Well, they’ve finally done it. Microsoft has announced that it is removing its clipart from the Office Suite and replacing it with a Bing Image Search. After years of no one actually using the product, it was definitely time for it to die. In fact, it was probably safe to assume that the Office clipart has been dead to designers and developers since,
1994 always. And most of you readers already know that much better alternatives abound.
So, Microsoft nixing its clipart certainly doesn’t cause a huge ripple here in the Vandelay community, but it is an interesting point in the history of dead technologies. Greg Kumparak puts it quite well in his article on TechCrunch: “There are many things that the next generation of geek won’t get to experience…The latest pillar of yesteryear to come crumbling down? Clip art.”
Keep in mind that Microsoft Clipart alternatives are much more advanced and varied than the simple icons found in Office Word or PowerPoint. The list of resources below is quite modern, so it includes such useful items as vectors, brushes, patterns, stock photos, stock videos, and more. And for the nostalgic designer, you might even be able to find designs that resemble clipart from the 90s. Even better is that all of the sites include free resources for commercial use. So take a look and be sure to let us know about any others that should be included in this list.
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Free Vector Graphics
While the Bing Image Search feature in Microsoft Office products is a nice touch, it doesn’t provide all vector icons, like the original clipart collection. This is why you are probably better off doing your own search using one of the following vector graphics resources:
As one of the most popular vector resources, Vecteezy.com is a cool little community with thousands of artists sharing their work. In it you’ll find it has an excellent collection of both premium and free graphics. From patterns to illustrations to icons, this site is the perfect vector resource. Searching for the right graphic is easy, too, with advanced search features, such as a list of related search terms that others used. Most are free for commercial use with attribution, but be sure to click on the license link next to the image to see the terms specified for that graphic.
This is another quite popular site for free vector graphics that includes a huge variety of vector illustrations, graphics, icons, and more. Browse through the most recent, by category, or do a keyword search. Just beware that a couple rows of Shutterstock vectors are thrown in the middle of each page of vectors, and these are certainly not free.
Lots of great vectors are included on this site, and all are completely free. Just be sure to check the licensing of each by clicking on the thumbnail. Search by popular vectors, tags, or do a keyword search yourself. This is another great site for finding free quality vectors art.
Other Free Graphics
Vector icons and other graphics are great for certain aspects in a design, but today we have much more available than just simple icons for web design and print projects. The following websites are excellent sources for Photoshop brushes, PSDs, textures, patterns, backgrounds, unique and high quality icons, and much more.
Brought to you by the same owner of Vecteezy, Brusheezy.com is probably the most common site for finding free Photoshop brushes, patterns, actions, styles, templates, shapes, gradients, UI kits, backgrounds, and more. Search through categories and use the filter functionality, or do a keyword search. Most of the items are free for commercial use with attribution, more or less.
Most designers and developers are already on Dribbble, or at the very have visited this site more than once. However, not everyone thinks of Dribbble as a great resource for finding free vectors and similar graphics. Many of the graphics offered are free for commercial as long as you provide attribution (and some don’t even require attribution). Simply do a keyword search, such as “free vector,” and see what pops up!
Like Dribbble, DeviantArt is another popular site among designers. And it is also a great place to find free graphics and such for use in projects. Not all are free, but you can filter your search to include only the tag “Resources and Stock Images” to narrow results down to those more likely to be available for at least personal use.
And, of course, don’t forget about our own free resources right here on Vandelay. We’ve got everything from Photoshop brushes to PSD themes, avatar icons to badges, textures to backgrounds, and so much more. Many of our resources are very unique, so be sure to browse through our archives. Or do a keyword search to narrow down the results, if you are short on time.
Websites for Free Photos
More Microsoft Clipart alternatives include stock photos and graphics. Photography adds a lot of visual stimulation to a design, and with all of the stock photography available online, you don’t have to take your own photographs for a design. Lots of stock photo sites require a membership fee, but not the ones below! These all include stock photos that fall under some type of Creative Commons license or are public domain.
One of my personal favorites for finding images, Compfight.com utilizes the Flickr API to gather results for a keyword search. What makes this search tool so handy is the filter for a more specific results list. For instance, you can have it search for all licenses, creative commons, or even commercial use photos, which is very helpful if you need a free photo for your project. Other filters include searching for the term within tags only or all text and the option to include originals. Cllicking on the thumbnail brings up a window with a larger preview size, link to the Flickr page, different sizes for downloading, and it even includes the HTML code to quickly copy and paste the credits right onto your blog.
Just as with Compfight, PhotoPin.com searches Flickr based on the keyword(s) you type in the search bar. It’s a good backup if Compfight doesn’t bring up the image you need, but filters are more limited. For example, the license filter includes only Commercial and Non-commercial options. However, it does have a handy filter for searching based on Recent, Relevance, and Interestingness. It also brings up a preview window with the ability to download in different sizes and copy the HTML for attribution.
The Creative Commons section of 500px works a lot like Flickr’s CC search. You can browse through photos with a specific license, such as CC Attribution, or you can do a keyword search and filter by the type of CC license, categories, and other options. Most of the photos on this site are great quality and quite stunning.
Some of you may have missed the news that Getty Images made its photos free to use with attribution recently. Getty Images separates its photos into Editorial, which means that they can be used free for news purposes, and creative. The creative photos are either royalty-free or rights managed, which allows you to purchase a photo for exclusive use for the duration of your project. And don’t forget that it also has other media, such as stock videos and stock music.
Other Free Visuals
Don’t just stop with stock photos! Make your web design pop with beautiful stock videos or a captivating infographic. Today, video backgrounds and infographics are all the rage, and stock videography is an excellent way to create stunning informational videos for cheap. Here are some of the best resources for finding free, high quality videos and a couple of sites for easily creating your own infographic:
This is an amazing site for finding free videos shared by a community of videographers. The videos on Videezy are HD stock video footage or b-roll footage. And all have either a Creative Commons license or are under public domain. Browse through the most popular or most recent uploads, or do a keyword search, which you can then filter by recent, popular, relevant, and highest rated.
Another great site for finding stock videos and other motion graphics, all Videvo content is free for commercial use, but do make sure that to provide attribution if you use any that come with a CC license. Search by keyword, by category, or by type of video. You can also browse through what is popular this week or the recently added list.
If it’s infographics you need, Piktochart is a great place to create your own using its easy infographic editor. Start by picking a theme, which you can then edit freely. Included in the editor are icons, interactive maps, charts, and more. You can start with the free version to try it out, but if you really want to create some serious infographics, you’ll want to upgrade to the Pro Version ($29/month or $290/year). It also offers a discount for students and a free or discount option for nonprofits.
Another infographic builder, Infogr.am also offers a limited free version. If you plan to use the service quite a bit, though, you can choose from a Pro account or a White Label account, perfect for brands. Infographics can be responsive, interactive, able to provide real-time data, and more. Lots of graphs and interactive maps are included, and several tutorials are available to help you better use all of the features provided.
RIP Microsoft Clipart (1993 – 2014)
Even though the death of clipart in the Office Suite may bring some tears to your eyes for the sake of memories of the “good ole’ days,” there are plenty of much better alternatives out there. Add the above resources to your list for design shortcuts without loss of quality. Rejoice in the advancements in technology, and don’t hold onto these sites too tightly. After all, you never know when tools and resources may join Microsoft’s clipart in the graveyard of obsolete technology.
Did we miss any? Feel free to leave your list of favorite resources in the comments below.