You should all remember clip art, those drawings you used to play with whenever you had to type a document, or make a presentation. Officially it refers to ‘pre-made images used to illustrate any medium’. These days they’re being used in a multitude of projects, usually to beautify a document’s looks.
These clip art graphics are always composed of illustrations, sometimes with a little text, but never photography.
If you look at office suites like Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel), you’ll see that it comes with a fair bulk of graphics. Most often, you won’t have to look further than that. Nevertheless, sometimes you do.
Whether your collection does not suffice, or you never had any clip art in your office suite to begin with, referring to the world wide web for free clipart downloads is a logical step. Regretfully, a lot of people try to make money out of – often mediocre – clip art. Today we’ll show you a bunch of sites that don’t, places where you can find great clip art for no cost at all.
Let’s start off with my favourite – Clker.com. Whenever I need something, this is the first (and often the last) place I’ll look. They have a rich collection of vector clip art, all royalty free and in the public domain. Clip art can be downloaded in PNG (low, med, hi), SVG, or even ODG formats. And if you’re feeling especially creative, you can upload some works of your own.
A little less creative but still want to help out? Notice the green tag in the downright corner of the screenshot. You can help out tremendously by just tagging the images that are already there.
Open Clip Art Library is something special. They’re continuously collecting user-submitted clip art and publishing it under a Creative Commons license. Their goal is to build an easy to use directory, with free clipart downloads as far as the eye can see, to share and be shared alike.
A really useful feature is the Requests directory, where they try to encourage artists to create new content, but where you can also score a fresh piece of work yourself. Got an idea, but can’t find it anywhere? This is the place to go.
Unfortunately, the site doesn’t lend itself for easy browsing. You can perform a search using good ol’ custom Google, but you won’t walk into a thumbnail overview wherever you go. Click on an item to view an illustration preview.
The site takes a decent second place nonetheless, because the work is often of great quality and well worth the hassle.
WPClipart is your standard clip art directory, currently hosting tens of thousands of free clip art images; a number which keeps on growing. Find the image you’re looking for by browsing through the different directories or perform a search – I advise the latter. While looking through the images, you’ll also encounter a few photographs – unfortunate, because they do not belong on the site.
All clip art (and the occasional photograph) can be downloaded as a PNG image. With the click of a mouse, you can also easily convert them to JPG – whatever you like best.
You can also check out WPClipart’s feature overview @ the MakeUseOf directory.
This site has pretty good looks – so why is it so far down the list? Well, the search option is completely messed up. I’m not sure if it’s due to bad scripting, or simply bad indexing, but the majority of search queries will refuse to return any results.
That aside, there is some great clip art imagery on the site, so if you don’t mind browsing categorically, I guess you’re fine. It’s still got over 10,000 free clipart downloads for you to choose from.
Again, the images can only be retrieved from the overview (as seen in the screenshot above). All pictures are in GIF format, and because of the download restrictions, the file dimensions aren’t worth any admiration either.
You can also check out Artvex’s feature overview @ the MakeUseOf directory.
Clipart ETC is ‘an online service of Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse’. They supply over 58,000 free clip art images, to be used by students and teachers! Mind, if you are neither student or teacher, the license won’t cover you. Otherwise, you’ll be allowed to embed up to 50 items in a single, non-commercial project.
As the screenshot suggests, all clip art is in black and white – but that shouldn’t be too much a problem in research papers. All images include a more than decent description, and list their source. Because most of these illustrations are scans from (old) books, it can be interesting to track them to the source. Downloads are available in 240 dpi TIFF files, which allows you quite some flexibility.
Hopefully you’ve had some use of this post. If you know any other great sources for free clip art illustrations, be sure to mention them in the comments section below.