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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

4. You can sometimes combine several pieces of clip art should you be unable to find one source that is perfect. Look for pieces that will work together.

5. Find clip art that has a sense of lighting and shadow, rather than just flat planes of color, so it will look more natural when converted.

An example piece I created was for a local tattoo shop that wanted a skull with tribal images in the background. I found a skull in some clip art that looked okay and then created some simple flames that could be duplicated and rotated for a background (Figure 1).

Next I created the type, set it to a circular path, and then exported the final as a shape layer (EPS format) for placement in Photoshop. I edited the clip art slightly by removing the medical type and lines on the skull and then exported it and the flames as another EPS file that could be placed into Photoshop. CorelDRAW proved simpler for the edits than Photoshop. Had I just exported the file as-is, then the type would have combined with the background in a bitmap version—a pain to extract from the final graphic. Any serious structural changes to the outline of either the skull or the flames would also be made in CorelDRAW rather than later on in Photoshop. Vector images are usually easier to edit in a pinch than bitmaps, which might have required me to create a complicated selection to change a large area or take out pieces.

I created a new document in Photoshop that was 12 x 12 in. at 200 dpi. I then located the files that I exported from CorelDRAW and used the Place command in Photoshop to place them into position in separate layers within the one file (Figure 2). I started to edit my clip art once the files were all in place so that it would look more original and make a much more interesting printed piece.


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