Whether you’re crafting your own wedding invitations, creating graphics for your blog, designing digital downloads for Etsy or producing your own e-book, there are a whole lotta creative resources available on the world wide web. But with such a vast selection at your fingertips, what’s good? And which ones are worth your hard earned pennies?
Today I thought I’d share with you the design resources that I have tried and tested, and use (almost) on the daily:
Each month a series of free, high quality images are delivered straight to your inbox. Not all images may suit your niche, but the images are contemporary and well-shot, making them the best free stock images in my mind.
The theme month-to-month does vary greatly (from café shots to out in the wilderness) but the first 2 packs are particularly useful if you’re writing about tech/design/creativity/digital technology, etc.
Super babe Chitra offers free light, bright stock images (mostly of stationary, art supplies and flowers on desktops) in portrait and landscape orientation just by subscribing to her mailing list.
Beyond the freebies there’s also an excellent range of bright Instagram-friendly flatlay and desk shots for sale, including a great series of iPhones, Mac laptop screens and picture frames that you can Photoshop your work (such as a preview of your website or a beautiful quote) into.
No, the photos on Stocksy aren’t cheap, but for a beautifully curated selection of Pinterest-worthy images, Stocksy is is #1 my go-to. Prices start at US$15 a pop, and if your target audience are aged in the 18-35 range, Stocksy has an incredible selection of beautifully styled, beautifully shot images that’ll resonate with your niche.
The site itself is so easy to use, allowing you to create an endless series of “galleries” for you to save and categorise your wishlist for future purchases.
It’s no secret that us bloggers despise paying for stock imagery, and free libraries are few and far between. Life of Pix is one of those rare-as-hen’s-teeth free stock image libraries with great quality, high-res images. There are no copyright restrictions and images can be used for free for personal commercial use. Can I get a “hallelujah”?!?
Graphics, Icons, Templates & Mockups
All hail Creative Market! If you want to save time (and money) on creating collateral for your business– whether it be a business card design, brochure, e-book or a mockup of your eProduct–Creative Market is your new bff.
In the early days of establishing your creative business, hiring a graphic designer is not always a financially viable option, and Creative Market sells a plethora of fantastic resources. There’s everything here: fonts, stock photos, Photoshop filters, patterns, paper textures, website themes, brochure templates and so.much.more.
This is icon mecca– from social media buttons, to web-user icons and everything in between, Iconmonstr has an excellent range of icons for your designs, buttons and widgets. Best of all, they’re free for personal and commercial use.
Flat Icon has a really great selection of great looking icons and vectors. The design are grouped into packs, meaning it’s super easy to find a whole suite of icons that work together.
The search engine makes the icons easy to find, and the packs includes a really clever Photoshop plugin which inserts your icons directly into your artwork. There is a free (but limiting) plan, and paid plans start from $9.99.
The name really says it all. Endless Icons is the home of an excellent range of free icons for your blog and biz, from the obvious (social media, tech), to the not-so-standard (food, beauty, shopping, sport and more).
High quality free design graphics. Here you can download everything from WordPress themes, background textures, PSD mockups, email templates, resumé templates, social media icons, vectors, illustrations and a tonne more.
Yet another excellent source for 100% free design tools and graphics, with stock imagery, stationary mockups (great for Etsy sellers!), textures, fonts, icons, packaging mockups, text effects, UI kits and so.much.more.
Mockup your latest web design, app, inspirational quote or social media grab on this range of mobile, tablet, desktop computer, laptop and picture frame mockups. There’s a great range of situations, from hand-held devices to light, bright work desks. Best of all, they have a wonderful contemporary feel that’s not too stock-y. Their free mockups can be found here.
MyFonts is my go-to for finding great looking, contemporary fonts. It also has a great search tool called WhatTheFont! where you can upload a picture of a font you’ve spotted and it searches its database for a perfect match. Pretty cool, right?
Font Squirrel has a great selection of free and *almost* free fonts (like one of my favourites, Bebas Neue) for commercial use. Yes, really! F-r-e-e.
Another free library of fonts, including one of my all time favourites, Master of Break (it’s a lovely script font).
Another excellent resource for free fonts, this time brought to you by the good folk at Google.
When I worked in fashion (approximately ten thousand years ago), Adobe Photoshop was the first photo editing tool I learnt to use, and it’s been hard to break my love affair with this program since. Yes, there’s now a plethora of free photo editing software available on the market these days, but for all of the bells-and-whistles for editing snaps from my photoshoot, cutting out images, creating Pinterest pins, designing social media graphics and more, Photoshop is worth the investment. Note: you can now sign up for a month-to-month, cancel anytime plan which is a great option if you don’t need to use it every month.
aka, “the game changer”. I’m a member of a number of excellent blogging groups on Facebook, and tens of thousands of members wax lyrical about the wonders of Canva. In a nutshell it’s a incredibly easy to use graphic design tool. With Canva you can create posters, social media banners, blog post images, “thank you” cards…. and so much more using their drag-and-drop design tools. It’s incredibly easy to use, and there is a (basic) free version too.
My friend Kathy often tells the story of how we first met: we were both 5 years old and I was sitting at my school desk with all of my colored pencils fanned out in a perfect rainbow gradient. She thought I was the coolest kid going around, and needless to say my obsession with color has never ended.
Color Lovers is the home of millions of colors, palettes and patterns, submitted by clever creatives all over the world. This site is particularly useful when creating a new brand.
Looking for some color inspo for your next digital design? Flat UI Colors is a no-frills, online color palette. If you like a particular hue, simply click on the tile to copy the color code.
As a creative, it’s hard to imagine life without Pinterest– the holy mecca of design inspiration. Not only do I use Pinterest for my own design inspiration, but also for my clients. On a side note, Pinterest is the biggest driver of traffic to my site.
Do you have any resources, programs or tools that you just love to use? Pop them down in the comments below– I’d love to hear from you!
* when using these design resources be sure to check the license agreement to ensure your use meets their t&c’s