Get free graphics online

May 2000

There are thousands of free clip art images and photos available on the Internet for you to use in your documents or on your web site. Most of the time when I've gone out looking for them, I've been frustrated. Invariably, web sites advertising free clip art would simply be collections of links to other sites. I'd click and click and click and never seem to get to the graphics themselves.

Which is why I was immediately impressed with GoGraph. It actually has graphics right there for you to download--some 20,000 clip art images, icons, photos, animated gifs and more. All of these can be used for free for your own personal use. Some are copyrighted, and if you intend to use them commercially, you'll need permission of the owner. GoGraph excels at identifying these and making it easy to get in touch with the copyright holder if necessary.

The site has both a directory structure and a search engine, so that you can quickly find what you need. Large images are shown as "thumbnails," which you can click on to see the image full size. The site includes the simple instructions for saving images to your computer.

I did a search on "dog" and found 122 images in all categories. You can also restrict your search to a particular category. I did the same search but restricted it to the photo category, and it returned 22 results. The site is well structured, easy to use, and efficient.

From what I could tell, the images are exclusively in Internet formats: jpg and gif. If you need them in other formats that are more appropriate for paper-based documents, you can easily convert them. I use a Macintosh and have downloaded a program called Graphic Converter that converts all formats from one to another.

For many of the images, there are three associated links: "Author," which gives the image use policy, "All author's graphics," which returns a listing of all the images in the database by that author, and "Author web site," which takes you to the web site of the person who created the image. I went to the web site of a person who created a dinosaur and found that she had many more available for free for both personal and commercial use. If images don't have these three associated links, that means that you can freely use them for any purpose.

The site has a great collection of links for related tools and resources. Just one example: there are links to dozens of PhotoShop tutorials which teach you how to manipulate images.

© 2000 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

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