How to Create Clip Art

Clip art is a popular concept for those who use computers to produce information products such as documents, flyers and brochures, projects and even websites. But why and how do people use clip art and how is it made?

What is Clip Art?

Clip art is the term used to describe non-photographic graphic images. The name is derived from the fact that people used to cut-out (or clip) images from books or magazines and put them onto their pages.

In today’s modern society of internet and computer-based work, clip art images are stored on the computer and internet and, in some cases, are even created using the computer. They are imported for use on documents or websites to enhance work and support written documentation.

Images are usually categorized according to their content and the most popular categories are animals, people, nature and objects. This makes it easy for people to find what they are looking for. In some cases clip art is free for anybody to use as required. Some images do have copyrights however.

So, when selecting one, be sure to seek out the legalities first. It is best to purchase clip art packages – they usually cost around 1 cent for 10 images – to avoid any copyright issues.

Learning to Create Clip Art

Clip art is created in multiple ways but for those people who are looking for a simple method you can draw one by hand and scan into the computer. Firstly choose what you are going to draw – get some inspiration from a live object or photograph.

If you are a decent artist yourself and are confident with a pen then you can draw your image onto a piece of white paper. Use a dark, black pen to go over it and then scan the image into the computer.

If you are not confident with the specific details look at the bigger shapes of the object (circles, triangles, lines, etc) and use them to give a basic outline shape of your object. It doesn’t have to be intricately detailed. Once it has been scanned into the computer you can then open the image in Photoshop (or other image software), add shadows, highlights, etc and then save the file as jpeg, png or gif.

Dino Russ image
Credit: Dino Russ

If you are not someone who is confident at drawing, you can use Microsoft Power Point. This is a good program to use because it is user friendly and free.

  1. Simply have an image of what you want to copy and open it in Power Point.
  2. Then you need to create a layer over the top of the image that is transparent, so that you can still see the original image but can place lines, shapes and colors over the top.
  3. Using the lines, shapes, etc mirror the image. For example if you have a bike – place two circles where the wheels are (like tracing), lines for spokes, handles bars, frame, etc.
  4. Then use colors and shading to give your image some detail until you have the desired effect.

Training in digital media such as clip art design can be formal — e.g. as part of an information technology program — or something you do yourself with the help of software and instruction videos. It’s something you can start getting results with quickly but can keep improving with practice.

Using Images

Once you have finished styling your creation, you can use it to enhance your documents, projects, advertising material or even your website. The list of uses is endless.

To use it on a document, simply copy or save the image. When you have your document open (like Microsoft Word or Publisher) you can either import your image or insert it. From there you can adjust the size, rotation and placement of the image to suit your document.