svg files

Can SVG Files Be Used For Sublimation? All You Need To Know

When performing sublimation printing, you often have to deal with images. Names for digital image files have odd ending names such as .jpg, .png, or .svg. What is an SVG file? And can SVG files be used for sublimation?

You can print SVG image files for sublimation because they maintain high image quality at any size. You can also convert SVG files to other image formats such as JPG, JPEG, or PNG.

This article discusses whether you can use SVG files for sublimation and explores questions such as what SVG files are and how they differ from other image file formats.

We also answer some common questions about SVG files, such as where to source great samples and if SVG is better than PNG for sublimation. Ready? Let’s dive in!

What Are SVG Files?

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic, and it’s one of the most popular graphic formats. You can scale the size of an SVG file without making it blurry. This makes it superior to some image files such as JPG or JPEG.

handwriting the word scalability

Digital image formats used for printing include JPG, PNG, TIFF, and SVG. Many artists prefer SVG, and for good reason.

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. One of its strongest features is its layers. An image file can have a single layer or consist of multiple layers stacked on top of each other to form an image file. With the SVG, it is the latter.

This unique feature allows graphic designers excellent flexibility for designing, including easy edit features. Sublimation printers love this feature, too, because they can print the graphic to vinyl paper layer-by-layer. This makes SVG files very popular with vinyl-cutting machines.

SVG image files can also have a transparent background, which other file formats cannot. This makes an SVG image file a great option for printing or graphics where the SVG image needs to be blended into the background.

SVG also has a seamless scalability feature. You can resize SVG files to be as big or as small as you want without losing clarity. Not many image file formats have this ability. This makes the image format extremely popular for printed graphics on things like signboards and buntings.

What Are The Differences Between SVG And Other Image Files?

Image FormatBest UseQuality & ScalabilityColor RangeAdditional Features
SVGWeb graphics, iconsScales well without losing qualitySupports full color rangeMultiple layers, transparent background
PNGSublimation printing, web graphicsScales well without blurringFull color rangeSingle layer, transparent background
JPEG/JPGWebsites, digital platformsBecomes blurry when resizedRicher color than SVGSingle layer, no transparency
TIFFPhotographyDoesn’t scale well, high qualityDeepest color, high qualitySingle layer, no transparency, large file size
GIFShort animationsDoesn’t scale wellLimited to 256 colorsSingle layer, can be animated

Many other popular image file formats exist, such as PNG, JPEG, TIFF, GIF, and many more. Each of these files has its strengths and weaknesses and may or may not be suitable for a particular use. You should always identify the most suitable image format for your use and stick with it.

PNG: Known as Portable Network Graphics, PNG files are probably the closest file format to SVG and the next best thing for sublimation printers. Certain variations of PNG, such as the lossless compression PNG, can also be resized into larger or smaller sizes without becoming blurry. It can also have a transparent background. PNG only has a single layer, unlike SVG.

JPEG/JPG: JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group and this file type works best on the screen like on websites and digital platforms. It works best on a computer screen because it can deliver quality images at a size smaller than PNG. It also has a richer color than SVG. However, JPEG does not have crisp edges and doesn’t scale as well as SVG. When you change sizes, the jpg image becomes blurry and pixelated.

a JPEG file icon on a computer screen

TIFF: TIFF is short for Tagged Image File Format. TIFF usually appeals to photographers, because the image file is raw. Raw image files are uncompressed and retain the deepest color and crispest quality. However, TIFF files may not work well with websites because of their larger size – they may take too long to load. TIFF is also not as scalable as SVG.

GIF: GIF of the Graphics Interchange Format may be one of the earliest digital image file formats still in use today. It is known for its ability to be converted into a short animation. It, however, is unpopular as it only recognizes 256 colors, which may not be enough for modern graphics or images. You also may not scale GIF as well as SVG.

Are SVG Files Good For Sublimation?

For sublimation printers, SVG files can be an excellent file format to work with. The file format allows printers to keep the print quality high, no matter how big or small they make the image.

For example, a printer wanted to print an image that originally was only 500X500px but intended to print it at 1000X1000px. A JPEG and some PNG image formats could produce blurry results.

A blurry image will produce poor sublimation results. Suppose the printer has the skill and time. In that case, the printer can spend additional effort and hours retracing the image in Adobe Illustrator to recreate the image in large resolution. This may not be a luxury many printers have.

However, suppose they have the image in SVG format. In that case, the printer can simply resize the image file to 1000X1000px and not suffer any quality loss. The image will still come out good-looking and sharp, producing a great sublimation result.

Now remember that not all printers are suitable for this specialized printing process. If you’re curious to learn more, check out our detailed guide on can you use any printer for sublimation. It’ll help you make an informed decision about the right printer for your needs.

Where Do I Go To Look For SVG Images For Sublimation?

You can go to several places to source beautiful SVG graphics for your sublimation printing tasks. These places include DesignBundles, DesignSpace / Cricut Access, Creative Fabrica, and Canva.

DesignBundles: DesignBundles offers thousands of SVG that you can use for sublimation. You can get seasonal designs, quotes, or cute cartoon characters for your next sublimation project. DesignBundles comes with a 7-day free trial, with membership starting from $7.99 monthly.

Creative Fabrica: Creative Fabrica is also a depository of SVG files, and you may find thousands of SVG designs. Some are free, and some are paid files. However, Creative Fabrica occasionally makes their paid files available for free but for a selected time only. Paid membership to Creative Fabrica starts at $4 a month.

DesignSpace/Cricut Access – If you own a Cricut device, you may access Cricut’s own depository for great SVG files. The upside of sourcing files from here is knowing that your SVG file will work well with your Cricut machine. Paid access starts from $11 monthly.

Now that you know SVG files are great for sublimation, you might be wondering how sublimation compares to other printing methods like Direct to Garment (DTG) printing. We’ve got you covered! Head over to our article on DTG Printer vs. Sublimation to see how they stack up against each other

Canva: Although intended to be the simpler version of Photoshop. Canva has partnered with image depositories to allow you to purchase SVG image files from within Canva itself. This is a good option for you to consider if you are already a Canva user.

Can You Edit SVG Images?

You can edit SVG Images using graphic or image processing software such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, or CorelDraw. You may also use other free software such as GIMP. Editing SVG can be less straightforward, which means you may need some technical skills.

Keyboard with a key marked edit

Similar to other image files, SVG can also be edited. You can use a multitude of software to edit the files. People commonly use Adobe Illustrator, although you may also use Adobe Photoshop. You can also buy other editing software like CorelDraw to edit SVG.

If you are looking for free options, find software such as GIMP and Inkscape. They are more clunky and may be less powerful, but they can still perform the job adequately. If you have a Sawgrass printer, the Sawgrass Creative Studio software may be bundled together. You can also use that software.

The issue with SVG files is that it has layers, which means editing them may not be straightforward. You may need to have or learn some technical skills. Visit YouTube to watch some tutorial videos.

Is It Better To Use SVG or PNG For Sublimation?

In general, SVG is a better choice for printing graphics. If you are printing photographic images, you may be better off with PNG. This is because SVG may not be able to hold complex color details as well as PNG. Using PNG for images allows you some degree of scalability while keeping the details of the image.

Generally, both SVG and PNG images are scalable. SVG has infinite scalability, meaning no matter how big or small the image, it will always retain its sharpness. This is because SVG is a vector-based image that uses exact mathematical formulas and calculations.

PNG has a certain level of scalability, just like SVG. But only certain types of PNGs, like lossless compression, scale well. If you try to scale other types of PNG images, you will likely have a blurry image.  

However, despite its scalability, SVG has its own weaknesses. SVG cannot hold details as well as PNG, as it is a vector-based image file and not pixel-based like the PNG. Often if you try to save complex images such as scenery, you may notice that the color may not be as rich on an SVG compared to a PNG.

This means if you have a sublimation printer, you can utilize SVG best for graphic printing, such as logos, texts, or any graphical design. You may want to print using PNG if you are working with images such as pictures.

You’re probably aware that not just any ink will work for sublimation printing. The type of ink you use can greatly impact the quality of your prints. If you’re looking to dive deep into this topic, we’ve got a piece on sublimation ink for sublimation paper that you should definitely check out.

When Should I Use SVG Instead of PNG?

Use SVG files to print graphics such as logos, caricatures, line drawings, or text. Use PNG if you are printing photographic images. This is because SVG graphics can be easily scaled and retain their clarity. In contrast, PNG with lossless compression can be scaled and keep its color richness better.

The strength of the vector-based SVG file is its scalability without losing image clarity and sharpness. An SVG image uses mathematical calculations instead of applying colors in pixels. Vector-based images, however, do not hold rich detail as well.

Consider PNG because some variants of PNG, such as those with lossless compression, are also scalable.

PNG is a pixel-based image, meaning the image files contain instructions on what color to apply to each pixel or dot. This makes PNG images much richer and more detailed compared to SVG.

So as a printer, you can leverage both the strengths of SVG and PNG by using them right. Use SVG for graphics-based printing, such as logos, line art, or text. For PNG, use it when you have to perform image-based printing, such as pictures.

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