When it comes to graphic design, a designer’s ability to efficiently produce creative work depends not only on his or her own skill set, but also upon the resources available. Having spent nearly seven years as an in-house designer for an airport, I know finding just the right image, icon or typeface can be tough. Even if you’ve got an advanced degree in graphic design or art direction, you still rely on quality resources to help you knock your projects out of the park. I’ve collected a few resources over the years and am happy to share them with you with the hope that they’ll make your job easier and your projects even better.
- My first stop when looking for a photo is morguefile.com. It contains photos that can be used as reference material, and there’s a wide variety of quality work. Be sure to read the fine print, but this is a great stop for images.
- Another great site is freeimages.com. This one has more than 350,000 quality stock photos that exist just for designers like us who need great, free images. If you use this site, just beware of the “premium results” that populate at the top AND bottom of your search results. Those aren’t free.
- Airliners.net is an aviation photo search engine. To use any image posted on the site, you must contact the copyright holder, but their information is posted with each image, so it’s pretty easy. You can search by type of aircraft, airline and even airport. Go crazy with it!
- GraphicStock.com has some nice vector graphics, including icon packs with airplane images and other relevant icons you’ll find useful. You’ll get seven days of free downloads when you sign up for a trial, so even if you don’t want a full subscription, go get some free graphics for your library.
- Sometimes all you need is a texture for a background. Textures Library gives you just that, and it’s all free. I particularly like the fabric and stone collections.
- I generally try to avoid free fonts because the quality is often terrible, but with a discerning eye it is possible to find quality typefaces on dafont.com. If you use this site, pay close attention to the file rights before downloading anything. (I make it a rule to only download the font files that are labeled “free” — that way it’s never unclear which font files on my system are okay for use in commercial work.)
- A more refined site that offers a curated list of typefaces that are all labeled as free for commercial use is fontsquirrel.com. This one’s got a really nice selection.
- Finally, here’s a list of the 100 Best Free Fonts by Creative Bloq — another resource I keep in my bookmarks folder.
I have plenty more resources to share, including in the categories of color, tutorials and printing resources, but I’ll save those for another post. In the meantime, share your own favorite resource in the comments section!