A few weeks ago we covered a collection of great free design resources licensed under various Creative Commons licenses, allowing you to use them in your projects for free with minimal restrictions. This is a handy way to find some useful resources — and maybe even save a few bucks for the copious amounts of coffee you’ll need for those long work nights.
In the following we plan to serve up even more Creative Commons goodness, from photos, to icons and even videos. Take some time to try them out for yourself – there’s every chance you’ll find something just right for your next project.
With video backgrounds becoming a more common web design technique, the market for versatile, generic video resources has been steadily growing. Video backgrounds can add a filmic tone and mood that is quite different to that offered by photos alone.
Mazwai caters to this need by offering a very worthwhile selection of HD videos, perfectly suited to website design projects. Be careful though; the site is very heavy and it might even crash your browser or stop running scripts.
The videos are all licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY (Attribution) license. Essentially, you just need to give attribution (credit) when using it.
If you liked Gratisography from the previous article, you will love Unsplash! Unsplash is a Tumblr Blog by Crew, which hosts a large number of high quality scenic photos, free for all uses (Creative Commons) and dedicated to the public domain. These are great options for large photographic background designs.
Ten new images are added every 10 days, making Unsplash an invaluable resource for stock images. Follow the Unsplash twitter feed to make sure you don’t miss any newly added images.
It’s always great to see such outstanding quality available for the public domain, made possible by people who live by the words “sharing is caring”. We can always use more of these services.
Pic Drome is another site, like Unsplash, which hosts free stock imagery licensed under a Creative Commons 0 license, put out for the public domain. Again you are free to use these, without any restriction. The only conceivable downside is that most images are not in HD, but usually around 1024x768px, which might be a problem sometimes (quite often, frankly).
However, if you contact the owners nicely (you can find their contact information on the website) you may well be able to get access to your preferred image in all its HD glory.
Minicons offers a broad selection of icons, specifically 210, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license (CC 3.0 BY). You can find a great number of icons there which will be able to fulfill most of your needs.
If you need a little more, they’ve got you covered, also offering an ultimate pack, which includes 1500 icons, for a price of $59.
Open Font Library offers precisely what it says on the box — open and free fonts. Most of the fonts are licensed under Creative Commons licenses or licenses similar to them, as OFL or GNU. You can also filter the fonts by various licenses, if you want to stick with a specific license.
An interesting font worth trying out also, is Comic Neue, the cool younger brother of perennial ‘nerd-font’ Comic Sans. Happily for everyone, it was released into public domain by the author and therefore has no restrictions regarding its usage.
Theme Giant presents a quite interesting business model. They offer Premium WordPress themes for various uses and from various categories completely for free, when used under a Creative Commons license. You can show a little love by using these themes under a Creative Commons license.
Claire Paoletti has created a set of stunning and completely free minimal icons, which look great on designs with high contrast and lots of negative space. Definitely worth checking out.
Lost&Taken is a unique blog by Caleb Kimbrough, which hosts thousands of free textures for personal and commercial use, without the need of attribution.
Although the textures are not licensed under a Creative Commons license, you are free to use them as you wish, as long you are not distributing the original textures elsewhere. Many textures are tiled also, which make them a great resource for patterns.
FontSquirrel offers a collection of handpicked fonts, free for commercial use. This is undoubtedly one of the best resources for open and free fonts, and often offers time-sensitive, exclusive deals for various font packages which always are worth looking into.
However before you use a font, do double-check any licensing involved individually, so you won’t need to deal with any unpleasant surprises later on. Similar to Open Font Library, most fonts are licensed under OFL or GNU.
Sharing is caring
With over a decade of Creative Commons licensed works, the internet is being more and more curated with work its nature deserves. More and more companies have understood that Creative Commons licenses are not only ethical and advantageous for the public good, but also a good marketing strategy if it’s done well.
Instead of reaching your audience with targeted ads, the right use of Creative Commons licensed work can ensure organic growth in the long run. Afterall, if The White House uses it, why shouldn’t you?
Elio is a open source designer and founder of Ura Design. He coordinates community initiatives at SitePoint as well. Further, as a board member at Open Labs Hackerspace, he promotes free software and open source locally and regionally. Elio founded the Open Design team at Mozilla and is a Creative Lead at Glucosio and Visual Designer at The Tor Project. He co-organizes OSCAL and gives talks as a Mozilla Tech Speaker at various conferences. When he doesn’t write for SitePoint, he scribbles his musings on his personal blog.