In digital design today, images are king.
Images can communicate to your audience extremely quickly, faster than even text, and offer an enriched user experience to potential customers. However, where there’s a business to be made, there is a price to pay: good quality images often come with a fee, requiring the user to pay for a license to display the image.
If you don’t have the budget to pay for anything from stock photography to cartoon images, there’s no need to worry: there is a host of options for royalty-free images to download, many of which are just as good – if not better – than the paid versions; in fact, there are millions of free images to choose from! Whether you like a curated collection of free images or a pile of anything and everything – including the kitchen sink! – there is something for every need. Use the list below to find just the right image, cartoon, or vector graphic and you’ll soon be crossing “download free images” off your to-do list!
Pixabay is a great online resource offering completely royalty-free images to use in any digital marketing or design. They have a huge library of photos, vector graphics, and even videos. Use their search function to browse thousands of free images and download them for free, all without so much as a whisper of where you got them. Many images are offered at high resolutions, and only require you to create an account. Pixabay’s FAQ section states, “You can copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist. However, depicted content may still be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights.” An extended explanation of their use policy is available on their blog. Let’s sail on down to the Pixabay!
If you can’t find the free stock photos available to download on Pixabay, pop over to Pexels to give their image library a shot. The setup here is the same: use the search bar to look for whatever type of free photo you need to download. However, they are limited to photographs only, so there are no illustrations to be found here. Pexels explain the license: “It’s hard to understand complex licenses that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.” As long as anyone who can be identified is not shown in a bad light, you can slap these bad boys in any digital location you like!
Crowdsourcing has become the name of the game these days, and Flickr has applied this model to free photographs. At the end of 2016, they had over 1.1 million images available to download and use completely for free. Where did they get such an expansive library? The answer is, their users: anyone with a Flickr account can offer their images for public use. Although that can result in a little bit more sifting and you have to depend on the user accurately tagging their images, you just can’t beat the sheer volume. Depending on what you are after, you could have up to 70 million pictures to choose from – just take a look over at their Creative Commons page. Being spoilt for choice isn’t all that bad, is it?
Finally, the mothership of all free downloadable images: Creative Commons. You can use their search feature to look on Google and Flickr for no-attribution-required pics, both of which have crazy big amounts of images to choose from. As with some of the other sites, however, these collections are so big and full of images that they can take a while to filter through, and the interface is a little clunky. But hey, it’s like a good thrift store: if you’re willing to put in the time, you can find some real gems.
That’s it! Use this list and all of your digital imagery will be spot on.
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