Photos, Images and Icon Resources

Part of what makes a web template, website, blog post, etc. really stand out is high quality icons, photos and other graphics. It’s pretty easy to find tons of icons and photos around the web which you can use for your personal projects, but what about those commercial projects? Here is a great list of resources to find just about anything you need for your personal and commercial projects. You’ll even be able to use most of these resources in your themes and templates you plan on selling at ThemeForest.

Copyright and Getting Permission

First I want to point out that you must be cautious and check the license and/or terms of use for images and icons you may want to use. Many great free resources are limited to non-commercial use and you won’t be able to use them in items for resale. Fortunately most of the authors of these items are very generous. Simply asking for express permission to use their work in a template for commercial resale will do the trick. Most authors of these resources are very happy to see their work used. Just remember that it’s always better to ask the author for permission!

If you’re unfamiliar with copyright law, a good place to start is “5 Biggest Copyright Pitfalls for Web Designers“. In fact, even if you are somewhat familiar with copyright, this is a great article to refresh your memory or even pick up a few extra tips.

Photos and Images

Envato Asset Library

If you’re a Theme Forest author or a soon-to-be Theme Forest author, check out the Envato Asset Library. It’s a really great collection of images, audio and video. These resources can only be used in items you plan to sell with Envato exclusively.

Envato Asset Library


This is a pretty popular resource for images and one that I use frequently. They have a pretty big collection of really great images of all sorts, but make sure you check the restrictions on a per-image basis. I always ask the author of images for permission from this site and so far I’ve never been turned down. They love to see how you use their work.


This site has a great collection of free photos that you can use in commercial projects without attribution. As always, be sure to double check license restrictions.

Flickr Creative Commons

A huge resource for images of all kinds is the Creative Commons section of flickr. Basically these are photos that flickr users have chosen to offer under a Creative Commons license (more info on Creative Commons).

Big Stock Photo

This site has a huge collection of great photos. You have to purchase them but they’re pretty cheap. These photos can be used in web templates intended for resale and other commercial projects. They even have a page to clarify restrictions for web designers, so make sure to read it before you start buying images.

Blue Vertigo

If those sites aren’t enough to find what you’re looking for, this site is basically a directory for all sorts of digital resources including stock photography. If you can’t find it here, it may not exist yet.


Icons can really give your template or website that extra edge above the competition. They’re visually appealing, versatile and can make using a website much more pleasant to use. Unfortunately it can be a little difficult finding icons to freely use that also match what you’re looking for. Here’s some great places to start looking.


If you’re looking for icons that have no restrictions, this is a great place to start. You can use the icons here for pretty much anything including web templates you plan on selling at Theme Forest. iconPot lists icons from different designers around the web so it’s worth bookmarking, subscribing to or following on Twitter.

Smashing Magazine

As most of you probably know, this is one killer site. Tons of freebies, tutorials, resources, etc. You’re bound to find icons to meet your needs here and lots of other goodies along the way.

Icon Finder

Instead of digging around through icon packs you might want to check out this site if you’re looking for something more specific. They make finding icons really easy using their icon search. Make sure you check the info. on an icon before using it though.


This site is a great resource for all sorts of design related information and downloads including a nice (but somewhat limited) collection of icon packs.

Webdesigner Depot

This site is another great place for all sorts of design related resources. Their icons are more limited but they have a couple great sets that are really worth checking out.

Graphic River

Our very own Graphic River has a rapidly growing collection of high quality icons (and lots of other graphics). Of course these are for purchase only and you won’t be able to use these in website templates you intend to sell at Theme Forest but you will be able to use them for pretty much all other single use projects.

Icon Easy

This site has tons of great icons but I believe most of them are for non-commercial projects only. Information is shown for every icon set so be sure to double check. This would be a great resource for your personal projects.

Blue Vertigo

Yup, this site also has a great directory of places to get icons; most of them are sites you’ll need to purchase the icons but some of the sites are free or at least have a small collection of free icons.


If you aren’t quite sure how to use these vast resources of images and icons, take a look at other sites that have. Let those sites inspire you to create something fresh and new that fits exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for some information on inspiration but you’re also worried about copyright, check out “Be Inspired, but Don’t Copy“. This article also has some great “featured design” website directories to inspire you.

Ending Notes

I can’t stress enough the importance of checking license restrictions and being aware of copyright laws. If you plan on using icons, images, etc. in commercial works, it’s a really smart idea to include a text file with the source of the images and even a copy or link to the license information. Keep a backup of this information in the event someone thinks you’ve used the resources inappropriately, it may be the only thing that saves you.

Copyright infringement may sound like it’s no big deal but things change quickly when you’re being accused of it. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on copyright laws and try to protect yourself every chance you get.

I’m sure all of you have tons of bookmarks or favorite sites to get photos and icons so if you know of a great resource leave a comment to share it with the rest of us. Thanks! :-D