"About Free Graphics on the Internet..." Tutorial
How to be a Good Netizen When Dealing With Graphics and Clipart
Originally published 1999. Updated 2010. Copyright and all rights reserved.
If you are in a hurry, here is the short version. NEVER "hot link" to anyone's graphics anywhere on the
Web UNLESS you are specifically instructed to by the artist/graphic layout site you are working with.
Hot linking is using the html code a href="directory/image"... .NEVER download/steal/take/download anyone's
graphics unless the site from which you are removing the graphics has given you permission to do so. There are
millions of graphics available you can use, free, for personal sites, blogs, web community sites like Facebook.
Go just go to our
Graphics Directory to find free graphic sites offering free graphics. Generally, sites that offer free graphics expect
a link back for using their graphics. Copyrighted graphics and clipart is NO different that copyrighted books, movies,
games and so forth.
If you are building web sites OR your web site is explicitly for making money (a commercial site), then you need to
purchase graphics OR hire a graphics/clipart artist to create graphics for you. Easier still is
just get a web template. When you are
using graphics in a "for profit" manner, then graphic artists expect to be paid for
the use of their graphics. Consider this: Ugly website rarely make money. Graphics are
VERY important to the profitability of a commercial web site. Also, graphics and clipart
can be obtained for personal or commercial use VERY cheaply. Really. If you want to avoid
copyright and royalty issues, just buy some graphics.
Below are some of our favorite, inexpensive
graphics, animated graphics, clipart and photo sites. We also list a web template site: You can buy complete web templates (an entire web site with graphics, you
just add the content) for as little as $12. Actually, it is shocking how cheaply you
can obtain graphics. There really is no need to "steal" anyone's graphics. So, here are some great places
to obtain quality graphics and clipart, cheap:
A word of caution about free graphic sites and downloads. As with anything you download on the Internet,
make sure you are NOT downloading a virus or worm that can infect your computer when downloading graphics. Not
all "free" graphic sites can be trusted. Make sure your anti-virus and malware protection is up-to-date
and TURNED ON before downloading graphics (or anything else).
O.K., now back to the long version about free graphics.
Much of what I have to say here is for those who are
relatively new to the Internet (or, have been around awhile be STILL haven't learned how to
behave when using others artwork). If you can sit still a minute and read this you will learn
to be cool, and stay out of legal trouble, when dealing with graphics on the Internet. The
payoff (if you need a payoff for learning to do the right thing) is that you'll have plenty of graphics
and clipart to play with, plus know how to get inexpensive custom graphics. You might even make the great leap into becoming a graphic artist yourself and find employment and satisfaction for years to come.
What does it mean to "steal" a graphic? If you take copyrighted graphics from
ANYWHERE and use them for a profitable purpose, you are picking the pocket of some graphic
artist. If you take graphics and put them on a commercial web site and have not made
arrangements to compensate the original artist, you're stealing. Sure, you have this good
looking web site (a web site whose purpose is to make money), but the reason it will
likely make money is because it is a good looking site... try selling anything from an ugly
web site... see how far you get.
If you are a webmaster taking others graphic work and putting it on web sites you build for money, you are stealing...
and you are also not a webmaster, you're passing yourself off as one. Real webmasters take care of their own.
They make sure graphic artists are compensated for profitable work.
So, then, where are there free graphics? They are anywhere a graphic artist chooses to make them available.
Huh? you say. Well, go to just about any of the free graphics site I list at 1 NetCentral and you'll notice that
almost all of them will let you use their graphics and/or clipart for free on personal web sites.
A personal, domain hosted, web site is becoming a rare thing these days. My great hope is they make a comeback.
A personal web site is anything you put on the Internet that is not-for-profit. Maybe you talk about yourself and your life.
Maybe you put up a web site that is a family history. Maybe you build a web site that goes in depth about your
favorite hobby or sport. The list of personal web site types is endless. They are fun... and not-for-profit.
With the increasing popularity of community web sites that offer "personal pages" like Facebook, MySpace,
Twitter and so forth. The personal web page is making a huge comeback. These personal page sites can be
built and "pimped out" very easily these days. Check our
Graphic Layouts page for
some suggestions for free sites offering everything you need to build a personal page.
Like I said, most graphic artists will let you use their graphics for free for personal web site. Some will require a link back
to the graphic artists site, some will not... it is up the artist. There are even some graphic artists that will allow you
use their graphics on small business sites
(like Grandma' who's selling here special jelly on the Net' and making a few sales a month)... all you need to do is ask and
provide a link back. You would be surprised how many graphic artist are big hearted, generous folks who are will you help you
for no or little money.
There are also graphics on the Internet that are called "free domain" or "royalty free" graphics.
These are graphics and clipart
created by artists who did not choose to copyright. These graphics are just "out there" for anyone to use.
Occasionally, you will run across a web site offering a collection of these types of graphics and clipart. Go to bed
at night blessing these wonderful souls who create graphics/clipart and cast them like "bread upon the water".
In the beginning, it was these folks who once mostly populated the Net'. Difficult as it is to believe,
the Internet was and is built on cooperation and began as a generosity. Can you say "open platform"... ahhhhh, the golden,
Woodstock age of Internet... ya' should have been there.
Yes, there are lot's of free graphics out there... it's wonderful as long as you're a good Netizen. There are lots of great
folks will to spend time making cool, interesting, beautiful Internet art just to share with others. Sure, artist want
links back for recognition, but, hey!, don't you want to be recognized for the good work you do?
Some of you are thinking, "this guy is nuts... I have always taken graphics from
anywhere I wanted and never had a problem... so can anyone else". Well, maybe 15
years ago you could have gotten away with it... go try stealing the NFL's logo, or Microsoft's
graphics... see what happens. Using any copyrighted (and especially trademarked) graphics without permission anywhere, on or off the Web,
is generally going to get you into trouble. Especially if you are using those graphics
in some manner that puts cash in your pocket.
The technology has arrived for graphic artists to search the Net' and find out who is using their graphics any time they want.
They have "watermarked" their graphics with an almost invisible copyright. Ohhhhhh, yes, gone are the days you could
run around the Net' freely taking anything you wanted. Why?
Well, one example is how a large not-to-be-named software company went out on the Net', collected thousands
of graphics/clipart from web pages then resold the collection on a CD to webmasters (to used for commercial web sites).
Naturally, all the artists who's work was stolen were steamed. They were never paid. This low-life company never really
did make any effort to compensate artists, forced the artists into an expensive legal battle to prove ownership. These
types of activities by "Internet carpetbaggers" are why graphics are now watermarked and copyright.
Internet artists have formed co-ops and organizations to protect graphic/clipart work.
Suppose you have little or no money to buy custom graphics. Well, if you are building
a personal site, no problem. Most graphic artists will let you use example graphics they have
posted in collections on the Net'. Just READ the terms and conditions of use at each artist's
site, to be sure. As mentioned above, there are LOTS of places to find quality clipart/graphics, cheap.
As I previously mentioned, there are also many Internet artists that will let you use their graphics on small,
just-starting-out online businesses. Just email the graphic artist... explain your need and intentions... and, promise
that when you DO start making a profit, you'll give them the first shot at making custom graphics for your web site.
Custom graphics, in my opinion, often builds confidence that a web site is serious about doing business on the Internet.
Custom graphics on a personal site make me want to spend some time on a web site and see what this person is about...
they have obviously gone to a real effort to be attractive. And, bottom line is, web sites are like people.
People who take care of their appearance... those who make the effort to attract attention through fashion...
usually DO get the attention they seek.
Custom graphics are MUCH cheaper than you think... really! Of course, it depends on the artist you work with, but,
if you shop around a bit, you'd be shocked at how little custom logos, banners, buttons and even entire graphic sets can cost.
There is a misconception that graphics are all expensive.
Early in Internet history, graphics were free. Then, with the Webs expansion, graphic artist were
stressed to keep up with the demand for custom work.... prices shot up. I remember on graphic artist asking for $500
dollars to make one, simple ad banner. Unbelievable. Now, I can get the same banner (a better one, in fact) for less than
$10. These days, high school kids spend their summer vacation making graphics and web pages to earn some extra money...
hence, why you never see kids doing car washes anymore, or, stopping by to ask if they can mow your lawn...
that stuff is now considered very uncool. Now days, they can fix your iPhone, load music on your iPod,
create a webpage or program your Blackberry.
So, if you want custom graphics, you most likely CAN afford them... you're just unsure of who to talk to...
which explains why I now have a web page called Banner and Logo Makers Directory.
those are just a few of my favorites. You will find more at
Graphics Online Tools Page.
You can also contact just about ANY of the webmasters at the free graphic sites I've posted in the
Free Graphics Directory and they would be HAPPY to give you a bid on building you some killed eye-candy for your web site. Just ask.
Another, and very popular, option to obtain graphics is to buy a CD with thousands of graphics you
can use for just about any purpose, on the Net' and off. Also, there are some very good ONLINE
companies that supply access to HUGE graphic collections for a small fee... perfect for webmasters
and up-and-coming business sites that need access to numerous graphics. You'll find some of these
sites at the Graphics Software Page.
Now, if you are here because you want to be a graphic artist, or improve your skills,
you'll find the Graphic Software Page very useful. I've posted some of the
currently hottest software packages and a few, lesser known graphic making software options.
I've also linked to software that anybody can learn, quickly, in case you're like me and have no interest in
becoming "a graphic artist"... you're only interested in getting a few, quick graphics made so you can
get your web site up.
The great fear of graphic artist is that they will see their graphic work displayed as, say, GM's logo...
and they get neither recognition nor compensation for their work. To prevent this, you can do a couple of things.
One "watermark" your graphics. Insert a copyright in the programming code, if nothing else.
If you display your graphics on a web site, make sure you SAY at the bottom of the page that "graphics
displayed on this site are copyright to **** and all rights reserved.
Also, if you put together a free graphics site, clearly state your terms and conditions for using the graphics.
State that others may use the graphics (under the terms and conditions) but that you reserve all rights. You are not
giving the graphic away... you are allowing others to use it for awhile. Especially state, in your terms and conditions,
that no one may take your graphics and include them in another collection... on or off the Internet.
Should you become a great graphics artist, hey, remember us little folks... the rest of us Netizen...
and make a few extra graphics now and then and "cast them upon the water". It will return
to you tenfold. Like, maybe, someone will take the time to write a graphics tutorial and post it free
to help others get started (and in turn become good Netizen).
And, yes, this tutorial is copyrighted to 1 NetCentral.Com. All rights reserved. You are, however, welcome to link
to this page, if you'd like.