In this page “Picture Frames and Free Art” we posit the obvious, how picture frames need to have pictures in them to mean something! It’s kind of like, the pen and the paper, or the dart and the dartboard, they need each other to make sense, to be useful.
Picture frames also go by other names such as certificate frames, photo frames, poster frames, etcetera. However these name are too imprecise for printing purposes. You can see this by visiting each of the provided links to see that are dozens of different sizes. However, and quite broadly speaking, an A4 is a common desktop certificate frame size , an 11×14 is also a common, standing photo frame size and an A1 is quite a popular size for wall posters.
If you are not sure what size print or poster would suit your wall, try cutting some white newsprint or even newspapers and blue-tacking the mock-ups on the wall. You could the gradually stand back and decide which mock-up size you think looks good for your wall. Once you’ve settled for a size, or sizes, you should start looking for images that you like and want printed. You have two choices here.
The first: you can buy printed posters online, but this can be relatively expensive. The second: download free-to-use images online to your USB and print these cheaply at office or electronic stores or printing kiosks. Considering that a large, A0 print poster can cost $200, and that a large office stores chain we know of charges $18 to print one, you could save a fair bit of money by adopting the second option.
This proposition becomes even more attractive when you have not one, but several walls to do and multiple posters that you want to put up. And so, if you now know where to order inexpensive poster frames, you might also like to know how to legally download free-to-use, copyright-free images. If so, please continue reading.
Generally speaking, copying, printing or using any image, or media file, that you may find online without its owner’s permission may be unethical, inappropriate and even illegal. Doing so could well infringe established owners’ copyrights. Obtaining images via an unfiltered Google Images search is the biggest and most common mistake many users make.
Nevertheless, you can certainly use any images found in Google Images provided you filter searches and use only those files “Labeled for reuse”. Filtered searches are easy to do. You search for whatever image or art you are looking for. When the results display, you will now need to filter them. Do so by navigating to Tools > Usage rights >Labeled for reuse and as shown in the example below.
By selecting this filter, the only images that will load will be those that are in the public domain, or licensed under the Creative Commons License and one of several public copyright licenses. If you do not use this filter, you could inadvertently download images that you may not be legally allowed to use.
Thus, you now know the right thing to do, so far as respecting copyright. There are other useful filters that you can use in conjunction with ‘Labeled for reuse”, as arrowed below. These relate to the size of images searched and, when adopted, files size are shown as footers in all images.
Knowing file sizes is quite useful because if you are going to print an A1 size poster for instance, you won’t want to use a 100 x 100px thumbnail. You would instead perhaps choose a 4000 x 6000px, 200 DPI, 91MB file which would print out to approximately 50 x 70cms or 20” x 28”, an average poster size. For instance, let’s say you want to put up a couple of A2 poster frames for your living room.
When sourcing your free images, you ought to make sure that the file sizes are at least 7,016 x 4,961 pixels because that’s what A2 (594 x 420 mm) converts to. If the pixel size is larger that’s all well, you can reduce the size, but if the pixel size is too small, then you’ll degrade the resolution and you will not be able to generate a quality print.
While on the subject of searching for Google Images, here’s another useful tip. When using keywords in your searches, use double quotation marks for more accurate results. For instance, if you search for images of picture frames you will get results of picture frames, spectacles frames, bicycle frames, film frames, walking frames, steel frames, house frames and any image with either or both of the keywords you used.
However if you were to enter the same keywords, but encased in double quotation marks, such as: “picture frames” you will get results of only what really interests you, picture frames, and nothing else.
For your convenience, we have visited, browsed and reviewed a selection of what we think are the best online sources to download copyright-free, free-to-use images. All information was checked and deemed accurate at the time of publishing.
Please note however the sources listed below may edit, alter and change any or all of supplied information at any time. Such changes may include URLs, access, content, data formats, licencing, permissions and even copyright status. It is strictly the responsibility of all of our web site visitors and users to double check for themselves the correctness and accuracy any and all contained and public information herewith and herein.
|Site & Clickable Link||# Images||Review and Comments|
|Wikimedia Commons||53,145,732||The site allows anyone to freely copy and use its images subject to the terms (if any) specified by the author. Possibly the largest digital source of media files. All Commons media files are available under a “free licence”. Search is topical and by subjects such as Architecture, Religion, Medicine, Painting, etc., with nested or child subcategories. Look for ‘Download all sizes” link generating an information box at the top right hand side of most images. It will often give a choice of several image file sizes, often very large and quite suitable for graphic and printing work.|
|Library of Congress||44,000,000||This organization has an enormous digital collection which will help you in finding free downloadable art online. While the number of their digital collections (347 at the time of editing) seems small, some collections are indeed very large. For example in one collection of Abraham Lincoln there are 40,550 digital documents. The collections are organized by the current 66 subjects as well as by original source, format and detailed ( when available) description. The copyright-free files can be downloaded as .tiff or . jpeg. Most likely, you would prefer to download the largest available size for print outputs.|
|pixabay.com||1,250,000||A cosmopolitan, international website for sharing most genres of graphic art. There are hundreds of thousands of copyright-free photographs, illustrations and vector graphics. One of its fortes is both outdoor and landscape photography. You will need log in to download high-resolution images but you can use your existing Facebook or Google credentials to do so or you can sign up for a native account. Once that’s completed, use the trusty search box to find whatever suitable image you may be needing, then click it to bring up the download button. On doing that you will be presented with four file size download with the two largest one being suitable for large format printing. You may be presented with a Captcha to download smaller files. Alternatively, you can obviate the Captcha requirement by opening a free account. Most art is copyright-free and safe to use but you should “Enable Safe Search” during your searches, just to be sure.|
|vecteezy.com||476,000||While not huge on poster art, this site is massive for vector graphics artists and collectors. The graphic art comes from all around the globe, literally. When searching for “free” art, go to: License type > Free License selection. Keep in mind that while free, any images found thereat will require attribution to the site’s design credits. You can also join, subscribe or boy a Licence if attributing their files is a hassle for you. The download file sizes are generous, created and designed for professional use and printing.|
|The Met Collection||407,000||The Museum has divided its digital art collections in two sections. One section contains art which it believes to be within the public domain and to which it waives any copyright claims. The other section contains art which the Met knows to be copyrighted or with limited, privileged or restricted publication rights. Pertinent to this topic, the former section is the one that will interest you as it falls under the Met’s Open Access policy, first implemented in February 2017. This policy makes eligible files absolutely free and downloadable for unrestricted use under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation. To access these files, click the provided link herewith at the left. Once the page loads, go to “Open Access Artworks” and select the provided filters as required. To download images look for the download icon at the bottom right hand side of each image. The file will also be captioned “Public Domain” at the bottom left of the image.|
|morguefile.com||379,000||This resource refers to itself as a is a free photo archive for creative people by creative people. It is, by any other name, a very good free stock photo website. Any user can upload or download images. In addition it has a very helpful feature which allows users to crop images before downloading them, useful if you’re running out of storage. It is also user friendly as it does want your email address or account creation. To download your free art, go to Free photos > All images and click the image icon you want. You can also hover you mouse over the image you want and click the download button. The website has no image categories so you should do keyword searches for the subject topic, or theme you are seeking. Alternatively, you can continue to scroll down the main page for the image you require. Finally, image credits aren’t required, but are appreciated as it helps their visual artists with their online exposure.|
|NYPL Collections||185,000||The Library reputedly has 837,579 art items digitized and of these, approximately 185,000 are public domain and marked “Free to use without restriction”. Pretty much everyone is free to enjoy and use or reuse their digitized file anyway they like. The documents’ resolution is to large, professional standards and requirements. They files are organized intelligently organized to make locating and sorting easier and faster. There are five main section: collections, genres, dates, images and title. The site’s visualization tool is excellent with the function to search and sort documents “century created” being particularly useful. It has been said that devising easy navigation for users often takes nearly as much time as uploading all file sin the database. You can download any of these, legally and absolutely for free. they has 3 download formats, Small (300px), Standard (760px) and High Res (TIF format). Best to download the largest file for best printing results.|
|wellcome collection||112,000||Recently this London Library joined the worldwide trend to digitize and allow open access to a substantial proportion of their art collections. Their visual art is varied and unusual, even weird and bizarre, but so are many of their visitors and users. You can find anything from medical textbooks to art on paper, commercial advertisements and many 19th century European artists. The pictures and documents are surprising, eclectic and in many cases quite unique and not likely to be found elsewhere. The provided link will take you directly to their Search page where you can use the search box or browse their quirky, suggested topics: Quacks, James Gillray, Botany, Optics, Sun, Health, Paintings and Science. Once you’ve found an image that you like, you click on the image to go to its own unique page, where at the bottom, there should be a green download dropdown box with a choice of small of “Download full size” or “Download small”. Next to the download widget there is a ”Can I use this?” anchor link. It informs users that the images are free and can be used for both personal and commercial use or personal purposes. It also recommends all downloaded files should be attributed to their native work, source and licence.|
|Unsplash||64,000||The site offers a huge range of free images, from the mundane to the stunning from amateur and professional photographers. The images are consistently of professional quality. While fewer in number than other stock images sites such as Pixabay, their quality seems better more often, and more frequently. They have a very simple and fast search interface. For instance, searching “picture frames” loads 6140 images in a few milliseconds. Alternatively, or in conjunction with, you could try their Collections, sorted by site users thematically. Crediting isn’t strictly required, but is appreciated, This allows photographers to gain online exposure. You can copy the provided or embed a credit badge.|
|NGA Images||58,480||The NGA in Washington, DC, is endowed with one of finest art collections the world has seen. A considerable portion of their art has been digitized and are free-to-use under their Open Access policy. The somewhat discreet Home page browse link takes you to a searchable page with a dropdown box of several useful criteria all there to help you find whatever you may be looking for. Their combined Search and Advanced Search page allows users to seek their desired art by several criteria, including name of the artist, pertinent keywords, topic, subject, and their own native, accession number. The search results pages are also quite helpful, with Lightbox, Preview, High Resolution and Low Resolution download functions. These document files, at => 4000px, are of high resolution(up to 4000 pixels) and perfect for prints and posters art. Additional user features lightboxes creation of single or multiple image sets. Users can freely browse and download all Open Access images without registering an account. However user registration is needed to access special features such as saving and editing lightboxes or e-mailing image links information.|
|freepik||51,367||This organization is one of the leading copyright-free vector designs sites. Users can access to high quality graphics and innovative illustrations sorted and selected the site managers. The content may be used for both personal purposes and commercial use. The site features the usual search widget and once a desired image is found there is a fluorescent green “Download” button at the right hand side. Clicking it will generate an options screen for you to either choose a “Premium” ( you have to pay) or “Free Download” . If choosing the latter an attribution hyperlink can be copied which must be embedded in whichever online resource you intend to use with or use it in. The file will then downloaded zipped up for you unzipping and further use, which may or may not include printing for your visual pleasure!|
|L.A.C.M.A.||20,000||Like the National Gallery above, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has digitized much art of their collections into open access, free to use, downloadable images. All are totally free to download, no royalties, all online. The Gallery’s database contains over 20,000 images of artworks from hundreds of periods, movements, artists, and mediums. You will find high-resolution, high-quality images of all types of artwork: paintings, drawings, sculptures, statues, tapestries, books, manuscripts, jewellery, ceramics, furniture, tools, and much more. The search page is quite basis and will suffice most users. The filters will show a) only results with images, b) show public domain images only and c) show only results on view. Once the desired image is found there should be an “Enlarge” link. This will enable you download the image via the old faithful right mouse click and “‘Save Image As ..” The file sizes will vary from small, medium and large sizes.|
|U.S.D.A.||8,000||The United States Department of Agriculture has some unique art on paper and visual art collections that can make great free, wall art. There are digital printables of photographs, nursery, seed, flower catalogues, posters, documents and manuscripts. A great collection is that of the watercolour collection, with over 8,000images of art on paper including watercolours. paintings, drawings, and lithographs. This particular collection has a very user-friendly download routing. You click on image which then takes you to a “NALDC Record Details” screen with easy and handy “Click to enlarge” and “ Download high-resolution size “ buttons. With the other collections in the Image Galleries these also have downloadable images but to do so you will need to use your browsers mouse functions such as “ View Image Info” and “Save Image As..” Do double check the usage rights on the latter collections as some ( not all images ) do require attribution.|
|Free Classic Images||6,350||This is a cosmopolitan site of popular and well-known vintage posters. This art from yesteryear is simply so retro. There are advertisements for food, travel, animals, design, movies, circus, sport, war and much more. These are a great source for research graphic designers, artists and collectors. . To download your free art, just click on the thumbnail to the download function. Then just Download the highest resolution image which will be zipped. You then unzip to use the .jpeg or .tiff file inside. The site states that the published images can also be downloaded from other websites. Its management believes these to be in the public domain, copyright-free and in compliance with the U.S.A Fair Use Act.|
|Amplifier||240||The site regards itself as an online social design laboratory. Their art is not mainstream, conservative or commercial. Nor is it commissioned for profit. Rather it is collective work in progress, always evolving and with unambiguous social messages. Their avant-garde artists have social convictions and grassroots motivations. Their free art images are copyright free but cannot be sold or used for profit. Once online you will find 12 categories of about 20 image each or about 240 free images. There are no choice of file size downloads, just huge files. One that we saw was 26.3MB, 5400 x 7200 pixels or about 1.42m x 1.9m, in other words, massive.|
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