Whether you are preparing a poster, a PowerPoint presentation or want to simply enhance your writing with a beautiful image of a pipette – you may have found yourself surfing through the web on the lookout for the perfect image. Well, we wanted to make your life easier by compiling a list of websites full of those precious images.
Disclaimer: Some images will be free, some will not, and some will require a Licence or the authorisation of the author (and consequently, credentials).
Images free of use
The images on these websites are totally free of uses and even for commercial purpose. It is not mandatory to credit the author but it is highly recommended (just do it, be a good user).
SMART (Servier Medical Art) – 3000 free medical images
The PowerPoint Smart Servier Medical Art was one of the first scientific image resources I used for my presentations and posters! They provide very good multipurpose slide sets with all kinds of medical images ranging from the human body and cellular biology to medical specialities.
Public Health Image Library, is a collection of pictures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their intention is to facilitate the spread of public health messages by providing students, scientists, and the media with impressions of different aspects of public health. The pictures are concerned with topics ranging from laboratory sciences and environmental health to natural disasters and public health in action
Because you can find any kind of information on Wikipedia, you can also find pretty much any kind of image or illustration on Wikimedia. You can do a selection by size, type of images and even only images with transparent background (very useful).
Stock photo websites can also be good resources for free images. If you sign up, you often have access to the source vector file (.svg) which enables you to modify your images.
Images free of use – with Licence or Credential
First, what does it mean when an image is under a Licence or a Credential?
It means that this image is available for reuse and sometimes modification under the condition that you have the authorisation of the author. Furthermore, you cannot use the image for commercial purposes and you have to credit the author appropriately (the style should be specified on the website). Most of these types of images would fall under a Public Domain or Creative Commons license.
Biorender.com offers a wide range of graphics which help you build scientific figures. You can use them freely under a few conditions and only with the presence of their watermark. To access the full potential of this platform you will need to pay their Licence. They do however offer lower prices for students and professionals (you may need to ask your University or laboratory to negotiate).
Phylopic.org is a bank of silhouette images of animals, plants, and others and organised by taxonomy (you might want to figure out the specific name of what you are looking for)
Whese black silhouette are perfect to create your own figures. If you don’t find your model and want to help: you can contribute growing the list!
Scienceimage.csiro.au/ is a science and nature image library collected by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
The images are organised in general categories easy to browse (Food, animals, equipment, insect, people,…). These images are free to download under a Creative Commons license.
Sommersault1824.com have a free library of scientific and medical illustration with a beautiful 3D visual, perfect for powerpoint presentation.
Beside the free library, Luk & Idoya, the people behind somersault18:24 produces bespoke high quality scientific illustrations, images and animations with 3D fitted to your need!
Library.usgs.gov/ is the USGS Denver Library Photographic Collection (mostly geographic-oriented photography).
Images under Licence
You buy a licence from these services and can use their images at your leisure, even for commercial purposes (some websites request to have their artist credited).
Sciencephoto.com/ as its name may suggest is specialised in scientific photos and videos. You can request a quotation and they offer special prices for students and educators.
Sciencesource.com/ like the precedent website is specialised in scientific images.
They have a regularly updated “special topic” category with current interrest (on this March 2020: coronavirus)
Besides the available images, they have a service for on-demand illustrations.
Less specialized website:
ps: be careful on this list of less specialised website as it may not be scientifically accurate.
However they are a good sources of good quality images, as random as they can be.
Stock.adobe.com/ provides high-quality images which you can use as they come or you can obtain the source file and edit them as you want with one of the image software listed below.
Shutterstock.com/ is quite a renown site where you find any kind of images which are royalty-free but you have to credit the artist (you can also use the image for free but with the watermark).
If you didn’t find anything that fits your need and want to:
- Create it from scratch (Go you!)
- Have an almost perfect image but need some tweaking to colour-match your poster palette
- Want to make a FrankenImage (insert mad scientist laugh)
You have the possibility of editing your image using certain software. A few options are available for different levels of freedom, creativity, and budget. Let your imagination run free!
Under Licence software:
We hope you find these resources useful and wish you all the best for your posters, presentations and other endeavours!
If you know of a useful website that we missed, we would be grateful if you shared the link with us so we can grow this list.
Besides Google, this work has been inspired by previous lists:
- Early career researcher toolbox – free tools for making scientific graphics
- 7 ressources for free science pictures
If you want to know more about creative commons attribution and licences: