PI6 Top Ten Clipart Tricks and Tips

This isn't a tutorial so much as some guidelines for my favorite ways to make eye-catching clip art. Of course there's a million ways to make your own clip art, but these are techniques that work well for me. :o)

Stephanie's Top 10 Clip Art Tricks

(1) Use 2D Path objects as much as you can. I prefer them to 3D objects, on which colors tend to change due to rounding the objects. Paint sticks to a selected object, making it very easy to add color or lines selectively. If you can't draw well by hand, the basic and Custom Shapes can be a lifesaver. The bear's collar, above, is a Custom Shape, converted from a Path to an Image object, then cut in half with the Object Painter Eraser. Then I embellished it with the same rose object used on the hat, only greatly reduced in size.

(2) Paint as Object mode is great for enhancing path shapes. Once you have the basic object, use Paint as Object mode to embellish the shape.

For example, below is a rounded rectangle shape with Roundness accentuated. Then I used the Paintbrush in Paint as Object mode to add little bumps along the edges for the bear's head. I used the Eyedropper to get the color right, then used the Round Stroke 1 Preset. Exit Paint as Object mode, then Shift+Click the bumps and the head, right click, Merge as Single Object.

add bumps

Also use Paint as Object mode to make small objects with unusual shapes. I couldn't find anything like a glove shape for the bear, so I painted one with the Paintbrush in Paint as Object mode.

paint as object mode for unusual shapes

(3) Sculpt with the Object Paint Eraser. At left, I've used a small round brush, Soft edge=0, to click along the edges of the socks and petticoat to make an open, eyelet pattern.

sculpt with eraser tool

Often times, instead of using Continue Draw mode to create "cut outs" in the center of a Path object, it's easier to just erase the parts you don't want. For example, I used the Object Paint Eraser, set to Straight lines, to make a series of connected lines for cutting out the pumpkin's face. Remember to convert Path objects to Image objects first, or you won't be able to use the Object Paint Eraser as a sculpting tool.


(4) Shade sides of objects and create dimension using Paint on Edges with a highly transparent Airbrush, or convert the object from Path to Image and use the Airbrush (edited down to Size=30 to 50 or so with highly transparent paint) to Airbrush manually along the edges. Alternatively, use the Burn Retouch tool, Wide Burn preset, to burn manually around edges. The Burn method will work better with some colors than others. It does not work well with pastels, as it tends to burn a deep gray color. Burning works better with darker colors.

I've used both methods of shading on this Halloween moose. The arms and legs were made with the Line & Arrow tool in a solid brown color, line size=13. When shading, the trick is to leave a light area in the center of the object to create a rounded look.

shade with POE or Burn tool

Here's the results of several different methods of shading. Each does the job, but you may prefer one look better than the other for any particular image.

different ways to shade objects

(5) I know bears and moose don't have cheeks, but adding a little pink or peach cheek color to clip art gives it that country look. Convert your Path object to an Image object or you won't be able to Airbrush cheek color. I like to use the Airbrush, Fat Stroke Preset, editing the size down to 50 and the Transparency to 75 or so. Select your object to make it active, then hold the brush half off the object. Don't drag while you're airbrushing cheek color, just click a few times in the same general area.

airbrush cheek color

(6) To help add definition to the lines showing shapes, add a faint black outline around path objects to help tie the whole clip art image together. I like to select the Paintbrush, black paint, Size=1, Soft edge=1, Transparency=35. Select an object, then click any other tool and hit Shift+P to Paint on Edges (POE).

add narrow black outline with POE

(7) Adding sparkle and shine with highly transparent white paint is another good way to add expression and detail to your country clip art. I like to use the Paintbrush tool's Round Stroke 1 Preset, editing color to white and Transparency=75, to add little "half moons" or dots of white for sparkle. For example, look at the half moons on the little girl's shoes below, and the little dots of white I used on the froggie's cheeks.

crazy kid froggie king

(8) Don't try to make everything perfect. I like to add a detail or two that will make someone smile when they see it. For example, the eyes on the little frog prince above are kind of googly and mismatched, but I think they lend him a certain personality. This Raggedy Ann's goofy smile keeps her from suffering from terminal cuteness.

throw in a good smile

(9) Stitching is very popular on this type of clip art because it adds a dash of country charm. Some people like their stitches to be perfectly straight and evenly spaced. I'm not one of them! I like the primitive look of hand painted stitches.

There's a couple of ways to make stitching. You get the most control by using a very small brush in Paint as Object mode. I like black or white paint (depending on the underlying color), Size=1, Soft edge=1, Lines=Straight lines. Click and drag, click and drag, to make a line of broken stitches around the edges that you wish to emphasize. That's how I made the stitching on this country angel. I also added draping folds on her sleeves in Paint as Object mode.

flower angel

If you don't want to make the stitches individually and you have a straight edge, you can make a solid straight line in Paint as Object mode. After you exit Paint as Object mode, use the Object Paint Eraser with a very small brush (Size=5, Soft edge=5) to erase spaces in the line, creating stitching.

If you like working without a net, you can just select the object you want to paint on and then paint directly on the object. You can still right click and Undo if you get a stitch you don't like.

(10) Add a shadow to help your country clip art pop out from the background. Since country clip art is generally flat, a pronounced shadow doesn't really suit it most of the time. Consider adding a black, 2 or 3 pixel shadow around all edges after you merge all objects as a single object. I like to use these settings, but do experiment to see what looks best for you.

add shadow

You can see the subtle difference that adding a shadow makes in the bunny clip art below. The one on the left has no shadow, while the one on the right has a 3 pixel shadow added.

fat bunnies

Finally, one last tip for those of you who think you can't draw. If you use 2D Path objects and Paint as Object mode to make simple objects, you may surprise yourself with how easy it is to make your own country clip art. Remember the KISS principle -- keep it simple. A couple of small black 2D round Path objects for eyes may be all you need, like the country angel above. Go to the crafts stores and look at country painting booklets and flyers, you'll see how most projects are broken down into simple shapes, embellished with color.

If you're interested in learning more about making your own, check out my Make Your Own Country Clip Art tutorial.

This tutorial uploaded 10/19/01

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