Back >
< Back
Contains 0 items
Subtotal: $0.00

Online Resources for Sprucing Up Your Sublimation—Part One

Those of you that are order-takers for your business have probably heard this from your customers, “If I give you our logo and the verbiage, can you put it on a plaque and make it look cool?”

Online Resources for Sprucing Up Your Sublimation—Part One

Get Ideas and Options From Across the Web

By Shon Roti

Those of you that are order-takers for your business have probably heard this from your customers, “If I give you our logo and the verbiage, can you put it on a plaque and make it look cool?”

“Yes, of course I can,” is how you should reply. But we all know that creativity is not an endless river that you can just dip your bucket into whenever you want. It’s more like a well that runs dry if you draw too much from it. But a good supply of inspiration and a bucket full of other resources can help.

Through my search online, looking through my own list of resources and combing through the online forums (including the Awards and Personalization Association’s Member2Member Forum), I’ve compiled a list of resources that fabricators and graphic designers are gravitating toward. And, as a bonus, many of the resources are free.

The retirement plaque in Figure A is the result of using several resources for free backgrounds, textures, images, icons, fonts, graphics, and stock photos—all of which are a click away and are as ubiquitous as the retirement plaque itself.



Whether you’re trying to match a customer’s font or finding the appropriate text for a project, there are several places to go for help. If you’re trying to match a font, your first step in the project simply might be identifying the font needed. Also referred to as “what the font,” (Figure B) is a handy site that enables the user to upload a sample image of the text, and will generate several examples of similar looking fonts for you to choose from. It also features trending fonts and examples of how the font has been used in context. This website has become an industry standard. An alternative site with a similar capacity is 

If you’ve identified the font needed but it’s unavailable as a standard font installed on your operating system, you may be able to locate a suitable replacement font from a number of different websites like and Although these sites are mostly filled with noncommercial fonts that may not have the entire font family included (that is, they may not include an italic, bold, condensed, etc., option), they are free.

Other online font libraries include,,, and 

Note: Some of the free fonts you will find may be categorized into personal use and commercial use. 

Another avenue to explore for fonts is CorelDRAW. Several versions of the CorelDRAW Suite come bundled with font libraries filled with thousands of high-quality typefaces attributed to the font foundry ITC (International Typeface Corporation). Check inside the CorelDRAW folder located in your Program Files for a Fonts folder. In newer versions of Corel, you can find font goodies under the Launch tab > Get More Apps and Plug-Ins (Figure C).

For a real treat (if you’re a font nerd like me), go to (Figure D). This website features thousands of fonts used in context and directs you to where you can download the font. I truly enjoy looking at examples of fonts being used expertly and appropriately. This website is great for design inspiration, and you will not find a single font used without thoughtfulness, which is refreshing. 




I’m not going to say that I think white space in graphic design can’t be effective; however, a vast amount of white space in a sublimation product, to me, looks unfinished. Filling the background with a solid color is the bare minimum of effort that should be applied. For more eye-pleasing options, you may want to find an appropriate background for your project that complements the rest of the design elements in the artwork.

One of my favorite new websites for finding those appropriate backgrounds and textures is (Figure E). Once you sign up for this website, you are given daily credits to use towards image downloads. The free images are roughly 3 in. by 5 in. and 300 dpi, or you can purchase larger, higher-resolution images for a small fee. It also features a freebie of the day, which is typically a high-resolution background image. To give you an idea of the number of images available, has 225 different images just under the category “bare concrete.” Although it’s focused more toward industrial substrates and earthy materials, this website also contains 3D objects, animals, and landscapes.


Photos are easy to find. At the current rate, 1.8 billion images are uploaded daily, but most of those images are not yours to use. It never fails: when you find the perfect image online, it often has licensing or copyright restrictions, costs too much, or the resolution is too low to even consider using. However, there are a few options you can consider for finding good-quality photos without restrictions.

My new favorite free photo depository is (Figure F). Sign-ups are not necessary; just go to the website, search for the item, and download a quality image with no restrictions, licensing, or copyrights. No attribution is required for commercial use and you won’t find any Shutterstock photos to lure you away from this site. Not only is the website easy to navigate and use, but the images look like they were shot by a professional photographer. 

Many other websites for free image downloading exist, but please note that these websites may categorize images with different licensing options and may have both free and payment options. If you are doing a general browsing search or searching within a specific website, the keywords to use and look for are “public domain” and “creative commons zero” (CC0). CC0 means that the person associated with the artwork has waived all rights so the public can use the artwork without permission, even for commercial purposes. Similarly, all works that are in the public domain (for various reasons including the age of the art or photo) are free to use for any purpose, including commercial. For more information about copyrights and licensing, go to

I’m still in the process of exploring the functionality of all of the following websites, but here’s a list that others online have recommended:,,,,, and 

If you are unable to find the photo you need from those listed here, it may not exist.


Shon Roti is a sublimation specialist at JDS Industries, Inc. He has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Sioux Falls with an emphasis in graphic design. He can be contacted at JDS Industries is a leading supplier in the recognition and sublimation markets. For more on JDS Industries, visit

Awards and Personalization Association

The Awards and Personalization Association is the organization for retailers and suppliers of personalized and customized items. By providing education, meetings, and access to a vibrant network of professionals, the Awards and Personalization Association is the one place to ensure the growth of your talent, your business, and your professional community.

Learn More

© Awards and Personalization Association
Contact Us
Awards and Personalization Association
8735 W. Higgins Road, Suite 300

Chicago, IL 60631
(Fax) 847.375.6480

Connect with Us