Please try to draw as much as possible from life or your own reference photos. I know this is not always possible, this is why I made this link-list to sites that offer ‘Reference Pictures’.

While you can use them for free there might be still some restrictions on the usage. So PLEASE read through the agreements before you download and use a picture. Others want a small fee for the costs that follow with having a huge database and all the work behind!

But keep in mind: many many other artists know these sites too and use them for their references.

Your Art will not be truely unique when it is based on these pictures. But the DRAWember challenge is for practicing, so I guess no harm done here.

NO you can’t use Pictures you found on Google! If you find a picture you would love to use as a reference photo, contact the Photographer first and ask for permission!

There are many more sites out there, but often with poor quality pictures or restrictions in the usage. Believe me, I visited hundreds of sites offering ‘free’ and ‘stock’ images. I am not listing those!

Custom Stickers, Die Cut Stickers, Bumper Stickers - Sticker Mule

Stock Image sites

Pexels – Pexels is a platform for high quality stock photos. They have the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. (There are restrictions for Peoples on the Photos!)

Pixabay – more than 770.000 free photographs and illustrations for you to use under the CC0 license.

Stocksnap – Hundreds of high resolution Photos licensed under the CC0 license

Morguefile – Morguefile is a free photo archive with over 350.000 stock photos “for creatives, by creatives.” Founded by Michael Connors in the early Internet days of 1996, the site was created to serve as a free image exchange for creative professionals and teachers to use in their work.

Flickr creative commonsNOTE: not all pictures on Flickr are free for you to use as reference photos. be sure to use the search tool that enables you to find those photos labeled with the Creative Commons Derivatives License !

WetCanvas – Reference image library with more than 80.000 pictures from Artists for Artists.

Freeimages – Over 389.000 free photos and illustrations to use (read the license agreement!)

Nappy – Featuring people of color


FancyCrave – People are tired of cheesy stock photos. Instead they want images that are authentic, emotionally driven, and tell a story.This is where Fancycrave comes in. FancyCrave is a free stock photo site created by designer & photographer Igor Ovsyannykov.

Minimography – Minimalistic Photography at its sweetest ♥




Magdeleine NOTE: not all pictures on the site are under the CC0 license. I linked to the ones that are!


New Old Stock – Vintage photos from the public archives

Photobash – Royalty free high resolution Pictures. (Their first 100 photos are always free! Larger packs increase 1$ per 50, 75 or 100 photos depending on the pack size. The bigger the pack, the cheaper the price per photo. Photo prices are averaged at 0,05$ per photo!)

Gratisography – Some really crazy shots. Not the typical Reference Pictures, but why not try something different and stand out?

FoodShot – gorgeous high resolution food photography licensed unter the CC Zero license.

SAA – SAA free reference photographs

Bossfight – high resolution Photos licensed under the CC Zero license.









Paid Options

Wildlifereferencephotos – here you have 2 Options: download a picture for 5$ or purchase a subscription package which allows you to download 5 Photos for 10$ (within 30days of purchase)

African Reference Pictures – 3100+ Photos and counting. a 20 Photo package costs 10$ (pictures must me downloaded within 30 days of purchase)

Facebook Groups

Photos for Artists Facebook Group – You have to be  member of the closed Facebook group to use the reference photos. Right now they have 14.500 members

Free Artists Reference Photo – Facebook Group – A Facebook group with 4100 members, offering free reference photos for their members.

Reference Photo – Facebook Group A Facebook group with 7100 members.

Wendy’s Reference Photos for Creatives A Facebook group with 2100 members. Wendy shares her Photography for the members to use in traditional artwork.



JasonMorganNOTE! He sais free on the site and the link, but you pay approx. 15$ for 100 Pictures. and NO you can’t see what pictures are on the CD in advance!

Paint my Photo – Note: not as user friendly as the other sides I linked to. I know that many of you use Paint my Photo, that’s why I added it

Web Hosting

Is your favorite Reference Site not listed? Shoot me a link in the contact form below and I will edit the list 😀

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