The complex jungle of design can be dense and daunting, for both new explorers and experts alike. We've put our creative monkey brains together to build a handy list of useful (and free) resources that will help you create great designs.
Whether you are a student, a designer suffering creative block, or a company working on a tight budget, the key to every successful creative endeavour is a trusty toolbox. And it's even better when that toolkit is free!
Rather than list hundreds of free design resources, we have gathered our personal favourites, which we use and know are legitimate, reliable and high quality.
To start building your design toolkit today, bookmark (command/ctrl + d) this page and our recommendations - we guarantee it will help save time and money on your next creative project!
There are so many exciting YouTube design tutorials out there. But a Rusty Monkey favourite is Futur. This channel is a go-to for any creative entrepreneur looking to expand their knowledge. They cover a wide series of interesting topics - but for design specifically, check out their Typography and Design playlist.
Logo Pond is brilliant when you find yourself craving inspiration for your brand. It offers an extensive gallery of logos, which is updated on a daily basis.
Awwwards is a design award site that celebrates the creative talent of web designers, developers and agencies around the world. As a result, it is jam-packed with the latest trends in web design to inspire your own website.
Fonts in Use is a public archive of typography throughout time. The gallery will help you decide which type selection is best for your project, and what type pairings work best. Please note that not all the typefaces featured will be free to use.
Top tip: If you often find yourself gazing at amazing fonts online but don't know what they are, download this great chrome extension WhatTheFont?
We like to keep up with a variety of design blogs, but this one might just be our favourite. Creative Boom is your daily fix of all things design, and perfect for when you find yourself struggling with a creative block.
We must admit to being loyal Adobe Suite users, but we know that is not always an option when working on a budget. Vectr offers an accessible and struggle-free experience to all those hoping to cook up some graphic design magic - and it's free to use.
GIMP is completely free open source image editing software that is relatively easy to use. Although GIMP has a lot to offer, it doesn't host as many advanced features as Photoshop and there are fewer 'how to' tutorials available for it. But overall it proves to be a worthy free option for when you don't have the funds to invest in the Adobe Creative Suite.
Explore, create and share colour palettes with Adobe Kuler - you will find your perfect colour palette in no time.
What we love:The 'Colour Harmony Rule' feature is a great way to quickly apply colour theory to your design. In addition, if you need a little inspiration, you can browse their 'explore, tab or upload a favourite image to extract a colour palette from it.
Others that made the shortlist: Color Lisa
With over 900 web-friendly fonts that are free for commercial use both in print and digital, Google Fonts is essential for any toolkit. The quality and variety is always increasing, but if you find this too limited, we've dropped in a few more links.
Font Awesome offer vector file icons and social logos that are ready to be downloaded as HTML for your website or an SVG file that can be placed in design software. There is an option to go pro if you have some spare cash, but we think there is more than enough choice from their free selection. If you disagree, check out the freebies at the noun project too.
If you don't have time to take your own photographs, Unsplash can be a life-saver! This site provides incredible high resolution photos from the best photographers worldwide, and they're all free for commercial use. We mention Unsplash and other stock libraries in our blog about image style.
This site offers the best premium mockups from all over the world that are completely free and easy to download. The mockups are made in-house so you won't be redirected to another site to complete the download.
If you're not on Behance already, sign up now! It is a respected community of creative professionals who are empowered to make ideas happen. It is an amazing resource for inspiration but also the best place to showcase your work and catch the eye of potential clients or agencies.
Freepik offer a wide range of high-quality content for free, but we mainly use this site for their impressive collection of vector-based design work.
If you have discovered an amazing free design resource that we haven't mentioned here, we want to know about it! Like you, we are always scouring the net to create the best toolkit, and we want to make sure this list showcases the best. Email us the link and we will give it a review!
Who wrote this?
She / her; green / blue. Zoe is a designer, daydreamer and self-anointed snack queen. Once described as “so awkward she’s charming” by a friend, there isn’t a day that goes by without her accidentally slipping in an innuendo. In winter, she hibernates in a blanket of books and netflix, but by late spring emerges with her trusty birkenstocks, ready to go on photography adventures and socialise with the neighbourhood cats. If she were a pokemon she would without a doubt be Pikachu, but a buzzfeed quiz has determined her to be a Magikarp. She’s a firm believer that buzzfeed quizzes cannot be trusted, under any circumstances.
Freebies and downloads
Fonts in Use
Design Your Way
Its Nice That
Web Designer Depot
The Noun Project
How to get your image style right