Nice (free) things to print

Thanks everyone for your kind support during my last and latest IT crisis. Much appreciated. It’s fixed now. I tried to thank my web host, InMotion Hosting, for finally figuring it out. Alas, the last message I sent them bounced back to me. From what I could tell, their own server (or spam program) thought their own address was spam. Hmm…

And good luck to those of you still suffering from the update to WordPress 4.0. I know I wasn’t the only one. I wish I knew what my web host did to fix it, but it’s honestly incomprehensible to me. Sigh…

At any rate, I’ve started to collect new materials to make pages for my next sketchbook/plaything. As part of that, I’ve been browsing some favorite online places for high-quality, public domain printable stuff. These are listed under “Free Picture Resources” on my links page, but I thought I’d explain a little.

You'll be busy for a while…

The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr account will keep you very busy if you like vintage images of nature and the physical world. All of their images are provided under under a Creative Commons license. I find that I usually need to touch them up in Lightroom/Photoshop to make them more to my liking, but you could probably also just download and print if you don’t care as much about such things. If nothing else, it’s a great visual reference resource.

Speaking of downloading, it came to my attention recently that not everyone I know is familiar with how to download images from Flickr (on accounts that allow it). It can vary by browser, but I think with most current and supported browsers, it now works like this:

 Click the arrow symbol on the bottom right:

Click here

This will make a little menu appear…

Click here next

Almost always, choosing “original size” will ensure the highest quality for printing. You can always shrink it down later. Click on that, and the picture will be downloaded to your computer.

Another fun browse is brought to us by a professor of the History of the Book at the University of Amsterdam. This account, found at is filled with detailed scans of fancy initials, ornaments and fragments from manuscripts.

History of the Book on Flickr

Of course, there are plenty of other Creative Commons resources on Flickr and the wider web. Photos from the US government, for instance, are generally not under copyright. So… looking for a nice NASA space image or something from the Library of Congress? You might want to start here.

And, thanks to Amy, I recently discovered some terrific, high-quality maps (among other things) at The Old Design Shop. It is claimed that all of the images here are in the public domain. These are, in my so-far limited experience, unusually excellent quality and ready to print without any digital fussing. I printed out some maps on plain Strathmore 400 Drawing paper and they look great.

Another site popular around the web is The Graphics Fairy, which leans heavily toward Victorian and Edwardian-style imagery.

What favorite sources for printable public domain imagery have you found?

13 thoughts on “Nice (free) things to print”

  1. Wonderful collection of links. – Thank you for sharing!
    I, too, like Flickr for the possibility to add a licence to a search and thus allowing to search for creative commons images. (brr, I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever say again I like something about Flickr after the last catastrophe…)

    Well, one Flickr account that I really like for images from old books is the photo stream of Paul K. He also has a blog to go along with it which is very interesting. Here is a link to his Flickr stream
    and here to the blog:

    • Heh… yeah… I thought about you as I was writing about Flickr…! ;-)

      Thanks for the link! I actually used to follow his blog. The Flickr pics look interesting. I’ll be sure to have a more in-depth look soon.

    • Awww… you’re so kind to remember my comment so long ago. I sure hope you will make stuff again!

      Just keep the glitter away from me… (I always think of you now, whenever I see glitter.)

  2. Thanks for the graphics links! It was so nice of you to mention that you found one via my Pinterest board :) One of the many things I love about Pinterest is that I can hoard stuff without having to subsequently dust it, or trip over it. Yay for hoarding!

    I have to second Hilke’s recommendation of Bibliodyssey.

    Here is another one –

    • Amy, you are a wonderful Pinterest resource. I like the “hoarding” metaphor. Indeed!

      And thanks for the link! One thing I have noticed with that one, I hesitate to say, is you have to be careful with the size of the pictures. They tend to be smaller and lower resolution (more for screen than print). But I might not have delved deeply enough to see if they’re all like that. At any rate, small can be fine, depending on the project. Just something to keep in mind. It does look useful! And it’s great to know what’s out there. Thanks.

      I do appreciate all of these wonderful new links, everyone. Thanks for sharing!

      • Thank you (blush).

        Oooo, thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t noticed that, and pixelation is no fun, but you are right, small is okay sometimes…

  3. Ooh…links and more links! Thank you, Ellen. And Hilke got in ahead of me with Paul’s fabulous site. Strange Maps is another good place, but I don’t think it’s free usage site.Oh dear – I should check first, shouldn’t I! I’ll come back…

  4. I think it’s probably best if you want mappish prints to Google either Frank Jacobs or Strange Maps.Most of what he publishes is done with permission so I guess you’d need to also get individual approvals. But lots of quirky things to see anyway!


Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.