image search engine

A guide to the best free sites for cc0 art and stock photography

I recently wrote a guide for my library's blog on the best sites for high quality, free, and public domain images. I've recreated part of it below.

These sites are hugely useful for marketing purposes, as you can use them in websites, posters, slides, on social media (but NOT insta! That needs your own photos on...) and so on, completely legally and without shelling out any cash.

The sites listed below contain images which have been made Creative Commons Zero (also known as CCO) by their creators, are available to use by anyone, however they like. The images are in the Public Domain and can be reproduced, incorporated into other works, modified, and reused, without needing permission and in most cases without even needing to credit the author.

Free to use stock photography


Pexels is the CC0 site I go to first when creating slides or websites. It's good on technology particularly, but covers loads of areas well, with stock photography that is far above the average stock shots. It has tens of thousands of pictures, including the ability to search by colour, and also has a sister site dedicated to CC0 video.

A selection of images found using's colour browsing facility

A selection of images found using's colour browsing facility


Once you start using CC0 image sites you get used to seeing the same stock photography appearing on many of them (it comes with the territory, as the fact that the copyright has no restrictions means any site can pick them up and use them - you could start an image bank right now using CC0 images if you wanted to), but Stocksnap seems to have a few more pictures which are unique to it. Thanks to Hilary and Luke who showed me this at the PPRG conference. Here's the 'recently added images' from today:

The most recent additons to

The most recent additons to

Nappy describes itself as “Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people. For free” and this is a rare thing: stock photography is often VERY white. Thank you to @AgentK23 for giving me the heads-up about this site.

Photos from the ‘Work’ category of

Photos from the ‘Work’ category of (that's the actual URL as well as the name) searches through lots of other CC0 sites in one go, including the excellent UnSplash. As well searching by keyword you can browse by colour, collection, or original source.

Images from the 'Glare' category of

Images from the 'Glare' category of

Interestingly after I tweeted this, Unsplash got in touch with a reply, and pointed out that only searches a relatively small percentage of their photos:

I had no idea this was the case! So, worth going direct to too.


For some pictures that are about as far away from tired stock photography cliches as it is possible to get, head over to Gratisography. Quirky, odd images, of extremely high resolution and quality, free to use in any way you see fit. There's really nothing quite like it.

Gratisography. Not your average stock photography site

Gratisography. Not your average stock photography site


A new site for me is RawPixel. They got in touch after reading an earlier version of this guide and I'm happy to include them - if you work in design this site must be a godsend. There's a real variety here, not just in terms of the images but the way they're grouped and organised - check out the Boards section to see what I mean. Just for this image alone I will be using their site again - images of teaching seem to be almost impossible to find!

Finally a decent image of 'teaching' happening! And they've ever-so-helpfully left a lovely big copyspace on the board for you to write in whatever you like...

Finally a decent image of 'teaching' happening! And they've ever-so-helpfully left a lovely big copyspace on the board for you to write in whatever you like...


These aren't cc0 - they're Creative Commons Attribution - but I wanted to include them because they're a set of tech-focussed images focusing on BAME protagonists. It's great that UKBlackTech have made these available for free.

Download these images at

Download these images at

Free to use art and artwork imagery

An absolute ruddy masterpiece, from 1565, available to you, reader, to do with as you please, thanks to The Met

An absolute ruddy masterpiece, from 1565, available to you, reader, to do with as you please, thanks to The Met

  • New York Met

    375,000 images of artworks from The Met's collection to use, share, and remix without restriction. And it's the New York Met, so they have some of the most famous paintings in the world, like Bruegel's The Harvestors from 1565. 

  • Walters Art Museum

    Because the Walters owns or has jurisdiction over the objects in its collection and owns or customarily obtains the rights to any imaging of its collection objects, it has adopted the Creative Commons Zero: No Rights Reserved or CC0 license to waive copyright and allow for unrestricted use of digital images and metadata by any person, for any purpose.

  • Riks Museum Amsterdam

    The Dutch Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam has opened its collection to the public with the majority of its photographed artwork being released under a CC0+ license that requires attribution. You must create a free account in order to download.

  • Getty Museum

    Thousands of images of artworks are available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program. Look for the Download button under the image.

  • Yale Center for British Art

    The Center provides free and open access to images of works in the public domain and certain other materials, and hopes to encourage further the use and reuse of its public domain resources by all who may have access to them.

  • Europeana Collections

    Europeana provides an extraordinary 8 million images which are completely free to re-use, covering the areas of Art, Fashion, Maps & Geography, Migration, Natural History, Music and others.

If you have any more suggestions for great CC0 sites, let me know with a comment below and we'll add them to the list.

Presentation Tools 5: Colour


So we come to the final day of Presentation Tools Week on the blog! Day 1 was about fonts, and then we had three alternatives to PowerPoint for making slides: Haiku, Canva, and Prezi. (Also don't forget Adobe Voice as another slide-alternative.) The final post is about colour, and tools which relate to colour.

Design Seeds (

Design Seeds is a colour palette search. It allows you to see groups of colours which work together for design - obviously I'm thinking of colour in presentations here, but of course it can apply to posters, an organisation's branding, or indeed any other aspect of design.

I like this site because how colours work together is something I'm interested in but have no real knowledge about. I like seeing things happen successfully, but it's all trial and error for me. With Design Seeds there's some real expertise to draw upon.

There are countless existing palettes of six colours, but you can also choose a colour as a jumping off point and it finds a palette to match, which I think is the most useful aspect to Design Seeds. If you want to use your organisation's main branding colour to underpin your presentation, but want some nice colours to go with it (for the font, shapes, icons, blocks etc) this is a great way to find the colours. Here's a screengrab - I've put in the approximate colour of the hyperlinks on this website (my favourite colour, sort of green but with a bit of blue in it) and it's given me two palettes to choose from:

Click to go to the Design Seeds website

Click to go to the Design Seeds website

I'm going to use this tool in the next set of slides I make from scratch.

Pictaculous (

Pictaculous isn't entirely dissimilar to Design Seeds in that it's a colour palette generator - but it works in a different way. The idea here is that you upload an image (it could be your organisation's logo, or a key picture in your presentation, or you could use it for every image on a slide by slide basis) and it gives you the component colours and suggests a palette to go with it.

Here's a screengrab:

Click to go to pictaculous

Click to go to pictaculous

I uploaded the picture which appears in my blog header (a photograph taken by Matt Fairview, which I found on flickr. It is a picture of the M5 Wicker Man, in Somerset; the original can be seen here. Matt has kindly given me permission to use the image on my site) and you can see it's broken the image down into colours, then provides suggested palettes from Kuler and Colourlovers (all of which are clickable so you can view them in larger sizes). If you work with InDesign you can also download the Adobe Swatch.

Multicolr Search Lab (

TinEye Labs provide a couple of useful tools - the first is a reverse image search engine. Upload the image you've got saved on your PC, and it will find examples of the image online - handy if you've saved something and forgotten where you found it, but also handy if you want to know if anyone is using your own images without proper attribution!

The second is the more fun tool - the colour search engine. It searches 20 million Creative Commons Flickr images, not by keyword, but by colour. People LOVE this tool when we try it out in Presentation Skills workshops, and they find it addictive for reasons which are hard to explain but you'll know when you try it...

You can select the colours of your organisational branding and it will bring back a staggering amount of pictures featuring just those colours (allowing you to make a presentation which stays 'on brand' without using the dreaded PPT template). You can also select a dizzying selection of 5 different colours just for the sake of it, then move the sliders around so some colours are more prominent than others, and be amazed at how many images match your absurd criteria...

Click to go the colour search engine

Click to go the colour search engine

So that's the end of Presentation Tools Week - click the pic below for a link to all 5 posts in one go. Any useful tools I've missed? Let me know in a comment.