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Where can I get free watercolor images?

Watercolor images can add a lovely artistic touch to all kinds of projects. Whether you need graphics for a blog, presentation, invitation, or other design, free watercolor images are a great option. With so many talented artists sharing their work online for free, you can find beautiful watercolor graphics to use with proper attribution.

Stock Photo Sites

One of the best places to find free watercolor images is on stock photo sites. Many offer free sections where artists share their work. Here are some top sites for free watercolor graphics:

  • Pexels – Search “watercolor” for nearly 5,000 free images.
  • Pixabay – Over 7,700 free watercolor images and illustrations.
  • Unsplash – Search for “watercolor painting” to find free high-res photos.
  • Canva – Canva’s free media library has a watercolor category with graphics, frames, and more.
  • Freepik – Freepik has over 3,000 free watercolor vectors, photos, PSDs, and icons.

Most stock sites have an advanced search where you can refine results to only show watercolor images. Make sure to check the license on any image you use – some require attribution.

Individual Artist Websites

Many artists offer free downloads of watercolor images on their own portfolio sites. Try searching Google for terms like “free watercolor downloads” or exploring these artist sites:

  • Melissa Schmidt – Free floral watercolor clip art and backgrounds.
  • Emma Truffert – Free printable floral watercolor images.
  • Evi Illustration – Whimsical watercolor graphics for non-commercial use.
  • Marc Allante – Downloadable landscape and botanical watercolor images.
  • Sweet Louise – Free watercolor flower clip art.

Again, be sure to check licensing on any free images. Many artists allow personal use but not commercial without permission.

Museums and Galleries

Many museums and galleries allow free downloads of watercolor artworks in their collections. Here are some to search:

  • British Museum – Over 200 free watercolor prints and drawings.
  • Rijksmuseum – Download over 100,000 public domain artworks, including watercolors.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art – Search the online collections for watercolor works.
  • National Gallery of Art – Download open access watercolors from Qing Dynasty China.
  • Tate Gallery – Tate offers over 70,000 free digital images, including watercolor paintings.

For museums, public domain works are always free to use. For newer pieces, check terms and attribution requirements.

Creative Commons Sites

The Creative Commons license allows artists to share their work for free use with certain conditions. Try these CC sites:

  • CC Search – Search 50+ databases for CC licensed watercolor images.
  • Flickr – Flickr has a Creative Commons search section.
  • DeviantArt – Look for CC licenses in Explore for watercolors.
  • Vecteezy – Filter by CC license to find free watercolor vectors and graphics.
  • FreeImages – Search 20,000 CC photos, including watercolors.

Make sure to follow any attribution requirements for CC licensed works you use.

Free Vintage Image Collections

Vintage and antique watercolor illustrations often fall into the public domain. Look in these free archives:

  • New York Public Library Digital Collections – Over 800,000 public domain items, including antique watercolor prints and illustrations.
  • HathiTrust Digital Library – Search “watercolor” for old botanical, scientific, and landscape watercolors.
  • Biodiversity Heritage Library – 200,000+ botanical illustrations, including free watercolors.
  • – Download vintage watercolors from old books, graphics packs, and more.
  • Project Gutenberg – Find illustrations from antique watercolor art books.

Public domain works are copyright free, but it’s good practice to credit the source.

Tips for Finding Free Watercolors

Here are some top tips for locating free watercolor graphics online:

  • Use advanced search filters like color, style, orientation, etc.
  • Try searches like “free watercolor downloads,” “free watercolor clipart,” “free watercolor backgrounds,” etc.
  • Look for CC0, public domain, or commercially free licenses.
  • Always check licenses and attribution requirements before using.
  • Follow artists on social media for freebies and special downloads.
  • Subscribe to freepik and canva for weekly freebies.

Places to Avoid

Steer clear of sites like the ones below. They make it too difficult to confirm if watercolor images are really free to use:

  • Pinterest – The original source and license are usually unclear.
  • Google Images – Just searching Google provides low quality, unlicensed copies.
  • Websites with no artist/source credits or licenses.
  • Sites offering paid memberships for downloads.
  • Any website with stock images marked as “free.”

Using Free Watercolors Commercially

To legally use free watercolor graphics commercially, like on websites, merchandise, advertising, etc. make sure to:

  • Double check licenses allow commercial use.
  • Follow any required credits or attribution.
  • Get permission if you want to modify or alter an image.
  • Purchase an extended license if needed for mass production, printing, etc.

For maximum protection, only use images from reputable stock sites, museums, and CC license platforms.

Editing Free Watercolors

To edit free watercolor graphics:

  • Open in image software like Photoshop, GIMP, Pixelmator, etc.
  • Try adjusting brightness, contrast, hues, saturation for different looks.
  • Resize, crop, or trim to needed dimensions.
  • Remove background or make transparent.
  • Add new elements like text or other images.
  • Save edited versions. Keep original files separate.

Always follow specific permissions on what edits are allowed. Some licenses prohibit altering the original work.

Image Attribution Guide

Giving proper attribution means crediting the artist/source when using images. Here are examples of how to attribute different types of watercolor graphics:

Source Example Attribution
Stock Photo Site Image by Marina Zlochin from Pixabay
Artist Website Original watercolor by John Smith, downloaded from
Museum Waterlilies by Claude Monet, ca. 1915, via The Met Museum
CC License Image by Mary Lee, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr
Public Domain Vintage watercolor via New York Public Library Digital Collections

Check source sites for their preferred attribution language before using an image.

Creating Your Own Watercolors

To make your own watercolor graphics:

  • Buy basic supplies – paints, brushes, paper, palette.
  • Learn techniques like wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, layering washes, and more.
  • Start simple by painting florals, landscapes, animals, lettering, abstracts.
  • Scan or photograph finished paintings to digitize.
  • Edit in Photoshop, etc. to create transparent backgrounds, add text, etc.
  • Save your originals at high resolution for prints.

With practice, you can create custom watercolor images to use for any project.


Using free watercolor images is a great way to add artistic flair to both personal and commercial projects. With so many talented artists generously sharing their work online, you can find beautiful, customizable graphics. Just be sure to properly attribute the creator and follow any usage terms. With the many sources listed here, you’re sure to find the perfect free watercolors to elevate your next design.