the zip file instead of just one element. Does that make sense?? PS I’m also choosing the “All Files” option at the bottom of that window. Help! Thanks, Kierste

    1. Hi, Ann! You’ll need to unzip the file first–you can only upload a single image into Silhouette. I’m not sure what kind of computer you have, or what operating system, but you can always google “how to unzip files” for the kind you have, and you should be able to find out how to do it fairly easily. Once the file is unzipped, you can upload them into Silhouette. Let me know how it goes! Good luck!

  4. Hi! What happens when it won’t register that my image is even there? I did everything that you said do and it worked perfectly, but when I send it to cut it doesn’t do anything. It acts like it is sending and my silhouette says its cutting and then says job complete but it didn’t do anything.. Help!

  5. Hi Kierste! You simplified this process making it understandable to me. On a lot of tutorial videos the instructors over-talk leaving me lost. LOL. I know they give it their all and I’m so grateful for the information. Just want you to know I like your style and hope to find more tutorials by you! Thank you very much!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad!! I’m not a huge fan of videos myself–I usually like a step-by-step tutorial I can go back and look at as many times as necessary. :) And you are so welcome!!! xoxo

    1. It comes with the Silhouette machines, that they work in coordination with. You can find all the different Silhouette machines and products at

      I have the Silhouette Cameo, and it cuts paper, vinyl, fabric, heat transfer, and so much more! The basic software comes with the purchase of the machine, but you can also purchase the Designer Edition software, which is what I use. This tutorial will work with both versions.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!! xoxo

  6. Yay, thanks for the help! I love my Silhouette and have been using it for making signs. My co-worker wanted me to make a sign with a particular image, and I knew there had to be an easy way to convert the image to a file I could cut. I punched up “Silhouette tutorials” on Pinterest, found yours first thing, read it, and was like, “hooray!!!” Thanks again!!

  7. Every time I have used the trace function (outline), it not only does the outside of the line, it also traces the inside of the line, so I am left with two lines (and they are sort of jaggedy – not really smooth), one inside the other. What am I doing wrong? Is there a way to JUST trace the very outside edge? I did the steps just like you said, but it left two lines, not one.

      1. I’m having this same problem too. Any tips? It’s like it’s making a double trace line, even though I choose only the outside line.

        1. Actually, I found a fix for this by clicking around to a few other tutorials. You have to choose “low pass filter” instead of “high pass filter” before you make your trace.

  8. i did everything step by step and when I send the project to the silhouette, the machine is not reading it. I hit the start button and then it tells me the job is complete without even doing anything. Do you have any advice on what I’m doing wrong?

  9. I know how to trace and got that part down but I didn’t know you could save the traced image to the library. How do I save it?

      1. Hi, Kierste–I just got my Cameo–LOVE IT! And was so excited to find this post, but my version doesn’t have the “Import” function, either. I’m on SilhouetteStudio V3–I had down loaded it before purchasing my Cameo. The included software disc is labeled, SilhouetteStudio V3.3, which I haven’t bothered to install because the downloaded version is working well thus far. I’m not sure if one or the other (or neither) version is design software or the basic version. Do you think the lack of the Import function has something to do with the availability of PixScan? Thanks for your insight!

        1. The import function comes with the design software, which you need to purchase separately. The downloaded version is the same as the version on the disc–and as long as you update it when prompted, you have the latest version. You may want to consider upgrading to the designer version, if that’s a function you want to use!

  10. Thanks so much for this tutorial. It was so helpful. I’m greatful for it. Thanks again!!! Annette

  11. I have a jpg and png file that I’m loading into silhouette. The file is two big letters with a design in the background. The trace feature won’t recognize the design in the background. I’ve spent hours trying to get this right. Any tips?

    Thank you!


    1. Hmmmm…I’m going to have to think about that one! I’ve never tried anything with a design in the background, so I don’t have any personal experience. Let me see what I can figure out!

  12. I have done the steps as you indicated but there is a double cut line and that won’t do for the project I am working on….Any suggestions?

  13. Thanks for your clear and concise tutorial Kierste! I downloaded the Designer Edition software today literally to be able to do this. I followed your step by step and had traced an image in two minutes flat! THANKS SO MUCH!

  14. I downloaded an image and it says low resolution and t may print grainy. How do i fix this?

    1. You can still try and import it into Silhouette, and see how it looks once you get it in there. You just need it to be a clear enough image to accurately trace. If it doesn’t look right, then you’ll need to select another image, one that has a higher resolution. Good luck!!

  15. I was so excited to find this! Everything worked great except for when i went in to “make compound path” it won’t let me. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. Any suggestions?

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