What you need to know about free resources for artists
Many websites offer free resources for artists. But most of the time it isn’t as simple as that! Some require that you link back to the site, refer to the artist or photographer, or they’re only free to use for personal use. The permissions to use resources like this may change because the user changed their mind, or the company policy changed. ALWAYS make sure that you double-check what the license allows you to do and what it asks in return! Don’t assume that, if one item is free, the other is too. And don’t assume that, what I write here, is evergreen and still fully correct by the time you read this.
Just always make sure that what you use can be used for whatever you plan to do with it, and if you want to be fully sure that it will remain that way: Just buy whatever you need. But don’t worry, it’s not like people put stuff online and then revoke the use only to sue you. Just make sure that you make use of reliable sources. This article contains exactly those.
Unsplash for photo reference and use
My favorite go-to for Life to Legend. This website offers free images and asks nothing in return! But if you can, I suggest you at least link back to the photographer as a thank you for letting you use their wonderful photographs. Always be careful with subjects that could be considered art, are logos or brands, and people that are recognizable. They’re not included. But this counts for any website you’re on. Anyhow: They serve as great references.
More websites like Unsplash
- Wikipedia – Most of the images there may be of lower quality, but you can use them for a myriad of things. Just check out their individual licenses.
- Depositphoto has a section with nice images tucked away in the footer. The link right here. You do need to sign up though to use the images.
Free premium images
Many premium websites offer several free images when you sign up. This is obviously not a long-term solution, but if you’re smart about it you can get a nice collection of images even without paying anything for a premium stock service. You’re doing nothing wrong, you’re just making use of trial versions and offers meant to lure you in. The two websites below are among the best-known stock websites offering these trials.
- Shutterstock offers you 10 free images in your first month trial period.
- Adobe Stock offers 10 free images as well in your first month of trial.
Design Cuts for mockups, textures and more
Think of free themed art-packs, textures, mockups to display your work, clip art, frames, add-ons, fonts, templates, and tools for procreate. Even if you read this and you don’t need any of it: It’s worth checking it out because it will inspire you. Don’t forget to check out the actual marketplace too. This company is tuned to making your life as an artist easier.
Although I do not recommend using a lot of brushes (rather pick about 5 favorite ones to keep your work consistent) it’s very likely you need a specific kind of brush at some point. If free packs you got on the way like that of Evenant Design don’t suffice, Brusheezy might be one of your go-to’s. Most packs can be used for personal use freely, but they require a reference for any work that goes online, in books, or prints. If you want to make merch or not put the reference on your other works: Consider buying.
More sites like Brusheezy
Note that each may have its own custom licenses!
- Myphotoshopbrushes.com (Some are for personal use only or have specific requirements, while others are free for commercial use too.)
- Creative Nerds Freebees can be very useful as well, this includes several brush packs.
- Hubspot helping you out with a list!
Spoongraphics has a whole blog section dedicated to free stuff. Mostly paper textures and wood grain textures, fit for use in any typography project, but also in your art. And if you want to make your clean work look like an old retro comic, this is the place to be too! Halftone brush effects, grain shader brushes, stipple shading brushes, infrared and cinematic photo effects… You know, just have a look, there is so much out there, most of it you probably didn’t even think of yourself. These freebies will spoon you like your best hubby!
Lisa Glanz is well known in the graphic design world for her cute and whimsical designs in a totally unique style. The South African artist was the founder and has since seen many people follow suit. She’s a market leader in her field and offers many freebies in her treasure trove. Lisa is an illustrator that offers art packs that you’re meant to edit before redistributing them in one way or another. It’s very likely that you’re an artist too, reading this. But I recommend you sign up anyway because her packs also include nice textures and frames which can be very useful for your own work, and tutorials on several subjects.
Although I do not recommend you using generators like this as a way to make money, it can help you out to explore logo idea’s for yourself or have a temporary placeholder when you’re just starting! Beware when you google for them yourself. More often than not, these logo makers claim to be free, but you have to pay to download the actual design.
- Hatchful (Limited customization, but free).
- Squarespace (Only free for users of Squarespace and very limited custmization, but free)
If you’re in the field for a while, you know how useful textures can be as a minimalistic background, photo bashing, or an overlay. Unsplash will help you on your way when it comes to textures too, but your best free go-to is. But other than textures they also offer photos and 3D objects ready to use in a game or 3d rendered illustration. When you sign up you get 15 credits for free, good for a few photos. But if you’re a bit smart about it you can find their free resources as well by searching with the keyword ‘free’.
3Dtotal offers a wide arrange of small tutorials with many different subjects. From sketches to character designs, and coloring books to magazines. So if you’re looking to learn or study something new, this is a nice place to go!
LtL has freebees as well, it’s a work in progress, but if you sign up for our newsletter (down below) you will receive a password so you can log in to the Treasure Trove to find free tutorials among other things!