alligator's blog

Render an SVG that uses external fonts to a canvas

Aug 24, 2021

Say, have you ever needed to render an inline SVG that uses an external font to a canvas? Of course you have, and this article will tell you how to do it without the fonts breaking.


If you just want to solve the problem:

  1. Embed any styles into the SVG directly (no CSS)
  2. Create a data URL for the font file you want to use. See how I did this here
  3. In the stylesheet where the font is declared, replace the font's URL with the data URL.
  4. Embed your stylesheet in the SVG in a <style> tag inside a <defs> tag
  5. Render the SVG to the canvas (see below if you don't know how to do that).

The problem

For my 💯 generator I wanted the option to turn the generated SVG into a nice copyable and shareable PNG.

The "standard" way to do this in the browser is the following:

  1. Turn the SVG into a data URL
  2. Stuff that data url into an Image object
  3. Create a canvas element and draw the image on it using canvas.drawImage()
  4. Turn the canvas into a PNG data URL using canvas.toDataURL('image/png')
  5. Stuff that data URL into an <img> element and append it to the page.

A simple, not convoluted at all, 5 step process.

Here is what the image should have been:

"normal" in a cursive font with two underlines

and instead this was the result:

"norm" in a serif font with two underlines

Hmm. This is anything but the norm.

The issue here is that external styles aren't applied to SVGs in an img tag. The font is loaded from Google fonts via a stylesheet. For that to work, if the SVG is in an img tag, the stylesheet itself needs to be embedded inside the SVG.

There's more than that however, an SVG in an img tag has to be standalone, it can't request external resources, including that font. The font itself also needs to be embedded inside the stylesheet. To do that we first need to turn the font file into a data URL.

Creating a data URL for the font

I used this script in the Firefox console to do this:

resp = await fetch('');
blob = await resp.blob();
f = new FileReader();
f.addEventListener('load', () => console.log(f.result));

Replace the URL in fetch() with the URL to your font.

Embedding the font in the stylesheet

This is easy, replace the URL in the url() call:

  @font-face {
    font-family: 'Ranga';
    /* .. */
    src: url(data:font/woff2;base64,....) format('woff2');

Embedding the stylesheet in the SVG

This is easy too, add it to SVG inside a <defs> tag:

<svg xmlns="">
      @font-face { /* ... */ }
  rest of SVG here...

And the rest

Now we're clear to do the rest of steps above:

// convert the SVG to a data URL
const svgText = new XMLSerializer().serializeToString(svgElement);
const dataUrl = `data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf-8,${encodeURIComponent(svgText)}`;

// create an image for that data URL
const img = new Image();
img.src = dataUrl;

img.onload = () => {
  // create a canvas
  const canvas = document.createElement('canvas');
  canvas.width = svg.getBoundingClientRect().width;
  canvas.height = svg.getBoundingClientRect().height;

  // draw the image on to the canvas
  const ctx = canvas.getContext('2d');
  ctx.drawImage(img, 0, 0);

  // do something with the canvas
  // e.g. turn it into a PNG and add it to the document:
  const pngUrl = canvas.toDataURL('image/png');
  const imgElement = document.createElement('img');
  imgElement.src = pngUrl;

Enjoy. I hope that saved you a wasted evening's hacking.

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