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How To Ungroup A Single Layer SVG File in Design Space

How To Ungroup A Single Layer SVG File in Design Space main article image
Posted on May 11, 2021 by Joon Parker

Ever have a SVG file that is a single color and cannot be ungrouped?

There are a couple of reasons for this:

#1 – Uploading the PNG file instead of the SVG file. Most times a file will include SVG and PNG files. It’s easy to mistake the PNG file for the SVG file because it displays a preview picture and the SVG file displays an icon of what browser you use instead of a display of the SVG image. When uploading a PNG  it will usually have a transparent background and requires no clean up, but will still take you through all of the upload screens and at the end you’ll have to choose to save it as a Cut File or Print Then Cut file. Whereas, when uploading a SVG file it skips the clean up screens and goes directly to the Prepare to Upload screen.

#2 – The designer of the SVG file combined all of the pieces into one layer. In Design Space one layer = one image. You will know if it’s a single image by looking in the Layers panel and seeing one layer or multiple layers. If multiple layers have been grouped it have the word Grouped above them. That means that you can Ungroup that group of layers. If you only see one layer and not the word Grouped, then unfortunately that image cannot be ungrouped by using Ungroup. Fret not, there is a way to “Ungroup” a single layer image by using duplicate and the Contour function.

A little about the Contour function

Contour allows you to hide unwanted cut lines in an image layer. You hide cut lines by clicking on the lines  – the lines will be a light gray. When the lines are not hid – the lines will be a dark gray.  Contour is not permanent, meaning you can hide and unhide lines by clicking on the image and then the Contour button. Contour is available on all Design Space apps, but is easiest to use on the desktop version of Design Space.

Graphics Set Used

84 Funny Loading… Please Wait Bundle

Let the tutorial begin!

While browsing Creative Fabrica I came across the 84 Funny Loading… Please Wait SVG Bundle, and liked a lot of the files that were in the bundle. After I unzipped the file and uploaded one of the SVG files I realized the SVG was a single image layer and that I couldn’t use Ungroup to break it apart. See I wanted to have different colors for parts on the file, like green for the loading bar bars and brown for the word coffee and everything else black. That way I can cut each piece on their own mat. To do this I decided to use Contour. You might be saying “why not use a rectangle and Slice?” Images that Contour is used on are editable even if you save the file and close Design Space, Slice is permanent. For some images that are not a circle or rectangle using Slice is not very effective, because you’ll have to slice and dice the image to get the pieces “ungrouped”.

Step #1 – Navigate to the SVG file.

Step #2 –After uploading the image Insert it to the canvas.

Step #3 – Duplicate your image for as many colors you want the image to have.

Step #4 –
In the top menu bar click on the Select All button. This will select all of the images that are on the canvas.

Step #5 – In the top menu bar click on Align, then select Center. This will stack all of the duplicates on top of each other.

*NOTE: If you don’t move any of the duplicates and leave them centered, and close and open the eye on the image layer you want to work on. Then at the end when all of the image layer’s eyes are opened, the different colored layers will be in their original position.

Step #6 – In the Layers panel close the eye on 2 of the image layers, by click on the eye to the right of each.

Step #7 – Click on the image that is left on the canvas, and then click on the Contour button in the lower right corner of the Layers panel.

Step #8 – You should now see the Hide Contour pop up window. You can click on any cut line to hide it.

There are 2 ways to know if a cut line is hid or visible:

#1 – in the preview the cut lines that were clicked on to hide will be a light gray. The dark gray cut lines will be visible.

#2 – in the cut lines panel, to the right, shows each individual cut line that can be hid. Cut lines with a light gray bar will be visible. Cut lines with a dark gray bar are hidden.

Step #9 – This image layer will be the first color. Decide which parts of the image will be the same color. Let’s hide the word coffee and the power bar bars. Hide all of the cut lines that will not be that color. When done close the Hide Contours window by clicking on the X in the upper right of the pop up window.

NOTE: Make sure you hid all of the cut lines you wanted to hide. You can usually see cut lines you missed or didn’t mean to hide when looking at the image on the canvas screen. If you see cut lines that need to be edited, just click on the image and click the Contour button.

Step #10 – Close the eye on this image layer in the Layers panel and open the eye on one of the duplicates.

Step #11 – This image layer will be the second color. You’ll need to decide which pieces of the image is going to be your next color. Let’s hide all cut lines, except the power bar bars. Click on the image, then click on the Contour button. The quickest way to get the power bar by itself and not have to click on every cut line, is by clicking on the Hide All Contours button in the lower right of the Hide Contours pop up window. Click on the cut lines for each part of the power bar to unhide and make visible again.

NOTE: When using Hide All Contours it will hide all cut lines except one cut line, which is usually the very first cut line in the cut lines panel to the right. You cannot hide all of the cut lines, one must be still visible. When you unhide the cut lines you want, you can then go and hide the cut line that was visible.

Step #12 – Repeat Steps #10 & #11 for each color left to do.

Step #13 – Open the eyes on each image layer.

Select one of the image layers so you can change the color for it. In top menu bar to the right of the Operation drop down click on the tiny black square. The small pop up is where you select the color. You’ll need to do this for each image layer you want to be a different color. Turning the image layers to different colors will result in the image layers going to their own color cutting mats.

I hope this tutorial showed how easy it is to use the Contour function to help “Ungroup” aka break apart a single layer SVG file. Using Contour is easier to use than Slice to break apart a single layer SVG file. If you haven’t used Slice much, then Contour would be less frustrating. Give the Contour function a try, you cannot mess up anything.

Thank you for reading!

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Sandra Mickels

January 4, 2023

THANK YOU! your tutorial helped everything FINALLY CLICK1 After many articles' videos and many doubts about my brain working, here we are. ill always remember that your ungroup -a-single-layer svg tutorial contributed to the ah ha moment!!!!! always grateful

Erica Hooper

April 21, 2022

I like how you took it step by step it helped me a lot. Thank you so much.

Rachael Gainor Crites

December 6, 2021

This is so awesome! Thank you so much for the lesson! Question-is there a way to tell if an SVG file is only single layer before you purchase it, aside from messaging the seller?

Jooniper Parker's profile picture
Jooniper Parker

January 5, 2022


If the image only shows one color such being all black, then it is most likely a single layer image.

Isabel Cuevas

May 12, 2021

Thank you Joon Parker! This is a game changer!

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