Creating a SVG road symbol

This video goes over how to create a custom SVG symbol for use in QGIS.  This approach would would for creating your own icons.  I will be using an image from a PDF that I downloaded at

Programs used:

Either Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer, and QGIS.

Creating the SVG

If you’re mostly using areas for the symbol, the original size of the symbol shouldn’t matter.

  1. For the data source, I googled MUTCD Interstate Symbol and found a pdf.
  2. Open PDF with either Illustrator of Designer. 
  3. Delete everything but the red, blue and outline. 
  4. Change the fill of the outline to white because it doesn’t have a fill.
  5. Center the object on the artboard.
  6. Export as SVG
    • Option in Illustrator: Styling = Presentation Attributes
    • Option in Designer: Preset = SVG (for export)

Using the SVG (basic approach)

  1. Add a point to the map with a route number field
  2. Do not symbolize
  3. Set text style

Background = SVG, set size of background to something like 30 pt.

Set type font and size

Set offset to center


You should get an icon with type placed in the center.

Issues that may arise

  1. If the SVG isn’t in a library that travels with your map file, you will likely not have the symbol when you need it.
  2. In Affinity Designer, if you don’t center the image and export the SVG as the whole document, the the text will not be aligned to the background icon.  If you export the selected artwork as the \”SVG without background\” you won\’t have an issue.

Further possible topics

Other videos should address adding color to icons within QGIS, and setting the size of the icon based on the map\’s scale. Setting the icon for use Illustrator text placement.