Giving back to Open

Giving back to Open

I often use public domain and creative commons licensed images and audio in my work. I really like the idea that high quality media is available for free to the public and that you can create something amazing without infringing on copyright. For businesses and professionals to function they can’t give everything away, but it’s nice to share what you can. With that in mind, I’ve recently posted several of the agriculture and GPS illustrations I created for work on Openclipart. I think that it’s time that I gave back to the OCAL community since I’ve definitely used dozens of graphics from other artists. You can see all of my illustrations on my tmjbeary OCAL profile, but here are a couple of my favorites:

How trilateration works to determine GPS position.

How trilateration works to determine GPS position.

Combine harvester with grain platform.

Combine harvester with grain platform.

Do you have any suggestions for illustrations I could create? I’ll also take requests for custom illustrations, with the stipulation that I’ll release it to the public domain on OCAL.


Open Clip Art Library (OCAL)


buildings at night by tmjbearyI mentioned in an earlier post that OCAL is a great place to find vectors in the public domain. If you don’t know how to work with vector images, you can also download the image as a .png with any size you specify. I frequently use clip art from the site, and now I’m trying to do my part by contributing some of my work. Granted, I’m still a beginner with Inkscape, so my graphics aren’t incredible. Still, I hope that someone might find them useful and that the quality will improve over time. My latest upload is shown at right. Check out my tmjbeary OCAL profile to see all my uploads and the clipart I have collected from other users.

Most of what I have is science-related from posters I made in grad school (I haven’t uploaded all of that work yet). I’m not sure how relevant that work is since it’s very specialized to the research I was doing. Any other suggestions for drawings I could attempt to make?


Image websites

When  you need images for a design project where do you look? The easiest thing to do is search Google Images and take whatever you find; but what about copyright and the original artist? As an aspiring designer I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due so hopefully others will give me the same respect. So here are the sites I like best for free images:

Open Clip Art Library

All images uploaded to the Open Clip Art Library are released to the public domain, so they are free for personal or commercial use. All images can be downloaded in .png or .svg format, so they are easily scalable to any size you might need. The quality is somewhat variable since it’s all volunteer contributions, but a lot of the images are incredible.

Free source of volunteer-contributed photography, released to the public domain so you can use it for any of your projects. You can’t redistribute the images, but they are free for use.

Flickr: Creative Commons

Flickr provides a way to easily browse images based on the Creative Commons license they were released under. They explain what the different licenses mean, so you can find attribution only images for all your projects, or some of the more restrictive licenses, like attribution, no derivatives, non-commercial. There are millions of images available, although the quality does vary somewhat since they are user-contributed. If you have some patience for browsing and trying a variety of keywords, you can typically find images that will work for your needs.

Icon Archive

I absolutely love icons and iconography. I think there’s genius in taking a complex idea and distilling it down to the simplest representation. I use icons any time I’m trying to convey a complex or abstract idea, but I’ll probably devote a whole post (or several) to this subject. Icon Archive has some wonderful, high quality icon sets, typically available in .png format. You should look closely at the icon set for the licensing though, as it varies depending on what the artist has specified. All images are free to download, but you should still check the licensing to make sure you’re respecting the rights of the creator.

I admit I’m not totally versed in intellectual copyright law, do any of you know some good resources to learn more? What are your favorite sites for images? I highlighted free sites here since I’m mostly a hobbyist, if you frequently use commercial stock images, what are the best sites for that?