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Clipart Guide: Clipart.com, Big Box of Art 410,00, and Art Explosion 800,000

written by: Andy Dunn•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 2/24/2009

Art Explosion doesn't contain a decent cross library search, and its only redeeming feature is a hard copy of all of the vector art. Clipart.com and Big Box of Art are really for two different audiences. Choose from these two product depending on your budget and you'll get a great value either way.

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    ClipArt.Com

    This guide cannot make direct comparisons due to obvious differences in these three software products, but where possible, this feature comparison table will draw out the pros and cons in each to help you decide which product best suits your needs.

    Clipart.com

    Product details 
    Cost: $15 (1 week) - $160 (1 year)
    Vector Art: 3,000,000
    Bitmap Art:  10,000
    Photographs: 130,000
    Animated GIF: Not specified
    Web graphics: Not Specified
    Illustrations: 200,000 - 77,000
    Fonts: ‘Thousands’ - 1800
    Sounds: Not specified - -
    Total: 6,000,000+ 

    Example Searches: 

    Airport: 912

    Cat piano: 13
    Meeting: 1419
    Thanksgiving: 1892

    Search Features:

    Keywords: Yes
    Match all or any keywords: Yes
    Keywords NOT in description: Yes
    Image Types: Color/Monochrome/File

    Categories: Animals, Architecture, Art/Artists, Art/Entertainment, Business, Desktop Publishing, Education, Entertainment, Flowers/Plants, Food, Geography, Health/Medical, History, Holidays/Occasions, Household, People, Religion, Science, Seasons, Sports, Technology, Tools/Weapons, Transportation Abstracts/Backgrounds,  Agriculture/Industry, Architecture, Business/Commerce/Trade, Education, Food/Beverages, Health & Safety, Holidays/Occasions, House/Home, Lifestyle/Culture, Nature, People, Religion/Myth/Fantasy,  Science /Technology, Signs/Symbols, Social Issues/Government, Sports/Leisure, Transportation, Travel/Tourism, Wildlife/Animals


    Date of image: Yes
    Publisher: Dover, Hemera, Broderbund - -
    Popular/common searches: Yes - -
    Remember previous items selected: Yes - -
    Search by color: Yes - -

    Other features 
    Images can be added by publisher: Yes

     

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    Big Box of Art 410,00

    Big Box of Art 410,00

    Product details 
    Cost: $15-$40
    Vector Art: 104,000
    Bitmap Art: 35,000
    Photographs: 35,000
    Animated GIF: 500
    Web graphics: 260,000
    Illustrations: 200,000 - 77,000
    Fonts: ‘Thousands’ - 1800
    Sounds: Not specified - -
    Total: 410,000+

    Example Searches: 
    Airport 274
    Cat piano 2
    Meeting 180
    Thanksgiving 115

    Search Features:

    Keywords: Yes
    Match all or any keywords: Yes
    Keywords NOT in description:  --

    Image Types: Type (GIF, JPG,EPS, WMF, PSD, PNG) Photographs, Photo Clipart, Vector ClipArt

    Categories: Categories used only for initial disc selection. Cannot actually search based on them.


    Date of image: - -
    Publisher: - -
    Popular/common searches: - -
    Remember previous items selected: - -
    Search by color: - -

    Other Features

    Images can be added by user: Yes

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    Art Explosion 800,000

    Art Explosion 800,000

    Product details 
    Cost: $50-$100
    Vector Art: 200,000
    Bitmap Art:
    Photographs: 140,000
    Animated GIF: Not specified
    Web graphics: Not specified
    Illustrations: 200,000 - 77,000
    Fonts: ‘Thousands’ - 1800

    Sounds: Not specified - -

    Total: 800,000+

    Example Searches: 
    Airport 9 (using paper index & hard copy)
    Cat piano  cannot search 2 words in paper index
    Meeting 103 (using filename search across business/office category – required copying files to hard drive)
    Thanksgiving 340 + a hint to look up turkey and pumpkin (using paper index & hard copy)
          
    Search Features:

    Keywords: Very limited & most images are not tagged
    Match all or any keywords: -
    Keywords NOT in description: Possible – if images were tagged with keywords
    Image Types: Can search by file extension so WMF, TIF, BMP, JPG

    Categories:  Advertising, agriculture, alphabets, Americana, anatomy, animals, antique style, architecture/landmarks, arrows, art/design, backgrounds, beauty,  borders, brush strokes, business/office, buttons, calendar, cartoons, clothing/accessories, computer, construction, crests/emblems, education/schools, electrical, electronics, energy, engineering, entertainment, fantasy/medieval , fitness, flags, food/drink, furniture, gardening, government, graphs/charts, hands, health/medical, holidays, household, interior, international, kids stuff, landscapes, maps, measurement, military, money, motivational, music, neighborhoods, occasions, occupations, oceanography, outdoor recreation, people, plants/flowers, police/fire, politics/elections, public issues, real estate, religion, road signs,  science, science fiction, seasons/weather, shapes, signs, space, sports, stamps, stars/starbursts, symbols, technology/communication, time, titles, tools/hardware, transportation, travel/leisure, trees/leaves, western/rodeo, zodiac/astrology

    Date of image: - -
    Publisher: - -
    Popular/common searches: - -
    Remember previous items selected: - -
    Search by color: - -

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    Feature Comparisons


    •         When it comes to speed of searching you can’t beat the desktop application. Searching is done as you type with instant results and thumbnails. This just isn’t possible on the web using traditional web pages*. This is not to say that clipart.com is slow – it’s not. It’s just never going to be as snappy as a locally installed application. If you search the knowledgebase it is possible to copy discs to your hard drive but this isn’t something a lot of users will think to do. Art explosion chooses to assume that searching across the image archive is not a required feature – it therefore isn’t even in competition with the other packages. Art Explosion has the widest range of categories but considering this is the primary search mechanism its needed.


    •         Thumbnails are larger on clipart.com that in Big Box. Clipart’s are big enough to make decisions, Bigbox are too small. Art Explosion has an option to make the thumbnails bigger (up to 256x256) but it doesn’t actually resize the vector images and it doesn’t remember the option.


    •         Previewing images in clipart.com is actually faster because BigBox requires you to switch discs. You can see realtime resizing of vector images in BigBox and ArtExplosion but not Clipart because there is no common vector art format usable in web browsers.


    •         The terms of licensing between the three packages seems fairly similar lawyer-speak. Art Explosion appears to have the least restrictions. Clipart.com and Art Explosion make theirs much easier to find though if you are worried about breaking it you will need a lawyer to be 100% sure. Royalty Free just means you don’t pay if you use it, but it doesn’t mean you can use it anywhere.
     
    *(maybe a flash, or sliverlight interface could improve on this but those clients require browser add-ins and/or are platform limited)
     

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    Conclusion


    There’s a lot of company names involved but both clipart.com and Hemera that make the big box of art 410,000 are owned by JupiterImages so it’s no surprise to see the same content in both packages. The same company owns many other art and photo databases under many brands. The target audience for and the way they package the art varies by audience. Even ArtExplosion which is from another company has some art in common – its impossible to compare all the images but the Dover Collection is present in all 3.


    With its lack of comprehensive image searching I cannot recommend Art Explosion unless you have a mandatory requirement of a printed catalog.


    The target audience for the remaining 2 products is quite different. Both serve their audience well. It should be no surprise that the more you pay, the more choices y and features you get.


    If you need the largest choice of images and use a lot of clip art then clipart.com will be good value for money for you.
    If you are on a budget, use clipart irregularly and are happy with a smaller image archive then the Big Box of Art is equally good value.