The creative process can be full of small speed bumps to huge mountains. Some things can make the actual execution of your ideas be so much easier. I’ve often been asked where I get my fonts or vectors or how to find good images for my designs. In honor of Christmas, and in an ode to one of my all time favorite movies “The Sound of Music”, I want to give you a short list of a few of my favorite things. To be more precise, I want to share with you a few of my favorite free (and almost free) resources. I do have many other resources that I use that are not free but that will have to be a post for another time.
Creativity and coming up with ideas can sometimes come fairly easily but when we need resources to bring our sketches to life, sometimes it’s not so easy to do without going broke. We all need elements to work with, from fonts to vector graphics, to photoshop actions and illustrator brushes. The rendering stage is filled with hours of searching for exactly the right complimentary graphics for our ideas. Here’s my list of free and almost free resources that I have been using a lot lately.
For Working with Type
“Lost Type is a Collaborative Digital Type Foundry. Lost Type is the first of its kind, a Pay-What-You-Want type foundry. Since 2011 Lost Type has been a source for unique typefaces, with a collection of over 50 different faces from contributors all over the world. 100% of the funds from sales of these fonts go directly to their respective designers.”
It’s next to impossible to find quality freeware (fonts) that you can actually get a commercial license for. Font Squirrel basically does the hard work for you and hand-selects all the typefaces they feature and present them in a format that is easy to use. You can test out the fonts and see the kind of use they are best suited for.
For Your Photo Needs
One that I go to time and time again, especially for personal projects is Unsplash. It is a photo resource that is not only free, but they have fantastic photos. The only downside to these photos is if you use them unedited, so do a lot of other designers, bloggers, etc. So just be aware that because these are awesome and free, a ton of people use them. All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
Death to Stock Photos
Death to Stock will send you 10 photos within a category every month directly to your inbox. Death to Stock’s goal is to give a variety of options for photos that you can use for designs, mockups, blog posts or social media. A percentage of the premium membership goes to pay for their photographers to go to cool places and take more awesome photos. Death to stock photo uses their own license which you can read on their webpage. As they say, “We aim to be just like coffee for the modern creative.” So there you go.
For Your Graphics Needs
Freepik is a site in which you’ll find thousands of free graphic resources. They offer Vectors, Photos, Icons, and PSDs. In my experience, I feel like their strongest resources are in the Vector category. But depending on what you need for your specific project, you can almost guarantee that you’ll find some element of use. Among their many resources, many of them are exclusive to FreePik, created by their own design team.
Design Cuts has been an amazing resource for me, particularly for my personal (passion) projects but also for paid client work. They offer design resources of all kinds at 80%-95% savings. Resources like fonts, backgrounds, and vector packs are all chosen carefully by the Design Cuts team and presented in detail so you know exactly what you’re getting before you buy anything. Quality resources are hard to find at times and Design Cuts will save you hours of searching and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. I buy their bundles every chance I get even if I don’t actually need those specific resources, they allow for building my stock and resource library for future projects.
There’s so many projects I have had that I wanted to find a texture for. Whether it be a crumpled piece of paper, or concrete, or wood, Textures.com has a huge variety of high resolution textures to choose from at zero cost with an account (which is also free). Such a valuable place to find high resolution textures of literally everything you can imagine.
GraphicBurger is a “buffet” (their word, not mine) of premium mockup resources. They do also offer other resources such as graphics bundles, fonts, and PSDs but I have found that I come to them time and time again for their quality mockups.
Other Useful Resources
Spoon Graphics offers a variety of great content. They feature tutorials, freebies, discount bundles, mockups, and articles that share inspiration from various creative genres. There are also periodic updates on the site about cool new deals in all of the above areas. There is also an option to purchase a premium membership that gives you loads of awesome resources on a regular basis that aren’t available on the site for free.
Creative Live offers workshops in photography, video, design, business, audio, music, crafting, and software training. They make learning easy and accessible by making their live online workshops FREE. The value you can get out of their workshops is invaluable; you can even interact with instructors in real time. I love creative live as a resource for me to add to not only my design knowledge but also to learn more about other creative endeavors that interest me. Learning is one of the most powerful resources you will ever have and Creative Live offers it free and easy, so no excuses!
I know how difficult it can be to find inspiration, but sometimes we have great ideas but not a lot of resources on how to make those ideas come alive visually, especially when our funds are limited. I hope that these few resources will help you make more amazing work. If you have any other free or almost free resources that you love, please share them! Design is a wonderful world. I hope you’ll join me here, because design matters.