Take a closer look at all the websites and apps you frequently use and you’ll find that almost all of them use illustrations. Illustrations are more than just trendy space-fillers – when used efficiently, they are powerful communication tools. They humanise the overall experience with a product by adding personality and style to web pages – for example, they can liven up empty state screens and make error states less intimidating. Illustrations also solidify a product’s branding, making it a more cohesive and memorable experience for users.

Not only that, illustrations save a lot of design space. When you have to take into account the teeny-tiny design space on mobile screens, you appreciate all the more the value of an image that effectively gets your message across (a picture is worth a thousand words, am I right?).

Of course, not everyone is cut out to make their own custom illustration work (if you are, lucky you). If drawing isn’t one of your strong suits, then browse through below for a gold mine of illustration resources:

1. unDraw

Created by Katerina Limpitsouni, unDraw has a sizeable collection of open-source illustrations that you can use for free without attribution. You can customise the colour according to your brand colour palette and use it as a normal image (SVG or PNG) or embedded code. 

I personally enjoyed its Adobe XD plugin which came in very handy for my prototype for my UX Design course.

  • Gallery size: Large
  • Membership: None; free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required, but appreciated
  • Others: plugin for Adobe XD
2. Humaaans

Humaaans offers a design library of customisable illustrations designed by Pablo Stanley. You can mix and match hairstyles, poses, clothes, as well as add some small ambient details and also customise the colour palette to fit your brand. You can download the library and change things up on your preferred prototyping tool, or use with Blush (which has a plugin for Figma and Sketch).

  • Gallery size: Medium
  • Membership: None; free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required, but appreciated
  • Others: Can be used on any product design tool like Sketch, Figma, XD, or Studio to mix nested components
3. Open Doodles

Open Doodles is another open-source illustration site by Pablo Stanley which shares basically the same concept as Humaaans: you can download source files of people illustrations, but the assets aren’t as customisable as the former (you can only change the colour of the images), and the options aren’t as diverse. It might still be worth browsing if you’re looking for cute people doodles for empty state screens.

  • Gallery size: Small
  • Membership: None; free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required, but appreciated
4. Fresh Folk

Fresh Folk is an illustration library of people and objects created by Leni Kauffman. You can mix and match character assets such as hairstyles, skin colour, outfits, etc. You just need to enter your email address to download the whole library.

  • Gallery size: Medium
  • Membership: Subscription required (you just need to give your email address); free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required, but appreciated
5. Stubborn Generator by Craftwork

The Stubborn Generator by the Craftwork team is a fully vector illustration pack which gives you the opportunity to design your own characters and scenes for free. The free pack includes 3 customisable persons (you can change the hair, colour, clothes, etc.), 10 boys and 10 girls illustrations, 5 robot illustrations, plus 20 scenes. The artwork is adorable, and the items in the collection allow you enough flexibility to come up with material for several screens. The best part is that the downloadable pack is compatible with Sketch, Illustrator and Figma, so you can work on the vectors directly in your design tool of choice.

You may opt to download the full Stubborn collection for a fee for a wider range of assets. Craftwork also has other paid illustration packs, as well as interesting UX/UI kits that are worth browsing.

  • Gallery size: Medium (for the free pack)
  • Membership: Required (you just need to give your email address); free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required, but appreciated
  • Others: downloadable files are compatible with Sketch, Adobe Illustrator and Figma
6. Illustrations.co

illustrations.co is an open-source illustration kit by Vijay Verma, who designed these during a 100 days of design illustration challenge (he’s added a couple more illustrations after the challenge). You can download them all for free (in AI, SVG, PNG, EPS and even Figma format) and use the designs without attribution. 

  • Gallery size: Large (over 200 illustrations)
  • Membership: None; free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required
  • Others: downloadable in AI, SVG, PNG, EPS and Figma
7. Drawkit

Drawkit is an illustration and icon library created by designstripe. You can download several vector illustration and icon packs that are customisable according to your brand needs. Most packs are free of charge (give or take one or two packs that are paid) and are available for commercial and non-commercial use.

  • Gallery size: Large
  • Membership: None; free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required, but appreciated
8. LS Graphics

LStore has a huge collection of illustration sets, UX/UI tools and mockups that are sure to add pizazz to your designs. They offer several free illustration kits which are available for both personal and commercial use – although only in PNG format, and you will need to attribute. But the PNGs are a decent size, and the collections honestly look pretty amazing, so this site is definitely worth the time browsing.

If you do want to edit the images, you’re going to have to buy the illustration pack. These are available in several file formats that are compatible with Sketch, Figma, Illustrator, and Affinity Designer. And of course, if you purchase, you no longer need to mention the link every time an asset of theirs appears in your design.

  • Gallery size: Large
  • Membership: Required (you just need to give your email address); free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Required
9. Absurd.design

Absurd is a collection of hand-drawn black & white art by Diana Valeanu. The free pack consists of 11 illustrations that are relatively abstract and leave enough room for interpretation, meaning they could stand in as effective messengers for some empty or error states. 

Diana offers a lot more illustrations for subscribers – so if b&w minimalist art is more the style you’re gravitating towards, give her work a try. And if you’re satisfied with the free version, don’t forget to attribute!

  • Gallery size: Small (11 abstract illustrations in the free pack)
  • Membership: None; free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Required
10. Illustrations by Karthik Srinivas

Karthik is a designer specialised in visual design, branding, and illustration who offers free and paid assets such as illustrations and icon packs in his website. His Charco and Poke illustration sets come with visuals for empty, error & success states which are quite brilliantly done – not to mention, completely free of cost, which he also generously allows for personal and commercial use. If you’d perhaps like to reciprocate his generosity, maybe you’d like to make a small contribution for a cup of coffee upon checkout. 🙂

  • Gallery size: Medium
  • Membership: None; free for commercial and personal use
  • Attribution: Not required
11. Freepik

Founded by brothers Alejandro and Pablo Blanes along with their friend Joaquín Cuenca, founder of Panoramio (acquired by Google), Freepik is a huge repository of high-quality content – from illustrations, photos, and icons, to mockups and presentations templates. The options are plenty as they are diverse, so you will need time to browse through especially if you’re looking for royalty-free material. Watch out though – the free materials still need attribution, so be mindful to credit the owners in your work (Freepik does an excellent job of telling you how to credit them upon download).

  • Gallery size: Extra Large
  • Membership: Not required; free for commercial and personal use WITH ATTRIBUTION
  • Attribution: Required
12. Ouch by Icons8

Ouch is the Icons8 group’s collection of vector illustrations made by top Dribbble illustrators. You’ll find a lot of creative packs in this library, but if you want to use the illustrations for free, you can only download these in low-resolution PNG, AND you’ll have to attribute Icons8 in your work. The file size is big enough for some portfolio work, and Icons8 is pretty flexible with its attribution requirements (see here for the attribution guide), so it’s still worth checking out). 

If you are interested in a subscription, you’ll have access to the entire collection in all its available file formats and sizes, and you’ll be able to edit the vectors according to your style requirements using Icons8’s Mega Creator app.

  • Gallery size: Large
  • Membership: Not required; free for commercial and personal use WITH ATTRIBUTION
  • Attribution: Required

There are thousands of other spectacular illustration sites beyond this list; what you see above is a curated selection of free material. If you have more resources to contribute, or if you’re an illustrator who would like to share your art with the world, feel free to comment below!

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