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1 Definition

Clip art, in the graphic arts, refers to pre-made images used to illustrate any medium. Clip art is divided into two different data types represented by many different graphics file formats: bitmap and vector art. Clip art vendors may provide images of just one type or both. (Wikipedia)

This article is also part of the Flash tutorials.

2 Formats used in repositories

The most common bitmap formats for clipart distributed on the web is *.jpg, *.png, and *.fig. But one may also find *.bmp (for smaller things), or TIFF and TGA.

Most common vector formats are:

  • Adobe's EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), also the related PDF format.
  • Microsoft WMF (Windows Metafile) and its variants
    • EMF - Enhanced Metafile)
    • WMZ - Compressed Windows Metafile
    • EMZ - Compressed Windows Enhanced Metafile
  • SVG (in the open source community)
  • Illustrator *.ai file (rarely)

3 Importing clipart to Flash

Most often, clipart is distributed in *.wmf format (Windows Meta File format) or the more recent *.emf (Windows extended ...). Flash can handle this format. It also can handle:

  • Illustrator *.ai format,
  • Enhanced Windows Metafile *.emf (handles curves better than WMF)
  • Freehand,
  • Flash *.swf
  • Autocad *.dxf.

It can not handle:

  • SVG
  • EPS (to verify)

To import, either copy/paste it from an open application or use File->Import, either to stage or to library.

If you own Adobe Illustrator, first import to Illustrator, then select, copy and paste the Clipart from Illustrator to Flash. Illustrator can handle many formats, SVG and EPS for example.

Since most open source clipart is in SVG (OpenClipArt which Adobe Flash can't import, I suggest sending angry e-mail to Adobes. They do have the technology and it would be a matter of hours to implement this feature. In the meantime use one of the many opensource convertors or the free Inkscape SVG drawing program and then either save to *.wmf or *.emf. You probably will loose some drawing elements.

If you only need to recover shapes (as opposed to a full vector graphics structure): Select an object in a drawing program (such as Inksapce), then copy it. In Flash, you then can use Edit->Paste Special and select Picture (Metafile). This will paste the drawing as a group of shapes that you then can explode.... no lines.

4 Using Fonts as ClipArt

In many graphic tools you can select a font with pictures, e.g. WebDings.

In Flash

  • Use text tool
  • In the properties panel, set the character size to something big, e.g. 200pt
  • Select a "....dings" font, e.g. Webdings.
  • Type a letter
  • Break it apart
  • Then menu Modify->Unition

Tip: Under Windows, select programs->Accessories->System Tools->Character tables. Explore a table. If you like a "letter art", then select and copy/paste to Flash, google sketchup or any other tool that can handle text.

See webdings and wingdings for pictures of these fonts.

5 Clipart repositories

We are mostly interested in vector formats. Alternatively, you may also search through other applications you installed on your computer, e.g. Office products like Word and Powerpoint and the Open Office equivalent.

5.1 Indexes

It is extremly difficult to find good free clipart sites. Best bet is really the Open Clip Art Library, but then may have to transform SVG into another vector format, e.g. if you work with Flash.

5.2 In SVG Format

SVG became the most standard format in the open source community. SVG also is part of HTML5. Many commercial programs can import SVG, but some like Flash or Stitch Era embroidery software can not. In this case use you can for instance:

  • Import to Illustrator or Corel Draw, then either copy/paste to the other application or import the proprietary format (e.g. *.ai)
  • Open with the free Inkscape tool and export as *.emf (Enhanced Windows Metafile) (worked for me), *.ai (Illustrator) or *.dxf (Autocad) and then import to Flash (import of the two latter didn't work for me when I last tested a few years ago)

5.3 Windows Meta File Repositories


5.4 EPS File Repositories

(Encapsulated PostScript)

5.5 AI (Illustrator Repositories

  • vecteezy (stupid name, cool vectors). The ones I tried give you a zip with EPS/AI/JPEG inside.
  • Rick Johnson/Graffix Clip art for technical Illustrators. Some free isometric building blocks.

5.6 Bitmaps only repositories

6 Other Links

6.1 File formats

6.2 General

6.3 Software

Most graphics vector graphics editors can import/export various formats.

Free online tools
Free Vector editors