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IMSI's Mega Clip Art Library

Well over 3.5 Million different elements By Ko Maruyama
You're bound to see a lot of easy resource solutions at MacWorld.  Clip art is one of those.  If you're at MacWorld Expo, you can see ClipArt&More at the IMSI Design Booth (#S-2611)

Using clip art libraries for just about any project makes most creative directors cringe.  While I have no real fondness for clip art photography or illustration in its raw state, there are times when clip art really works well - especially for quick projects.  Even in those rare instances when clip art completely fits the bill, you need a large pool to draw from in order to find the right piece.  Clip Art & More's site elements is where you'll always want to start.

Most CAD and architectural professionals know IMSI Design for their CAD software (TurboCAD, TurboFloorPlan/Landscape, TurboFloorplan/Interior, TurboFloorplan/Deck, DEsignCAD, TurboSketch), but IMSI also gives you access to which is the world's largest clipart site.

You might be decieved by a short list of elements that comes with the box of clip art you've just purchased.  On their clip art CD called "ClipArt & More", IMSI Design has put together a brief collection of clip art which includes photography, vector art illustrations, sounds and web artwork (which also includes animated elements).

While these elements are really ideal for putting together a quick flier, in-house newsletters, school projects, or any of those quick turnaround documents that you need to spice up on a regular basis, the browser application reveals that there are only about 4300 images, 4200 sound files and about 27,000 web images (most web images are variations or animation sequences).

For many clip art is a quick fix, a last resort of graphic necessity.  "Stick a baby waving to the coming new year in the space between the first two paragraphs, and it's done!"  It's a good thing that has 23 pages of different new year's graphics.

For others, clip art is a starting point.  Taking the clip art and making it something more (or even a slightly different color) is something that digital artists have been doing for over a decade.  iclipart's resources has abundant vector clip art, some of which is available not only as high resolution raster images, but as EPS or WMF files as well.

However, the site is not without some large potholes.  These are potholes that would swallow a mack truck.  While there are some great tags on the illustrations that allow you to find the categories "new years baby" or "alien outerspace", the fonts don't share that commodity.   At the time of this article, there were no metatags on the fonts or the audio clips.  On the ClipArt & More CD there were no fonts at all, and the search engine in QPict was beyond ghastly.  The only way to "search" the CD was to attempt a name search.

On the website, the search engine is a little more robust, but the fonts are poorly logged, you can search them by title only, but even "serif / sans serif" would help those who are relying on a clip art site for fonts.  "party fonts"  a category?

There weren't many audio clips, and those that were available, were mostly odd sound effects and noises.  I don't think that anyone is going to a clip art site to find an audio element.  I would suggest that iclipart abandon the audio portion completely, and focus on their visual audience.

There are PLENTY of images to be had.  And the one thing I give iClipArt real kudos for is their inclusion of a "new this month" and "new this year" button - indicating that they are dedicated to adding new images and material for their subscribers every month.

In just the vector art section, I found:
Over 3,000 images under "Education"
9,400 generic cartoon images
4,000 transportation
2,300 occupation
4,900 "entertainment"

number of PAGES of groups of images!

While there are web images in their own category, you can't use these graphics to build templates for sale.  These are supposed to be used in your personal website.  and... they're pretty bad.  The BGDs, Textures,  and Objects are the only items that I might consider worthwhile in this category.  In web graphics : "words" claims 33,000 items, can't think of a good use for them.  Five years ago, these might have been a help to someone, but these little GIFs and PNGs are more trouble to sort through than they're worth.

At the time of this article, is offering their annual subscription for less than the cost of a 6-month subscription.  You save $70 over the cost of a regular subscription, but you'll save $30 over the cost of the IMSI ClipArt & More CD/Box which doesn't offer much more than the website has to offer.  You should grab the offer while it lasts.

Not only does the CD lack any significant search data, but the entire category of "fonts" is found only through the online service.  If you haven't subscribed to during a promotional period, the ClipArt&More is an excellent way to get access to over 6.5 Million elements.  There aren't even close to 3.5 million elements on the CD, but it comes with an activation code for your first year of membership, a $99 value on a $50 CD.

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:product review, clip art, image resources, free images, free fonts


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