Add Free Clipart to OpenOffice

The process is easy and it is written for beginners. Clipart libraries are very limited in OpenOffice. To access them, go to the top toolbar and click on Tools and then on Gallery.

You have a choice of icon only or icon and text view (see arrow in Fig. 1) and you can switch back and forth with the small icons located at the upper left side of the gallery.

The screenshot (Fig. 1) shows my choices when I open Writer, the word processing program in OpenOffice.

Just pretend the folder called Food and Drink Clipart is not there yet. I’m going to show you how to create it a bit later. There are backgrounds, sounds, bullets etc. but no drawings or photos like you can find in the commercial versions of office software.

Open_Office_Clipart_LibraryFig.1

Fig. 1

Let’s suppose I am composing a newsletter about a local café and I want to include clipart of food and drink. There is no such clipart native to OpenOffice so I’m going to have to add it myself. First, I select some free clipart that I like from OpenClipArt.org, download the Lossy PNG version, and save it to a folder on my desktop. SVG is for working in vector graphics programs like Adobe Illustrator or the open source (free) program, Inkscape, where you can change the image. It’s also very useful for scalable graphics on web sites.

Read more about free programs for creative people here.

For simplicity’s sake, I’m using PNG files for this article. I don’t want to change a thing so PNG will work just fine and allow me to use the free clipart immediately in my newsletter. Then I realize the clipart I am selecting really falls into two categories, colour and black & white.

Since I enjoy writing articles about yesteryear, the black & white images would come in handy but to avoid endless searching through tons of clipart in one category, it would be better divided. I make another folder, name it for the black and white images and move the black & white images into the folder. Set up your system for how you work.

Next, let’s create that new clipart folder. Click on New Theme. A box will open as you see below in Fig. 2. In the General Tab, type in the name of your new clipart theme. In this case, I am choosing Food and Drink Clipart.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Don’t click on OK yet. Switch to the File tab as shown in Fig. 3. In the drop down box for File type, you can leave it as All Files or you can select only one file type. In this case, I’m selecting PNG since this is the file type I want to add to the Gallery and I may have other types in my folder like movie files or sound files that I don’t want added. Of course, since I just created this folder it really isn’t necessary, but now you know you have choices.

Updating the file list isn’t necessary so I will click No. Then I will click Find Files.

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

As soon as I select the folder containing the files I wish to add, the window populates (Fig. 4) with the file names of everything that matches the file type I chose in Fig. 3. Now I can highlight individual files and click Add or I can Add All. I’m choosing to Add All.

Fig. 5

Fig. 5

My new theme has been saved and the clipart has been imported, ready to use. See Fig. 5. Now I am going to create a separate theme for my black and white images. Click on New Theme and give it a name (Fig. 6) as we did before, then click the File tab and proceed to select the files from the folder containing black and white clipart.

Fig. 6

Fig. 6

But wait. This isn’t very organized. Both new themes are Food and Drink but they are separated in the list by the names I chose (Fig. 7). In the interests of efficiency, we are going to change this.

Fig. 7

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Fig. 8

Right-click (Ctrl-click on Mac) to open the menu and select Rename (Fig. 8). It’s that simple. I chose to start the file name the same as the first one so they would appear together in the menu (Fig. 9). You can also access the Property box for each theme at any time by right-clicking. This makes it very easy to add new clipart.

Fig. 9

Fig. 9

Now I want to add some photographs for a museum website I am creating with OpenOffice. Following the same procedure click New Theme and in the General Tab, name your theme (Fig. 10) then click Files and select them from your folder to populate the window (Fig. 11) and add as you wish. In this case, they are JPGs already optimized for web. If at some point in the future I want to add higher resolution photos to print in brochures, I can change the theme name to differentiate.

Fig. 10

Fig. 10

Fig. 11

Fig. 11

Fig. 12

Fig. 12

You can create as many themes as you wish and organize them the same way as other commercial clipart galleries. Fig. 12 shows how I have chosen to set it up for how I use OpenOffice. Use your own photos or download free images from places like FreeImages where you will find lots of photos already categorized.

Have fun!


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