Easy Ways to Modify Clip Art

Make Stock Images Work for You

Clip art has come a long way since graphic artists had to cut it out of giant catalogs with scissors and add it to their mechanical layouts with wax. Nowadays, most graphics software comes with a robust library of clip art, and online images are available on just about any topic you can think of. That doesn't mean you can always find just exactly what you are looking for, but you can modify the clip art in several easy ways.

Clip art can be used in the software it came with or copied and pasted into another program. When you are making changes to clip art, it is important to know what format it is, so you can use the correct software program to make the changes. Clip art comes in vector and raster (bitmap) formats. You edit vector art in Adobe Illustrator or another vector software program and edit raster format art in Photoshop or a similar image editing program.

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Flip It

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 facing the wrong direction may need nothing more than a flip. This is easy to do in any graphics software program. Just be careful of flipping images that contain text or anything else that gives away the flip.

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Resize It

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. In most cases, you can enlarge the art in the program you are using it in.

Vector art can be enlarged infinitely without affecting the quality of the art, but rasterized art will show its pixels if you enlarge it much.

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Rotate, Stretch, Skew or Distort It

Stretch Skew Distort Clip Art
Distort that picture; Image by Jacci Howard Bear

Clip art can be rotated to the left or right to the exact orientation needed in your layout.

While rotating maintains the original dimensions of a piece of clip art, stretching and skewing changes its appearance. 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 focus on important parts of the image, simplify it, or change its meaning.

You can also take apart the clip art and use bits and pieces of the image. This is easier to do with vector images, but with careful use of selection and cropping tools, you can make complex adjustments to bitmap images.

Convert Clip Art to Grayscale
Color is overrated! 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.

You don't have to start with a colorless graphic though. You can make color changes to both vector and raster clip art using the appropriate software.

Sometimes color isn't an option for a design, 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 »

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Combine Clip Art Elements

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 by deleting portions of each and combining the remaining elements.