Free Essentials for Designers: Textures, Patterns

by Francis Ocran
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Following two years of pandemic-busting disruption, many of us will be feeling the pinch. If you’re a graphic designer running your own business, then you’ll want to save every penny you can over the next 12 months. To help, we’ve pulled together an essential guide to the best free resources for your next graphic design projects.


Free stock images

As any graphic designer will tell you, some projects are not complete until there is some decent accompanying photography. Shots of people in various situations or city landscapes can add that extra something. Here are our favourite free stock image sites to browse and enjoy. But designers, ensure you keep a record of where you sourced each stock picture from for future reference.

1. Nappy

Offering a mix of “beautiful photos of black and brown people, for free”, Nappy was founded to address the traditional stock photo sites that were once lacking in diversity. An essential resource for any creative, all of Nappy’s images are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero agreement, giving you peace of mind.

2. Moose

Promising stock photos by a “movie-scale crew”, Moose brings you options of people, ethnicity, style, fashion and more. A handy category list and search box help you narrow down what you need. We especially like the background imagery – plenty to choose from.

3. StockSnap

One of the originals and still one of the best, StockSnap continues to expand its most excellent range of free stock imagery. It’s always interesting to see what photographs are “trending”. At the time of writing, it seems anything to do with beauty and nature is proving popular with the creative community.

4. Pexels

A favourite stand-out resource of ours is Pexels, which offers free stock photos, royalty-free and shared by other creators. We love checking out the leaderboard to see which users have had the most views of their photos and videos in the last 30 days. This site has a real community behind it, so add it to your list today.

5. Unsplash

Another stock photo site powered by a friendly community of photographers, all uploading free stock pics for you to download and use. There are some really decent choices via Unsplash. This could be our favourite.

6. FreeImages

Royalty-free photographs by subject, photographer, or even camera – all completely free to download and use for either personal or commercial use.

7. Burst

A super resource courtesy of Shopify, Burst brings you free, high-resolution images for your projects. From categories such as fitness and beauty to business, sign language and nature, there are also textures and backgrounds available, so there is plenty to play with.

8. New Old Stock

This does exactly what it says on the tin: vintage photos from the public archives, free of known copyright restrictions and with the aim of recapturing history. You never know when you might need a black and white 100-year-old cityscape or portraits from another era.

9. Free Nature Stock

Another royalty-free CC0 resource with a particular focus on nature stock photos and videos. Created by Adrian Pelletier, a graphic designer and self-taught front-end developer. Bring us mountains, beaches and lakes galore!

10. ISO Republic

Promising thousands of free and high-resolution stock images and videos, ISO is a one-stop-shop for all your visual needs. Have fun browsing the various sections, from people and food to travel and animals.


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