A Comprehensive Guide to Free Design Resources
Oct 17th, 2017
Free design resources are incredibly useful, not just for established designers, but also for individuals learning design. For those learning, it enables access to high quality resources which can be examined more closely. This means they can understand how certain styles are achieved, how layouts and spacing are defined, and even how to structure a file. Free resources are also a perfect way to begin playing with a software program like Sketch, Photoshop, or Figma.
Established designers can also benefit greatly from the availability of free design resources. It allows access to icons, photography, user interface kits, fonts, and more. Premium equivalents often cost considerable amounts of money, particularly in the font industry. This can prove tricky when working on low margin projects, or needing to buy multiple commercial licences for different clients and circumstances. Free resources provide both peace of mind and ease of use when it comes to licensing.
While there is most certainly a need for premium resources, it’s often the free equivalents that prove to be superior. In the case of user interface kits, it’s almost always the free resources that are the most comprehensive, quick-to-release, and easy-to-use.
There are vast libraries of free design resources on the web. It’s important to sift through them to find the high quality files which can serve to speed up your workflow and improve your designs. In this article, we are going to highlight the best places to find free design resources across all the main categories.
Winner: Material Icons
Material by Google offers some incredible resources. All of their 900+ icons are available for download as SVG, PNG, or a web font. They can be used in web and iOS projects as well as Android.
IconFinder offers a vast resource of vector and PNG icons. Most are premium but with a little searching you can find many beautifully detailed and simple icon packs which are free for commercial use.
Winner: Sketchappsources (Sketch + Figma)
Sketchappsources is a must-use website for any Sketch user. It offers a seemingly endless selection of premium-standard design resources, completely free. Their selection of user interface kits is wide-ranging and offers something to use alongside almost any project.
Runner-up: iOS Design Kit (Sketch + Figma)
This iOS Design Kit is incredibly accurate and detailed. It includes everything you’ll need for your iOS 11 projects and is compatible with both Sketch and Figma.
Honourable Mention: Facebook Design
Winner: UI8 (Photoshop + Sketch + Figma)
As well as their vast selection of premium design resources, UI8 also offers a number of high-quality freebies. Its selection of mockups is vast and many offer some truly unique design approaches.
Runner-up: Pixeden (Photoshop)
Pixeden – again renowned for its premium resources – also offers a great variety of free resources too. It has a number of top-quality mockups covering everything from devices to print and packaging.
Stock imagery forms an integral part of modern web design. Pexels allows you to search all of the free stock image sites at once, providing a vast selection of beautiful image results across a wide range of search terms.
Unsplash is one of the sites indexed by Pexels. However, Unsplash offers the most comprehensive selection of images by far across all of the sites indexed by Pexels. Many designers will find Unsplash more than adequate by directly using the dedicated site with its excellent filtering features.
Sometimes images need retouching during a design project. Sites like Filtergrade offer some stunning free Photoshop filters which allow you to apply preset effects in just a single click.
Brusheezy also offers a variety of free Photoshop actions. There are a multitude of different filter effects for almost any type of image editing.
As well as assets, there are also free design resources in the form of applications. Figma is the clear leader here. It offers a beautiful and highly capable vector app, free of charge. It’s available for any operating system, including Linux or even ChromeOS.
Runner-up: Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is another similar application. It works in browser and uses a beautiful dark user interface. It’s extremely polished, free, and certainly worth a try.
Winner: Freebiesbug (Photoshop + Sketch + Figma + Code)
Freebiesbug offers a wide range of free design resources. It’s particularly useful in that it’s not confined to a single software program. It offers everything from Photoshop files, to fully coded design assets – especially useful when downloading web templates.
Runner-up: Sketch Repo (Sketch + Figma)
Sketch Repo is a wonderfully simple resource site which offers a similarly great selection of web templates, this time for Sketch and Figma only.
Winner: Google Fonts
Google Fonts is an incredibly useful resource. Its wide-ranging selection of fonts is coupled with the fact they can be integrated into your projects with a simple copy and paste. All are free to use.
Runner-up: Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel is another great resource with a number of fonts available which you won’t find on the Google Fonts website.
Winner: Sketch Plugins (Sketch)
Sketch plugins can save a lot of time by automating and speeding up particular tasks and workflows. The application has its very own dedicated page for plugins on their website.
Runner-up: Adobe Add-ons (Photoshop)
Adobe has a similar website where it combines as many plugins and add-ons as possible, all into one place. It’s great for searching out plugins to automate tasks and add extra functionality to Photoshop.