Where to find clip art online

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old school clip art
Clip art has become more sophisticated
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Knowing where to find online clip art makes creative projects a breeze

As computers and desktop publishing programs became commonplace the need for quick, easy-to-download art for use in articles, marketing pieces or backgrounds exploded. To fill the void, companies like T/Maker, Nova Development and Clip Art Incorporated began offering thousands of royalty-free images long before the availability of clip art online.

It wasn’t long before the big Operating System (O/S) providers Microsoft and Apple started incorporating clip art as a standard addition to the applications they offered with their systems.

Many users of clip art, particularly those with fairly basic image needs, look to the applications on their existing computer systems, such as Word, to find the right images for a variety of projects. This continues to be a source of thousands of pictures, all at no additional cost.

Existing images were all well and good for most users, but as those familiar with clip art can attest there were - and continue to be - shortcomings. Perhaps the biggest complaint for those in need of quality images is the simplistic look and quality of much of the clip art available. Many of the pictures are cartoonish in nature and inappropriate for more detailed graphics and professional marketing or presentation pieces. The need for additional choices and higher quality translated to a growing need for clip art online.

One thing computer users have always been able to rely on is the relatively short waiting period between having a need, and having that need fulfilled. So it was with clip art. Today, the sheer volume, quality and variations of clip art seem almost limitless.

Many companies, the aforementioned Nova Development for example, offer consumers packages of clip art in the form of CDs and downloads. Some of these packages have as many as 800,000 images and range in price from $25 to about $100.

Clip art online

To save time and money, many graphic artists, designers and individual users have turned to the internet to find inexpensive (often free), quality clip art online. Sites like, and all offer thousands upon thousands of images available for individual purchase. These sites, and those like them (a list of clip art sites is available here) different ways of searching, buying and downloading images.

For infrequent needs, a quick search of these online sites by topic or format will provide most users with multiple options. For those that foresee an on-going need for pictures and graphics, purchasing a license to view a library of images is available. These libraries can also be segmented into image types, styles and method of delivery.

Understand clip art formats

As you search for clip art online there is another consideration you should be aware of; the primary formats used. There are several; vector art, bitmaps, jpegs, .tiffs and .gifs. Understanding the difference is important, particularly vector art (sometimes referred to as vector graphics). Vector graphics allows users to alter the clip art, scaling it up or down in size, without losing graphic quality.

The other common formats, bitmaps, etc. lose image quality as their size and/or dimensions are altered. For the creative types that intend on altering the clip art they find online, vector art is likely to be your best option.

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