In this guide I’ll be showing you how and where to find free images to use within your world, scroll to the bottom for a list of handy resources!
We all know a picture says a thousand words, so having images to illustrate your worldbuilding can be a fantastic way of visually engaging your readers.
But if you have no time or experiene to create your own, how do you find something free to use?
Hold on just a sec. You can’t just go on Google Images, Pinterest or Deviant Art and start grabbing pictures left right and centre!
Artists, photographers and creators should always be credited for their work. Often as not you can simply ask the creator of an image if you can use their work – most people are quite happy for you to do so as long as you credit them and your project is non-commercial!
But here are some safer and more inspiring way to find free images for your world!
Creative Commons Licence
Creative Commons Licences are clear labels that tell people what you can and cannot do with an image.
Images flagged as Creative Commons Attribution means that you can share and adapt the image, so long as you give credit to the original creator.
There are different CC licences, such as no-derivatives and non-commercial, so check out the list here on the so you know what to look for.
Did you know? You can search for creative commons images on Google?
Step 1 : go to Google Images and click Settings > Advanced search
Step 2 : scroll down to usage rights and select the appropriate licence
Step 3 : click an image you’d like to use and then click visit
Step 4 : double check the page for a creative commons licence and make sure it meets your requirements
Step 5 : download the image and use it appropriately!
The next method is super fun:
Images listed under public domain are also up for grabs, and finding one to suit your needs can turn into a digital treasure hunt.
So what is public domain?
Well, a quick answer from Wikipedia says that:
… public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.
A fantastic example of this is The British Library on Flickr, a huge collection of scanned images and artwork from historical books and documents.
Make your own!
There’s always the option of creating your own artwork, illustrations, maps and more for your world. Even a small scribbled diagram photographed on a phone can add an extra layer of depth to your worldbuilding!
These are some of my favourite places to find images (this is not a sponsor or advertisment, I’m just sharing my faves!)
- British Library Flickr – public domain historical images
- Rawpixel – public domain images (other free images available too)
- Artstor search “creative commons zero” – historical arts
- Cleveland Museum of Art open access – historical arts
- Unsplash – free stock images
- Pexels – free stock images
- Texturer – free texture images
- Texturemate – free texture images
- Font Squirrel – free fonts
- Game-Icons.net – free icons *attribution required
Hello! I’m a Worldbuilding Wizard from Bristol on an epic quest of knowledge!
Join me on my creative journey as I create epic stuff (and weird things).
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