While the events of 2020-21 have reminded us that money isn’t everything, they have certainly sent the economy into a tailspin. As a result, creative budgets have tightened, agencies have pulled back on recruitment, and even many experienced freelancers have experienced a drop in income.
But if money is tight, there is one silver lining. There’s a seemingly endless supply of free resources out there, from apps to assets, that can save you cash and make you more productive.
That said, it’s hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, so in this post, we at Shillington have brought together the best of the best. Read on to discover 50 fabulous design resources you can download for free (at time of writing).
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.
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 provide 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”.
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.
Created by three recently graduated architecture students, Pimp My Drawing is a free source of people silhouettes for architects and designers. You can download free CAD blocks, illustrations and drawings in dwg and ai formats, and you don’t even need to register.
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.
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.
Storytale is a subscription-based stock illustration site. But if you don’t want to pay, you can find a number of free illustrations here too, gathered together under the ‘Freebies’ tab. We particularly like their selection of vector illustrations for use on a 404 error page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another extensive archive of free fonts, all free for commercial use.
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.
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.
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.
It’s easy to stick to the same old typeface combinations, time after time. But if your design work is starting to look stale as a result, here’s a great way to change things up. Fontjoy draws on deep learning to generate new and original font pairings for you. The text is editable, so you can try replacing it with your client’s name, or any other copy, to see how it works in practice.
Simple to use in the browser, with no downloads required, Canva is a surprisingly powerful and flexible graphic design tool. It’s no InDesign, but it can do a lot of basic design tasks quite efficiently using drag and drop.
Gravit Designer is a full-featured vector graphic design app that works on all platforms. The free version comes with 500MB of cloud storage.
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.
Brandpad is a free tool that helps designers to create strong, conceptual and functional brand guidelines. This cloud-based platform enables you to do everything from asset creation to sharing and usage in one place. And we love how the site’s own branding is totally neutral, so it doesn’t get in the way of your own visual work.
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.
LovelyMockups.com was founded in 2016 by two designers and start-up enthusiasts from Slovenia, and provides you with ready to use premium mockup templates, made with high-res photos, absolutely free. These templates are perfect for website banners, online portfolio, ppt presentations, social media, catalogs and billboards.
Want to show clients how your designs will look on a real-life device? Shooting your own photography is a lot of work, so MockDrop saves the bother by providing you with free stock photos of people holding devices with blank screens. Upload your screenshot, and it automatically gets added to the photo, ready for you to download. Genius!
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.
Founded by Shillington’s Global Managing Director Anthony Wood, House of Mockups strives to provide the highest quality, realistic mockups and resources for Graphic Designers. The collection is just getting started, but bookmark this one for the place to go for free and premium mockups with outstanding art direction.
Need to remove the background from a photo? This free tool can do it surprisingly quickly, and it just takes one click.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
If you need to take a screenshot of an entire web page, here’s a free app for that. This browser extension allows you to screengrab everything on the page, including both the part on your screen and the part below it, in a single click. Created by independent software developer Peter Coles, it’s currently available for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
Snappy is a workmanlike app for taking and collaborating on snapshots for iPhone, iPad and Mac. (A Windows version is “coming soon”.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you see a typeface on a font foundry’s website, it’s often tricky to imagine how it will work in practice. So head to Fonts in Use, a public archive of typography indexed by typeface, format, industry, and period. Search for the font in question, and you’ll be served up a selection of examples of how it’s been used in practice, from graphic design to film and TV.
Good luck using these free resources on your future graphic design projects!
Want to take your design career to the next level? Study design 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time at Shillington Online or On Campus in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane –> www.shillingtoneducation.com.