5 sources for free photos, icons and more

Whenever I use an image in an article, I am most concerned about whether or not I can use it without infringing the creator’s copyrights. This equally applies to other elements that go into designing a web-site or a blog. At the same time, whether you are a designer or a blogger who writes at only one blog, you want your site(s) to have that zing, that oomph, that x-factor that makes your site visually appealing.

The good news is that there is loads and loads of stuff out there that you can use for free of charge without violating any licenses. The possible bad news is that there is way too much choice.

Here’s my attempt at making life a little easier for you – a list of the best source in each type of the five most common elements that a website needs. This is keeping in mind that most of the elements available on the said site are free for commercial use or it is very easy to add the filters for pricing and licensing.

1. Photos – Wikimedia Commons
There are two kinds of resources for photos. Ones that apply to a niche, like say photos in an office or photos in a garden. Chances are that you’d get better looking images, be it icons or photos if you look specifically for images in the said niche.

In this case, you want to search for stock images in the particular niche. Like, say “” for say images related to history. But if it is something very finite and you can use a specific keyword you will get a much wider choice at “Wikimedia Commons“. For example, a quick search for airplanes leads you to this page where you will most likely find more sub-categories than you know what to do with. Or if you know exactly what you are looking for, you can go deeper and deeper till you hit jackpot. Granted, the site is a little non-intuitive to navigate through, but once you know how to go about it, it has the broadest collection of free-to-use media at 22 million and counting. And you don’t have to worry about licensing for a single one of them!

2. Icons and Buttons – Fatcow Icons and Freepik Buttons
Icons and buttons, unlike photos have to belong to a certain family to fit into the theme of your site. The sizes have to match and the formats have to be something that you can handle on your computer and/or website.

“Fatcow Icons” has the widest family of Icons – close to 4000 Icons! And what attracts a person like me to this facility is that you have the option to download a version that has the icons categorised into colors! Now, not all of them might be the best looking icons, but the number of icons that belong to one family is a seller.

If you are not happy though, let me sneak in the variety that “Freepik” brings with its icon packs. “Freepik” also has buttons, that you can use. It has a huge variety and you are bound to find what you like.

3. Text Effect – Picture to People
Text used in your blog name or the tagline or even the post title is one of the main tools to get your readers hooked. “Picture to People” offers a wide array of text effects, fonts, sizes, languages and colors. I could spend hours on the site just looking for that perfect mix. It also has a huge range of photo editing tools available at the click of a button. But, photo editing is a monster of its own that is best left for another post.

4. Backgrounds – A blog post with lots of options
The background image you use for text blocks or your website is usually very specific to what your website is about. There isn’t any one site that gives you a huge variety to pick from. “Graphic Burger” has a decent collection, but it is no where close to what your needs might be.

“Fabulous blogging” has a wonderful post that puts together 41 sources for backgrounds depending on the type of background you are looking for.

5. Clipart – openclipart
“openclipart” is easily the best source for free clipart with over 58,000 clipart images. You can search through them category wise and you can browse through the pre-defined collections.

You will notice that a few of the sites above have some of the other kind of images than what I have listed them for. For example, “Freepik” and “Graphic Burger” have a lot more than just buttons and backgrounds respectively. I found those sites best for the specific type of images. Of course, for aesthetically oriented things like images, “best” is subjective. It is very likely though that you will find the image of your choice from one of the sites above.

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