Android Game Development Blog

A blog on Android game development by Douglas Tanner

Finding Free 2D Game Art

    Understanding licenses

Although all of the art on the following sites is 'free', some of the licenses attached to the art mandate certain restrictions. For example some of the authors have chosen licenses that force your entire project to use the same license as the single piece of artwork, others oblige you to open-source your source-code and include it with your game. Of course, you can try to contact the author to have these restrictions waived on a case-by-case basis, or perhaps offer to purchase a license to the art.

One very acceptable condition that some licenses attach is an attribution clause, where you have to acknowledge the creator of the art (most likely in your credits). Another acceptable (but very annoying) condition is that you need to include the original source of the art you are using. I'm honestly not sure how that would work with an Android package though, I don't know if an uncompressed .png included in the package would be sufficient?

The good licenses (truly free, or attribution):

The annoying licenses (not sure exactly how to handle them):

The bad licenses (author forces his personal philosophy on your entire project):

    The Sites

Open Game Art
Directly targeted towards game art, with a great search interface where you can specify exactly the licenses you want. Seems mostly geared towards RPG sprite artwork however, and very few of the sprites are animated. If you're looking to make a Dragon's Quest style RPG with static fight scenes this place is heaven on earth. For other types of games, not too useful.

Free Art Search

A pretty good image search which seems to have a bit more selection than Open Game Art, with the trade-off that most of the licenses are 'unknown' and you would have to track down the original author to verify that you can use it. And again, almost none of the images are animated.

Reiner`s Tilesets

Completely free to use 2D and 3D artwork done in an Ultima Online art style.

Open Clip Art

Although not at all game focused, this site is actually a lot more useful to me than the above ones. Obviously being clip-art, nothing is animated, but every single image is released under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication, so anything I find I'm guaranteed to be able to use. Also the art styles are more similar to what I envision for my project than the pixel art from the two previous sites. The search works beautifully and there is a huge selection to chose from.

Icon Finder

A great search engine for small images and GUI elements. It is very easy to filter the search to exclude non-commercial-allowed images.

    The Collections

A great collection of platformer game graphics, including tilesets, sprites and backgrounds. Professionally done with full animations on the sprites. Artwork is royalty free and can be used commercially.


A big collection of 80s-style arcade sprites. Contains lots of airplane and tank graphics, as well as some more generic platformer sprites. A welcome change from all the RPG-heavy graphics I've found elsewhere. Free to use for any use.

Circle Textures

Beautiful terrain tiles, could conceivably be used for the terrain of an RTS game. Free to use by anyone, with attribution.

Airplane Sprite Pack and Airplane and Tank Sprite Pack

Fucking cool looking planes and tanks. Free to use with attribution and notification of the author. Makes me wish I was working on an airplane game, these sprites are awesome.

Based on a quick look around on the above sites I'd say that they're not useful for much more than placeholder art and perhaps GUI elements in your final game. You'd be better off creating a game based on the art you find rather than trying to find art for an existing game concept. The quantity simply isn't there for you to be able to find something in particular that you're looking for. Looks like I'll be looking to hire an artist some time in the future.

Next time I will show you how to play .wav files with AudioTrack.