Every designer has their list of go-to sites for photos, illustrations, icons, fonts, and other design tools. We trade them like Pokémon cards, always looking for the next cool thing nobody has heard of.
As a result, I’m always on the hunt for helpful design resources. The real magic happens when those resources happen to be free! The following sites, software, and tools are some of my favorite examples of not having to sacrifice quality for cost.
Table of Contents
Stock Photo Resources
As designers, we have a responsibility to represent all of society. Don’t forget diversity and inclusivity when selecting stock photos. Nappy offers “beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people, for free”.
Rawpixel is dedicated to “smashing stereotypes to create design resources that reflect today’s society as it really is.” To this end they’ve gathered “most diverse stock photos in the industry.” Their free plan provides access to scores of free and public domain photos. You can also create and browse their Pinterest-style boards.
3. The Gender Spectrum Collection
Diversity also includes gender. The Gender Spectrum Collection by Vice offers on “images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés.”
4. Noun Project Photos
Noun Project Photos is an inclusive and diverse collection of art-quality photos. Also known for their excellent icon collection (more on that later in this list), this professionally curated collection “celebrates diversity and supports the critical work of moving our society toward a more equitable future for all.” The photos are available under a free Creative Commons license for non-commercial use.
Gratistography purports to be the “world’s quirkiest collection of high-resolution free stock images.” I don’t have reason to doubt the claim after browsing their offerings.
Burst is a royalty-free collection by Shopify. Focused on the needs of entrepreneurs, their themes are very business-friendly.
Unsplash, “the internet’s source of freely usable images,” specializes in high resolution photos from creators across the world.
Reshot is a collection by Envato Elements. They strive to “change the internet, one non-stocky photo at a time.” You can always count on finding some striking photos here.
9. Creative Commons Search
CC Search aggregates images from over 45 different Creative Commons image sites. You can even filter your results by specific licenses. It’s all you’d expect from the official search engine powered by Creative Commons itself. Learn all about using Creative Commons Images in my previous post.
Pixabay has an enormous (2.3 million and counting) collection of copyright-free images, videos and music.
Pexels’ free-to-use photos cover a wide range of themes and topics. Their trending and discovery sections are fun to explore.
StockSnap.io specializes in CC0 (Creative Commons Zero – essentially public domain) photos and adds hundreds of new images weekly.
Picography is a gorgeous collection of high resolution, CC0 photos in a variety of categories.
Kaboompics includes over 20K photos by Karolina, “a coffee addict who spends her time creating digital images” Kaboompics’ free images are a popular choice of lifestyle, interior design, and specialized bloggers all over the world.
15. Styled Stock
Styled Stock styles itself (see what I did there?) as “feminine stock photography.” It is a smaller collection of lifestyle images, but definitely worth a look.
Picspree is a contributor-submitted collection of free-to-use images in fun categories like “Moods & feelings” and “Special Occasions.”
17. Death To Stock
Death to Stock is an artist-owned library of wildly creative “non-stock” photos. You can sign up to receive a free pack of images via email each month. You even get your first pack right away.
This is a great collection dedicated to travel. J/K. Foodiesfeed is actually more than 1,700 mouthwatering free food photos. Take my advice – don’t search hungry.
Photo Formatting Tools
19. Adobe’s Online Image Cropper
This online image cropper from Adobe does just that. It allows you to quickly crop, rotate, flip, or straighten a photo.
Croppola does the same thing (quick online photo cropping), but with an even simpler interface and a fantastic name.
Removebg is a simple but powerful way to do my least favorite thing — remove the background from a photo. They promise to “remove backgrounds 100% automatically in 5 seconds with zero clicks.”
SocialSizes.io is a social media image maker. They provide free downloadable templates for the latest version of the top social media platforms.
Placeit is a fast way to show your design on everything from coffee mugs to book covers to social media mockups.
Mockupworld boasts “the original biggest source of free photo-realistic mockups online.” You can showcase your design on a laptop screen or a billboard in just a few clicks.
Fireshot is a free Chrome extension that allows you to capture or record your screen with ease.
Photo Editing Resources
Canva has an easily customizable template for just about everything and an intuitive drag and drop interface. Their free plan includes templates, photos, graphics, collaboration tools, and cloud storage.
27. Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark is another online design tool. Their free plan gives you access to thousands of free images and icons for your designs.
GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free open source image editor. If you’re looking for an alternative to Photoshop, look no further. GIMP offers a full spectrum of premium features backed by a community dedicated to developing tools to extend this functionality even further.
Fotor is an online photo editing suite perfect for when you need to quickly retouch a photo. They have a selection of filters to make your photos look great, customizable templates, collage tools, and tons of tutorials.
Illustrations & Patterns
humaaans allows you to mix & match illustrations of a diverse collection of people. The customization options are almost endless and the results are captivating. These humaaans are “like legos made out of flesh… and vectors.”
Freeillustrations.xyz delivers on their name. They offer a growing collection of free, high quality, customizable illustrations in a variety of popular file formats.
unDraw has open-source illustrations for “any idea you can imagine and create.” Updated frequently, their images come in SVG format and are all completely free to use. My favorite feature is the ability to change icon accent colors on the fly. You can easily incorporate your brand’s colors for a custom look.
Vecteezy offers millions of free vector illustrations. Free to use and easy to customize.
Paaatterns is a free collection of beautiful patterns available in all vector formats.
35. Subtle Patterns
Subtle Patterns is a free collection of seamless patterns. Their instant preview feature is really handy.
Web Font Resources
36. Google Fonts
Google Fonts is a collection of 1052 open source web font families in five different categories. The directory interface is as intuitive as you’d expect from Google and you can add these fonts to your site with a few clicks and some cut & paste. While the quality is top notch, not every font is a winner, so take a little time to compare before choosing.
Fontjoy is “font pairing made simple.” Their generator uses a neural network to pair three Google fonts and apply them to the page text. It’s a great way to expand your font pairing knowledge and find some typographical inspiration. It’s also super fun to click the Generate button over and over and watch the results.
Fontpair helps you find the perfect pair of Google fonts for your next project. Their nifty interface allows you to add your own text to see the fonts in action and display examples of that pairing in use on other sites.
40. Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel has a huge collection of free, high quality fonts (both desktop and web). My favorite features are the Webfont Generator and the Font Identifier. Both have saved me loads of time over the years.
WhatTheFont is powered by myfonts.com. As the name suggests, it helps you identify the font used in an image you upload with excellent accuracy. Although the results are mostly premium fonts, the tool is free to use.
42. What Font
What Font is my most-used free Chrome extension. With a click, it lets you identify any font on a webpage. It’s perfect for finding new fonts to use or troubleshooting display issues on your own projects.
43. The Noun Project
The Noun Project is “the world’s most diverse and extensive icon collection.” With over 3 million icons by designers from 120+ countries, they literally have an icon for everything. A free account allows you to download Creative Commons and royalty free icons in PNG or SVG format.
44. Captain Icon
Captain Icon (AKA Spanish designer Mario del Valle) is reporting for duty, offering up a free collection of 350+ fully customizable vector icons available in many different file formats.
Free Goodies for Designers is run by designers, for designers. In addition to a great collection of icon packs, they have fonts, patterns, mockups, and more.
Flaticon has thousands of free vector icons in a variety of file formats in nearly every category you can imagine. The quality is excellent.
Freeicons.io claims to be the largest database of free icons. They offer a wide variety of high-quality icons of different styles, sizes, and file formats
Icons8 features 173,600 free icon packs in 36 styles, with “nearly complete icon coverage for every style.” This makes pairing icons to create a consistent look a breeze.
49. Font Awesome
Font Awesome truly is. Awesome, that is. The web’s favorite open source icon library is currently at 7,865 icons and social media logos. New additions are made all the time to cover all your needs. The collection is available as icon fonts or SVG.
Animaticons are the work of designer, developer, and animator Matthew Broerman. These beautiful, colorful, animated GIF icons really stand out. He currently offers two packs for free download.
51. Da Button Factory
Da Button Factory is a free CTA button generator by by ClickMinded. You have full control over all the aspects of your button and can embed or download your creation when you’re done.
52. Best CSS Button Generator
Best CSS Button Generator features a simple interface to create buttons from scratch or customize one of their examples. The result is generated as CSS code. You can even set the hover state.
Huesnap lets you create a color palette from an uploaded image or using a color picker. You can also explore their collection of community-submitted palettes and add your own.
Coolers is “the super fast color schemes generator.” You can create your own or find inspiration in their thousands of popular and trending palettes. Their palette generator also has a fantastic interface.
COLOURlovers is a global creative community dedicated to sharing colors, palettes, and patterns, “all in the spirit of love.” Notable for its active member involvement, design resources, and trends section.
ColorZilla is a free Chrome & Firefox extension that lets you identify colors from any website. It’s many features include a color picker, eye dropper, and a gradient generator.
Download for Free, Then Pay It Forward
It would be impossible to calculate all the time, talent, and creativity that went into these tremendous resources. There’s a designer behind every icon or font, a photographer behind every photo, and a developer behind every website you use.
Remember this when you click the download button. While these resources are free, many ask for some sort of attribution or link in return. By doing so, and sharing the value you receive from these creative works, you are recognizing the creator and helping keep them free going forward.
Good luck with your projects. Share the love. Pass it on.