Improve Your Designs with Free Images

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Following on from our last design related blogs, you’ll also most likely need access to a royalty free stock image website. Stock image websites provide access to a wide range of graphics, photos and vectors which can be used in your label designs. Most stock image websites work on a credit based system whereby you purchase credits in advance, which can then be redeemed against any files that you download. Normally, the larger the batch of credits you purchase, the cheaper the individual credits are. Other sites offer a subscription service for a monthly fee, which then provides you with an amount of credits per month within the package. We’ve been using stock image websites for around 5 years now and we’ve seen numerous developments in the services they offer and quality of content that they provide. Here’s a few of our favourite stock imagery websites:

iStock – www.istockphoto.com
Often referred to as “the web’s original source for royalty-free stock images”, iStock (iStockphoto.com) is the granddaddy of the stock image world. They were one of the first websites to offer stock images and they are still considered to be the leader in their field. iStock’s trump card is choice. There are almost 10 million files available and due to it’s reputation in the market, new content is being generated constantly by it’s dedicated and loyal contributors. We would recommend iStock if you’re looking for high quality, premium images and graphics. You will pay a price for this quality, currently the cheapest credit pack is around £35.00 for 30 credits which works out at just over £1 per credit. When you to take into account that even a medium resolution image can cost several credits, it can get quite expensive but overall, we think it still represents good value for your money.

123RF – www.123rf.com
With over 23 million files to choose from, 123RF offer a great range of images to use in your label design project. Although the quality of images are not as high as iStock, they provide a great service at a more affordable price. The site is really easy to use and the search facility works very well. Having the ability to match images to your search criteria is the true test of a good stock image site. Each stock image site uses a similar method to tag images with relevant keywords, which are then picked up by the internal search engine of the site. 123RF’s search system is normally very accurate and within each image detail page, further related keywords are suggested to help you find the most suitable image for your needs. With credit packs starting from around £15 for 20 credits and subscriptions starting at around £70 for 5 images per day over 30 days, there’s a solution to suit most budgets.

Ingimage – www.ingimage.com
We’ve been using Ingimage for a couple of years now and it’s a great alternative to the major stock image brands. Based in the UK, they offer very competitive subscriptions with their top level “access to everything” plan costing under £600 per year. They often run promotions for reduced levels of downloads per month and we’ve seen offers for 50 downloads per month for around £150 per year, which incredible value! The choice and quality of images are, understandably, not the highest but the images are more than adequate for most label design projects. Like most stock image sites, there is a biased towards US based content but if you delve a bit deeper you can find UK specific content, which is essential if you want your designs to appear relevant for a UK audience. We would recommend Ingimage if you’re on a budget but looking for regular access and images downloads.

Stock.XCHNG – www.sxc.hu
It’s been around now since 2001 and if you’ve ever tried sourcing images you’re bound to have stumbled across SXC.hu. It’s well known in graphic design circles as one of the last free stock image websites. The quality and choice of images isn’t great but when everything is free, you can’t complain! If you’re starting out and have a very limited budget, you can find images and graphics within the site which are perfectly usable and acceptable for your label designs. It’s simple to use, just create an account, find the images you need and start downloading. To help subsidise the cost of running the site, there are numerous links to images from iStockphoto and these are displayed directly within the search results. The idea behind this is that you may be tempted to buy one of the higher quality images offered by iStock, if you can’t find a suitable image from SXC. As with any free resource, there are always compromises but if you lower your expectations, it’s a worthwhile addition to your stock image resources.

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