It’s a common problem that faces web designers, especially those who sell themes and templates on sites such as Themeforest. Having decent images will definitely help to sell more copies of your design, but that means you need to find royalty-free images which are safe to use in commercial projects. Normally, for better quality images, you’d have to spend money on sites such as iStockphoto, in some cases having to pay even more for extended licenses.
They’re sometimes hard to find, but there are a few sites which offer royalty-free images for free, with a requirements that you either ask for permission from the authors if you are using the images commercially, or attribute them and so on. These can be useful, but if you would rather have images with no hassle and no copyright concerns, then you can visit some sites that offer 100% free images, for use in anything. In this post, I’ll show you some websites from both of these categories.
First of all, let’s take a look at stock.xchng (that’s the name, not it’s web address – see sxc.hu). You have to create a free account, but you can download any of over 400,000 free images available. There’s a huge selection of photos available, and they’re all free. Of course, you get similar images from iStockphoto showing up mixed in with the free results, so be careful. Also, you need to be careful to check the licenses for each photo, as the different authors have different requirements and limits on how you use their photos.
Unsplash is a fantastic Tumblr site, offering 10 new photos every 10 days. Unlike Stock.xchng, you don’t need to make an account, and there are absolutely no restrictions on the images. They’re 100% free, suitable for commercial use, or in other words – “do whatever you want” with them. Specifically, their licensed under CC0 which simply confirms that the images are completely free. You can subscribe on Tumblr to make sure you always get the new images, and you can even submit some of your photos.
Gratisography is a site with a nicer, more modern responsive design. Once again, all the images are completely free for any use, and “free from copyright restrictions”. You don’t need to make an account, and all the images are even high-resolution. In fact, I was going to use an image from this site for the featured image of this post, but the resolution was too high for this WordPress installation to handle!
I often use this site to find images. Technically it’s a wallpaper site, but they are free and very good quality images available in almost any resolution for any device. You don’t need an account to download the images, but it is optional. However, you do need to be careful with copyright and licensing as most images require at least attribution and are not available for use in commercial projects – but I have seen some Themeforest themes use images from this site. Even if you don’t use pictures from this site for your theme, the images still make fantastic wallpapers!
These are the four sites I like to use most often when searching for images. There are endless uses on websites, a good example is fullscreen background images for items such as Under Construction templates. When making themes for commercial sale, you need to be careful. While it’s often fine to use images in the live previews of items, you need to make sure you’re allowed to do this as you are technically ‘selling’ the images although not directly. If you want to be extra careful, I recommend using images from sites such as Unsplash or Gratisography that offer copyright-free images.
Good luck finding images for your themes, and remember to be careful with copyright!