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Free Web Graphics: Where to Get Them (Legally!)

Updated on September 9, 2014

Free Stock Photos

Morguefile has amazing images released to the public domain, no credit required.
Morguefile has amazing images released to the public domain, no credit required. | Source

Add Images, Photos, or Graphics to Your Lenses the Right Way

With all the clip art, free web graphics, and stock photography sites out there, it's easy to make your lenses and webpages look great without breaking copyright!

Some people think images posted on the web are up for grabs. They aren't, any more than beach towels on the beach. Other people think it's okay to take graphics if you're not making money with them. Nope! You still need permission.

Luckily, lots of generous people do let you use their pictures with no strings attached. Others just ask for credit and a link back in exchange.

Here's the places I go to get free graphics, stock photos, and images for my webpages.

My top go-to sites: Freeimages (Formerly Stock Xchng), clipart, Wikimedia Commons, Flickr Creative Commons, and Open Clipart.

Creative Commons: Millions of Images

Creative Commons is a great source for graphics, images, videos and even music, as long as you're willing to follow their terms of use.

There's varying levels of Creative Commons licenses, indicated by a small graphic and/or two-letter abbreviation beneath the picture on the webpage where it appears:

  • BY: Available with attribution (credit) and a link back to where you found it. All Creative Commons images have this license.
  • ND: "No Derivatives" meaning you can't change, manipulate, or composite the graphic. Use the picture as is!
  • NC: NonCommercial. Sorry, you can't make money on these photos. That means you can't use these photos on pages that make money (like Hubpages), and of course no printing them on t-shirts and mugs for sale on Zazzle or Cafepress.
  • SA: Share Alike. That means you should post your image with the same level of Creative Commons license.

Tip: If you search on Creative, you can limit your search to images licensed for commercial use and/or adaptation/remixing on their top banner.

Flickr Creative Commons and Wikimedia

Many but not all photographers on offer their photos as Creative Commons. Look for copyright or Creative Commons icons under "License" in the sidebar of each photo's page. To find Creative Commons photos on Flickr, go to their Advanced Search and scroll down, choosing "for commercial use" under Creative Commons.

Wikipedia images are usually Wikimedia Commons. See Reusing Content Outside Wikimedia for the full scoop, but basically (a) For images labeled Creative Commons, do as above; (b) For images labeled GNU (or some similar) license, give attribution, a link back, and mention and link to the text of the license; (c) for images labeled Public Domain, it's no strings attached; and (d) Wikipedia doesn't recommend you reuse images labeled "Fair Use," because they're not 100% sure the person who uploaded them knew the image's copyright.

Stock Photos Are Slick!

Traditionally, you had to pay a licensing fee to use stock photography.

Nowadays, many stock photo archives offer a wide selection of free or low-resolution images that are perfect for web graphics. (They may sell the higher-resolution versions, needed for print publications.)

On stock photo archives, you still need to double-check the license. Rarely, it will say non-commercial only. Sometimes the photographer asks that you leave a message to let them know where their photos are being used.

Free Clip Art and Web Graphics

It's hard to find good-qualitly, royalty-free clip art that doesn't have a watermark and isn't limited to noncommercial use. If you're willing to pay a (quite reasonable) subscription price, you may download and use millions of excellent graphics on or iClipart. They allow you to use their graphics on website or for commercial purposes.

However, many of us are stingy. We want free graphics. That takes a little more hunting.

Tip: Google Image Search for LEGAL Graphics

Have you found a website where most images are public domain?

Use Google Image Search to search images only on that site.

For example, go to Google, click the Image tab at top, and search: shakespeare chickadee jupiter camera dancer

You still have to check the Terms of Use to make sure, of course.

"The information on government web pages is in the public domain unless specifically annotated otherwise (copyright may be held elsewhere) and may therefore be used freely by the public." -- copyright notice on NOAA.

So, basically, if you find an image on a .gov site, unless there's a caption saying it's copyrighted or has usage restrictions, it is free to use! Please DO check.

When using .gov images, you must credit where you found them and acknowledge that they're public domain.

Graphics Geeks Guestbook

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  • stelaligizaki profile image

    Stella Aligizaki 6 months ago from Greece

    Very good information. I will take advantage of it.

  • Jeanne Hoback profile image

    Jeanne Hoback 2 years ago from Rapid City, SD

    Thanks for all the tips, good help.

  • profile image

    james edward 2 years ago

    Awesome blog. Thank you.

  • profile image

    Javier 3 years ago

    This also 100% FREE for commercial use

    Complete list here:


  • profile image

    Ricky Johnson 3 years ago

    Really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. What do you think about social marketing? If you want to more about this or related this, must take a look at this link.

  • profile image

    VectorFreebie 3 years ago

    These are great resources for free graphics. You can also get free vector graphics from

  • Sean Fliehman profile image

    Sean Fliehman 3 years ago

    Wow this is great material. I use graphics and pics a lot so I'm always searching for free legal material.

  • FatBoyThin profile image

    Colin Garrow 3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

    Very informative and useful - thanks for taking the time to do all the leg-work!

  • LampsPest profile image

    LampsPest 3 years ago

    Thank you for taking the time to share this information. Now I have to go look for some pictures.

  • mythphile profile image

    Ellen Brundige 4 years ago from California

    @Archbob: Added, thanks!

  • mythphile profile image

    Ellen Brundige 4 years ago from California

    @sofia-alex83: Good tip!

  • profile image

    Donna Cook 4 years ago

    Terrific lens! Bookmarked for future freebies.

  • profile image

    sofia-alex83 4 years ago

    How about it here you can many vector Free your website, graphics designers and blogs.

    try some best today!

  • profile image

    Archbob 4 years ago

    For pictures of National parks, cities, and Landmarks, check out

  • VioletteRose LM profile image

    VioletteRose LM 4 years ago

    Great tips, thank you!

  • Axamit profile image

    Axamit 4 years ago

    Thanks for the compilation!

  • profile image

    scottlin 4 years ago

    Awesome article thank you very much for going to the time to put this together!

  • Vortrek Grafix profile image

    Vortrek Grafix 4 years ago

    Great resource. Thanks

  • profile image

    ThePresentationTutor 4 years ago

    Thanks for all of the great information! I will be using it in the future.

  • pitlock profile image

    pitlock 4 years ago

    Love these ideas, I need all the help I can get LOL!

  • Merrci profile image

    Merry Citarella 4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

    Thanks for so many great suggestions! They will come in very handy!

  • profile image

    Troywilson123 4 years ago

    Great lens. You have shared very important and useful tips. Thanks

  • profile image

    BlowDryBar 4 years ago

    This is exactly what I was looking for!

  • adammuller003 lm profile image

    adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

    I've used your advice. Thank you!

  • jen becht profile image

    jen becht 5 years ago

    Your squidoo lens are amazing. I read them all the time. You have helped me so much !!!

  • profile image

    TravelLover81 5 years ago

    Thanks! I'm going to bookmark your page. I frequently have a difficult time finding free images on the web...

  • profile image

    storytimesam 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. This is really helpful to know. Great Lens!

  • sazzy881 profile image

    sazzy881 5 years ago

    Thank you very much with all your hints and tips about squidoo, you have inspired me to start creating new lenses. Thank you!

  • renagirl profile image

    renagirl 5 years ago

    wow great lens thank you

  • kingston123 lm profile image

    kingston123 lm 5 years ago

    Interesting lens.I really like these graphic designs. i am also a graphic designer and share this lens with my facebook friends.

  • profile image

    slimmingLinda 5 years ago

    Great info, I'm always struggling with finding images, not anymore :)

  • profile image

    Ferdinandalonso 5 years ago

    Good resources, will help me a lot!

  • Jawill profile image

    Jawill 5 years ago

    Great lens, helps a lot. If you are going to use images it's a must to understand the rights.

  • profile image

    BlueBoxMedia 5 years ago

    Thanks for the list :)

  • profile image

    scss 5 years ago

    »-(¯`v´¯)-» . . »-(¯`v´¯)-» . . »-(¯`v´¯)-»

    Happy Valentine Day!

    All the very best to you and your loved ones, from me and mine!

    Helene Malmsio aka. SCSS

  • profile image

    Pinnsvin 5 years ago

    This has to be the best lens about graphics I've come across so far! Thank you for this great resource!

    Finding the right picture can be really hard sometimes, especially when you're on a tight budget. And I'm always confused, if I buy a stock photo how to credit it properly.

  • InfoCoop profile image

    InfoCoop 5 years ago

    Excellent info as always. Especially liked the tip about the govt websites.

  • ukprowriter profile image

    ukprowriter 5 years ago

    Awesome tips. Thanks

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for all the really useful information. Love it!

  • profile image

    Alex-45 5 years ago is another site for free photo images. Photographer credit and link back to site required and they provide the html code to do that. Thanks for sharing this excellent list.

  • Athenasia profile image

    Athenasia 5 years ago

    Very helpful! With pictures, It's always the more the better. Thanks for sharing valuable tips and sources. Great Lens!

  • suepogson profile image

    suepogson 5 years ago

    This is very useful. Thanks

  • aliwings profile image

    aliwings 5 years ago

    Lots of great info, thanks!

  • rasnasah profile image

    rasnasah 5 years ago

    Very Informative lens.I am very impressed.Wow.It helped me a lot .Thanks.

  • AlexVolker profile image

    AlexVolker 5 years ago

    Good to know. Always looking.

  • reviewmaker lm profile image

    reviewmaker lm 5 years ago

    Nice collection. Thanks

  • profile image

    Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

    Wonderful resources for images and I use most of those mentioned, plus crate my own. Thank you. Bookmarked and blessed by a passing Squid Angel.

  • texan203 lm profile image

    texan203 lm 5 years ago

    Fantastic list of resources. Thank you

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Thank you for this list.

  • mrdata profile image

    mrdata 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing with us valuable info!

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Fantastic reference and source...Thanks for the list!

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    This is a great list for us bloggers! Thank you so much for doing the research.

  • GregoryMoore profile image

    Gregory Moore 5 years ago from Louisville, KY

    Great tips. I love to use my own images where possible, but also use the Flickr creative commons search from time to time.

  • TheFreeLife profile image

    TheFreeLife 5 years ago

    You have some great lenses! Really Really like how you put them together!

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Good information, thanks, have squidliked, pinned and G+1

  • sentivaweb profile image

    sentivaweb 5 years ago

    Thanks for this info!

  • profile image

    dellgirl 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this information on Where to Get Free Web Graphics. This is really helpful!

  • profile image

    RockingChairWisdom 5 years ago

    A very thorough undertaking to identify all these sources.

    Always appreciate those talented folks that have allowed their creations to be part of Creative Commons or the public domain.

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Please do another: this time confined to sources that are not only completely free but which require no attribution -- that's what we all really want.

  • cgbroome profile image

    cgbroome 5 years ago

    This is great! I know have a one-stop source!

  • profile image

    fadhlyashary 5 years ago

    i need this information, and done .. i got it ..

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    If possible, I am new at this, a teacher trying to make a difference and have my word get out... could you check out my lens

    I would truly appreciate a LIKE.....Thank you!

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    I appreciate the links to the image sites. My website has always lacked quality images due to pricing issues. Open source sites definitely will help.

    Thank you

  • profile image

    emmyjas 5 years ago

    Wow! That was a lot to take in! I'm new to Squidoo and I have found it a bit overwhelming, but with great insight like yours I'm feeling better. When you're a newbie it's hard shelling out $300 for photo credits or paying monthly fees.

  • profile image

    AdOnce 5 years ago

    Good leans! :)

  • loveanime22 profile image

    loveanime22 5 years ago

    Very helpful thanks

  • profile image

    bskcom 5 years ago

    As someone who works as a graphic designer, I've found your collection of resources invaluable to me. Thanks for all of the research you did!

  • profile image

    dominiqueamara 5 years ago

    Very helpful! Thank you!

  • profile image

    AdityaAgarwal 5 years ago

    nyc lens you shared

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    great info to add to lenses , thank you for that lens :)

  • onyesvic profile image

    onyesvic 5 years ago

    Great stuff!

  • Alessandro Zambon profile image

    Alessandro Zamboni 5 years ago from Italy

    Thanks GreekGeek, your lens opened my mind on image rights.

    Before it was like a jungle for me, between rights, prices and possibilities.

  • profile image

    NaturalLifeCoach 5 years ago

    Great compilation of free graphics! Thanks heaps! Will be using some of these links for sure.

  • profile image

    cricketlady 5 years ago

    Awesome! Thanks great info for us Newbies!

  • moralblogger lm profile image

    moralblogger lm 5 years ago

    Wow! What a great lens and a great resource for photo's...

    Thanks so much!

  • CreativeExpress profile image

    CreativeExpress 5 years ago

    This is a wonderful all of yours are with regard to photos and Squid lens making. I really appreciate access to this information. You are a fount of knowledge! Thanks for sharing!

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Your visit and comment to my lens.

  • profile image

    ababe-singh 5 years ago

    great,great and great stuff I Like this lens so much and also tweet and stumble it this is the website i use for free web graphics pdposter

  • profile image

    qualityweb 5 years ago

    Great and really helpful....

  • sahilwaste profile image

    sahilwaste 5 years ago

    a very useful lens, thanks for sharing all the info. :)

  • profile image

    jackthebuilder 5 years ago

    Tons of info on how to legally get images for a web presentation. Thanks for writing this great lens. :)

  • LaraineRoses profile image

    Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

    I've been writing lenses for quite a while now and I have never known where to find free graphics. I was looking for one today and I stumbled on your lens. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so very grateful! This is a purple star lens, of course! I will be checking out your other lenses too. Angel blessings!

  • ggruden2 profile image

    ggruden2 5 years ago

    Nice Informativ lense!

  • shineall profile image

    shineall 5 years ago

    Wow, so many ways to get graphics for my lenses, really helpful. Thank you for writing such a masterpiece.

  • PaigSr profile image

    PaigSr 5 years ago from State of Confussion

    Thanks for the info I will have this one book marked for further reference.

  • AdeelAthar LM profile image

    AdeelAthar LM 5 years ago

    Wow... I really like your word and the post.

  • profile image

    HolisticGiftStores 5 years ago

    Great lens, with valuable information! Thank you for sharing!

  • iamraincrystal profile image

    Rosyel Sawali 5 years ago from Manila Philippines

    Amazing lens! I'm glad I found you and your lenses! ^_^ Thank you so much!

  • profile image

    PhilominaTheSicilian 5 years ago

    Thanks, great info. I learned a few things that I didn't know.

  • profile image

    mouse1996 lm 5 years ago

    Great information. I will have to check out all the suggested sites.

  • profile image

    bossypants 5 years ago

    This is a wonderful resource: having all these sources in one place is incredibly helpful. I'll be referencing this lens again and again! Thank you!

  • profile image

    clerana 5 years ago

    Very helpful, exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.

  • efcruzarts profile image

    efcruzarts 5 years ago

    great resources for digital artist

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Your other lenses sounds great. But I am still struggling to earn money

  • BLemley profile image

    Beverly Lemley 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

    Great! Thanks for all these great resources! B : )

  • LaurisB LM profile image

    LaurisB LM 5 years ago

    Thanks again! Your lenses represent a whole "how-to" course. Fabulous!

  • profile image

    timshyu63 5 years ago

    thanks! I love it

  • chft55 lm profile image

    chft55 lm 5 years ago

    Nice lens! I use Microsoft Word clipart sometimes, and I'm pretty sure that's legal, but I'm just making sure. It is, right?

  • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

    Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

    Just put this in the New Squids Library as a is a great one, thanks!

  • profile image

    StationNord 5 years ago

    Thank you for the lens! I am so going to use it!


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