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Free Design Resources

Over the years I’ve been working as a professional designer (and as a student before that), I’ve amassed a library of resources that I believe make my job as a web designer much, much easier. Whether its fonts, colour combinations or sourcing photographs – I’m always looking for the ‘latest thing’ to keep my designs original and up-to-date. Most designers I know have similar habits, with more than a few of them keeping their resource pools a closely guarded secret. At 34SP.com, we like to help, so not only am I going to show you just some of the places you can go online to find those little design essentials, most of the content discussed in this blog post is absolutely free!

Domains and Hosting:

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first. All designers at one point or another need domain names and hosting accounts for their clients. I think you might have guessed who I recommend. Go here to view our reseller hosting accounts – great for designers and developers.

Fonts:

There are so many places to source fonts from, with prices ranging from free to thousands of pounds. Professional font foundries offer beautiful fonts that make your design stand out from the rest. However, unless you (or your client) are willing to splash the cash I’d recommend some of these fantastic free font websites.

Dafont.com
Without a doubt, the best site on the web for free fonts. Fonts are split up into different categories based on style and are available in both Mac and PC format. As well as a massive library of fonts, there is a busy community of typographers, so if you have any font related questions there is always someone who’s happy to help out.

Typedifferent.com
Typedifferent.com is a online font shop set up by Swiss design legends Buro Destruct. Despite the majority of the fonts being for sale (at very reasonably prices), if you look hard enough, you’ll find there are lots of free fonts mixed in too. It’s a great place to go if you are looking for free professional fonts.

Tipografea.com
A fantastic website setup by the lovely people at Xpaider.com. There are 8 contemporary fonts available on this site, but just because they are free doesn’t mean you don’t have to work to get them. Each font has its own page, with a hidden “Easter Egg” link to download the font. Hunting down these links can take a while but it’s a fun idea, and if you like the fonts then 5 minutes of your time is a worthwhile investment.

Photography:

The last 5 years have seen the price of stock imagery fall dramatically. In the past sourcing photography would mean paying large sums of money for one photo, often involving paying usage rights related to how many people would see the photo. However the rise in cheap stock photography websites, lead by stock photography giants Istockphoto.com and Dreamstime.com, have filled the void for affordable photography. There are also a number of free stock photo sites. Unlike Flickr or Google Images, these free stock photography sites are based around professional quality photography, and the large majority are free of any kind of user agreement (but always, always check).

Sxc.hu
Widely regarded as the best free stock photography site, Sxc.hu has a library of around 350,000 photos. The site is clean and easy to use and has a great community of blogs, tutorials and user galleries.

Stockvault.net
Stockvault.net is a site based around its community of content providers as much as it is based around free stock imagery. The site splits its imagery into categories and sub categories, making browsing very easy. With an image library of around 13,500 it’s not the biggest stock photography site, but the quality is great and of course, all the photos are free.

Vectors:

Vector graphics are great for creating an illustrative look, and unlike photos they can often be scaled up or down and still look great. Any designer worth their salt should be able to create basic vectors for their design, but occasionally time and budgets restrict the time that can be spent tweaking your graphics. It is in times like these, that stock vectors can be an invaluable resource. Unlike photos, vectors can be dismantled, re-coloured and generally used in ways you just can’t use a photograph. If you use vectors in the right way, they also look great.

Freevectors.net
Freevectors.net is an index of free vectors from different sites all over the web. The vectors are either created by other users, or they are sample packs from professional stock vector sites, such as Go Media.

Iheartvector.com
Another extensive archive of royalty free vectors, split into categories for easy navigation.

Other Great Resource Sites:

kuler.adobe.com
Kuler is a great little application that lets you create, save and view other colour combinations. With a great set of tools and extensive user generated gallery, Kuler is the place to go if you find yourself struggling to find that winning colour combination.

lorem-ipsum.info
Generate placeholder text so you design looks full of content even if your client hasn’t given you any. Lorem Ipsum has been used by designers since the 60’s, and is great filler text that looks organic placed into a text area.

Brandsoftheworld.com
A huge database of logos from all over the world, all in eps format. A great place to go if you’ve been supplied a tiny gif logo that’s sure to ruin your design.

bluevertigo.com.ar
The most comprehensive list of design related resources online, Bluevertigo.com.ar covers all the sites mentioned in this post, and many many more. Whether its photography, fonts, Photoshop brushes, stock sound effects or Poser models, your bound to find what your looking for on this site.

I hope that these free design resources are helpful to you. Let us know if there are design resources that you frequently use which we haven’t included. Good luck with your upcoming design projects!

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