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ClipArt has been used in various forms since the middle of the last century. "Spot Illustrators" was employed by print publications, advertising agencies and so on in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and until the 1980s to create fast, black and white visuals to keep up with ads, articles, forums, short stories and others. literary works that needed a graphic element to draw the reader in.
The earliest and most popular medium used to create clip art was pen and ink. Pen and ink or "Line Art" drawings were created exactly as the name suggests, with a dip or "nib" pen and an ink shelf filled with black ink. The artist, let's call him "Art Guy", would dip his pen into the ink tray, tap the excess ink on the edge of the bottle and use a steady hand and start drawing his or her illustration. A high-quality paper with a smooth surface, which sometimes included vellum, was and still is the choice for most artists. Some artists preferred to draw their subjects with a pen first to create a "template" to apply the ink on top.
When the illustration was complete, it was left to dry on its own. To dry the ink faster, some artists used "Pounce", which is a fine powder that is sprinkled sparingly over the wet illustration. Pounce powder can be created with various materials including sand, soapstone, talc and even finely ground salt. Pounce is also used by calligraphers.
When the illustration was dry, it was given to the Stat Camera operator and photographed in a darkroom to create film from the camera-ready artwork. Shaded or "halftone" black and white images can be created from completely black art using various dot pattern filters and then transferred to paper. With this process, endless copies of the original artwork can be created, much like the electronic copiers invented many decades later. The paper copies were then trimmed and "cut in size" in preparation for the publishing process and then "Art Guy" on their way to the production room to do their cool "layout" thing!
"Layouts" were created by combining text and images in a comfortable way and attaching the various objects to guided paper. The rules helped the production artist to adjust the images both horizontally and vertically. Printed with blue ink, the rules could not be photographed, making the rules invisible in the final printed publication. Attachment of text and images to the controlled paper is accomplished by various methods. Household glue was a common choice, but 1940s beeswax became popular. Electronic wax machines were connected to a socket and allowed to warm up. Blocks of beeswax were introduced into a heating tank inside the machine and the heat of the tank melted the wax into liquid. A mechanism on top of the machine allowed the user to feed the paper clip at one end "dry" and then retrieve the art from the other end "waxed". The machine grew only on one side of the paper, giving the user the opportunity to fix the image on the layout paper with a heating tool and a rubber roller. Text was applied with the same process. The finished layout was then taken to the darkroom where it was taken with a camera and a film negative was created. A short process later and the film negative became a flat "positive" ready for offset printing.
As the publishing industry evolved, graphic artists and graphic designers found that it was easier to reuse the previously existing images that they had already taken and prepared for the previous week's publication. So, rather than drawing the same illustrations over and over, they returned the old line art ... and voila! Production Clip Art was born and unfortunately "Art Guy" was without a job!
Quickly, the publishing house library was overflowing with thousands and thousands of clipped images. Over the next few decades, layers of images began to surpass art departments everywhere. Then, thankfully in the early 1980s, saved personal computers and the "digital time" industry. Using a futuristic invention called a "scanner", a printed clip image can be placed on a scan tray and converted to digital X & # 39; s and O & # 39; s and stored on a computer's hard drive for easy reference! For someone unfamiliar with the industry, this does not sound like an exciting historical advance, but speaks personally from both the dark room of the Camera Provider and as a routine illustrator or "Art Guy" who cut his teeth in the advertising industry in the early 1980s, scanners were a gift from God! Scanning pictures actually became a full time job at some companies, and pow! Just like "Art Guy" became "Scanner Man!"
Soon everyone was using clip art and unfortunately Spot Illustrators and freelance artists (like myself), who previously had a huge niche market, became obsolete. Hundreds of publishing houses and digital service companies jumped on the digital (and printed) clip art bandwagon. Fortunately, many of the unemployed place illustrators I just referred to found a new niche, provided they took the new computer media under their wing. If you were willing to give up your pen and ink well and exchange them for a personal computer, you had a good chance of saving your supply. Otherwise, you walked the dinosaurs.
As the years went on, the whole process became less "hands on" and more production-oriented. Let me explain. The first step in creating digital art would go something similar. An artist would only draw a picture with black ink. He (or she) would then take the picture and put it face down on a scanner. Using scanning software, the artist would select specific settings including resolution, scale and so on and then "scan" the image and thus create a digitally formatted file. The artist could choose which file format best met their need to produce the final product. The most common Line Art file formats at that time were.bmp (bitmap) or or.pic (short for PICtor format). As scanned photos became more popular as clip art, file formats such as .tiff (tagged image file format) and.jpg (or jpeg) became more popular. Soon the world web was created and created a huge need for smaller resolution files that were downloaded faster and thus the files.gif (Graphics Interface Format) and.jpg became the norm for that medium. Both file formats were considered raster files, or rather files based on a dot matrix data structure, and the resolution could be reduced to 72 dpi (Dots Per Inch) and still appear clean and sharp by the web user. And yes, now "Scanner Man" gets a new title and now becomes "Production Guy!"
As the years passed, vector files (or files based on mathematical expressions) became, of which the popular file format .eps (abbreviated for Encapsulated PostScript), became the most widely used format of printers and publishing houses because .eps files could be enlarged or scaled. without losing resolution or the "sharpness" of the image. The whole industry took a left. To this day, .eps files are still industry-standard ClipArt formats.
Let's discuss for a moment how to create the .eps file. Much like creating a .jpg or.tiff file described earlier, "hard copy" graphics are scanned with scanning software, but instead of creating a file with "medium" resolution of maybe 150 dpi, the artist chooses the most optimal resolution Possible. The trick is to create a high resolution raster file that does not take up any remaining space on the hard drive! The larger the file, the more data information, the better the quality. Here's why more information is key. Once the raster file is created, the artist then imports that raster file (dot matrix), created with dots, and imports it into a vector file conversion program that makes that file into clean, sharp vectors. Bam! Another "not so creative" job given to "Production Guy!" Soon, at the larger advertising agencies and publishing houses, artists who were once hired to draw original images spent most of their day converting paper catalogs, printed clip art catalogs into digital vector files for the computer characters in the art department! Initially, the process of converting some scanned images into vectors can take up to several hours. Now, most industry-standard graphical software programs have "built-in" vector conversion tools and the entire process can run in minutes or even seconds. So much for "Production Guy's" job. With the advent of new graphic design software, his position also became obsolete.
But I don't feel bad for "Production Guy", in recent years they have grown tired of seeing "the same old, the same old" and "Production Guy" in full circle in creative fields. Having played all the roles we discussed earlier, old "Art Guy" (myself) and other freelance artists have had a renaissance of variety and larger companies looking for hip and trendy, groundbreaking place illustrations that put us back to work! But don't worry, the old "proven" clip art images have secured their place in the "free" clip art market. Let's discuss the term "royalty free" next.
As logging companies and fonts grew and grew, they found that some images and fonts consistently sold better than others. Of course, the first thought comes to any real businessman or entrepreneur: "How do I make money from these" premium "images?" The answer, of course, takes a "premium" price for those pictures that sell better than others. The rest of the stock clip art images became step boards to sell the premium gallery files. The prizes were placed on clip art images that had more details, consisted of a more interesting subject or were just more unique and stood out from the rest of the packaging. Large background, frame or border files with more details were priced higher than the smaller spot illustrations. Holiday-specific stock illustrations with themes such as Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter along with illustrations that generated a higher demand or interest, were priced above regular everyday images. In a nutshell, stock illustration companies created their own "market demand" for literally every image or image set they chose. For a time this "schedule" worked, and to this day on a smaller level. Those with money will always be able to afford to pay a premium. But what about the "little guy" who couldn't afford the prizes? The smell of "revolution" was in the air!
With the crash of the US economy shortly after 9/11, large clip art houses that relied on the costly premiums that had exploited their loyal customer base for several years before, hit the market and as a result smaller clip art companies began to grow. Old Spot Illustrators like myself, who had saved their galleries in galleries with dusty old clipart images got the idea to give the larger clip art companies some competition by offering "Royalty Free" pictures or pictures without PREMIUM! Guess what? It worked! Royalty-free images and collections became the norm (again). Art leaders and graphic designers who once bowed before the huge warehouse clip art agencies woke up and smelled coffee a brewin & # 39; It was time for a change in the industry and the change had come. No longer were you bound to use the same "tile" images offered by maybe five or six giant companies. The clip art world opened up to the artist's rebels with their smaller and infinitely more unique clip art creations and the revolution had finally arrived!
Now "Art Guy" is back in the business and doing what he loves most ... DRAWING! Maybe he traded with a pen and ink tray for a personal computer and a mouse or drawing tablet, but he is happy and satisfied again ... and so am I !!!