If you happen to be short on funds right now or have been handed a tight budget by a cash-strapped client, there are many free design resources that can help you out.
WRITTEN BY: ANTHONY WOOD
30 APRIL 2020
We’re talking free fonts, templates and mockups or vector illustrations, stock photography, icons and even videos – all the essential assets you might need to complete your projects without costing a penny. And they’re all of the highest quality, too – freebies don’t mean you have to compromise.
To make life easier for you, our designers and teachers at Shillington have collaborated with the Creative Boom team once again to bring you this comprehensive list of recommended resources, which you can download for free (at time of writing).
Free stock images
As far as free stock photo sites go, we think Pexels is one of the best. With a community of photographers and videographers generously donating their work for everyone to download and use, royalty-free, it’s also the first to respond to current affairs, providing the images we might need to illustrate our timely projects.
Known for its high-quality offering of free stock imagery, StockSnap has a whole host of different categories you can browse through, so you’ll never struggle to find what you need. No credit is required but always welcome.
3. Landing Stock
Landing Stock is a niche site providing free stock photos that are suitable for your website landing page. Created by London-based product designer Craig Barber, it features only high-quality, clean and minimalistic photos, that crop well and provides space for copy.
As creators, it’s our duty to ensure our work is diverse and inclusive, representing the whole of society. Nappy is a relative newcomer to the free stock photo sites out there, bringing “beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people, for free”.
5. Photo Creator
Want a photo for your site that no one else has? Photo Creator from Icons8 allows you to combine different stock photos to create your own unique image. Combine objects, people, backgrounds and even images of your own using a browser-based drag-and-drop interface that’s very quick and easy to use. We especially love the way you can add filters to your search.
DrawKit is a collection of free, beautiful, customisable MIT licensed SVG illustrations in two styles, to use on your next website, app, or project.
In Humaaans, Pablo Stanley has created something quite special: modular, vector illustrations of humans that you can mix, match, rotate and position to create your own designs. Whatever you make is free for both commercial and personal use.
Describing itself as “open-source illustration for any idea you can imagine and create”, unDraw is a constantly updated design project by Katerina Limpitsouni featuring beautiful SVG images that you can use completely free and without attribution. We particularly love the ability to quickly add your own hex code to tailor the illustrations to your own projects.
9. Open Peeps
Need something a little more hand-drawn? Open Peeps is the illustration library for you. Created by Pablo Stanley, the open-source flat SVG and PNG assets are available for Sketch, Figma, Studio, and XD. You can even make a donation if you’re able to support Pablo. A little goes a long way.
10. Lukasz Adam Free Illustrations
Lukasz Adam is an independent web designer who’s made a bunch of high-quality vector art illustrations and icons available for free. They can be used for personal and commercial projects.
11. Noun Project
Co-founded by Sofya Polyakov, Edward Boatman and Scott Thomas, The Noun Project brings together over two million curated icons, created by a global community and available for use by designers for free.
Ionicons are premium icons for use by designers in web, iOS, Android and desktop apps. Built by the Ionic Framework team, they’re all free and open source.
13. Simple Icons
Started by Dan Leech, Simple Icons makes free SVG icons for popular brands available to download for free.
This fabulous resource courtesy of icons8.com gives you a whole library of free icons in PNG and SVG. They’re on the ball, too, as they’ve just released a “coronavirus related searches” section for those of you requiring something very current.
Animaticons is a set of high-resolution animated GIFs that you can customise. They are small in file size, compatible with all major browsers, emails, and smartphones and don’t require any special plugins or libraries.
16. Google Fonts
An intuitive and robust directory of open source web fonts for designers to use how they wish. All created to the high standards you’d expect from a web giant like Google.
17. Use & Modify
A personal selection of “classy, punk, professional, incomplete, and weird typefaces”, Use & Modify provides open-source fonts that are free to use and…you guessed it, modify.
Fontfabric is a digital type foundry that creates retail fonts and custom typography for various brands. Rather generously, they also provide a selection of free fonts for anyone to download and use. We love Nexa and Intro, but there are lots more to browse and sample on its nicely designed website.
Dafont is an enormous archive of freely downloadable fonts. Browse by alphabetical listing, by style, by author or by popularity.
20. Font Squirrel
Another extensive archive of free fonts, all free for commercial use.
Free stock videos
Coverr is a source of beautifully shot stock videos that are free to download for commercial and non-commercial use, no attribution required.
Brought to you by Envato, Mixkit is a curated gallery of high-quality videos and animation, made by some of the world’s most talented creators, with all content licensed for free.
Free HD stock footage and 4K videos courtesy of Videezy. Calling itself one of the largest video communities in the world, its collection is provided by its members – most is free to download and use, but there are some paid options, too, should you wish to extend your search.
24. Life of Vids
Life of Vids offers free videos for web designers, filmmakers, advertisers, agencies, or anyone else who can make use of them. You can create infinite loops with most of them, and they’re all available to download for both personal and commercial use.
Videvo offers a ton of free stock videos which can be used free of charge, in both personal and commercial productions. Video clips that carry the Creative Commons 3.0 license must be attributed to the original author.
Free graphic design tools
Claiming to be the “easiest online design tool to create animations and graphics for social and web”, Crello is our new favourite website for our projects. You don’t even need design skills to get started. There are lots to choose from as well with more than 4,000 pre-designed animated layouts alone.
A free alternative to Adobe XD, Pencil is an open-source and powerful tool that allows you to design the prototypes for web, mobile and desktop applications. Available for all platforms. Perfect.
Simple to use in the browser, with no downloads required, Canva is a surprisingly powerful and flexible graphic design tool. It’s no Photoshop, but it can do a lot of basic design tasks quite efficiently using drag and drop.
Created by a non-profit organisation, Inkscape is a professional quality vector graphics software that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux. It’s open-source and free to download.
30. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is a full-featured vector graphic design app that works on all platforms. The free version comes with 500MB of cloud storage.
Free mockup tools
Design your own device mockups in seconds with free tool Shotsnapp. Choose a device, add an image of your design or screenshot, make the tweaks you want, then download your mockup image.
Screely enables you to instantly turn a screenshot into a mockup, without the need for Sketch or Photoshop templates. Just upload your image, and the app will do the rest.
Copy and paste a URL into Screenpeek, and it will generate an attractive mockup in just 10 seconds. Created by Hans Pagel and Philipp Kuhn, this app is free for iPhone mockups only.
Another great website where you can create realistic mockups for your websites, apps, and more with no Photoshop or plugins required. Everything is organising under helpful categories, too, like ‘Macbook’ and ‘packaging’. It’s all right there.
35. Mockup World
Mockup World claims to be the biggest source of free photorealistic mockups online. It’s packed with free, fully layered, easily customisable photo realistic PSDs from around the world, ready to use in your projects, app showcases, and presentations.
Free image editing tools
Need to remove the background from a photo? This free tool can do it surprisingly quickly, and it just takes one click.
37. Social Sizes
Created by Peter Assentorp, Social Sizes provides designers with the best sizes to use for image and video content on social media. Templates for Sketch, Adobe XD and Photoshop, are all included, and downloadable for free.
fotor isn’t just a “design maker”, it’s a photo editor where you can crop, rotate, fine-tune, colour, resize or add effects to any image – all within your browser window. You can also create photo collages.
39. Pixel Editor X
Pixel Editor has a long track record as a basic but reliable photo editor that’s free to use within the browser. They’ve just released a new version, Pixel Editor X, which is faster, has more editing tools and integrates with Dropbox.
Free screenshot tools
This web and desktop application enables you to quickly grab screenshots and share the URLs with colleagues, as well as live, multi-person drawing and sketching.
41. Giphy Capture
This free Mac app makes it easy to capture parts of your screen and export them as Gifs or MP4 files. Capture GIFs up to 30 seconds long with just a couple of clicks.
This free and open-source application for Windows combines a screen, webcam and sketch board recorder with an integrated editor.
A lightweight, free and open-source tool for screen capture and file sharing, ShareX has benefited from over 11 years of active development by its community.
Snappy is a workmanlike app for taking and collaborating on snapshots for iPhone, iPad and Mac. (A Windows version is “coming soon”.)
Another free Mac app, Lightshot allows you to capture any part of your screen, upload it to their server and get a nice short link. You can also add lines, arrows and text annotations as soon as you capturing.
Behance, part of the Adobe network, is a popular online platform to showcase and discover creative work, including art, illustration, graphic design, UI design and animation.
Another popular and lively online community for showcasing creative work. While Behance is mainly completed work, Dribbble specialises in smaller snapshots (aka ‘shots’) of in-progress work.
Httpster is an inspiration resource showcasing website designs from all over the world. The emphasis is not on flashy features but a “less is more” approach to design.
49. Microcopy Inspirations
Microcopy is often the forgotten element in digital design. So visit this site to find curated examples of excellence in areas such as 404 pages, newsletter text and e-commerce writing.
A beautifully designed website that shares some of the best creativity out there. It’s a veritable curated feast of branding projects, packaging designs, and editorial features, offering support to those they feature and inspiration to the rest of the creative community.