Pretty pictures

I love graphics. Always have. Back in the days when we did not think so much about digital rights and things, I used to collect pictures from all over the internet. First mega, then gigabytes. Wonderful. I felt so rich, just having them on my PC. No reason for it. Just enjoyment. Occasionally I would use one for a private or work project, but on the whole, the supply was much too haphazard. Also, the copyright worry happened. Suddenly copying pictures from the internet became a criminal activity. I offered resistance for a while, but in the end I legalised my graphic hunts. Since then, supply has become much better. I use both free and paid services. My general rule: always credit the author, whether this is required or not. So all the pictures I use are (or should be) documented, showing source and author. If not in the blog itself, then on the media page.

Paid services

Microsoft Office

I have an subscription for Office 365 Home which allows me and up to 5 other family members to use almost all the Microsoft Office apps (Project and Visio excluded), and gives me 1 TB per user on OneDrive plus free Skype. I may change to Office 365 personal next year as by then I might be the only one using the subscription (if my husband decides to go for OpenOffice). I deliberately chose not to go for the student offer, because there are too many restrictions.

Microsoft offers access to many of pictures, as part of the Office applications. You must take care only to use the images which are free for commercial use (which is the default setting).

Envato Elements

I have a paid subscription to EnvatoElements. It is quite expensive, but it offers me not just pictures but also WordPress layouts, video’s, plugin’s etc. Envato elements is part of Envato which is a marketplace for designers. You can even hire a designer through Envato. The beauty with EnvatoElements is that you pay a fixed amount per month and then you can download anything you like. Often one design on EnvatoMarket would cost as much as my monthly €20.57, so I think it is worth it. Particularly as the quality is high and it saves me from hunting around the internet find the right picture. I use it for for work, study and private life. As I pay monthly, I can easily stop the subscription for a while. Or perhaps I will take out a yearly subscription, which would come to €14.50 per month.

Adobe Creative Cloud

I have a paid subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, the all-applications version without the stock photo’s (too expensive for my purposes). For this I pay £24.96 which is much more than I ever intended. I made the mistake of not reading the small print. I bought a subscription via my Oxford College for about £13 per month. Which I thought was good value, considering you get Lightroom and Photoshop (my husband and I dabble in photography, he a bit more knowledgeably than I). And also Illustrator, Acrobat professional, Audition, Premiere, Dreamweaver, Indesign and lot of other things. But after a few months, Adobe one-sided upped the prices because of exchange rates. Then after a year, the price was almost doubled to the “full rate” without any warning. This was the small print I forgot to read. Also, I could not get out of the contract because it runs for another year. In November I will cancel it and take out a student subscription. I have already emptied the cloud storage so I cannot be held to ransom. I have been told never to give Adobe my creditcard details so they cannot play this “after one year you pay double” trick again.

So why should you want to have Adobe Creative Cloud? Well, if you are not a photographer, perhaps you would not. Even so, Adobe offers many possibilities for creating or adjusting images, in 2d and 3d, and in all kinds of formats. The vector format being the most important one, because it scales so well. The learning curve is steep though. I have played with Adobe applications for years, and I am still no much more than a beginner. I also adore Adobe Acrobat. It allows me to do whatever I like with a pdf – convert it, stamp it, change it. For my next project I will be looking into animations. Adobe had made that much easier, so even a beginner like me might understand.

Graphic mama

Occasionally, I buy vector characters from Graphic Mama. All the characters in the presentation I posted on my other blog (sample shown below), in a post on visuals, came from there. They even have versions (called puppets) that can be animated, i.e. made to move and talk.

Free sources

It is difficult to compile a list which will stand the test of time. Things change rapidly. So I will confine myself to what I regard as trusted sources.

Source: Unsplash
Author: Andre Mouton
  • Unsplash. It is absolutely free, and many of the picture are of great quality. For instance, this monkey-with-mirror.
  • The Noun project. Any and every kind of icon. Free if you attribute credit.
  • Creative blog maintains a great list of free resources. Check it out.
  • Many musea have wonderful showcases online. I love the Rijksmuseum Studio. You can create your own masterpieces out of the collection. Be a Rembrandt. Or collect greens. Or beasties. The British Museum has put their collection of public domain books (17th century upwards) on Flickr.
  • DigitalArtsOonline has published a great post on vintage images, naming 10 of the best.
  • Infographics have been all the rage for a while. Creative Blog has compiled a list of very good ones.

Thoughts?