Free Design Resources

October 18, 2006

For a lot of programmers, no matter what language or technology you’re working with the hardest part of developing an application isn’t just writing code, but making the end result look nice as well. Those of us who prefer an IDE to Photoshop are pretty much reliant on what we can find on the internet, and a lot of what’s out there is only available for a fee, or includes restrictive licenses. Good design work is worth paying for, but for those independent developers without any real budgets, there are a few free alternatives. Here are a few I’ve used in the past.

FAMFAMFAM Icons Over 1,000 very nice looking 16x16 px icons. They work great for websites, but are just as good for menu and toolbar icons in .NET programs. Cocoa applications use 32x32 px toolbar icons (or even higher, with resolution independence on its way), but you can still use them to spruce up a boring NSTableView.

Squidfingers Patterns Dozens of simple, elegant looking patterns that make a great backgrounds for any website or application. I’ve noticed one or two other OSX software websites using them in the past.

Matt Ball’s Royalty Free Icons I don’t know much about this designer, other than the fact that he posted some really nice 32x32 px OSX-ish toolbar icons on CocoaDev last year. The icon set includes many generic icons common to OSX applications, so you can quickly prototype a nice looking UI without resorting to stealing from someone else’s Contents/Resources directory.

Marc Charbonneau is a mobile software engineer in Portland, OR. Want to reply to this article? Get in touch on Twitter @mbcharbonneau.