Hiring an illustrator or designer is a great way to have custom images created for your project. Sometimes, there isn’t enough time or budget to do this. Or maybe you want to have a go at personalizing your own images! The good news is that there are many places online where you can find images to use, sometimes for free.
There is a difference between images that are free and images that are okay to use. All images on Google are listed there for free, but not all of them are okay to use for our own projects. Images are often protected by Copyright. If we want to use them, we need to either get explicit permission from the author or purchase the correct licence.
I’m going to share with you some sites I use to look for pre-made images. If you know of any other galleries I haven’t mentioned, or if you have your own stock image site, feel free to reach out and let me know!
🌱 FREE RESOURCES
Resources on these sites are free to use. Attribution is not always needed, but make sure you check on the site itself, because their terms might have changed after the publish date of this post
Pixabay These are completely free. Sometimes you will be prompted to thank or attribute the creator, but this is optional. Images on this site are CC00 (Public Domain). Here you can find photos, illustrations, vectors, videos, and even music and sound effects!
Pexels These are also completely free. Sometimes you will be prompted to thank or attribute the creator, but this is optional. Images on this site are CC00 (Public Domain). Here you can find photos and videos.
Unsplash Their photos are free to use for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Attribution is not needed, but it's appreciated. Other than photos, they also have 3D renders.
Picspree They have royalty free photos, illustrations and vectors. When you click on an image you can immediately see the licence, which is very handy for creators.
Focastock They have CC00 (Public Domain) photos, video and some graphic templates. You can even edit the templates on the website itself and download them after you have customized them.
Kaboompics They have photos for personal and commercial use and some concepts are also in the form of photoshoots, so you can find many images of the same theme. Their search mode is very cool, they allow search by orientation (horizontal, vertical) and color palette. In my opinion these look very Insta.
Libreshot This is a site of CC00 (Public Domain) photos shared by a professional photographer.
Wikimedia Commons These images are also free, but it's important to pay attention because in some cases you must attribute the author of the image. It depends on the image licence. Some of these are Creative Commons, so you can use them as long as you fulfil the conditions of the licence The only ones that you don’t have to attribute are CC00 or Public Domain.
Inclusive Illustrations - University of Chicago This is a collection of downloadable images that represent a wide variety of people, as an alternative to the sometimes non-inclusive stock images that we can find in other sites. They are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution and available as JPG, PNG and SVG.
Shapefest This is a huge library of free 3D resources, including icons, shapes and objects. You can even browse based on material!
Google icons They are free for everyone to use, but make sure to check their licence before you do so.
Coolicons These icons are free to use, and you can even download the editable SVG file to make them your own.
💸 FREEMIUM RESOURCES
Freemium sites are the ones that have the option to download images for free but they also have a paid option with more features.
Freepik You can use their images for free, but you must attribute the author. You also have the option to purchase a Premium subscription and use their images without attribution. Here you can find photos, illustrations, vectors, mockups and icons.
Rawpixel They have Premium content but they also have a Public Domain section, which you can easily find on the menu. They have photos, illustrations and backgrounds.
Envato Elements They have a subscription model where you pay per month for access to photos, illustrations, mockups, icons, slide and video templates, 3D renders and fonts. Each month, they offer some files for free. They also have certain resources that are always free.
Canva They have an online tool that you can use to create and store your own images and designs online with the pre-made elements that they offer. There is a free version of it and a premium one with extra features, like the handy background remover.
Visme This is an especially good tool for creating infographics and presentations. They have beautiful customizable infographic templates, charts, maps and you can even apply color schemes automatically with one click. Their free version has limited templates and resources, but they offer a premium one with more possibilities.
💰 PAID RESOURCES
🧬 SCIENTIFIC/MEDICAL IMAGES
I have created this separate section in case someone is looking specifically for scientific or anatomy images, which sometimes aren't easy to find in other stock image sites.
National Cancer Institute Most of these images are free, either Public Domain or can be used with the appropriate attribution.
Servier Medical Art They have a large library of free scientific and medical images that can be downloaded directly as Power Point slide decks.
Medical Stock Images They have many realistic medical images searchable by categories, like body system and medical discipline. These are paid images, so be sure to check their licences if you want to use these images.
BioRender They have a large library of vector images that you can use to create your own scientific figures. To help with this, they also have their own platform where you can add images from their library and edit them to create your figures or graphical abstracts. They have a freemium model, so you can either use it for free or purchase a subscription depending on how you want to use the images.
I hope you found this list useful! If you think some platforms are missing, feel free to let me know. I'll keep updating this post if I find new information. As always, I'm open to feedback or questions.