When creating a new text document in Word or a new image in Photoshop, you have without a doubt felt the need to use a small image like an arrow. This is where the clip art will come in handy, offering you the image you need right in your preferred text or image editor.
Clip art is a term, which is today associated with small graphics, which are most often used in presentations and documents. However, clip art was first used in the grand days of the press, where editors would often cut an image from a previous issue or another newspaper by hand and place it to form a new image. With the introduction of the Personal Computer, very soon clip art was incorporated in the graphical editors in the different Operating Systems and very quickly became popular between graphical and web designers. From there on, clip art quickly became a vital part of the life of most website designers and is now included into most text or image editing programs.
Clip Art image rights
The question of clip art rights is a very important one, since it defines how clip art can be used. Today, most of the clip art images are either royalty free or in the public domain field, but there used to be also a “managed rights” clip art, which had to be purchased in order to be used.
Today, most of the clip art distributed is free to use for personal or non-profit projects. However, if you are intending to use clip art in a commercial project, you must verify that the specific clip art is licensed under the public domain license. Clip art licensed under the “royalty free” license is, in some cases, not free to use in commercial products.
Clip Art image uses
Clip art, which was originally used in the press, quickly found itself in the world ofgraphic design with the popularization of the Personal Computer. Clip art presented graphical designers a quick way to use simple images in their works, without the need to draw them themselves
This ease of use quickly made clip art very popular among web designers, for whom creating the design fast enough is very important. Usage of clip art can allow for a web page with a custom design to be ready in minutes. There are special websites, which act as a storage for clip art which is under the public domain license. A lot of software designers are using images located there, with small modifications. For example, the Ubuntu Linux distribution has used a lot of images from the Open Clip Art Library, which is one of the biggest sources for free clip art images.
Clip Art image formats
Just like the regular computer images, the clip art images are two types - raster or bitmap images and vector images.
Bitmap clip art images
The bitmap clip art images represent images composed by colored pixels. They are very dependent on the resolution they are created in, and resizing them usually leads to loss of quality. Bitmaps also don't usually support transparent backgrounds or antialiasing, which is essential in the composition of complex images. The most common bitmap clip art image formats are GIF (which represents images of lower quality that can contain only 256 colors per image and are of small file size, allowing for a low disk space usage), JPG and PNG.
Vector clip art images
Vector clip art images differ from bitmap images in the way they are constructed - instead of using pixels with different colors, they rely on mathematical formulas for the positioning of points, lines and curves, constructing the image. This approach means that they are scalable - they can be resized in any way, maintaining their original quality. Today, vector clip art is on the rise with the introduction of the XML-based, SVG file format. Other file formats used for vector graphics are EPS, introduced by Adobe, and WMF - the Microsoft vector clip art format.