Behind every good design (Powerpoint, advertisements, web content), you’ll find valuable resources. In 2017, there is no excuse to produce something that looks like it came off someone’s Microsoft WordArt 2003 edition. This post will introduce you to the resources you can find online that will give your design process quality and refinement. You’ll see that some of this content is free to use and some will cost you a bit. Be stingy when you can, but remember in the end, some things are worth paying for.
When it comes to backgrounds or artwork, there are all kind of places to find free high-definition stock photos. Those images are perfect to use for backgrounds in all types of presentations. When you’re using a picture for a PowerPoint presentation, always use an image that is high-definition and one that is not the copyrighted material of an artist. Stealing their photos is intellectual theft and (while often done innocently enough) just plain wrong. Please consider the following websites because they are the answer to that problem.
Unsplash is a photo-sharing site where you can find just about any photo imaginable. All the photos are free but they come with information about the author so you can credit them in your work. You can join their mailing list and receive reminders regularly in your email. One particular feature that works really well is the Collections tab. There, contributors to the site arrange photos into common groups (i.e. People in Motion, Reflections, Portraits) for easier searching. This tool is so simple to use, every picture pops into a separate browser for easy download.
Pexels is another photo-sharing site that misses some of the functionality of Unsplash, but makes up for it in quantity. Sometimes, you don’t want an artist’s work, you just want the picture. Pexels is great for that type of search. Like Unsplash, it has search features that allow you to find what you’re looking for. Be specific thought, don’t search for “angry” or “sad” instead search for “angry man” or “sad woman.”
StockSnap is the final photo-sharing site I want to point out that I use regularly. If you can’t find a picture you need between these three sites, it might not be available for free. One quick warning I’ll share. You will see some photos that carry over between these sites. Don’t let that bother you, look for the outliers and you’ll find what you need.
When it comes to vector backgrounds (cartoons, drawings, etc) I’d recommend two different sites. First off, you can download free simple backgrounds from SimpleDesktop. I’ve used these many times before when the imagery for the lesson required something that was understated. The selection is limited, but the quality is undeniable.
Vectorstock is the best place I’ve discovered for vector files. Vectors are essentially digital illustrations. On the site, many vectors are free but some exist behind the pay wall. This is one of those times I recommend you spend some money. After creating an account, you can buy credits. Most files cost 1 credit which is the equivalent to $1. Over the course of a year, you may spend $20-40, but I promise, your illustrations will be vastly improved. Once you download them, they come in a JPEG and PDF format.
These are certainly not the only sites, just the ones I use regularly. You can also find free high-quality photos by following these links.
Two words of warning to all you would-be graphic desingers. While almost every picture on these sites is appropriate, you might run across an occasional one that seems unnecessary. There’s no real way to filter them out on most sites. I avoid searching for things that might produce those results (i.e. “woman alone in the dark”). I think you get the idea. Secondly, give credit when credit is due. If you use a photo such as the header on this page, give the artist credit. It’s not difficult. It’s as simple as this: