Free Clip Art For Your Blog

October 4th, 2013 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Cartoons, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Photos, Photography, Tips and Tools 6 Comments »

Garden man

A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s a cliche but it’s also true, which means including images can be a good way to dress up your posts. If you’re like me, though, you hate to look for clip art. I love looking at the images, but I’ve experienced that most free clip art sites are torture to navigate. A clip art hunting session usually involves wading through endless sites that have little art and plenty of ads. This more often than not exhausts me before I even find what I need.

But for you, dear reader, I braved clip art hell to find the best free clip art for your blog. The result is the list below, which contains sites that not only have quality free images but also are easy to navigate (with one exception, noted below). I’ve also included several sites that charge a nominal amount for clip art, in case you can’t find what you need at the free sites.


free clip art samples Free Clip Art Sourcebook

This free e-book is free to download and contains links to thousands of free contemporary and vintage clip art images, photos, craft templates, paper dolls and many other types of images. All the clip art at each link is completely free!

Barack Obama pensive Barack Obama Clip Art

You can find stylized images of Barack Obama on this page, along with generic election and “vote” clip art buttons that can be used for any election, and Democratic and Republican party icons.


Vintage artVintage Art

This resource is close to my heart because it’s WordPlay’s sister blog. I created it because I had a hard time finding free vintage images and assumed others were too. So I bought my own collection of postcards and photos. If you’re looking for authentic vintage art, you’ll like this collection.

Dover art samplesDover Publications

Dover produces high-end clip art, which is available in over 120 books and a few CDs. Fortunately for us, they also offer free samples, which are sent in a link every Wednesday by e-mail. If you’re looking for classy images, Dover is a good place to start. Click here to receive Dover’s weekly samples.

This site doesn’t have a giant inventory, but what they have is good. You do have to provide a link to them in return for using their images though. (Read their clipart usage rights for details.) Their art comes in two formats: .wmf and .gif (.wmf format for printing and .gif for blogs, Web sites, e-mail newsletters, etc.).

1clipart_samples #1 Free ClipArt

This site has an uneven mix of image types and drawing quality, but many of the images are worth using. This wouldn’t be my first choice because there are so many ads and the navigation is clunky, but if you can’t find images elsewhere, give this site a try.



Although we all like getting things free when we can, sometimes you have to pay to get what you want. The following sources provide quality images, yet aren’t too expensive.


At 6.2 million images and counting, iCLIPART has an amazing collection. Their art is of uniform high quality, which is unusual among clip art sites. For the subscription fee (one year is by far the best deal), you also can access photos, fonts, sounds and Web graphics. This site would be particularly useful for people who want all their images to have the same “vibe,” because although there are some variations, most of the clip art is in the same style.


RetroArt is great for when you want a retro look and nothing else will do. There’s no neo-retro art on this site; all the images were originally created in the 40’s and 50’s. The drawings are priced individually and range from $4.95 to $14.95, and quantity discounts are available.

______________ has over seven million downloadable images (including photos), most of which are of good quality. There are some clunkers, but you can usually find a decent image to illustrate just about any topic. You can download as many images as you want once you’ve paid one of the subscription fees, which start at $14.95 for one week. The site allows you to search for images without paying, so you can find what you’re looking for before you spend any money.

Graphics FactoryGraphics Factory

This site is so affordable, it’s almost free. For only $9.95 a month, you get unlimited access to one million clip art images, animations, Web graphics, photos and fonts. They also have a $59.95 plan, which gives you a full year of downloads._


Animation Factory

If you want access to an assortment of quality animations, Animation Factory offers them at a reasonable price. For only $59.95 a year, you can download as many of their 400,000 animated elements as you want.



You might also be interested in these other resources on WordPlay:


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.

Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms Who Blog

April 8th, 2008 WordPlay Posted in Gift Guide, Photography, Writing, Writing Tips and Tools 7 Comments »

Need a last-minute gift or card for a Mom?
Check out these free Mother’s Day certificates and free printable vintage Mother’s Day cards.


As we know, bloggers are a special breed who work hard. How moms who blog actually pull off caring for children at the same time, I have no idea. My hat’s off to them. To honor the fact that they live double lives so effectively, here’s a guide to Mothers Day gifts for moms who blog. The products range in price and type; some are serious, some are silly. But any of these gifts will allow you to support her creative passions this Mother’s Day!


Verilux lamp Verilux Natural Spectrum Deluxe Clamp Lamp
This is the perfect gift for a mom with bleary eyes from spending too much time at the computer. The lamp can be clamped on a desk or monitor to allow the simulated natural sunlight to illuminate her workspace, reducing eye strain and making the whole world look sunnier.

ORDER Verilux lamp _________________________________________________________________

Chicago Manual of Style The Chicago Manual of Style
This is the quintessential resource for sticklers who want to get every detail right. Originally created to establish editorial standards for writers of academic works, the scope of its recommendations now cover the world of cyberspace — which makes it perfect for blogging moms!

ORDER The Chicago Manual of Style


Eats, Shoots and Leaves Eats, Shoots & Leaves
This hilarious book is like Mary Poppins’ proverbial spoonful of sugar that helps the plea for better punctuation to go down. Combining a joking militarism about correct punctuation usage with a great sense of humor, Lynn Truss educates while she entertains.


ORDER Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Canon cameraCanon PowerShot A590IS 8MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
Whether she wants to capture the kids in action or create photos for blogging, this is the perfect gift. A serious camera at an affordable price, its easy operation allows even moms who know nothing about photography to take great pictures.

ORDER the Canon Powershot

The Elements of StyleThe Elements of Style
This skinny little volume covers the basics every writer needs to know. In fact, many writers read it once or twice a year, just to brush up. If you know a mom who blogs and doesn’t have this book, you might want to do her a big favor and get it for her.

ORDER The Elements of Style

So there you have it; some lovely gifts I’m sure the blogging moms in your life would be happy to get.

Don’t forget, Mother’s Day is coming up quickly, so order soon!

And if Mother’s Day puts you in the mood for a good film, here’s a list of 10 movies about moms you might like. Also, if you’d like to make a free vintage art card for Mother’s Day, visit Vintage Holiday Crafts.

Tags: , , , ,

Image Chef: Free Image and Video Generator

February 11th, 2008 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Blogging, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Just For Fun, Make Your Own Clip Art, Photography, Tips and Tools 5 Comments »

Image Chef largeAnyone who reads this blog knows I’m a collector of free clip art and free photos. That’s why I fell in love with the Image Chef online free images generator. It gives you the opportunity to turn Image Chef’s large selection of photos into your own personalized clip art, and even create animated video clips with the text of your choice.

Image Chef’s slogan is “just add words and serve” and they aren’t kidding. If you can point a mouse and type a word or two, you can create amazing custom-looking graphics, perfect for blog posts or avatars.

Image Chef sample 2The easy-to-use Image Chef interface >>

You can use Image Chef even if you don’t sign up for a free account, but you’ll have to save your images to your hard drive before you leave the site. (They only store images for account members.) But it’s worth signing up for, because members receive other free benefits. For example, you can e-mail your images or easily post them to MySpace, Hi5, Blogger, TypePad widgets and your Friendster profile. You can also use Image Chef photos on mobile phones for image-based chat, personalized wallpapers, video greetings and video ringtones.

Visit Image Chef

My Image Chef gallery
Here are some samples I created for WordPlay:

Image Chef sample 6

Image Chef sample 5

Image Chef sample 4

Image Chef sample 3

Image Chef sample 1


Image Chef sample 8



Image Chef sample 9


And here’s an image I created for my cat Joseph who has recently started peeing all over the house:


Cat image
Visit Image Chef


Thanks to FronTools for bringing Image Chef to my attention.

You might also be interested in these other resources on WordPlay:



About Avatars: What’s a Gravatar and Why Do I Need One?

February 1st, 2008 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Photography, Tips and Tools 5 Comments »

GravatarsEver wonder why avatars or icons show up on some blogs but not on others? If yours doesn’t show up, having a Gravatar can help.

A Gravatar is a free globally recognized avatar, which is an 80×80-pixel icon that travels with you and appears beside your name when you comment on Gravatar-enabled blogs. (Movable Type, WordPress, Blogger and LiveJournal are examples of Gravatar-enabled blog platforms.) Each Gravatar is keyed to an e-mail address, so you can have as many as you want. To make a particular Gravatar image show up when you make a comment on a blog, just enter the e-mail address associated to that image when you make a comment. Gravatars are more flexible than regular avatars, because you can have more than one. If you have multiple blogs, all you need is a different e-mail address for each and you can have as many Gravatars as you need.

And you can even be a little naughty if you want, because there’s an MPAA-style ratings system. This allows you to have an adult version to use on some blogs and Disney-fied versions for others. Webmasters have the ability to control which Gravatars are displayed on their sites, so they can choose whether they want their readers to see the adult avatars. But just in case a Webmaster hasn’t enabled this feature, make sure you remember which e-mail address is attached to each image before you comment, so you don’t end up ruffling feathers in the blogosphere!

Gravatar resources:

Click here to register for a free Gravatar (No registration information is needed, other than an e-mail address.)

Click here to go to the Gravatar blog

Click here for the Gravatar implementor’s guide

Click here for instructions on using gravatars on

Avatar CentralNeed images for your Gravatars? Be sure to visit our Avatar Central, which includes links to free clip art, photos and image modification applications.

Avatar Maker Central: Make Your Own Free Cool Avatars

January 26th, 2008 carlajc Posted in Avatar Makers, Avatars, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Make Your Own Clip Art, Photography, Tips and Tools 6 Comments »

Avatar CentralWelcome to Avatar Central!

A lot of people come to WordPlay looking for resources to create avatars, so I thought it would be helpful to aggregate all our tips and tools for making free avatars all in one place. This post contains everything you need to make an icon that’s uniquely yours: tips for creating a compelling avatar, sources for free clip art and free photos, and free image modification applications.

Icon Hall of Fame

Gain readers with your blog’s avatar

The WordPlay icon Hall of Fame gives examples of good avatars, as well as explanations of why each attracted me to click on it. Sometimes the best icon isn’t fancy; it’s one that conveys in one glance the image you want to project.

Read more about what makes good avatars

Gravatar_logo1Show your style with a Gravatar

What’s a Gravatar? It’s a globally recognized avatar that helps you make a lasting impression when you comment on blogs.

Read about Gravatars and get one (or more) free

Free Clip Art SourcebookFree Clip Art Sourcebook

This free PDF e-book contains links to literally thousands of free contemporary and vintage images you can use for avatars. It’s produced by our sister site,, so we can vouch for the quality of the images!

Go to the Free Clip Art Sourcebook

Image Chef sample
Image Chef free images generator

Image Chef’s slogan is “just add words and serve” and they aren’t kidding. If you can point a mouse and type a word or two, you can create amazing custom-looking graphics, perfect for blog posts or avatars.

Read our Image Chef review or go to Image Chef


Picnik lets you create professional quality clip art!

There’s no software to download and it’s easy to use. Just follow the easy instructions and you’ll be creating your own cool clip art in no time.

Read our Picnik review or go to Picnik


Stock.Xchng sampleFree photos

The Stock.Xchng site is searchable, easy to use and the selection of free photos is great. There are, however, a few very minor restrictions, which are covered in our review.

Read our Stock.Xchng review or go to Stock.Xchng

Graphics Factory
Free clip art

I’ve scoured the Web to bring you a collection of free clip art sites that don’t make you wade through page after page of affiliate ads and pop-ups to actually get to the art.

View our free clip art collection

BeFunky sample
BeFunky image modification

It’s easy to create stunning images with the free BeFunky online application. All you need is a photo or a clip art image and a few clicks to create one-of-a-kind avatars.

Read our BeFunky review or go to BeFunky


GifWorks GIFWorks image modification

The free GIFWorks online allows you to create free images and have a blast while you do it.

Read our GIFWorks review or go to GIFWorks


badges sample badges and seals generators

These official-looking badges and seals help you interject a little fun into your blog or avatar.

Read our WordPlay Says-It review or go to Says-It badges or Says-It seal

Picasa collage icon
Picasa image organization and modification

Now that you’re collecting all these cool images, the free Picasa software will let you organize them. It also lets you take them to the next level with their image modification tools, which are different than those offered by BeFunky or GIFWorks.

Read our Picasa review or download Picasa

Picasa Lets You Go Crazy With Photos and Clip Art

January 19th, 2008 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Cartoons, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Free Software, Photography, Tips and Tools 10 Comments »

Picasa collageI don’t know about you, but it seems like no matter how organized I am about filing my free clip art and photos on my computer; the more of it I gather, the harder it is to find things. So I was thrilled when I discovered Picasa.

Why is it so cool? For starters, after you load the Picasa free software, it goes to work capturing every image on your hard drive. It doesn’t move your images; it simply records where they are and displays them in one scrolling window. So a photo I stored on my computer three years ago in a client’s folder and completely forgot suddenly became visible to me. I discovered image after image I didn’t even know was there. And because Picasa displays the folder name where the image is located, you can go right to it on your hard drive.

Picasa screen

Picasa displays all your images in one long, scrolling screen.

Once Picasa has located your photos, it allows you to organize them by deleting or dragging and dropping to another folder. And if you want to get fancy, there are a lot of options.

Picasa basic fixesWhen you click on an image, Picasa brings up an interface that lets you modify it in a number of ways. In addition to cropping, straightening, fixing red eye and more basic functions, it also has an effects screen that creates just about any look you want by just selecting the corresponding icon. You can modify your image to be black and white or sepia-tone, or you can change the focus, saturation and tint, put in a graded background and a lot more. This is a great feature for people who want to modify images but don’t have more complex and expensive image modification software.

Picasa also has another fun feature that creates custom-looking collages (see the top of this page), a contact sheet or a picture grid of all the images you select. Additionally, it has a multi-exposure feature that layers one image over another. This could come in handy when layering a logo or an image with text in it over a photograph or clip art.

And when you’re done playing with the images, just choose one of the buttons at the bottom of the screen to make a Web album, e-mail or upload an image to Blogger, order prints or export.

If you’re wondering why you can upload to Blogger and not WordPress, that’s because, like Blogger, Picasa is yet another property of the great Google empire. But if you’re angry at Google over AdSense or anything else, don’t let that stop you from trying this amazing free software. You won’t be sorry.

Click here to download Picasa.

You might also be interested in these other resources on WordPlay:


Copyright 2008

Two New Clip Art Sources Added

January 12th, 2008 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Cartoons, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Photos, Photography, Tips and Tools 2 Comments »

I found two more free clip art sources you’re going to love. The first provides high-quality free graphics. The other charges a fee, but it’s quite affordable.

This site doesn’t have a huge inventory, but what they have is good. You do, however, have to provide a link to them in return for using their free clip art. (Read their clip art usage rights for details.) They provide art in two formats: .wmf and .gif. Use the .wmf format for printing and use the .gif image for blogs, Web sites, e-mail newsletters, etc.

Graphics FactoryGraphics Factory

This site is so affordable, it’s almost free. You get unlimited access to one million clip art images, animations, Web graphics, fonts and photos for only $9.95 per month. (No ongoing contract required.) They also have a $59.95 plan, which gives you a full year of downloads.

Need other resources for free images?

If you need more images, visit our full collection of free clip art resources. Also, please see our free photography and free cartoons pages. And if you want to modify our free images or create avatars with them, see our posts about the free BeFunkyand GIFWorks online tools.

Copyright 2008

BeFunky-fy Your Blog With BeFunky Free Graphics!

January 5th, 2008 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Blogging, Cartoons, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Free Software, Make Your Own Clip Art, Photography, Reviews, Tips and Tools 4 Comments »

BeFunky — Woody AllenAlthough content really is king, it doesn’t hurt to have your blog look good too. In fact, it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to making readers feel at home.

But if you came to blogging through the wordsmith door and you’re not a designer, you might need a little help when it comes to creating images. WordPlay already offers resources for free photos, free clip art and cartoons, but if you’d really like your blog to stand out, the free BeFunky Web application can help you create free images that are uniquely yours — even if you have no graphics experience at all. You can use these free images in your blog header, in posts and, in some cases for your avatar (depending on the resolution in the image).

The Uvatar maker

BeFunky allows you to create strange and wonderful graphics. They feature two types of image modification applications: a Uvatar maker and a Cartoonizer. An example of a BeFunky uvatar is shown above. As you can see, the application allowed me to capture the moment when Woody Allen joined me at my palace while I was relaxing in my Catwoman outfit. I also made uvatars that chronicled my visits with other celebrities and a furry animal friend, which you can see at the bottom of this post.

The Cartoonizer

Space image before and afterAs fun as the Uvatar app is to play with, the Cartoonizer would probably have even greater use if you’re trying to create images for your blog. All you need is a good image to start with and the Cartoonizer does the rest.

Just upload your photo or clip art and click the SKETCH button. This creates a black and white sketch of your photo. You can adjust the settings on this feature, based on the image you’ve uploaded. Once the sketch is created, click the COLOR button, which takes the colors from your original photo and inserts them behind your sketch.

To the left you can see an original photo of some kind of wild space happening and how it turned out after being run through the Cartoonizer. I also used the same process with a piece of clip art (below) to see how that would work. I suspect this had good results because I used clip art that was originally from a painting and had a lot of detail. But you never know how an image will turn out, so it’s worth a try, even if you only have low-resolution clip art.

Portrait before and after

The original image (left) was used to create a cartoon image, and then had one of many BeFunky borders added.____

As you can see in the sample above with the red curtain, the Cartoonizer allows you to add a border to your image. Many of their borders are geared toward use in e-mail cards, but they can also be used for blog images. The Cartoonizer also gives the ability to warp an image, which can create some pretty strange effects.

So, the next time you want to create an image that’s truly yours, hop on over to BeFunky. You’ll probably have a lot of fun and generate some interesting images at the same time.

My BeFunky Gallery

Snoop Dogg

I tried to convince Snoop Dogg to go roller-blading with me near the canals in Venice, but he told me that tiny wheels scare him. He also was a little leery of the ferret on my head.


Halle Berry

Here I am with Halle Berry, trying on dresses to wear to the Oscars. We both feel wearing fur isn’t cool, but that doesn’t apply to live animals, so the ferret stays.


Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant has a reputation as a ladies man, so I felt it would be best to supplement the protection provided by the ferret and wear a black shroud on our date at the aquarium.

Go to BeFunky

You might also be interested in these other resources on WordPlay:

Copyright 2008

Icon Hall of Fame: Use Your Blog’s Avatar to Grab New Readers

December 14th, 2007 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Cartoons, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Make Your Own Clip Art, Photography, Tips and Tools 12 Comments »

Icon Hall of FameHere we go again with the “a picture’s worth a thousand words” cliché. This time it’s in reference to your blog’s avatar, or as I prefer to call it, your icon. And once again, the cliché is true.

But before I wow you with my opinions about the anatomy of a good icon, I have several questions for you:

If you visit social media sites, have you thought about how your icon stacks up against the icons of other blogs? Also, did you put any thought into your icon or did you just grab whatever image you had handy and use that?

If you didn’t think about your icon’s design, you’re probably in the majority. With so many other things to think about — producing valuable content, marketing, monetizing, networking and who-knows-what-else — your icon was probably way down on the list of concerns, if it was on the list at all.

Since I was a graphic artist long before I was a blogger, I couldn’t help but notice that some icons stood out. As a newbie blogger, I didn’t know anyone, so all I had to go on at first were looks when I was stumbling around in MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, etc., trying to find my way around. In many cases, the only reason I clicked on some of the blogs were the icons. And if a compelling icon image was combined with a username that made it clear what a blog was about, I was even more likely to click on it. I might be wrong, but I don’t think this just applies to newbies. Whether we know it or not, images affect us all.

Unfortunately there’s no formula for the perfect icon, except maybe that it should come as close as possible to expressing both your personality and your blog’s content. The best way I can explain what a good icon looks like is to show you some that did an admirable job of drawing me in. Below are some of those. (My apologies to anyone not featured below. There are a lot of great icons out there, but I had to cut the list off somewhere.)

Here’s my Icon Hall of Fame:

Blogstruk avatarBlogstruk
I love this icon because I have no idea what it means, yet it makes me want to know. Did this disembodied eye come from Shrek or just a regular human with an unfortunate complexion? I still don’t know, but when I clicked on it, I found its owner dispenses quality advice for newbie bloggers.

VicVic from BloggingZoom and BloggerUnleashed
If it’s possible to project the image of a bad boy and a nice guy at the same time, this icon does it. Not only that, ladies, wouldn’t you agree he looks awfully cute? But this icon appeals to more than just hormones. It’s well-drawn, unique and the combo of the white background and color makes it almost pop off the screen.

Court TuttleCourt Tuttle and BloggingZoom
This is straight-up branding. Not only is Court’s name the focus, but the background is white, which stands out among the many icons that use photos. Using a name is a bold move and one that works because of the authority Court projects in the blogging community.

GrizzlyHow to Make Money Online for Beginners (Grizzly)
If you know Grizzly, you’ll know his icon depicts him perfectly. Notice that the bear has a curious but friendly look. This fits Grizzly because he’s always questioning the status quo, and he’s ever-willing to teach newbies about making money online. This icon is so effective that if I ever met Grizzly in person, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a big hairy — but kind — bear.

Anybody unsure about what Markk does? I like this one because it’s clear, while also having a welcoming feeling. It makes me want to sit down and have a cup of Joe with him.

I never would have become aware of the LordLikely blog had I not seen this icon on BloggingZoom. For some reason, the juxtaposition of a Victorian man in a top-hat in the high-tech world of blogs struck me funny, so I just had to see what that image represented. When I went to the blog, I wasn’t disappointed; it’s as funny and ironic as its icon.
This is another one that made me want to click on it when I saw it on BloggingZoom. Anyone with the guts to brand herself as a big-mouth deserves a click.

Alex FrisonAlex Frison
Now that’s just silly, and I mean that as a compliment. Alex obviously doesn’t take himself too seriously. In addition to the icon being cute and funny, we again see another good use of a white background.

This one comes under the obvious category, and that’s a good thing. Since I’m interested in movies, I had to click on this. Not only does the image convey the blog’s content, but so does the username.

Mommy CrackedMommy Cracked
This one is funny and gets the message across. Although I found out she’s a freelance writer and former teacher only after visiting her blog, all I had to do was look at her icon to know she has a humorous take on motherhood.

I clicked on this because it looked like someone (maybe CardioGirl herself?) painted this just for the blog. It made this list because it conveys her theme nicely, plus the colors are easy on the eyes.

So, there you have it, my Icon Hall of Fame. As I said before, it’s nowhere near all-inclusive. It’s just meant to show you some examples of what I think works. But your icon doesn’t have to be like any of these. If you’re satisfied that yours gives a good impression of who you are and what your blog is about, then you’re more than halfway home. If you ask others and they feel the same, then you probably already have an icon that’s drawing readers to you.

If you ask around and find that your icon does need some work, however, WordPlay has plenty of free resources to find just the right image:

You might also be interested in Avatar Central, WordPlay’s home for free online image software and information about avatars.Copyright 2007