Tips for Clip Artists: Image Trim

Jessica R. M. S. clipart graphic design tips for clipartists tutorial

As someone who has purchased a LOT of clipart over the years, I have taken note of many ways artists, who are selling their work as clipart, could improve their products. Not necessarily in the quality of the art, but in how it's packaged and marketed for sale. I've wanted to blog about it for years, but I get overwhelmed. So: I've decided to break it down by small topics and then hopefully add posts as I can. Let's dive in!

Trim Off the Empty Space

This is kind of a weird one to start on, but it just came up and prompted this post. So often I download new art to find it has extra room around the scanned element. It's transparent, but it makes a difference during the design process. (I should note that I mainly use Adobe InDesign for design, in case that matters.)

Here's what I mean...


⬆That's an example of how it would look in InDesign while I'm laying stuff out. Or here's how it'll look in Explorer (yes, I use Windows):


The circled ones are obviously the untrimmed versions. (Incidentally, they are also JPGs, which--why? And more importantly, why haven't I deleted them?) It's cumbersome when an element has that extra space while I'm designing with it:

  • It gets accidentally selected;
  • It's not always even, so alignment is off;
  • It represents an inaccurate measure of the image, which means it's harder to (re)size multiple elements at a time.

In my early days, I didn't make the proper effort to prepare my purchased clipart, so that's why you have folders like the above, full of issues. Now I am better, but it takes time. Fortunately, it's not hard to trim images and if artists handle it on their side, their customers will thank them. It's a small step that adds a bit of quality to the final product.

How to Trim an Image

Photoshop has a trim feature that makes it easy. There's a Trim menu under Image:

Once in the Trim menu, you have some options:

See? Very handy. BONUS: in the process, any accidental artifacts left around the image will make themselves known.

I have an action setup and I do this in bulk on clipart sets that need it. Yes, it's fairly easy now, but it's just one more step to manage. Clipart organization is a huge task, so I need all the help I can get.

Stay tuned for next time I get the inspiration to write another of these posts. I have lots of thoughts!

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