Science Fiction Artwork


So, I have more-or-less finished writing my first book, a future alternate history.

Long story short, I have been liaising indirectly (through my oldest daughter) with a young artist but have been unable to get much more than a couple of samples when what I really want is a quote and an ETA.

There are a number of sites out there that purport to offer free images but then ask for money when you get to download them so, my question is, does anyone know any good websites that offers truly free science fiction artwork? Bear in mind this “free” requirement is not because I am being miserly, it’s simply because I have no idea how successful my book will be i.e. paying out £100 for cover art when I make only £50 profit is obviously a bad move and, whilst I would happily promote that artist’s work both in my book and on my website I really can’t afford to pay much out for it in the first instance. I mean sure, if it turns out I’m a naturally gifted writer then great but I’m also a realist, I read a lot of books and I’m fairly confident I’m not that good. Modern science fiction writers, whilst arguably better than the pulp writers of old, make more from writing many books in relatively few universes than they do from writing the fabled bestseller … I only have the one book so far.

So yeah, any idea where I can get some half decent science fiction art that is free?


No idea where to find free art other than the usual stock art suspects, but think about what you’re asking for a minute.

You are trying to publish intellectual property to sell and make a profit on. You want to supplement that with someone else’s intellectual property, in the hopes of making it more attractive to your potential audience and therefore increase sales and your profit. You reasonably don’t want to shell out a bunch of money up front for this art…but you want to get that art for free? No matter how you slice it or spin it, that sounds like you want someone else to take the financial risk for your work, or to donate their work for your profit.

It sounds like you already understand the basic economics of how book publishing works – depth of catalog and long-term sales being the key for the majority of writers to make income. It takes time and a good set of works (and more time) to bring the money in. In traditional publishing, the publisher takes this financial risk in exchange for directly handling the revenue, getting the chance to recoup their costs first. In self-publishing, you’re obviously playing that role.

If someone asked you to write a piece they would then publish for profit, but didn’t want to give you anything for it other than “exposure” would you take that deal? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Have you considered working with an artist to arrange for a lower up-front price (after all, they’ve already created their intellectual property and shouldn’t have to bear all the financial risk) to use the art in exchange for a piece of the sales figures? Yes, it may take more time to find the right artist and negotiate such a deal, but it may also open some doors that are currently closed.

Just some thoughts.


All NASA images are free, because you paid for them (with your tax dollars). Check these out:

Google NASA Images.

Thanks … yes, I had considered some kind of percentage deal but I’d been told that no one would consider it because I’ve no idea how much I’ll make … if I sold ten copies and agreed 10% then they’d only get a couple of quid. That’s why I was looking at free.

To be fair I have been trying to contact artists on DeviantArt but 24 hours later have had no reply.

OK … thank you :slight_smile:


NASA images are good to for certain kinds of science fiction. And it’s definitely true that a lot of people will not want to make a deal with a stranger with unknown sales potential for royalties only. That’s where some sort of payment up-front for the art, plus rights for sales (maybe on some sort of sliding scale), would be better.

There are a lot of people out there who tell you what will and won’t work. There are counter-examples to all of them. :slight_smile:

Good luck finding the right combination for your career.

Thx :slight_smile:


Give it a little more time than 24 hours. Working artists can have several irons in the fire, and may not be ready to respond to any given query at a moment’s notice. My wife, for instance, has a 40-hour day job, teaches one week a night (which she spends another night prepping for), is working on multiple pieces for a show in January, has an attention-hungry git of a husband, and also needs to eat, relax, sleep, socialize, exercise, do a share of the house work, feed the cat…

Depending on your pitch, the artists may be putting you on a lower priority than several things that are very important/lucrative to them.

Will do … thx :slight_smile:


Google Image searches can be narrowed to only include images that are high resolution and whose copyright status allows them to be used for commercial purposes (you probably need the version that allows modification). You can find these settings after doing your initial image search under the Search Tools button at the top of the result window. That said, you need to carefully check out anything you take a shine to to make sure the (always fallible) Google search has gotten it right. So, you need to go to the source and examine the copyright info there, etc.


Thanks GR, that helps a lot. I’ve been looking but there’s precious little of any use that’s specifically “free to use”. I’m now beginning to think I might have to learn to use a drawing package like Blender … I can sketch (with pencil) sure and, using Inkscape, I can do technical drawings of various things but I’ve never been able to draw on a computer as such.

There are a number of blender tutorials up on YouTube that I am going to investigate.