Free Clipart and Photo Resources


by Peter Libby

"A picture is worth a thousand words." That saying may be ages old, but its message is just as vital today as when it was first uttered. Simply put, a single image can often communicate what might take you one thousand words (more or less) to say or write.

You have already spent the time putting together an ebook or software package that you want to market on the internet. You have chosen the right words for your title and any other text you might use on the book cover. Now you have to carefully design your cover to best represent your book or software. You have to find the right graphic(s) that will support the title and enhance the perceived value of your ebook. Where do you find these graphics?

Well, you have come to the right place. Read on and you will find a list of resources that will get you well on your way to finding whatever you need. We will be focusing here on two common forms of graphics: stock photos and clip art.

A few notes before we get to our list. We have broken up our list into the two main categories: photos and then clip art. In the photo category, we have further broken the lists down into free image sites and fee-based image sites. While we have added a thought or two about each site to give you a little better idea what you will find there, it is up to you to explore each one. It can be a lot of fun, but the bottom line is that you alone know what kind of image you are looking for. Keep in mind that some of the sites have more than one type of image. Some have, for example, both photos and clip art. So, even though we may list a site in the photos section (or clip art), look around to see if they provide other types as well. Also, some of the sites may require that you sign up for a free membership.

Finally, it is very important that you carefully read the "Terms of Use" for each site that you visit. Some sites may only allow use of their images for personal use, while others also allow commercial/corporate use (which is what you will want for your ebook that you are selling). Still other sites let each contributor of the images determine what kinds of usage will be allowed. When paying a fee for an image, the fee usually grants you permission to use the image freely in any way that you wish. Bottom line is: Read the Terms of Use!


FREE Photos

1. Stock Xchng - - A great site! They have a LOT of images and a good search engine. Their images range widely in both size and quality. Here, the contributor of the image determines the usage allowed. This site is well worth checking out.

2. Morgue File - - They have quite a few photos here. They are broken down into categories, but there is no search engine. The photos are generally of good quality (large size and fairly high resolution), but the range of subject matter is rather limited. Worth at least checking the list of categories to see if they might have something in the range you are looking for.

3. VisiPix - - They have a moderate size collection of photos. While they are not divided into categories, they do have a search engine.

4. FreeImages - http://www.freeimages/photos - A relatively small collection of photos, in a fairly small range of categories. No Search engine, just a list of categories and some with one or two sub-categories.

5. The Free Site - - This site does not have any images of its own. Rather, it provides you with a list of sites (and a brief description) which have free graphics - from photos to clip art to web graphics, etc.

6. Pixel Perfect Digital - - They have over 4,000 images but only about 2,000 are photos. The site is a little hard to navigate, but if you cannot find what you want elsewhere, then it just may be worth your time to see what this site offers.

7. Pics 4 Learning - - A very small collection (maybe 200) of photos, separated into categories.

8. Open Photo - - A pretty good collection of photos, broken down into a good selection of categories and sub-categories.

9. Image After - - This site boasts over 19,000 images, from photos to textures, etc. We have not tried their search engine, but they do have one.

10. Free - - A pretty narrow range of categories, but a good collection of photos nonetheless. They do have a search engine.

11. Gimp Savvy - Photo Archive - - These are photos provided by NASA and the NOAA, among others. These are mainly photos taken from outer space, or weather related. Make sure you read the Terms of Use.

12. Arty art - - A very tiny collection of photos, but what the heck, you never know - you may just find the perfect image here.


13. iStock Photo - - A great site with a large collection and a good search engine. They require you sign up for a free membership. They have online and e-mail support available. Here’s the best part, for a fee-based site, they are really inexpensive. The photos all run from $1 to $3. That’s it; no more and no less.

14. Photos.Com - - This is a subscription site. It is well-known and has a good collection of quality images. You purchase a subscription for one month or 3, 6 or 12 months. During the term of your subscription, you can download an unlimited number of images.  Has a good search engine, and support is available.

15. Hemera Images - - This site offers a variety of ways to secure images - on CD/DVD, individual download, or by subscription. They also have a wide variety of image types - from photos to clip art, to illustrations, to their famous photo-objects, etc. Well worth checking out if you have the budget. These images can get rather pricey, but you are guaranteed they will be high-quality images.

16. FoodPix - - Guess what they specialize in? That’s right, photos of food. These are stock photos and you pay for each one.

17. PictureQuest - - This site, and the next 3 after this one, are all high-end stock photo houses. This site actually serves as a clearing house for several stock agencies, which can save you some searching. The photos you get here will run you top dollar consistently (minimum several hundred dollars). High quality + high price.

18. Creatas - - Stock photo agency. High quality + high price. One nice thing is that, like all high-end agencies, they have a staff of people who will do a photo search for you, for free.

19. Veer - - High-end stock agency.

20. Corbis - - This is the grandfather of all the stock photo agencies. Vast collection and high prices.


First of all, what is clip art? There are many differing opinions out there. Some call it "ready-made art" because sometimes clip art can include photos or pictures, or complete illustrations. But, for the sake of this article, we are defining clip art to mean: All ready-made pieces of digital art, such as illustrations, borders, and line drawings that are used as graphic elements in a document. They can be either raster images (jpeg, gif, tiff, bmp) or vector images (eps, wmf, ai). They can be black and white, or color.

Regardless of what you call it, clip art should be used sparingly in quality ebook covers or software boxes. The fact is, clip art can range in quality from rough drawings, to refined images. But, clip art is never mistaken for high quality paintings or photos. It is not intended to be the only or the primary image in a larger work (like an ebook cover). Perhaps the best rule of thumb is: If you are not sure if you should use a piece of clip art in your document (cover, box art) don’t use it. If you are not careful, the wrong choice of clip art can have the opposite affect. It can imply a lack of quality, not greater quality.

The above statements notwithstanding, clip art can, if used properly, be an effective element in a quality cover. For this reason, we are going to list just a few sources for clip art. There are literally hundreds of places where you can find clip art of all types and quality throughout the internet. Just be sure that you are allowed to use any clip art you find, and that it is of high quality.

Remember, many of the sites listed above in the Stock Photo section, also have clip art and other illustrations. Also, you can purchase large collections of clip art on CD sets in computer stores, or on the internet.

1. Clipart.Com - - This may well be the biggest and/or oldest site on the internet where you can acquire clip art. Like its sister site, Photos.Com, it is a subscription site. You can subscribe for a reasonable fee, for one week, 3 months, 6 months or a year. During the term of your subscription, you can download all of the clip art you want; no limits. Their images are mostly good quality and their collection is huge. They have a pretty good search engine which helps. You can also generally choose which of two or more file formats you want to download for each image.

2. Clip Art - - The site is in Russian, but the index of categories is in English. These are vector images (wmf).

3. Retrographix - - Like the name says, this site has "retro" style images.

4. Free Clip Art Pictures - - Most of the clip art here are images extracted from photos.

5. Free Clip Art - - This site is an index of other sites that offer free clip art. It gives a brief description for each of its listings as to what kinds of clip art you will find at each.

6. Military Clip Art Library - - Just like the name says.

7. Arthur’s Clip Art - - These appear to be mostly Gif images.

Without a doubt, there are many more sites out there where you can get photos and other images you can use. The above are only the ones we are aware of and have used ourselves. Just be sure to check the terms for using any image, from any site. Make sure it is okay to use in a commercial situation, and check to see if you have to pay for that use, or if there are other requirements like giving the author/photographer credit for the image in your printed work where you have used the picture.

Good luck in your search for the right images. Finding the right picture will make all your efforts worthwhile. It will improve your chances of selling your ebook or software. If you find yourself a little lost trying to find the right images and layout of your cover, then perhaps you should consider hiring an experienced graphic designer to produce the cover for you.

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