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Technology Tip of the Month

July 2002: Finding Clip Art


by Deborah Healey

People often say that you can find all sorts of great clip art online, and this is true. With millions of pages online, just about everything is online - somewhere. The problem comes in finding good, copiable, preferably free, clip art that suits your particular purpose. There are hundreds of clip art sites online. The ones I use the most are:
Clip Art Connection for searchable images at This site has tabs at the top that let you go to several other clip art sites, including Barry's ClipArt Server at Barry's and Clip Art Connection are free, but not all of the other sites are. You need to watch where you type your search term, or you may end up searching a site that wants you to pay for images.
animated rainbowAnimated gifs at Animation Library, (lots of ads) and  Because these are animated, they are most useful in web pages and PowerPoint slide shows - they don't move much on printed handouts.
Clip Art Searcher at This will find images, but not necessarily copyright-free ones. You will need to be selective or ask permission for most of the ones you find with this tool.
The English Server at Carnegie Mellon University ( has a small collection of art and audio that is freely downloadable.
Clip art links at Rick's Web Tools This has a lot of links, so it's easy to end up spending way too much time clicking around if you're not careful.
Microsoft Graphics Library for clip art that works with Office at This site works correctly with Internet Explorer, not with Netscape.

You can also use any search engine to look for clip art. Most of what you find is either commercial or copyrighted, so a note of caution is in order. If you use HotBot's gif option, it will come up with websites that are on the keyword you used and that have graphics. This does not necessarily make the graphics freely copiable. When in doubt, write to the webmaster to ask. The name of the webmaster should be at the bottom of the web page or in one of the links at or near the bottom.

Saving web art to disk

Some of the clip art sites are set up so that you click on the image to save it to disk. Most, however, expect you to use the web browser's built-in "save image to disk" option. When you want to save an image to disk, position your mouse over the image. Then, right-click (Windows) or hold down the mouse button (Mac) to bring up a menu.
On Netscape, the menu looks something like this:

Click on Save Image As, and save it to disk. 

Netscape menu for images : On Internet Explorer, the menu looks something like this: Image menu - Internet Explorer
The hardest thing for me is remembering where I saved it - it's a good idea to be consistent. If you're going to use the images online, I have a couple of other suggestions.

Screen shots

Screen shots are "pictures" of the computer screen, and they're very useful to have if you are explaining how to use software. See my Tech Tip on saving screen shots to disk. I'm a big fan of Paint Shop Pro on Windows and of Flash-It on the Mac to help capture exactly what you want from the screen (both are freeware and worth the money). You can also use Paint Shop Pro to clean up the images you've saved and delete unwanted bits.

Clip art CD-ROMs

While free is good, it's often faster and more useful to have clip art on a CD-ROM. I'd suggest you get a clip art collection that includes a book with the artwork printed out - it takes far less time to quickly scan through 100 images in a book than to open each one, or even each set of 10-15, in turn. CD-ROMs of clip art can be amazingly inexpensive, too. A quick search on turned up clip art collections from $10 to $60 for 50,000 or more. You don't get the artwork printed out with the cheapest ones, unfortunately.

See Other tech tips

If you have questions, comments, or for more information, contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
Last updated 26 June, 2009