10 Jul

Use Clip Art to Make Custom Icons for Your Presentation

clip art clock

I know what you are thinking…

How can this cheesy clock ever be useful in a presentation?

but what if I told you the icons you see below are also PowerPoint Clip Art…

Click to download PPTX with these icons


The benefit of creating your own set of icons is that they can be modified to fit any color scheme. Plus they are scalable.

Iconography has been used since the development of writing. A good icon will leave a memorable impression on the viewer. It will help viewers remember topics or themes in a presentation. Most people will remember an image before they remember a word. Plus they are quite useful when trying to describe a process of how something works.

Many presentation specialists have put a ban on Clip Art mostly because they didn’t try to make it work. It doesn’t look good on it’s own, and it’s often cheesy. But if you open yourself to possibilities you can see how it can be quite useful. So I am challenging the notion that all clip art is bad, and want to show you a way how clip art can be used in presentations, without looking like typical clip art.

This might not be as helpful to those with illustration skills or access to Adobe Illustrator, but if you’re not a designer, and want to add an extra element of uniqueness to your presentation this tutorial will help you do that.

In order to create a successful icon all you have to remember about iconography is to keep it simple. An icon is a pictorial representation of a word. You know the image to the left is an apple because the general shape reminds you of an apple.

When selecting clip art for your icons, make sure they all have the same line style so they look like a uniform set.

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Clip Art Globe Icon Tutorial

The following tutorial will give you a step by step process on how to create this globe icon using clip art. Time to complete this icon is about 1 min 30 sec. I don’t know ANY designers that can make an icon like this from scratch this fast. It might take you longer if you’re following along the blog, but the next one you will try will be a walk in the park!

Please note this tutorial is only for PowerPoint on a Windows computer. You can’t break apart vector art in PowerPoint 2008 on Macs or Keynote.

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Not all the images in the Clip Art database are pieces that you can reuse to make an icon. Usually you can tell which ones are the illustrations that you can break apart. You can also find many pieces by clicking the Clip art on Office Online link. While online when you click the Download button, you can tell the icon is usable when the save as file is in WMF format.

Step 1 : Insert Clip Art and re-size it to fill the slide.

Resizing will help in modifying.

Step 2: Un-group the clip art (CTRL G) TWICE

Step 3: Delete all unnecessary parts

Step 4: Create a new globe

Use a circle to create the globe shape and fill it with a new color

This is the pre-set Foundry color scheme in PowerPoint 2007

Step 5: Apply a new style

Change the fill color of the continents to white. Set the outline color of the globe to white and increase the line width to 4

Step 6 (Optional): Add a globe grid

(from another clip art piece)

Clip Art Clock Icon

Interested in professionally designed custom icons for your presentation? E-mail me with a description for a quote estimate.

Comments (10)

  1. Nathan Cashion 07. Oct, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Great tutorial, Magda. I fight against clip art because it is so ugly and generic. But this is a fabulous way to make icons with a consistent design.
    I wish there were an easy way to do it on the Mac!

    • magda (admin) 07. Oct, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Nathan. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      The way I import vector for editing on the Mac, is I first break it apart on a windows machine, and then open that PPT file on the Mac. It’s a pain, but at least there is a solution =)

  2. Chris Harding 18. Nov, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Hi Magda, a clear and concise explanation which will be useful to many folk.
    I remember using the same technique in the 1990s to create crude but effective animations. Your post has reminded me of that and it’s a skill I need to resurrect, especially with the wider range of animations available in modern PowerPoint.
    Thank you.

  3. Aasiyah 28. Sep, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Great post.I found it very useful.
    Thank You

  4. Sell Art With Ros 01. Oct, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Great article! One to bookmark!! Clip art can be pretty uninspiring but this is a great way to put some style into your icons.

    Ros Webb
    Sell Art With Ros recently posted..Sell Art On Etsy

  5. herb 20. Nov, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    thanks for sharing. great tip

  6. Mathea 02. Feb, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Thanks for opening my eyes up to the possibilities of clip art. A great little tutorial.

  7. Martin 17. Mar, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Thanks for the tips, they will certainly come in handy.

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