Every designer has a favorite tool or two to make their work easier. Some graphic design tools cost big bucks, but there are actually a number of design freebies out there as well. Free tools give your work an extra edge because they expand the scope of what you already offer. They add an extra element of surprise without racking up big fees that eat into your profits, especially if you’re just getting started as a freelance designer.
The average graphic designer charges about $45 per hour, with the most experienced designers demanding as much as $150 per hour and beginners around $20 per hour. While $45 per hour sounds like a good income, you must also factor in the overhead costs of running a business, including insurance, advertising, office space, taxes, utilities, equipment and software. Anything you can do to keep more of that money in your pocket will benefit you as a designer.
Taking advantage of design freebies is just one way to cut overhead costs. Fortunately, there are plenty of design freebies online. We’ve sorted through dozens and dozens of choices and come up with 16 to get you started on your free tools journey.
1. Design Cuts
If you’re looking for some unique textures, you’ll love that Design Cuts has a section of freebies with a wide selection of unique options. Check out the glass plate negatives textures for a surreal look, or add some illustrations from the underwater-themed vectors and textures. There are also seasonal favorites, such as the picnic illustrations and some festive holiday collections with templates, textures and illustrations.
If you’re looking for a script font or some illustrations, Graphic Design Freebies has some beautiful options available. Their free fonts look like some of the higher-end fonts you’ll pay big licensing fees for. The site also offers mock-ups, illustrations and templates for web designers.
Although the free version of these tools is typically for personal use only, you can look at the licensing agreement for each font and illustration and see which ones work best for your needs. Even if you wind up needing a commercial license, the rates are very reasonable. Fonts such as Beautiful Heart would work well for a wedding program design. Add a free illustration to really make the design pop, such as the watercolor flowers clip art.
Design Roast offers a list of places to grab free seamless patterns for your next project. Seamless patterns work particularly well for web design projects, giving your background a unique look without distracting the user from the main content on your page. When you’re designing with patterns, you can choose many different looks, so this list of 12 places is richly varied to cover almost any aesthetic or mood.
You’re probably already familiar with Dribbble as a place to gather inspiration from other designers and showcase your own work, but did you know that designers often offer up their design freebies on this site as well? There are several ways of locating the freebies on the jam-packed site.
If you’re looking for something specific, such as seamless red patterns, you’d simply type that search query into the box and find a few you like to see which ones are free. You could also search for “free” and see what pops up. Another option is to use one of the pages that curates the freebies from Dribbble, such as Fribbble.
TheHungryJPEG focuses on design freebies that are exclusively images. You’ll find a wide range of options to spice up your projects without investing too much time or money into the process. Some of the categories of free items on the site include fonts, graphics and templates. You’ll also find add-ons such as brushes, layer styles and lightroom presets.
Some of the free sources you’ll find include coffee quotes sets complete with outlines of coffee cups and pots and sayings, such as “Coffee O’Clock.” Use the woodland animals digital paper background for crafting projects, or grab some free doodle frames. No matter what type of project you’re working on, you’ll find a wide range of design freebies on this site.
If you’re looking for additional inspiration for projects like flyers, you’ll find items such as background textures and free fonts on Free Design Resources. They present design freebies of the day as well as showcasing freebies under different categories, such as mockups, fonts, templates and graphics.
Freepik features more than 99,000 vector icons for free. You can use these icons in both personal and commercial projects for no fee. All icons are available in SVG, PNG and EPS, which makes them usable for nearly any type of project imaginable. Some of the icons are very simple, flat icons. Others are more detailed and suitable for flyers and brochures.
Sellfy offers quite a few design freebies, such as free food stock photos, credit card vectors, typefaces and vector patterns. You’ll also find scene mockups, holiday icons and smoke brushes for use with Photoshop.
In order to find the numerous professional design freebies on this site, you’ll want to go directly to the free page. Check back often, as designs do change from time to time, and new features are added while old ones sometimes get replaced.
At DesignFreebies.org, you’ll find a wide range of zero-cost resources for your next project. For example, you might find an InDesign template for a recipe book or script font for your next project. The site even offers vector banners for online advertising and templates for things such as resumes. Because the offerings are so varied, you might want to search within categories such as Free Images, Free Vectors and Templates.
If you haven’t yet checked out Canva, know that it offers a wealth of free resources for designers. Their basic account is free and allows you to utilize free templates but upload your own images to add details to them. If you aren’t quite ready to invest in Adobe Cloud Suite, this might be a good alternative for smaller projects.
There are some limitations to what you can do on this platform, but it works well for social media posts and creating e-book covers, for example. You can also upgrade later and work on collaborations with other members of your team.
Placeit will allow you to create free iPhone mockups to showcase a new app or design. If you’re trying to sell a design concept to a new client, this solution might give your presentation the extra edge that lands you the big design gig. The generator runs online and creates fast images to highlight work without requiring a ton of time. You can either upload a screenshot or let the system grab one from a URL.
12. 365 PSD
If you’re looking for some free vectors, keep in mind that 365 PSD is a site that’s been around for a number of years and has a big repository of images. They have more than 5,000 PSDs and 46,000 vectors. Choose from options such as a pastel business icon set, flat UI kits and holiday-themed freebies.
The categories on this site are fairly simple for browsing — you’ll find links to PSDs and vectors. There’s also a search feature at the top of the page, so you can look for anything specific that you might need.
If you need some beautiful stock photography but don’t have a lot of money to spend, Pixabay is a starting point. Search for the type of image you need, then choose the ones you like. Look to the right, and you’ll see that it lists what the licensing agreement is for that image. Many images are free for personal and commercial use. Typically, the limitation is that you can’t use the photo in a collection and claim it as your own. Attribution isn’t always required, but photographers appreciate the mention and link back to their pages.
Are you looking for a photo editing tool similar to Photoshop but without the hefty price tag? Gimp is free to download, and there are hundreds of online tutorials on how to use the software. You can complete edits such as retouching a photo, fixing color saturation or creating collages. Because the software is Open Source, you’ll find tons of advice on manipulating images through Gimp.
Have you ever wished you could take a screenshot and make a quick mockup? With Screely, you can do just that, which will save you time and effort as a designer. Simply drag and drop your screenshot and then customize the background and padding to best meet your needs.
StockSnap is another photo repository of stock photos that you can use without any copyright restrictions. Search for the images of your choice. They do list some paid options at the beginning of the search results, so you’ll have to scroll past those to get to the freebies. It may be a bit irritating to do so, but the beautiful images following are worth the extra effort.
Free design tools allow you to save money and time as an artist. While you won’t always be able to find a free option that works for your needs, you’ll at least have the tools to find freebies some of the time. Utilizing software such as Gimp or Canva may keep you from having to invest in expensive monthly subscriptions as well. With a little ingenuity, you can reduce spending and keep more of what you make in your own pocket.