Free graphics, backgrounds, and vectors online

Computer graphics based on vectors are ideal for logos, icons, and website backgrounds. Vector graphics are some of the most fundamental tools in web design and a search on Google or Bing will reveal a bounty of resources for downloading graphics. But user rights for these images often vary, and only in the rarest of cases can they be downloaded and used for private purposes without restrictions. We’ve put together some of the best addresses for free image downloads and have answered some basic questions about user rights.

Free vector graphics and their applications

As is also the case when using photos or other images, rights of use for graphics must always be used in accordance with their licences. Free licences that offer users a wide scope of user rights provide convenient alternatives, sparing you the hassle of legal troubleshooting.

Creative commons vector graphics

Free licences are supplied by the organisation, Creative Commons. Graphics and images published on this portal can be used by anyone, and there is no need to ask for the copyright owners’ permission.

Certain user conditions are linked with the seven total CC licences. Pictures or graphics published under creative commons licences are freely accessible and can be used by anyone. Barring one exception, the producers of the original content must always be credited. Some CC licences allow commercial use of material but prohibit users from changing the content in any way.

The CC0 licence grants users complete freedom in what they do with files. In contrast to other licenses, users are not required to cite the original creator of the content, although doing so is recommended.

Additional free vector graph licences

Creative Commons is by far the most well-known type of free licence. Many other free graphics are licensed in a different, yet comparably user-friendly form. Some providers also oversee their own free licences. Questions on how such graphics can be used are normally found on the provider’s website. Usage is often free, provided that the creator is properly credited.

Platforms like Freepik or Free Vectors offer two models for using their graphics databases: a free version that doesn’t require registration as well as one with registration and a monthly payment scheme. The free versions also give users access to the sites’ portfolios. Without an account and a payment plan, however, users are required to include a link to the databases, should the graphic find its way onto their own website.

Freepik and Free Vectors are by no means your only options for downloading free vector graphics that don’t require licences. Many other sites also have collections available with similar conditions as mentioned above. Here’s an overview of their features and overall terms of use.

The best sources for free graphics

The sites listed below offer a range of different free-of-charge vector graphics. Licences do tend to vary among these options, so make sure that you understand and follow the various terms of use for individual graphics.

  • Freepik
    The Graphic database, Freepik, has over 50,000 free vector graphics on offer. In addition to classic icons, there are also scores of illustrations, backgrounds, and templates for web design available for download. The platform stipulates that Freepik has to be credited as the author of all material whenever it’s used, although the premium version exempts users of this responsibility. The licence also enables you to download images faster and in larger sizes that are not available in the free version.
  • Free Vectors
    Similar to Freepik, Free Vectors also operates on a two-tier model: free graphic use (with copyright citation) or paid accounts. Aside from graphics, Free Vectors also offers many different backgrounds as well as a selection of clip art.

  • Flaticon
    Flaticon specialises in free vector icons. Crediting the site is mandatory when using its content. 
  • iconmonstr
    Based in Munster, Germany, iconmonstr offers over 3,000 free icons. According to the site’s licensing agreement, no source citation is necessary, and the icons can be used for virtually any purpose (similar to the CC0 licence).
  • Vecteezy
    Another platform for vector graphics of all types (illustrations, icons, templates). These resources can be acquired on Vecteezy, often under its own licence or under a Creative Commons licence. Ensuring that you’re in line with all terms of use is crucial with this option.
  • Themezy
    An offshoot of Vecteezy, Themezy  focuses on free themes and templates for websites. Material found on this site is often registered under different licences.
  • Pixabay
    Pixabay is first and foremost a picture database. In addition to its impressive selection of photos, the site also has a respectable selection of vector graphics and illustrations on offer. What makes Pixabay special is that all of its listed photos are subject to the CC0 licence.

A wide selection of free vector graphics

Web designers on the lookout for free graphics have an enormous selection to choose from. As long as you adhere to the terms of use of each respective license agreement (violation of these conditions is known to result in cease and desist orders or fines), you can make use of these resources without having to worry.


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