Understanding how to make slight adjustments to vector images can save time and money. Learn the basics of vector (clip art) and what can be done with it.
Changing Size, Color and Shape
Using clip art used to be limiting because often the overall color and style didn’t match the rest of the document. Because of this, clip art was not commonly used for professional websites and projects. Times have changed and clip art is commonly seen on sites such as Twitter and the Google homepage. Today there are many tools that allow you to personalize the graphic to fit with your document or website.
If you’ve ever spent hours looking for just the right image, then you’ll love learning about vector graphics. With vector graphics you’ll have the power to control your images changing their color, shape and size, without affecting the quality of the artwork.
Understanding Graphic Types and Formats
If you have used clip art in the past then you are familiar with raster graphics, although probably not by that name. Raster graphics are often referred to as bitmaps. Examples of raster graphics are file formats such as .GIF, .JPG, .TIFF and .PNG. These images are made up of pixels. Pixels are tiny dots all crammed together to form an image.
The other option is vector graphics. Examples of vector file formats are .EPS (by Adobe) and .WMF (by Microsoft). Vector images are based on mathematical points, curves and lines.
The Showdown: Vector vs. Raster
Raster images become fuzzy and distorted when you try to edit and resize them. It’s almost impossible for the novice to change color and design elements and end up with an acceptable result.
Vector images always give you a clean, crisp result and will not distort when re-sized. With a few easy clicks you can:
- change the size, color or line curve
- rearrange objects
- remove unwanted parts of the design
Imagine the possibilities when you can combine two or more vector images into one. Combining elements opens up a whole new world of creativity. Your new vector image can now be used on a business card or on the side of a bus with the same quality and clarity.
In the end vector is the victor when it comes to editing clip art.
Tools for Editing Vector Clip Art
There are many programs designed for editing vector images. The more popular ones you may have heard of are Adobe Illustrator (Adobe's site) and Corel Draw. These editing programs are wonderful, complex and fun to use, but can be pricey. If you are interested in simply editing you may want try out a free program. A good one to try is DrawPlus by Serif. DrawPlus is essentially a boiled down version of Adobe Illustrator and is loaded with tutorials.
Once you have downloaded your editing program you will need to download a piece of artwork to play with. Try out the different tools and have fun exploring your new favorite pastime.
You may feel a little intimidated when thinking about learning to edit vector graphics, but by following tutorials and just having fun with the tools you’ll be amazed at how much you learn. And remember, you can always visit the Clip Art Forum to learn or share tips and tricks.