Whether you’re designing a landing page or a PowerPoint presentation, a few illustrations can go a long way in making it eye-catching. Here’s a collection of websites with stocks of free and royalty-free illustrations and vectors to download.
You can always grab real stock photographs, but plain stock images seem a bit stuffy and old-school now, don’t they? Illustrations add that extra zing to seem modern and trendy. These portals will give you customizable style-packs as well as images that concentrate on diversity and inclusiveness.
Important: Whichever royalty-free image you use, you need to read the fine print. Most of them require you to link back or attribute the source. It’s best to understand copyrights to legally use images on the web. If you don’t do it the right way, you might get sued or penalized for huge amounts.
1. Glaze (Web): Large Library of Free Low-Res Images
Glaze is a stock image library of illustrations from different designers. It has a much larger collection than most libraries. But there’s a catch: you can only download a low-resolution version for free.
That said, for a web publisher, you can get the job done with these low-resolution versions. They are typically larger than 400 square pixels, available as lossless PNG files. And all images require attribution. For $20, you can download the full-size PNG and AI files, and skip attribution.
Glaze has an excellent collection spread across genres like people, backgrounds, business and commerce, teamwork, empty state, places, technology, travel, health and sciences, mindfulness, around the house, working, and animals. It also identifies the artist, so you can get multiple illustrations from the same style set.
2. Ouch.pics (Web): Free Vectors Grouped by Style
Free illustrations and vectors let you easily mix and match two different images. But if you try to combine any two, you’ll end up with something that is jarring or clashing. To avoid that, combine only images from the same style set.
Even using the same artist doesn’t mean you’ll get the same style set. Ouch.pics by Icons8 makes your job easier by grouping these style sets. Scroll to Free Vector Styles to find readymade packs, each describing what you’re likely to find inside.
You don’t need to download the whole pack either. Ouch.pics lets you browse all the illustrations online, and download select pieces. You can use the PNG files with a linkback, or subscribe to Icons8 to use it attribution-free.
IconScout gives you a combination of the best features of both Glaze and Ouch.pics. It hosts a large collection of free high-resolution illustrations and segregates them into style packs in case you want to customize them.
This is one of the few websites that gives you extremely high-resolution illustrations for free. All images are available in 4K resolution, and you can resize them before you download them. You will get them in PNG and EPS formats.
Unregistered accounts can only download five images, so it’s best to sign up. Plus, if you sign up, you can select multiple images while browsing, and then download them all together. It’s a much more user-friendly way to grab what you need.
Most illustrations on IconScout use the CC 4.0 license, which states you can freely use the images for personal or commercial purposes if you attribute the source and indicate the changes.
4. Fresh Folk (Web): Inclusive and Diverse Human Illustrations
Representation matters, and diversity is a key element of how you use images. Fresh Folk is a fantastic set of illustrated humans and other elements. You can mix and match them to create custom images that show inclusiveness.
You’ll need to download the illustration pack to use it offline. It’s a large zip file of over 100 MB. You can then tweak the human models with different skin tones, hair types, clothes, and poses. There are 43 objects that you can use. In the end, you can create any situation or scene that you want, thus representing diversity.
Diversity is one of those things you can forget about in your projects. But when you have the models available, the ability to create any image you want, you can make the final images more inclusive.
Fresh Folk uses the CC 4.0 license, which means you can use them anywhere if you attribute the source.
5. Drawkit (Web): Attribution-Free Illustrations in Two Styles
Even with copyright-free illustrations, you must attribute or linkback to the source. That gets difficult sometimes when you’re using it in commercial spaces. Drawkit removes that problem with free and attribution-free illustrations.
The pack features a total of 54 SVG illustrations, available in two styles: Colored, and Black-and-white. With a good image editor, you can easily change the colored pictures to a palette of your choice.
Designer James Daly updates the set regularly too. Sign up to stay informed of new additions. It’s a cool and diverse range of images, from product shots to people using common objects or and doing common tasks.
If you like the list, check out Daly’s other illustration packs. There are paid packs with more images, usually set around a theme.
How to Stand Out When Using Stock Photos
Like you, there are other designers who are reading this article or discovering the same stock illustrations through various sources. If everyone uses the same files, your images will look alike. How can you avoid this?
The trick is to check out all the above illustration packs, not just the one that seems to fit your needs. With vectors, customization is key. Get the right set together and then make it your own. If you want to stand out from the pack, you need to be creative in how you get the images too, like visiting these lesser-known stock image sites.