What is Clip Art?

by Annie Saxena on Feb 27, 2023

What is Clip Art?

Clip art is a term that has become more common in the digital age, as we increasingly use visuals to communicate in both personal and professional settings. But what is clip art exactly? Clip art, in its most basic sense, refers to pre-made graphics or illustrations that can be used in a range of applications. These photos are frequently employed to improve the visual appeal of presentations, publications, and websites.

Clip art has a lengthy history that predates digital technology, but it has acquired new significance in the digital age as it has become more accessible and simpler to use.

What is Clip Art?

Clip art refers to images that are used as illustrations. These images are either hand-drawn or digitally altered to serve as graphic elements in various programmes like MS Word and MS Excel. These unique graphic components are used to improve the presentation, banner, greeting card, worksheet, and other graphics. You can make anything look more appealing and engaging by using clip art images.

The vast majority of file formats, either bitmaps or vector drawings, are used to store clip art.

History of Clip Art

The word "clip art" first emerged historically long before the emergence of digital technologies and the Internet. The term "clipping" refers to the widespread practise of removing images from printed materials so that they might be reused in subsequent publishing endeavours. There were also specialised clip books with images that could be easily cut out for various uses.

Before computers were used in desktop publishing, a process known as "paste-up" was used. In this method, images were manually cut out of the source material—say let's a magazine, book, card, picture book, or something else—and then adhered with an adhesive material that was readily available to the board of the scale size that a finished work should have. The procedure produced the finished, camera-ready pages, known as mechanicals, when text and art were applied.

When teachers utilised it to generate a variety of worksheets and students injected life with visuals to their presentations and class projects, the approach also became quite popular with those who were involved in the educational process.

Publishers and other creators switched from the paste-up method to desktop publishing in the 1990s when the page layout was created using specialised software.

The majority of clip art is now made, utilised, and distributed electronically. It comes in a wide range of file formats, styles, content topics, and licence options. Clip art is still available in physical and electronic versions. Nowadays, the phrase generally refers to elaborate graphics made by hand or with graphic design tools.

Formats of Clip Art

Bitmap (rasterized) and vector are the two main types of file formats for clip art pictures.


Bitmap often refers to rectangular images made up of a grid of colourful or black-and-white pixels, such as a scanned photograph. The quality of these photographs is constrained by their resolution, which is fixed once the file is finished. Due to the set resolution, prints of the image may appear grainy or fuzzy, or they may become grainy when enlarged beyond their true resolution.

Bitmap image file formats that are typically used for the web include GIF, JPEG, and PNG; less common ones at the moment include BMP, TGA, and TIFF. This type of image's provided clip art is typically of low resolution, making it difficult to scale or apply to high-quality print work.

Vector graphics

Since vector graphics are based on geometric modelling, they show a set of points, curves, lines, and shapes as opposed to bitmap images. Users are able to resize it to any required size thanks to its "resolution independence" and maintain the image's high quality. The drawback is that bitmap images are more widely supported by graphic software than vector files.

Nonetheless, things are getting better: in the early days of electronic clip art, the software was only capable of making passable line presentations; but, in the last ten to twenty years, tools have been available that enable the creation of excellent vector pictures.

The most popular vector file, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), is supported by all the main online browsers. Other prominent vector formats include WMF and EPS.

What are the Basics of Clip Art?

A collection of pre-made images or graphics known as "clip art" is available for use in both printed and digital applications. When using clip art, bear in mind the following fundamentals:

Varieties of clip art: There are many different kinds of images that can be used as clip art, including emoticons, borders, symbols, and icons. Each kind of clip art has a specific usage and several diverse applications.

Formats: You may get clip art in both vector and raster formats. Raster clip art is composed of pixels and can become pixelated when enlarged, whereas vector clip art is composed of mathematical lines and can be scaled without losing quality.

Licensing: Clip art is frequently subject to licence limitations, which change depending on where the clip art comes from. To utilise any clip art in your project, you must make sure that you have the necessary permissions or licences.

Customization: Clip art can be altered to match a certain project or aesthetic. You can modify the colour, size, and other characteristics of clip art in many design software tools to better fit your requirements.

Usage guidelines: It's crucial to utilise clip art sensibly and morally, and to refrain from utilising images protected by copyright without authorization. Clip art must be used in a way that is consistent with the project's intended purpose and should enhance the overall design.

You may successfully incorporate clip art into your designs and produce eye-catching and useful images for your projects by becoming familiar with its fundamentals.

What is the Importance of Clip Art, in the World of Graphic Design?

For a long time, clip art has had a big impact on the field of graphic design. Following are some of the main arguments in favour of the significance of clip art:

Time-Saving: Using clip art makes it simple and fast to add visual components to a project without having to start from scratch. This frees up the designers' time so they may concentrate on other areas of the design.

Accessibility: Everyone can utilise clip art, regardless of their level of artistic aptitude or skill. Regardless of whether they have the creative talent to produce original images themselves, anyone can use clip art to add visual interest to their efforts.

Consistency: By offering a collection of ready-made images with a common theme or style, clip art can assist keep a design cohesive. When it comes to maintaining a unified appearance and feel in branding or marketing materials, this can be extremely helpful.

Versatility: Clip art can be utilised in a variety of contexts, including print and digital media. It can be adjusted in size, modified, and mixed with other photos to produce distinctive designs that adhere to project specifications.

In the world of graphic design, clip art is a crucial tool that can be used to quickly and affordably add visual interest to a project. Clip art is still a useful tool for designers and artists worldwide, despite a possible drop in popularity in recent years.

What is Clip Art Example?

A wide range of pictures and graphics are included in clip art, which can be applied to both printed and digital projects. These are a few illustrations of clip art:


Icons, such as those for a phone, envelope, or printer, are straightforward, stylized graphics that symbolise a concept or action.


Clip art illustrations are more intricate pictures of settings, people, or things like a piece of furniture, a landscape, or a cartoon animal.

Borders and frames

Borders and frames made of clip art can be used to decorate a design and add visual appeal. Examples include a floral border and a decorative frame for a text block.


Clip art symbols are visual representations of abstract ideas or concepts. Examples include the heart, peace, and money symbols.


Clip art emoticons, such as smiling faces, frowny faces, and other emotive graphics, are little images used in digital communication to convey emotion.

These are only a few samples of the many different kinds of clip art that are offered. Clip art is available in a variety of styles, subjects, and formats and may be altered to meet a variety of design requirements.

How do you Draw Clip Art?

Creating clip art entails creating straightforward, styled illustrations that may be included into a variety of printed and digital products. These are some general guidelines for creating clip art:

Start with a quick sketch: Start by outlining your concepts on paper in sketches. Focus on producing a distinct and recognised image while keeping the shapes simple and stylised.

Improve the design: Once you have a preliminary draught, convert it to a digital format using a programme like Adobe Illustrator or Inscape. Using the vector tools, hone the design until you are satisfied with how it looks overall.

Add colour: After the basic design is finished, you can add colour to your clip art by utilising the fill and stroke tools in your design software. Choose a colour palette that complements the clip art's overall design and topic.

Save and export: Whenever your clip art is finished, save it as a vector file (such SVG or EPS) so that it may be resized and altered without losing quality. Depending on your intended usage, you can then export the file in other formats (such PNG or JPG).

Keep in mind that clip art is meant to be straightforward and instantly recognisable, so put your attention towards developing an effective design that communicates your intended message. You can make distinctive and memorable clip art by experimenting and honing your own style.


In conclusion, designers and artists who want to add visual appeal to their products might benefit greatly from using clip art. Clip art can be utilised in a range of digital and printed projects to improve the overall design and communicate crucial information because there are so many different pictures and formats accessible.

The fundamentals of clip art, such as the kinds of images that are available, licencing requirements, and appropriate use, must be kept in mind, though. You may produce interesting and useful images that support your message and increase the overall impact of your project by mastering these fundamentals and using clip art into your designs. In other words, clip art can be a useful tool in your creative toolbox whether you're an experienced designer or just getting started.