by Joe Gillespie — Mar 1, 2002

ArtToday has been going for about 5 years now and is Web-based rather than on CDs. Their marketing policy has changed a little over the years, they used to offer some images for free and then you paid a subscription to access the better stuff. Now, you have to buy a subscription but the terms are very flexible, you can have a one week subscription for only $7.95 and during that one week, download as many royalty-free images as you need. If you use the service frequently, the price drops considerably for a 3 or 6-month subscription and for a whole year, it works out at less than $3.00 per week.

Just typing 'red truck' in the ArtToday search field provided an impressive selection of thumbnails to choose from, then the full size version can be downloaded with just a click of the mouse.

ArtToday claim to have over one and a half million images online. As well as photos and illustrations, they also offer animations, fonts and sound clips.

Searching is pretty fast but it helps to narrow down your requirements a little at the outset. Choose from Clipart, Photos, Fonts or Webart to begin with and then put in your keywords.

Clipart is generally in scaleable vector format - .WMF or .EPS although some images are TIF bitmaps. Webart can be GIF or JPEG depending on the subject. The sheer volume of images available requires you to enter as many keywords as you can think of to prevent being swamped with page after page of thumbnails. I must say, I don't think I have ever failed to get what I was looking for from ArtToday, or something acceptably close.

The quality of the images varies considerably. Some are excellent and some not so good. There are a lot of 'vintage' images that look as if they have been scanned from engravings or old printer's stock blocks. Charming, yes. Appropriate, not always. If you do need images like this, they can be hard to track down by usual means.

The photos are fine for Web use but not really of high enough resolution for print – but then, photo library images for print use generally cost more than a year's subscription to ArtToday, so you can't really complain.

It doesn't cost anything to do a search to find if they have what you are looking for. If you only need one image, it will cost you $7.95 – which isn't much. After that, you can download as many more as you want for a week for free.

I have found another excellent use for ArtToday - Gifts. If you want to give a Web designer friend a birthday or holiday present, an ArtToday subscription is very acceptable and the company will even organize a virtual 'card' to go with it.

1 week - $17.95 3 months - $69.95 6 months - $169.95 per full year

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