Managing art
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Make your own | Organizing

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You can make sure your illustrations are locally relevant and avoid copyright problems by making clip art from your own drawings, photographs and slides. (If you use someone else's pictures, make sure you have their permission.)

  • Photocopy a photograph to the desired size and trace it. Include only necessary details. For instance, you can omit a confusing background or change the style of clothing to suit your audience's needs. Sometimes photocopying the photocopy can get rid of unwanted detail. Try playing with the contrast settings on the photocopier until you get the effect you want.
  • If you start off with a drawing, use scissors and typist's correction fluid to cut out the parts you don't want. Draw in additional details, or cut and paste from several drawings to make a composite scene. Finally, photocopy the resulting mosaic.
  • To turn a slide into clip art, pin a piece of paper to the wall, project the slide onto it, and trace the image. This technique also works with an overhead projector: simply put the slide on the projector stage, and trace the image on some paper taped to the wall.
  • If you have a scanner, scan a photo as "line art" (rather than as a halftone), edit it if necessary in the computer, and incorporate it into your desktop published document. Or print it out and paste it into the document in the traditional way.

Start with a Scan (Janet Ashford and John Odam, Peachpit Press, 1996) is a book that tells you how to transform scanned photos and objects into high-quality art and design. Click for more details, or order from

  • Adapt existing clip art in your image editor. You can change colours, resize and combine images, and add backgrounds very easily. The icon on the right started out as CorelDraw symbols.
research.gif (1983 bytes)
  • Don't have ANY clip art? Try this: open Windows Paintbrush, type in a few characters in the Wingdings font (choose a large font size), and colour them in using the Fill With Colour (paintcan) tool. Select the image you want, and Copy To a new file. Wingdings and Zapf Dingbats have good images too. The icons to the right started life as Webdings.
Before After
clipar11.gif (1427 bytes) africaicon.gif (1025 bytes)
clipar12.gif (1281 bytes) Tools.gif (960 bytes)
clipar13.gif (1423 bytes) People.gif (998 bytes)

If you have a lot of art, organizing and finding it can get to be a pain.

  • Store artwork in a separate directory (called "Graphics" or something similar) so you can find it easily. Make subdirectories for different topics (eg, people, places, objects, animals...), types of image (photos, black-and-white drawings, colour graphics) or file formats (JPEG, GIF, TIFF, etc.)
  • Get a graphics browser such as Compupic or Kudo to view and manage your graphics files. Some of these browsers come with clip-art CD-ROMs: you can install them on your computer and use them to catalogue other images too.
  • Rename files so they tell you what's in them. A filename called "logo" isn't very informative. "UNDPlogo" is.
  • Graphics can take up a lot of disk space. Convert graphics to the format you will use it (eg, TIFF for publications, JPEG or GIF for websites). Reduce the image size to minimize the number of kilobytes used. Get a 100 MB Iomega Zip drive to store your pictures so you don't have to keep them on your hard drive. Compress TIFF files. It may even be worth writing your own CD-ROM. Keep one copy of each image in a non-lossy format (such as TIFF), and convert to other formats only when you need to.
  • Having said that, store the largest file size you think you will need. You can always reduce from this to get a smaller size. But if you enlarge from a small image, you'll end up with ugly "jaggies".
undercon.gif (293 bytes) Any more helpful hints? Please help improve this site by emailing them to us.

  visitors since 16 April 1999

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Revised: 06 January 2006

Paul Mundy PhD, development communication specialist
Weizenfeld 4, 51467 Bergisch Gladbach, Germany

tel +49-2202-932 921, fax +49-2202-932 922,