How to Create Custom Graphics Free and Fast

If you don’t have any money to spend on graphics, but you still want something that looks good, one underused resource with potential is the free Microsoft Office Online Clip Art and Media site

Although some of the 150,000 graphics at the gallery are overused and may not be an aesthetic match with your audience, there are ways you can quickly and easily edit the graphics to your and your audience’s tastes using PowerPoint graphics tools.

I mentioned this in the 2005 edition of the BBP book, showing how you can “ungroup” and “group” some types of clip art to create much simpler and cleaner graphics than the originals.

Well my friend Tom Kuhlmann of the Rapid eLearning Blog has covered the topic more thoroughly recently in a few posts that serve a great primer on how to make excellent graphics and characters from these free graphics. (If you create e-Learning courses, or even if you don’t, I highly recommend subscribing to Tom’s blog for a steady flow of creative ideas about helping people learn.)

I’d recommend taking a look at the three posts in this order:

Tom’s first post “Little Known Ways to Create Your Own Graphics Using PowerPoint” covers some of the techniques he uses to take advantage of clip art.

His most recent post “What You Need to Know When Working with Grouped Clip Art” covers the basics of working with vector art.

Then Tom’s earlier post “Create Custom Characters for your e-Learning Scenarios” shows you step-by-step how he created characters for his courses by altering the clip art graphics.

You can also create these types of graphics using Adobe Illustrator – you will need to export the file from Illustrator as a WMF (Windows Media File) in order to be able to ungroup them in PowerPoint.

Is this a technique that you use, or might find helpful for your presentations?

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4 Responses to “How to Create Custom Graphics Free and Fast”

  1. Cliff, the Microsoft clipart site is one I use just about every day for my blog postings. I also use it for Ppt, but sometimes the images aren’t resizable and pixelate when expanded. I haven’t really found a way to make clipart look professional in a Ppt, though, so I only use the images.

    Another great source for free images is StockXchng:

  2. Cliff Atkinson says:

    Hi Lisa – I’ve been able to find a few Microsoft clip art images that have worked well – sometimes you have to search, but if you’ve got a limited budget it’s worth the effort!

  3. Will Hawkins says:

    I have found that the photos within Microsoft Clip Art are very good and I have very rarely seen them used elsewhere.

    I use Office 2007 and the use of the clip art in my recent presentations has made a huge difference to how professional they look.

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