Like many creative types, I tend to get a bit giddy when I find art that inspires and captivates. However, as a web designer, I jump for joy when I stumble across websites and graphic design images that have been masterfully crafted (I’m a geek like that *wink*).
No matter what type of designer you are, you will probably agree with me when I say that for as much as we love designing, there are days when you just don’t have the time to create certain elements from scratch.
When we run into issues like that, we are left with one option: finding free design assets to work off of.
Thankfully, the web is not short on free image assets for people to find and use in their designs and many of those free options are just as amazing at the premium ones out there.
In this post, we have rounded up some of the best sites where you can go to find those free image assets and stock up on your design arsenal for those times when you just can’t create it from scratch.
A Word of Caution About Using “Free” Images
Free is great — no one will argue with that. However, even if an image or icon is free of cost, that doesn’t always mean that you can just claim it and use it as you wish.
Many times with free images such as the ones that will be listed, in order to use them for free, you have to give attribution to the creator. The Creative Commons license will define if, when and how to do so, so be sure to take note of that.
Now on to the good stuff!
Best Online Resources for Free Image and Design Assets
FlatIcon is an amazing online resource for finding the flat style icon you’re been searching for. With close to 70 thousand icons on their site, they have the largest database for free vector icons on the web. Not only do they have a ton of icons to choose from, but they also have a couple other really cool features that many are sure to love.
If you use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or After Effects, then you can use the free FontIcon plugin so that you can use and have direct access to all the icons in their database.
Another really cool feature is the fact that you can use all these fonts as web fonts via the font-face generator that is available on the site. This will allow you to download files that you would then upload to your site which will give you the ability to type icons instead of letters alone (my inner web designer is doing a happy jig about this).
The icons on FlatIcon come in the following formats and sizes:
- Formats | SVG, EPS, PSD and PNG
- Sizes | 16, 24, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512
After you sign up you can create collections that you can save and come back to later. Most, if not all, the icons on FlatIcon come with the CC by 3.0 license which means that attribution to the author and a link to the license are required in order to use the image for free.
Unlike the above-mentioned site, IconFinder has a mix of both free and premium icons available on their site. To find free icons, simply enter a search term in the search bar to see what IconFinder generates. After that, you have the choice in the left hand menu to show only the free icons in that search term.
You also have the choice of pixel size up to 512 and you can change the background from transparent to gray, black or white.
Each icon or icon set comes with a different license for use. Some are absolutely free to use and no attribution is required, while others place different restrictions on what can and cannot be done with the images and may require attribution.
Either way, the site is an amazing resource for finding icons.
Want to add another free icon resource to your designing arsenal? Then be sure to check out Iconmonstr. They don’t have as many icons as FlatIcon or IconFinder, but there are plenty of choices there still.
Simply enter your search term in the search bar, choose the icon you like, agree to the license terms and then download the icon in either PNG or SVG format.
If you’re looking for some great and free image assets, then be sure to take a look at Pixeden. They have a few categories to choose from and a free section inside each section:
- Print | You can find editable print templates including business cards, brochures, resumes and more.
- Web | If you’re looking for some free web wire framing assets or things of that nature, then this is the section for you.
- Icons | Yep, even these guys have some great free icons to choose from.
- Vector | Why start from scratch when you can work off or with elements that have already been made? The free Vector graphics sections on Pixeden has some nice options that you can use in your designs.
- Graphics | Looking for free textures, mock-ups, backgrounds, text effects, UI and Mobile app type graphics? Well, Pixeden has some great free options that could be exactly what you need for your next design project.
The site is always being updated with fresh products so it would be a good idea to bookmark the page and check back ever so often to see what else they’ve managed to add to their selection.
There is power in subtly and sometimes, a softer touch to your design is what will set it apart from the rest. If you want to use a more subtle background but don’t want to hassle with designing one yourself or paying someone to do it for you, then Subtle Pattens — an online resource for free backgrounds — should be on your list of places to check out.
The site has hundreds of background patterns that take a softer approach that add a hint of texture to whatever you’re working on. They also have a PS Plugin that you can download, however, it’s a premium plugin so you’ll have to pay for it, but it’s not more than $15.
As the name would suggest, Freepik is an online resource that homes a ton of free images assets. You can search their database for free vector images, illustrations, icons, PSD files and photo and they are adding new sources every day.
Many of the images require some form of attribution, so be sure to check the license requirements too.
Premium Pixels houses hundreds of free design resources that you can use to help jump start your designs. The site was started by Orman Clark, who started the site as a way to share his own designs and files with the world. Since then, the site has grown into quite the design supply haven.
There are tons of mockups, icons and PSD files stuffed inside the minimalistic style site so be sure to keep this one saved somewhere.
Web Designer Depot
Web Designer Depot has established itself as a great site for information about all things web design. Everything from coding CSS to WordPress and beyond, the site has a lot of information to offer anyone looking to learn something regarding web design.
Great content isn’t the only thing the site has to offer. There is an entire section on the site dedicated to offering free stuff and most of those freebies are assets that you can use for your designs. There is everything from mock-ups, vector files, icons, backgrounds and everything in between.
Another amazing site for great design freebies is Graphic Burger. I recently stumbled across this bad boy and wondered how I didn’t know about it sooner.
They have a massive selection of both free and premium images assets and many of the things that I’ve found in the free area on this site, I haven’t been able to find on similar sites which is an added bonus in my opinion.
Web Design Dev
To round out our top ten list is Web Design Dev. Much like Web Designer Depot, Web Design Dev provides great tutorials and content surrounding the topic of web design. However, they have a huge resource page of free images, PSD files, mock-ups and everything else you could want on the free design asset spectrum.
Wrapping It Up
No matter what type of designer you may be, saving time and money on a project is always a huge plus. These are only 10 places where you can find some great time and money saving image assets, but I’m sure there are plenty more out there.
Do you guys have a go-to resource for finding great design assets? If so, be sure to share with the rest of the community below.
By Ariel Rule
Ariel is a WordPress Web Designer, Freelance Blogger and small business owner. When she’s not working with clients or writing on her Mac, she is drinking coffee and spending time with her amazing boys.