CLIP ART - The Complete Guide!
So… let’s talk CLIP ART - what even is it?! How do you get it?! What can you do with it?!
All the answers to all the questions… coming right up!
What is Clip Art?
Clip art is essentially a digital image file that is used to add visuals when imported to a document or program. You can find clip art all over the internet in many different forms. Some basic clip art images are royalty free, some are not. (Please take care to note the proper usage guidelines when you purchase and download clip art from any website! More on that later in this post!)
Over time, clip art has evolved from basic images of planes, balloons, and other generic objects (think Microsoft Word from back in the day) to more modern, hand drawn, illustrated, and styled images. Etsy and Creative Market are two platforms that have TONS of different clip art bundles for sale in all types of styles and for all sorts of uses. Just type “Clip Art” into the Etsy search box and you’ll see right away the vast array of options out there!
For my shop, TWG Designs, I design clip art with a more trendy/illustrated style and create themed bundles of 20-30 different elements that you download together from one listing. They often have coordinating color palettes and can be mixed and matched together to create unique scenes or flatlays (more info on HOW to use clip art later in this post as well!)
How does the purchase work?
If you aren’t familiar with the world of clip art and it’s uses, you may have ran into some instagram posts or Etsy listings that look something like this:
… and you may be wondering: What are these illustrations even used for? What do I actually receive once I purchase them?
(For the purposes of this post, I will use my own shop as an example, but most other clip art sellers on Etsy and Creative Market have similar processes.)
When you purchase a clip art listing and payment is cleared by Etsy, the files will be available in your “Downloads” page. If you don’t have an Etsy account and checked out as a “guest” then you will receive an email with a direct link to download the files.
For more info on how to download digital files, check out this Etsy guide.
All TWG Design’s files come in .ZIP folders, so you’ll need to unzip them once you have them downloaded onto your computer to access the individual clip art files. Once unzipped, you should have something that looks like this:
So this listing:
Becomes this folder on your computer:
How to use it?
Soooo… what in the world do you DO now that you have all these clip art files chilling on your computer?!
GET CREATIVE ;)
There are so many different creative uses for clip art. But before we dive into project ideas, it’s important to understand the technicalities first.
Clip art images are PNG files (Portable Network Graphics). This type of file is ideal for clip art because it allows for a completely transparent background, which lets you overlay the images over any background or other graphics without that ugly white border that is typically found in JPEG files. PNGs are also advantageous because they have what’s called “lossless” compression, meaning they can be opened and saved multiple times without any loss in quality and keep their high-contrast colors and details intact.
Here is an example of a PNG image on the left VS a JPEG image on the right:
All TWG Design’s clip art are high resolution - created at 300 DPI (dots per inch) - and can be resized considerably without any loss of quality or detail. I also make sure to use colors that translate well for both digital and print projects since I know these illustrations may end up on many different types of products/projects.
There are several ways to use clip art to create different types of products. You can use Adobe programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) to import the files and work with layers to create your own scenes and compositions. If you don’t have the Adobe programs, you can also use an online platform, like Canva or Picmonkey, to import the files and create your designs there. If you are creating a specific niche product like stickers, you can also use programs like Cricut or Silhouette to import the clip art for design work!
Here is an example:
I used various elements from these clip art collections:
To create this instagram post:
And my Photoshop workspace looked like this:
Note all the layers used to create this IG graphic, and the way each element is placed over each other to create a totally unique composition.
What to use it for?
Clip art can be used to create:
- Greeting/Thank you cards
- Planner stickers
- Scrapbooking materials
- Party supplies
- Blog/Website backgrounds
- Web icons
- Washi Tape
- Wrapping paper
- and the list goes on!
Here are just a few examples of products created using TWG clip art:
• PRINT •
• DIGITAL •
If you are planning on purchasing and using clip art to create your own products for sale, PLEASE make sure to pay close attention to the shop’s Terms & Conditions. Some shops allow different levels of commercial use, offer additional licenses for purchase, and have other specific rules (ie, altering the colors of the clip art, selling digital items, etc.)
To avoid legal issues, you must abide by each shop’s rules when using their clip art to sell your own final product(s). Most shops will have a specific “terms & conditions” page, information about licensing, and other details listed somewhere in their product descriptions, websites, or even included in the download as a PDF file. If you are still unsure about the usage rights of a specific clip art set, send the shop owner a direct message or email and ask! Never assume that you are able to create and sell a product using clip art that you’ve purchased. It is up to you as a business owner to be aware of the proper usage rights, prior to making any money off a product that features someone else’s artwork.
To learn more about TWG Designs licensing, check out this page!
For a complete look at all clip art collections, check out the SHOP here:
Do you have any other questions about clip art?! Drop me a comment below!