|Bisqit's Brandy poster|
by Alphonse Mucha
As an amateur indie RPG developer, I want to be able to include art in my books. I want them to look beautiful. I want the benefits of easier absorption, reader inspiration, and desirability that good art adds to my work.
However, I don't make a great deal off of my creative work. The proceeds of my modules and manuals thus far have gone to getting more books for review on this website.
I have a long way to go before I can leave something as visually interesting as I would like that is full of commissioned artworks.
This means I spend a great deal of time hunting for artwork to use in my books and modules. Thankfully, I've had some good tips over the years. Guilherme Gontijo's "How to Make Cool RPG Pamphlets" was a good starting point for me. Since then I have slowly expanded my selection of resources. Below are some of my favorite places to find Art for my role playing books at low or no budget.
This is an online collection of public domain artwork that is very easy to navigate, and was the main source of art for my book Strange Ways.
A massive collection of free art that does not require crediting. Easily searchable.
Curated by the same team as SVGfree and Pixabay, Unsplash is an archive of free images that require no credit
The Smithsonian is not my favorite institution, but they have thousands of images released in the public domain, many of which are incredible artifacts and works of art.
This took is run by the Creative Commons Org in cooperation with the WordPress Org and indexes all works licensed under CC submitted to creativecommons.org. Not every image here is available if your work is for sale, only the ones marked CC0 or not marked NC.
Newgrounds has always been a great site for experimental art and video. Licenses are clearly posted and the community there values contributions to the Creative Commons.
Deviant Art and ArtStation
These communities are not as heavy on creative commons material, but you can search for Creative Commons offerings by entering this search string in Google:
[your desired subject] "This work is licensed under a Creative Commons" site:deviantart.com
[your desired subject] "This work is licensed under a Creative Commons" site:artstation.com
Itch.io was started as a community for Indie video game developers, but has a fairly large contingent of table top board game and role-playing developers as well. There are a wide range of game assets, which include both pixel art, maps, and realistic art for download, some for free, some for sale, but almost all of them are designed to be shared and used even in commercial products.
Drive-thru RPG is a great place to get art assets. Artists there sell individual work and packs specifically geared towards ttrpg products. The prices are usually very reasonable, and have usage rights that are near towards products for sale.
One of my personal favorites on dtrpg at the moment is Dean Spencer. His art has become iconic in the indie scene.
Shutterstock is a pretty affordable source of images and art. A lot of the artwork for my game Deathtrap Lite came from shutterstock. It is a subscription service, you pay roughly $30 a month for 10 downloads, and then download additional art at a flat rate per piece.
I am particularly fond of an artist who sells works on there by the name Warm_Tail.