Whether it’s for inspiration, to save time or save money, as graphic and website designers we all lean on creative resources from time to time. Since the internet is such a wonderful place we now have access to a wide range of creative resources to provide that creative spark and really enhance the finished design. We’re putting this post together in the hope of spreading the word about some of our favourites.
Icons and SVGs
Essential for most web and graphic design projects, icons and SVGs give context to the overall design and are great for user experience. If you’re on the hunt for some inspiration, the following resources are perfect:
Flaticon is a fantastically broad catalogue of vector icons. It claims to be the largest collection of SVGs, PNGs and PSDs, providing you easy access to graphics in any format you require. We like Flaticon because you can change the colour, dimensions and file type before downloading an icon. You can either pay through attribution (e.g. giving the original designer credit) or you can access a premium plan for only 9.99 Euros per month. There’s no tie ins and you can download as many icons as you like – pretty good value for money.
The Noun Project
Another brilliant resource for flat vector icons is the Noun Project. The Noun Project has a database of over 2 million SVG icons and operates the same model as Flaticon – either credit the designers or subscribe to a paid subscription for unlimited icons. If you can’t find it on Flaticon, have a browse of The Noun Project.
If you’ve been a graphic or web designer for a little while you’ll have quickly felt limited by standard fonts accessible through Illustrator and even Google fonts. This is where the following websites prove really valuable. The list of websites below is a great resource of fonts that are free for commercial use:
Font Squirrel scour the web to find high quality, appealing free to use fonts. Narrow down your hunt for the perfect font through useful filters. Whether you’re looking for a sans serif, handwritten or gothic font, we’re sure you’ll find it there. Plus, no need to credit a designer or pay for a subscription.
Another great font resource is Dafont. More extensive than font squirrel, Dafont allows you to specify what you are looking for in greater detail. This said, not all fonts are free for commercial use so keep an eye out for whether you’ll need to buy a licence to use your chosen typeface.
Sometimes when you can’t quite make a design work to it’s full potential, it’s really useful to get back to basics and ensure that you’re using a complimentary colour palette. Often a small adjustment to your colour scheme is all that is needed to really make a design pop. These tools help you find inspiring colour palettes as well as colour combinations that work perfectly.
Simply type in a starting colour hex code and Colorhexa will do the rest for you. Colorhexa is a free colour tool that enables you to find perfect colour pairings and complimentary colours. As well as finding various colour palettes, this resource will provide all the information you require, such as converting from RGB to CMYK, colour alternatives, colour shades and even more.
Adobe Color does something very similar to Colorhexa in a slightly more dynamic way. This website will produce suggested colour combinations, shades and more as you move the colour wheel in the centre to different colours. Could be a great option if you’re not fond of Colorhexa for any reason.
Royalty Free Images
No design would ever be complete without some well thought out imagery. Whether you’re selling shampoo or advertising B2B services you will certainly need to resort to stock images at some point. If you have the cash to spare, paid stock image sites are the way to go (Shutterstock for instance) however if you are a graphic or web designer by trade this spend can quickly add up. Here’s a list of our favourite image resources that won’t break the bank:
One of our all time favourite websites, subtle patterns does what it says on the tin. Currently 50 pages and counting, you’ll find some of the best patterns and geometric designs that work great for complimentary backgrounds across all mediums. Bare in mind that some of the accessible files are of a small dimension, so you’ll need to manually repeat the images for graphic design or do it programmatically via CSS if you’re more of a web kind of person.
Pexels, Pixabay & Unsplash
We’ve combined these royalty free stock image sites just because they all do the same thing. Between Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash you’ll find images for every application, every industry and every audience. Although from a usability perspective we like the ability to choose image dimensions for downloaded files via Pixabay, all of these websites are equally great for providing a vast range of free to use images.
Pikwizard is the latest addition to the stock photography family. It holds over 100,000 images, with 20,000 that are completely exclusive to the site. What makes Pikwizard stand out though is its high-quality images of people, which are few and far between on the best stock photography sites. There is also no attribution required!
Once you’re done completing a design project for a client, it’s now time to present this work in your portfolio in order to attract more! Your portfolio mockups need to be slick, engaging and hopefully presented in an original fashion. The below resource will enable you to create a fresh portfolio in moments.
For most designers creating a mockup of their work isn’t too challenging, however Smartmockups does a very good job of providing endless formats for a very low monthly fee (no tie in). Access different templates, from isolated mobile devices to in context desktops, laptops and banners and effortlessly create a finished design in seconds. We reckon once you’ve tried Smartmockups it’s unlikely you’ll ever go back to doing it manually yourself.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.