Tutorial » Clipart - Design Elements & Licensing
Designing with Clipart
12-1-11 - Designing with clipart can be fun and exciting if it helps you find the right elements to finish your design! Most people have probably heard of great sites like 123RF, Clipart.com and Microsoft Office (amongst many others) that have clipart available for download. Great T-Shirts usually have a catchy simple saying with some artwork or some traditional design organized in an original unique fashion. For the first type, sometimes you just need a good piece of clipart to reinforce or bring irony to the text and, sometimes, cheesy clipart is the best thing for it (especially if you're trying to make it funny).
Elements to look at in clipart
Clipart, by no stretch of the imagination, is anything that requires a sharp palette to distinguish. This is not like taste testing fine wine or analyzing historical artwork. Clipart is just a design tool that assists the message you are trying to convey on your medium; in this case T-Shirts. Here are three points to consider:
1) Does the image fit your design? In regards to the image fitting the design, use your artistic judgment and ask yourself, "does this particular image reinforce my message,"? "Does the the image fit the personality or style preference of my target audience,"? "Do the colors fit and, if not, can you change it,"?
2) Is the image royalty free or do I have to buy a license to use it? Point number two addresses a very important topic that many designers fail to consider when making printed goods (such as T-Shirts) for sale. For more information, please read about clipart licensing.
3) Is the image high enough quality for my shirt? This is always a good question if you want your design to look professional. A high quality image is necessary for a high quality print. Consider the final size of your graphic. Like we always state, we set up all of our files in high resolution although, practically speaking, it is not always necessary. If you are using a a *.jpg, *.png, *.tif. etc. file, make sure, at the size you are printing, you have sufficient resolution to make a good looking print. For more information on rasterized (bitmap) image resolution, see our Technical Details of T-Shirt Printing article. To solve all resolution issues, however, look for clipart that is vector based like Illustrator (*.ai), Encapsulated PostScript (*.eps), or Windows Metafile (*.wmf). Vector art will look good printed in a 1" square and will remain the same quality if it were printed the size of the moon (although there are no printers yet the size of the moon).
How to import your clipart into a graphic design program
Simple explanation: After you have downloaded your clipart to a place on your computer where you can find the image, click and drag your image or "File... Place (import)" into your favorite graphic design program.
When you talk about clipart, most people think of fun and exciting design elements that can be added to their poster, website, T-Shirt, etc. When buying clipart images from sites like 123RF Stock Photos however, make sure to buy the appropriate print license so that you can use the clipart on your design. There are different kinds of licenses to cover different uses of the clipart. Most designers want to get the cheapest thing possible to cover what their doing so we decided to help out with that. 123RF has a Summary of Usages & License Types on their website.
On 11-30-11 we contacted customer support at 123RF through their online chat. While using this easy to use interface and dealing with a friendly representative we asked: OK. so if we wanted to purchase clipart for use on a t-shirt we are creating that is going to be posted on CafePress and/or zazzle, what license would we purchase? After explaining what the two sites (CafePress and Zazzle were and what it is they do, the response from 123RF was specifically: In that case, you will need the extended print license. 123RF ultimately recommends going with the full comprehensive license however. For reference, the extended print license only covers up to 10,000 copies while the comprehensive license is unlimited. Either way, it is always up to the responsible party (in this case the party uploading the design to CafePress, Zazzle, etc.) for making sure that the right license is purchased to cover that usage and whatever other usage the clipart is being used for.
How does that translate into real money? Roughly speaking, if you purchase the license one at a time, an extended print license from 123RF would be ~$45 and a full comprehensive license would be about ~$87. From what we have seen, graphic design rates for average design firms and freelance designers can be as high as $150/hr.. What a GREAT deal!
If you more information on copyright with the images you are using on your shirts, check out this interesting article on eHow.