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How to Make Stock Art Sizzle

(January 2007) posted on Mon Jan 15, 2007

Transform clip art from amateurish images into amazing garment graphics.

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By Thomas Trimingham

I discovered a great way to turn clip art into a trendy, screen-printed graphics. All you have to do is use the wide array of filters in Photoshop to create an interesting composition and apply several different halftone patterns for a stylish print. Demand is strong in today's market for a sort of composite look where images from a variety of sources with different halftone patterns are printed together in the same graphic to create an artistic reference back to the printing process. In some ways, graphics of this style are more about the sum of the printing process than any particular statement of content.

To create and print a graphic using this process requires a good understanding of the different halftone options individually before they can be combined so that each element works together to provide a harmonious whole. The easiest way to develop a solid grasp of halftone styles is to apply them separately on duplicate pieces in the same design and then test several combinations to see which will look the best. Using this trend wisely involves three simple steps: creating friendly graphics from clip art, testing the graphics with different halftones, and prepping the art for easy separation.

Creating friendly graphics from clip art

The hardest part of developing good compositions from stock art is finding decent graphics to begin with. An easy way to judge the quality of stock art is to look at an image's outline and see whether the drawing that defines the shape of the image is correct and visually appealing. The drawing should be in proper proportion and shouldn't look like a kindergartener created it. The final artwork is only as good as the basic drawing that created the clip art, so many styles of clip art will never be good choices because they were made in a hurry and lack any sense of an artistic contour drawing. Here are some simple things to look for when sourcing clip art to use in this sort of process:

1. Find clip art with clean, well-defined contour lines.

2. Look for clip art that demonstrates a good value range that will help illustrate structure for the final piece.

3. Try to find art with a sense of dimension and style rather than just a simple rendering.


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