Public Domain Game Art Resources
This page is a continuous work in progress; suggestions are appreciated.
When working on games for jams, I often want something better than colored squares to work with. While there are resources like Open Game Art that provide art under various open licenses, I thought it'd be nice to have a list of public domain resources to turn to.
For an example of a commercial game that makes good use of public domain art, take a look at Aviary Attorney.
The Internet Archive Flickr stream has mixed quality, but it's big enough there's a bit of everything, and searches are rather effective. Some selections:
- Le costume historique is a large collection of detailed colored drawings of national dress, including selections of tools, weapons, and religious implements
- The World of fashion and continental feuilletons (1824) - color sketches with lots of fancy ballgowns
- The spring book of B. Kuppenheimer & Co. - small book of men's fashions
- Window gardening has a lot of houseplants depicted without background from a neutral angle, some with quite dramatic presentation
- An historical guide to French interiors has a staggering quantity of black and white drawings of furniture as well as a number of decorative frames and photographs of rooms
- Other famous homes of Great Britain and their stories has black and white photographs of home interiors and exteriors, gardens, and portraits.
- Book of home building and decoration has photographs and drawings, some in color and some in black and white, of home interiors and exteriors as well as furniture and tools. It also has some truly beautiful illuminated capitals.
- American homes and gardens has home interiors and exteriors and lovely illustrated capitals, as well as interesting advertisements.
- Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution has striking photos of library interiors.
The British Library Flickr stream is much smaller (though still larger than anyone could ever need), but the scans and images are generally higher quality and the search quality is as at least as good as the Internet Archive.
Google Books can be searched by century and whether the complete document is available, but poor annotations and some enormously long documents make the search kind of noisy. Unfortunately scan quality also can be hit and miss for images. That said, costume books like Character Suitable for Fancy Costume Balls or Male Character Costumes can be useful.
For location art old books on architecture can be valuable. Palladio's Four Books are available in high quality from the Library of Congress, the second book in particular has a lot of facades.
Paper theatres were a historically popular kind of toy for a while; 50 Watts has a series that provides some excellent material to work with.
The Internet Archive's Guide for Drawing the Acanthus is excellent for decorative flourishes.