10 Easy Ways to Modify Clip Art

Make Stock Images Work For You

You don't have to rely on just what's available in your clip art collections. After you've determined that you need to use clip art to enhance a layout, discover easy ways to modify canned clip art to increase its usefulness. Flip, resize, rotate, distort, crop, colorize, convert, and combine multiple pieces of clip art into new pictures to use in desktop publishing.
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Get the right format

jpg for photos and gif for clip art
GIF and now PNG are common bitmap clip art formats; Image by Jacci Howard Bear

Not really a way to modify clip art, selecting the right image format is essential to being able to flip, resize, rotate, stretch, crop, colorize, or combine images. If you don't know the difference between bitmap and vector images, then you may have difficulty putting these image modifications to proper use. For example, GIF may be a prevalent clip art format but it's not a good photo format and not great for printing either.

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flip clip art
Flip it around and it's all new; Image by Jacci Howard Bear
An otherwise perfect piece of clip art that is simply facing the wrong direction may need nothing more than a flip - reversing its direction. This is easy to do in any graphics software program. Just be careful of flipping images that contain text or anything that gives away the flip (such as wedding rings on the wrong hand). More »
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resize clip art
Resize it carefully; Image by Jacci Howard Bear
Images seldom come in just the right size to fit everyone's needs. However, resizing clip art isn't difficult if you follow a few guidelines. More »
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rotate clip art
Rotate it to fit your layout; Image by Jacci Howard Bear
When flipping isn't enough, rotate clip art to the right orientation for your layout. Vector images are the easiest to rotate without distortion. More »
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Stretch, Skew, Distort it

Stretch Skew Distort Clip Art
Distort that picture; Image by Jacci Howard Bear
While resizing maintains the original dimensions of a piece of clip art, stretching and skewing changes its appearance in just certain directions. Create special effects with stretch, skew, distort, warp, or perspective tools.
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Crop it

Crop Clip Art
Cut out what you don't need; Image by Jacci Howard Bear

There's no rule that says you have to use the entire piece of clip art. Crop out parts you don't want or don't need. Cropping can help to focus on important parts of the image, simplify it, or change the meaning. Take the clip art apart and use bits and pieces of the image. It's easier with vector images but with careful use of selection and cropping tools you can make complex crops to bitmap images.

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Colorize B&W / Grayscale Clip Art

Colorize Clip Art
Color Me! Image by Jacci Howard Bear
Sometimes colorizing a piece of clip art is better than using one that is already in color. You can add just the right colors in the right places to suit your purposes.
Convert Clip Art to Grayscale
Color is overrated! Image by Jacci Howard Bear

Sometimes color isn't an option but the best piece of clip art is in color. Converting an image to a grayscale bitmap renders the colors in shades of gray and increases the usefulness of any clip art collection. More »

Convert Clip Art to B&W
© J. Howard Bear

Crisp black and white clip art is ideal for publications that are likely to be photocopied or need to be printed on less than 600 dpi printers. Any publication that isn't produced in color will need either grayscale or B&W images. There are several ways, depending on the software, for converting a piece of clip art from color to black and white. More »

Combine Clip Art Images
Two can be better than one. Image by Jacci Howard Bear
If two pieces of clip art aren't quite right, maybe putting them together will work. Create a new image by combining several pieces of clip art or delete some portions of each and combine the remaining elements. More »

About.com Clip Art Has The Clip Art You Need

While you don't want to use too many pieces of clip art in any one project, you can never have too much clip art. Explore the original creations of Dixie Allan to find clip art to use as-is or to modify as described above.