Free Image Resources for iPad Artists, Illustrators, and Hobbyists

Free Image Resources for iPad Artists, Illustrators, and Hobbyists

When you’re looking for inspiration or reference images on the web, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the low-quality images (and all the sites that trick you into thinking everything is free until you try to download something!).  I compiled a list of my favorite resources for high-quality images that are free for personal and commercial use.  (Note some of these sites may change their rules from time to time, so it’s always best practice to double check the site before using an image!)

Even though these sites all say the images are free for personal and commercial use, it’s best to never copy another artist’s artwork directly.  When I use images from these sites, I don’t copy the whole composition, but rather use it as inspiration or sample one or two elements from the picture.  You can use a color palette, trace an element, or just use the image to practice your drawing.

Flickr Commons

The Flickr Commons is an amazing resource for vintage and modern images of every category imaginable.  Their goal is to share hidden treasures from the world’s public photography archives.  So universities, libraries, and other institutions around the world contribute high quality (and unexpected) photos.  It’s not the best resource when you’re looking for something very specific, but if you’re in the mood to browse and get inspired (and maybe discover some hidden gems), this is the perfect place to go. (note: make sure you use the search bar that says “Search the Commons”, not the one at the top of the page)

British Library

The British Library’s collections offers millions of public domain images, which the Library encourages you to explore and re-use. Like the Flickr Commons library, it’s not the best place to find specific images, but you can find tons of inspiring images that will probably send you down a rabbit-hole of a new drawing series (just warning you).

Biodiversity Heritage Museum

An incredible collection of copyright free images of plants, animals, and scientific drawings.

State Library of New South Wales

This collection features 3,000+ images of historical Australian life.  You’ll find a ton of pictures of people, buildings, and animals in this diverse collection.

Old Book Illustrations

Old Book Illustrations scans and publishes a wide range illustrated books from around the world.  You’ll also find a wide range of figures, animals, plants, and everything in between.  You can re-use the images you download from this site, but as always, it’s best not to copy the image directly.


Unsplash is a collection of photographs by photographers around the world who upload their images and list them free for personal and commercial use.  You can find images of (almost) anything you can imagine including figures, plants, and landscapes.  I love their huge selection of animal images.

What do the photographers get out of it?  They get exposure when someone views their profile or goes to their website.  Also, though it isn’t required to credit the photographer when you reuse the image, it is appreciated.  Mentioning them on social or including their name in the credits helps get exposure to new clients and opportunities.  You can read about one photographer’s experience here.


Like Unsplash, Pixabay has thousands of modern photographs uploaded by photographers from around the world.  They’re free to download and re-use without giving credit to the original artist, but as always, credit is appreciated.

Life Magazine (personal use only)

Life Magazine released thousands of vintage images that you can use in your digital art and designs, but be careful with these — they are not for commercial use.  That means no marketing and no selling using these photographs!

Did I miss any good resources?  If you know of other sites that have images that are free for personal and commercial use, send me a note!

iPad Artists, Illustrators, Letterers, Digital Planners, and Novices

Have you ever wished you were part of an iPad community where you could ask questions, share resources, and show your digital creations?  Well, I have. Like, every day!  Join the growing online community where we share resources, ideas, and artwork.

Combining Lettering and Illustration in Procreate

In this class you’ll learn all the steps for combining lettering and illustration to create compositions that both tell a story and are visually interesting!

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Illustrating with Layered Texture & Color

Learn how to use layered texture and color to add depth and visual interest to your illustrations.  We’ll look at how to create overall textures, how to use texture to create highlights and shading, and how to use single and multi colored texture to bring out warm and cool tones in your illustrations.

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Design a Pattern Collection on Your iPad

Learn how to design a pattern collection on your iPad from start to finish.  I’ll show you options for making your repeat elements in both Procreate and Affinity designer, so you can choose which option works best for you!

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70s Lettering

Learn how to create 70s style hand lettering and decoration from start to finish.  We’ll cover everything you need to know to add the kind of bold color, drastic variation, and playful decorations that were so popular in the 70s and are now popping up all over in the design world on stationary, clothing, home decor.

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Limited Color Palette Illustration in Procreate

Learn how to create limited color illustrations and palettes on your iPad in Procreate.  We’ll cover every step of the process from building new palettes to creating illustrations that are ideal for limited palettes.

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Ink Illustration Techniques in Procreate

In this class, you’ll learn three different ways to use ink lines and dots to add shadow, highlights, and depth to your work.  We’ll look at tons of tips and tricks for hatching, crosshatching, and stippling, and talk about how to add bold color to your linework to add variation and contrast that makes your work stand out online and in print.