Note: I originally made this tutorial a few years ago and was using Photoshop CS3.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.