Make Your Own Clip Art Using Photos and Picnik

July 19th, 2008 WordPlay Posted in Blogging, Cartoons, Clip Art, Entertainment, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Just For Fun, Make Your Own Clip Art, Photography, Reviews, Tips and Tools 7 Comments »

focal-soften-shapes-pencil-sketch-duotone If you aspire to create your own clip art, you’re not limited to just using graphic elements. As you can see in the gallery below, you also can alter photos to achieve a variety of effects. Don’t know how to use Illustrator or Photoshop? Don’t worry; you don’t need to. You can use the free online Web application Picnik and still achieve professional results.

If you’re unfamiliar with Picnik, you might want to read the previous post detailing how it can help you make your own clip art. In this post, I’m only going to cover how to alter photos. Some of the methods that apply to making clip art from scratch are used with photos, too, so I’ll link to the other tutorial from the word Shapes any time it’s applicable.

1. To begin, you’ll need a photo. If you don’t have any in your personal collection, I suggest downloading one from Stock.Xchng. (See WordPlay’s Stock.Xchng review for the very liberal parameters flower-posterizesurrounding using photos from their site.) Most of the photos below came from StockXchng, and as you can see, the quality is excellent.

Even if you don’t have a great photo to start with, the good thing about using Picnik for making clip art is that you could even turn a bad photo into something beautiful. Another great Picnik feature is that if you’re a Firefox or Internet Explorer user, you can just right-click any photo you find and have it open in Picnik. (Click here for more information.) If you use Stock.Xchng to get your photos, though, I recommend also saving a copy of the photo to your hard drive with its original name. This will allow you to go back to Stock.Xchng later, enter the photo name into the search bar and find the photographer. You can then leave a comment in the photographer’s Comments box with a link to the photo’s location. Not only is this the right thing to do, but some Stock.Xchng photographers make it mandatory if you use their images. But there’s a benefit to you too. Each time you leave a link in a comment, you get a link back to you from Stock.Xchng.

2. Once you have your photo, either right-click and choose the option to edit it in Picnik go to and click the Get started now! button, and then the Upload Photo button. (If you decide you don’t want to use that photo at any time, click the Home navigation tab and you’ll be given the option to delete that photo and upload another.) The photo will automatically open into the Edit screen. Unless you need to make adjustments to your photo (crop, resize, fix red-eye or other edits), click the Create navigation tab.

Picnik_effects3. Once in the Create area, the three tabs you’ll use to create the effects shown below will be Effects, Text and Shapes. I went over Text and Shapes in my previous tutorial, but many of the looks below will also require the use of the Effects menu. Fortunately, Picnik has marked each effect clearly, so it’s easy to choose the one you want. If I’m undecided, I often “audition” each effect on a photo until I see something I like. You can find some surprising and wonderful new looks this way. You also can combine effects by saving each one and layering others on top, and making adjustments to each look by using the features within each effect. If you ever don’t like the look you get from Effects or any other Picnik feature, just click the Undo button at the top right of the page to remove it.

4. Once you get the basics of using Effects, I suggest playing with them to become more familiar. There are myriad ways each can be manipulated, which leaves endless possibilities for being creative once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

Visit Picnik

Here are the images I created with Picnik:

Click any of the photos below to see a larger version.

Original Photo Photo Altered with Picnik
1024270_children_of_africa focal-soften-tint
This photo was altered by using Focal Soften + Tint.
Photo by Sias van Schalkwyk
1031997_cowboy_sunset cowboy-sunset-create-shapes
This photo incorporates a variety of Shapes (bursts and lightning bolts around the edges with vines layered on top and an eagle in the center).
Photo by Vector Dapner
Schloss_3 lake-heat-map
This photo was altered using Shapes (clouds and eagle) + Heat Map
Photo by Dave Schloss
Clark Gable Clark Gable
This photo was altered using Shapes (vines and thought bubble) + Text.
Photo from the public domain
1028940_guitar_hero_d boost-HDR
This photo was altered using Boost + HDR-ish.
Photo by rubinho 1
1031841_bright_pink_flower_2 focal-soften-shapes-pencil-sketch-duotone
This photo was altered using Focal Soften + Pencil Sketch + Duo-Tone + Shapes (chunks of squares)

Photo by Taryn Kaiser

1036399_strawberries_1 strawberry-create-shapes
This photo was altered using Shapes (sourpuss face line drawing)
Photo by Ove Tøpfer
See more clip art made with Picnik:
Gothic Fantasy Clip Art
Animal Clip Art
Flower Clip Art
Engagement, Bridal Shower and Wedding Clip Art
Summer Clip Art
Election Clip Art
Inauguration Clip Art
Black and White Halloween Clip Art
Halloween Pumpkin Clip Art
Halloween Masks
Fourth of July Clip Art
Thanksgiving Clip Art
Don’t want to spend the time to make your own clip art? Try WordPlay’s collection of quality free clip art sources. Or visit Avatar Central, which lists all our image resources.

Free Cartoons for Your Blog

November 26th, 2007 carlajc Posted in Cartoons, Clip Art, Entertainment, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Just For Fun, Tips and Tools 1 Comment »

Sometimes you have to forget all about vocabulary words, grammar and the like, and just laugh. The following cartoonists want to help you do just that. These artists have generously offered these free cartoons for your blog or Web site:

I N D I V I D U A L   C A R T O O N S

BZ Toons cartoon sample

BZ Toons
by Brian Zaikowski
Brian Zaikowski makes his colorful free cartoons available for use in blogs, Web sites and newsletters. You’ll find a link at the Web site that will allow you to download all the cartoons in one 8 MB file.


We Blog cartoon sample

We Blog Cartoons
by Dave Walker
Dave Walker offers these cartoons free for any blog, including those that make money. If you want to use his cartoons for a company Web site, however, you must contact him through his blog for a quote. Click here for the exact conditions of use.


(requires code)

Andertoons cartoon sample

by Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson offers his free daily cartoons for use on any blog, as long as it doesn’t have adult content. You may change the font colors to match your blog, but he asks that you don’t make any other alterations to the code.




Looking for other free content? You might also be interested in these other resources on WordPlay:

Copyright 2007

DVD Holiday Movies

November 14th, 2007 carlajc Posted in Entertainment, Just For Fun, Movie Review 2 Comments »

Maybe I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I watch the same holiday movies, year after year. I used to have to comb through my TV Guide every week from the end of October until Christmas, hoping not to miss any of them. But now that we live in the DVD age, I’ve been set free from that bondage.

Here’s my must-watch list, month-by-month:


To Kill a Mockingbird Collector’s Edition

To Kill a MockingbirdI know most people wouldn’t consider this a holiday movie. But those who’ve watched it would probably agree that the final moments invoke the spirit of Halloween. I won’t ruin the ending for those who haven’t seen it; I’ll just say that it’s scary in the way that only old-fashioned story-telling can be. There are no special effects; it isn’t even in color. The characters have been so well-developed by the end, however, you feel like you’re right in that black-and-white world of Atticus Finch (played with distinction by Gregory Peck) and his children, Scout and Jem. I always make sure to watch this right around Halloween, but you don’t have to wait until next year. No matter when you watch it, this is about as close to perfect as a movie can be.

DVD extras (on two discs):

  • Interactive menus
  • Scene access
  • Cast and crew interview
  • Featurette: Fearful Symmetry: The Making of To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Featurette: Movie by Gregory Peck’s daughter Cecilia that chronicles both her father’s speaking engagements and his later years
  • Audio commentary by director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula
  • Original trailer
  • Subtitles


Home for the Holidays

Home for the HolidaysMy choice for November isn’t quite as highbrow as To Kill a Mockingbird. In fact, it’s probably a 180-degree turn from Scout and Jem’s wholesome world. But that’s okay, because this movie has something Mockingbird doesn’t: it’s hilarious. The movie follows Claudia, played by Holly Hunter, as she joins her dysfunctional family for Thanksgiving. When she meets up with her brother, played by Robert Downey Jr., at the home of her crazy parents, and her uptight sister and brother-in-law, the action gets progressively weirder. But it isn’t all craziness; there’s a love story, too, as Claudia connects with her brother’s friend who has come along for the ride. By the time the movie ends, you’ll probably have had at least a few really good laughs, along with the satisfaction of watching someone who doesn’t know which end is up find love.

DVD extras:

  • Scene access
  • Trailer
  • Interactive menus
  • Audio commentary by director Jodie Foster
  • Subtitles


White Christmas

White ChristmasI’ve literally watched this movie almost every Christmas season since I was a little girl. As corny as it is, it never wears thin. There was something magical about the combination of Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. And when you add Vera Ellen’s dancing, Rosemary Clooney’s singing and Edith Head’s costumes; you have an infinitely watchable movie. Schmaltzy? Absolutely. But that’s one of the things I love about it. If you watch the movie, make sure to catch the DVD extras so you can hear Rosemary Clooney share some of the experiences she had while making the film.

DVD extras:

  • Interactive menus
  • Scene access
  • Cast and crew interviews
  • Retrospective interview with Rosemary Clooney
  • Audio commentary with Rosemary Clooney
  • Two original theatrical trailers
  • Production stills
  • Subtitles

Copyright 2007