Evocative artwork and imagery is a great add to any 5e fan resource, but finding usable images can be a challenge. I aggregated this list of resources for myself to help navigate the the different resources for potentially usable artwork in RPGs. I also asked some followers on twitter for their recommendations and aggregate all of those together here. I hope you’ll find something useful to help you create more works and honor the artists who put so much work into their own creations.
A few of these policies or resources or 5e specific because that is the most common system by far. Also, it should be noted, WotC has done a lot of work to make material available for fans, particularly for free fan material.
These are just a few links that can help you understand a few important context to using images related to RPGs. It is NOT legal advice and always check the original artists copyright statement for acceptable use.
- Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy – WotC is incredibly generous with fans who want to use their IP to create free material. Check out their policy but basically, you’re free to use most of their art for free products, and you can use a lot of it for paid products you sell off the DMs Guild.
- WotC Fan Site Kit – Lots of resources and more use terms to be aware of.
- Open Gaming License – There has been a lot of drift over time with this. The original OGL was published as part of 3rd Edition but has undergone some revisions since. In 5e terms this details what you can use for your own published works, otherwise you’ll have to publish under a resource like DMs Guild.
- Creative Commons – This is by far the most common license granted by artists for use. There are some variations that determine how to properly use it and it’s worth knowing CC terms.
There are a few guides on how to use art and imagery I found particularly useful and I wanted to link those as well. Again, these are not legal advice.
What follows here are libraries, repositories, and other services I usually look across for usable art when putting together content. If you have any suggestions for good art resources with allowable use policies, drop me a DM on twitter and I’ll try to add it.
Official 5e Sources
These are a few official sources of art and media from Wizards of the Coast.
- WotC’s list of Media Resource – Free art, wallpapers and more.
Stock Art & Imagery Services
- DriveThruRPG Stock Art Section – Lots of varying stock art packs. Be sure to check the terms for publication so it fits your scenario.
- Shutterstock Fantasy Images – Subscription or per item based. They have a surprisingly large amount of fantasy art. Use other search terms. You’ll notice a LOT of art you’ve probably seen in DMSGuild and OGL publications here.
- Getty Images – Also a surprising source for fantasy art. Use an appropriate search terms and you’ll get back a lot of results. There’s a good bit of overlap with Shutterstock.
- iStock – This is actually run by GettyImages. I think it’s the same info but it’s worth nothing.
- Adobe Stock
Artist Portfolio Portals
A few online services offer artists a place to feature their work and share their portfolio. This is a great source of inspiration but it’s important to understand this is not there for us to use any way we want. Much of the art is under artist copyright, some is there under CC terms but you’ll have to check the source. My tip here is to look for something using “creative commons” as a search term.
- Artstation – Lots of professional artists, not all is usable but you can find a lot of Magic the Gathering art here usable under the WotC policy above. You can also look for ‘Creative Commons’ in the search box and get back a lot of neat art.
- DeviantArt – Probably the most well known archive for aspiring artists. Again you’ll need to watch out for the use policy but many artists are fine with credit.
Free Art and Imagery Repositories
A few sites specialize in royalty free or fair use artwork. Don’t just assume ‘free’ means free to do whatever you want. Check the specific rights on any image before using.
- Unsplash – Probably the largest open access and free use photography archive on the web.
- Pixabay – Not just photography but a number of fantasy and other images as well.
- Pexels – More Free stock art and videos.
- Wikimedia Commons – Lots of Creative Commons and open art via the folks from Wikimedia.
Other Online Art Sources
A number sites have free images or bundles of stock art you can buy, typically for video games. However, this may provide good art for tabletop games as well. From icons to page boarders, this is a bit of a catch all category.
- Open Gaming Art – Geared a bit more for the video game crowd, it contains a lot of icons and other images for use in any open context.
- Unearthed Arcana Brewer’s Supplies – This is a google drive with a lot of graphic resources, mostly for use by homebrewers.
- Humble Bundle – Not everything here is games. Sometimes they run bundles of graphics or stock art for game creation or publication. They’re cheap but you have to watch for the bundles to come up, check back every few weeks.
- Itch.io – A very cheap resource, similar to humble it’s not just for games. They also sell things like art packs etc.
- FontSquirrel is a repository of all kinds of font to us.
Open Art Archives
Many museums and galleries have digital archives with some works in the public domain.