The internet is awash with free retro and vintage resources for designers and illustrators, but finding high-quality versions can be frustrating. Most of us don’t have unlimited budgets to spend on every project, however, so sometimes free alternatives are necessary to take a piece forward.
And for all those design and illustration projects that don’t have a big budget, here are 21 of the best free retro and vintage resources that we’ve seen on our travels…
There’s a wealth of free retro and vintage design resources on our freebies page. Sign-up to our newsletter and you’ll get a sample of our most popular font Palm Canyon Drive, high-res Industrial Grunge textures, premium vintage Photoshop brushes and a whole load more, all for free.
For fantastic free retro and vintage fonts, look no further than our hand-picked selection covering the best of the web. From 60s signage-inspired lettering to pixel-style typefaces, decorative typography, retro-futuristic brush fonts and more, you’ll find a decent free font for any design project.
One of the best free vintage resources for designers and illustrators is this website, which sources images from antique catalogs, books, magazines and other printed material found in the public domain.
The team vectorize each illustration and make the files available for download free of charge. It isn’t the biggest resource out there, but they have got beautiful retro and vintage images in the collection.
Check out Pixeden for free vectors. This set of 14 retro outline ribbon vectors is just one of a huge pile of free vector graphics on the site, which include everything from handy infographic elements to Easter eggs to cartoon vector characters.
On the topic of type, the excellent Typewolf website has a useful section, Free Font Lists, which collates 40 of the best Google Fonts - you’ll need to scroll down the homepage to find it. If you sign up to Typewolf founder Jeremiah Shoaf’s monthly newsletter, you’ll get a free 14-page PDF that reveals 10 of the best free fonts that aren’t on Google Fonts.
The right texture will take your work to the next level, adding depth, warmth and personality to an otherwise flat image. From grungy textures to concrete samples, halftones, bokeh and beyond, you’ll find a wide range of free textures in this collection.
Last updated in May 2015, WickieMedia created this Photoshop template to help you test your logo or avatar across different social media platforms – including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Pinterest, Flickr and LinkedIn – for a constant look. All you have to do is update one smart object to create a change across all cover images in the template, and mobile versions are also included for Google+, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Berlin-based communication designer Julian Hrankov created this set of stripped back, vintage-style icons for a university presentation. “Feel free to use them in any way, shape or form,” he says, adding that they’re free for both personal and commercial use.
If you’re after retro 3D icons, try this free Old School set from Polish web designer Pawel Kadysz. There are six in the set, with each icon available at 16px, 32px, 64px, 128px and 256px in size, and again they’re free for both personal and commercial use.
Speed up your workflow with these 10 free actions for creating retro and vintage effects in your designs. Whether you’re looking to create a quick halftone, 1930s glitter text, old parchment effect or more, there’s a wide selection of free actions for Photoshop and Illustrator in this collection - plus a few ridiculously affordable premium options too.
Death to Stock will send you beautiful high-res photos for free every month, which is great if your retro or vintage design requires a photographic background.
(You’ll also find a tutorial for converting a photo into a vintage background in our article, 40 Inspiring Retro Character Design Tutorials - it’s number 30.)
When it comes to free retro and vintage design resources, there’s nothing like a good pattern to take your images back in time. Graphic designer and art director Seth Nickerson created six pattern variations using a base tile and made them available for personal and commercial use. “You can also roll your own,” he adds.
Online creative resource Design Instruct makes new freebies available fairly regularly, from high-res landscape photography to retro icon sets, vintage paper textures and more.
This free condensed slab-serif was inspired by small towns and home-cooked meals. We’ve given it an old ink bleed effect by slightly rounding the corners – it’s ideal for all kinds of retro design, from branding to packaging.
Available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, this scalable vector set contains a variety of free vintage stamps with a nautical theme.
A wide range of objects are covered in this free set of 32-pixel icons created by London-based designer Visual Idiot. From keys to coffee and padlocks to pencils, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
Of course, if you’re after free icons then Flat Icons should be one of your first stops. With over 300,000 thousand vector icons, the resources covers everything from business to music, education, outdoors and more. For free design resources, it’s a winner.
Sign up to Creative Market’s newsletter and you’ll get six free design resources. The options change each week – you might get some retro textures, a handmade font, icons and more.
Designer Franz Jeitz regularly shares top-class creative freebies on his blog, Fudgegraphics. From splatter and drip vector brushes to grunge textures and more, you’ll find all kinds of free resources for designers and illustrators on his site.
There are four free business card mock-ups in this freebie from designer Alex Andr. The templates are high res, with smart layers - so it’s easy to make changes - and there are two dimensions for each file: 90x50 and 85x55.
Finally, when it comes to the best free retro and vintage resources, tutorials can offer a valuable way to up your skills. Here’s a list of some of our favorite tutorial resources:
Fresh from submitting her stunning illustrations to Zurich Museum of Design's prestigious poster collection, San Francisco-based Jeana Hadley shares top advice for how to make the very best work you can.
Creative giants: The Auckland-based illustrator behind cult T-shirt brand Glennz Tees and print shop Glenn Jones Art talks risk, going solo and how to run a globally successful business from home.
Creative giants: The senior art director and Farmhand studio founder shares pro tips and advice for getting a new creative venture off the ground – and explains why sleep is overrated.