Breaking the Clip Art Barrier

Today I broke the clip art barrier.

What, you ask, is the clip art barrier?

It is the limited supply of silly clip art that comes with a standard Microsoft Office package that acts as a barrier between the idea you want to share and actually sharing it.  I want a working man with a light bulb above his head.  All I can find is clip art of a man in a necktie holding a lightning bolt.  Close, but so far away.

I used to live a life trapped within the clip art barrier because I’m not much for stealing clip art off of the Internet and we don’t have a clip art subscription at work (that I know of).  Finally today I could take the suffering no longer and I devised a plan to use my Back of the Napkin skills and my coworker’s scanner to create my own lovely stick figure drawings perfectly suited to conveying my ideas.

Once I committed myself to breaking through the barrier I found the process surprisingly simple, so much so that I must share that process with you now.  All you’ll need to follow me across the barrier is a recent version of Office with Picture Manager and a scanner.  Here are the details:

1. Freehand sketch a picture of your concept or idea.

2. Scan the drawing into your computer.

3. Open the scanned picture file and zoom in or out so the whole picture fits on your screen.

4. Hit print screen.

5. Open Microsoft Picture Manager

6. Right click and select Paste

7. Edit the image to crop out everything except your fabulous freehand sketch.

8. Save the picture.

9. Paste the new picture file into your document, blog post, PowerPoint slide (Ugh! I hate PowerPoint) or any other file.

10.  Enjoy life beyond the clip art barrier.

Total time to produce a picture that was just what I wanted: 5 minutes.

Total time wasted searching the Office clip art catalog for a picture that was passable for my idea before I settled on breaking the barrier: 20 minutes.

Just the efficiency improvement alone is impressive, never minding the effectiveness improvement.

Maybe life on the other side of the clip art barrier isn’t for everyone, but today I learned it is for me.

Why not try life over here? You just might like it.

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