Make Your Own Free Clip Art with Picnik

imageAs you can probably tell by now, I’m a little obsessed with free clip art. In the past I’ve written about other free graphics programs that can help you turn photos into clip art and do other fun things like make multi-purpose labels and Christmas cards, or create your own cartoons. But I think I might have found the most versatile free tool yet in Picnik. Not only can you alter photos with it, but you also can use their extensive selection of free graphics to make professional quality clip art. Here are some examples of clip art images I created in Picnik in just one afternoon:

clip_art_american_flag clip_art_bird clip_art_heart free_clip_art_happy_birthday
clip_art_pink_ribbon clip_art_butterflies clip_art_vote_2008 clip_art_spring_wreath

Click on the images above to see larger versions. Click here to see more samples of clip art made with Picnik. Also, see our 2008 election clip art made with Picnik.

To make images like these and many others, just follow these simple instructions:

1. To make your own free graphics, you need a file like this one, which is just a 200 pixel x 200 pixel square or this one, which is a 200 pixel x 400 pixel rectangle. Both have white backgrounds. (Because of the backgrounds, these files will seem invisible when you click on them. To download, put your mouse in the upper left corner of the resulting blank screen.) Feel free to use either of these or make your own blanks of any size in Photoshop, Fireworks or any other image program. The reason you begin with a blank slate, so to speak, is because Picnik requires that you upload a file to alter. Most people use Picnik to alter photos, but since you’re going to make your own clip art, you’ll need a white background. You also could use a colored background but for the sake of simplicity, let’s stick to white for now.

2. Once you’ve downloaded a blank .jpg onto your hard drive or created your own, go to Picnik.com and click the “Get Started Now” button.

3. Once inside the program, click the “Upload Photo” button and choose the blank file from your hard drive. When your file has been uploaded into Picnik, you will see it (although barely, because it’s a white image on an almost-white background) in an interface that has five tabs across the top. Choose the “Create” tab.

Picnik_clip_art_size 4. Once inside the “Create” tab, the button you will use the most will be “Shapes.” (If you want to add text to your clip art, you’ll also eventually want to use the “Text” button too.) To begin designing your own clip art, choose “Shapes” and then scroll to see all the available images on the left. Keep in mind that all the images in black can be altered to appear in any color, so at this point all you’ll care about is choosing a shape. Click on an image to insert the shape onto your white “canvas” .jpg, then drag the corner with your mouse to make it the size you want. (See the image above.)

5. There are a variety of Picnik features you can use to alter your clip art. They require a little getting used to, but once you’re familiar, you’ll probably love playing with them. Here are some of the main features:

Picnik_clip_art_adjust_color
Change colors by moving the white circle that appears on the color spectrum.
picnik clip art adjust fade
“Fade” the color by sliding the Fade bar. This not only mutes the color, it allows it to “float” over other colors and create layers. (See the butterflies and bird clip art above for examples.)
Picnik_clip_art_rotate
You can insert an image on top of another image (in this case, a flower on top of a circle) and then rotate it. To rotate, hover your mouse over the circle that sticks out at the top of the image. When a circle with two arrows appears, move your mouse to rotate the image in the direction you want it to turn.
Picnik_clip_art_flip
To create a mirror image, as I did with the flower above, just add another flower, then click the “Flip” button on the left. You can also flip vertically by clicking the “Flip ” button on the right.
Picnik_clip_art_text
To add text to your image, click the “Text” button at the top of the “Create” screen, then type in the word(s) you want. Then, choose a typeface by clicking on it and size the type by sliding the “Size” bar. You can also fade the text color by sliding the “Fade” bar. If you want your text to appear on two or more rows, you’ll have to go through this process separately for each row.

Once you’re done playing, click the “Save & Share” tab to save, e-mail or post your masterpiece to any number of locations, such as Flickr, MySpace, Facebook or even your own Web site.

If you experiment with the features shown above, you can create some amazing things. And if you need software to edit photos, Picnik can perform that function as well. But that’s a subject for another post!

* Visit Picnik *

See more clip art made with Picnik:
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General
Gothic fantasy clip art
Animal Clip Art
Flower Clip Art
Engagement, Bridal Shower and Wedding Clip Art
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Seasonal
Summer Clip Art
Election Clip Art
Inauguration Clip Art
Holidays
Black and White Halloween Clip Art
Halloween Pumpkin Clip Art
Halloween Masks
Fourth of July Clip Art
Thanksgiving Clip Art
Christmas Images
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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.

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23 Responses to “Make Your Own Free Clip Art with Picnik”

  1. Sounds like fun. I think i will check it out when I have some free time tomorrow. I can always use stuff like this for my blogs or for printing out.

  2. @ Gizmo: I know you’re going to enjoy it. It’s pretty addictive. Have fun!

  3. ANY tips for how to make a blank jpeg for MAC? My dell is currently broken so I bought a Mac just to hold me over and ITS IMPOSSIBLE! I have loved Picnik for about six months but this is killing me! ( I have photoshop BUT have NO clue how to use it! )

  4. Hi, Ashley.

    How frustrating that must be!

    I don’t use Photoshop (I use Fireworks) and I’m slightly hopeless with the Mac I keep as a spare just-in-case computer, so I can’t help there.

    If you can’t use either of the blank files I linked above in paragraph #1 of the instructions, my suggestion would be to find the section of the Photoshop help menu that discusses how to create a file and save it as a jpg. Just follow those instructions, creating a file with a white background. (There’s probably an option in Photoshop to see inches instead of pixels when it comes to sizing it, in case pixels throw you off.) It shouldn’t be too hard to create the file, since all you need to learn are a few steps.

    Before you do that, though, are you sure the blank files I provided above won’t do? Just click on one and then right-click when you get to what looks like a blank page. That page will actually contain a .jpg file with a white background, which you can put on your hard drive and then upload to Picnik.

    Please let me know if you need any more help.

  5. this is a great help

  6. Amari – I’m glad you found the information useful.

  7. How fun… How do I get it?

  8. Hi Sarah. That’s the great thing, you don’t need to get anything; it’s a Web interface. Just click the “Visit Picnik” link at the bottom of the post above to go use their software online. :-)

  9. Thanks!

  10. [...] effects, shapes, and fonts under Picnik’s Create tab. We came across this incredible “Make Your Own Free Clip Art With Picnik” tutorial on WordPlayBlog.com and are still picking our jaws up off the [...]

  11. Picnik could be a very powerful free tool if you need a few graphics for a new blog or website.

  12. thanks so much for this idea! Great work here thanks a lot

  13. Thanks, Becky. I hope you try Picnik; it’s a lot of fun.

  14. picnik will not let me go on it i have done what it said but still not worked so please email me on how to make it work !

  15. Hi, Holly. I sent you an e-mail. Please leave another comment if you didn’t receive it.

  16. thanks that was super easy.

  17. that is a very nice clip art that you have made! : )

  18. Thanks, sunshine!

  19. Can I use Picnik to make clipart with a transparent background? I want to create a personal library of clipart with images I already have but I don’t want them to be on a colored, square background. This makes layering them very difficult.

  20. Unfortunately, Picnik doesn’t allow for transparent backgrounds. They might in the future though.

  21. April 19, 2012 – Picnik has closed its doors. Is there any other site that you might recommend to make my own clip art?

  22. Picnik closing its virtual doors was quite a loss for all of us. It’s been absorbed into Google+, though, so some of the features are available there.

    As for other sites, I haven’t seen anything that duplicates Picnik’s exact functions, especially the large free image library. But http://pixlr.com/ and http://fotoflexer.com/ have some of the features.

  23. oh I know this photo editor and sadly I know that it is gone, I hope picnik would be back because it so lot of fun to edit there, lot of choices. It’ll be great if picnik would be back.