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Tutorial

How to Customize PNG Clipart

November 19, 2015

How to Customize PNG Clipart

Note: I originally made this tutorial a few years ago and was using Photoshop CS3. The tools used in this tutorial are staples of any good image editing software, so I am confident it will work in any version of Photoshop you use and you should even be able to adapt it for GIMP, Manga Studio, etc.

There is so much amazing clipart out there. I’ve purchased several collections from Etsy and found even more through Pinterest and my personal favorite, Freepik.com. The only problem I’ve run into is finding the perfect graphic, but the colors aren’t quite right. Vector graphics are usually pretty easy to customize if you’re familiar with Adobe Illustrator, but PNGs and *gasp* JPEGs (heaven forbid) are another story. I took this into consideration when I started designing my own clipart.  I do provide several different color options for each element in my premade clipart packs, but I know that for me personally, I would like to have the freedom to make purchased clipart work for any project I might have in the future. This is why I decided to include the transparent PNG lineart in my clipart packs. Check this out:

Each of my clipart packs includes the original “Lineart File” which is a layer of just the black lines I drew without any color filled in.

How to Customize Clipart

The thing that is really exciting about having the lineart files with no background is that it gives you a lot of freedom. You can easily fill the lines in with any color of your choice and even change the color of the lineart itself. This makes it easy to get a perfectly matching bow for your cute blog graphic, invitation, etc.

Start by opening the lineart of the clipart element you’d like to customize.

I added a white background layer (Layer 5 in this image) to make the bow easier to see. You don’t need to do this. First I’ll show you how you can add color to my lineart.

How to Customize Clipart

I always keep my lineart and colors on separate layers. Create a layer below the layer your lineart is on and call it “color”. (Do this by selecting your lineart layer and then CTRL + Shift + N. This will open the New Layer box where you can type “color”.) Click “OK” or press Enter. Creating this layer should also make it the active layer.

How to Customize Clipart

 

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the toolbar. The hotkey for this is “L“. If your lasso button looks different, simply right click on the button and select the Polygonal one from the drop-down menu.

How to Customize Clipart

 

Trace the lineart (around the outside edge) with the Polygonal Lasso Tool. I did mine in two sections, but you can trace the whole thing at once.

 

How to Customize PNG Clipart

Once you have made your selection, select the Paint Bucket Tool from the toolbar. I think the default for this button is the Gradient Tool, so you will have to right click on the button to have the option of using the Paint Bucket Tool. Click inside your selection with the Paint Bucket Tool and VIOLA! A newly colored clipart.
How to Customize PNG Clipart
And if you can imagine in, coloring the lineart is even easier. Make sure your lineart layer is selected.
Now, for one of my very favorite (and most used) tools in Photoshop.
You see that teeny tiny checkered box in the layers window? (See image below.) That is the “Lock Transparent Pixels” button and it’s seriously one of the most important tools I use for creating digital art. What this will do is make it so that the only thing you can make changes to on this layer are pixels which are NOT transparent. So, since my lineart is the only thing drawn on this layer, the lineart is the only thing which can be altered. So, I dare you to click on it.
How to Customize PNG Clipart
Once you have clicked that button to activate the “Lock Transparent Pixels” all you have to do is fill your layer with your desired color. I use the hotkey “Shift + Backspace” or “Shift + Delete” if you’re into that Mac thing (Foreground Color, Normal, 100%) to fill, but the clicking on the lineart with the Paint Bucket Tool works, too.
How to Customize PNG Clipart
If you look at the clipart pack that this bow comes in, you may notice that I combine both these techniques for a softer look. I love using colored lineart in my artwork and you’ll see it in almost everything I do, even my big, complicated illustrations.
Now, go. Use your new Photoshop knowledge and make something fabulous.

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