FMP: Sourcing the Book’s Images

For this blog post, I want to discuss how I will be getting the relevant images for the book. As my research has shown many times, imagery is very important, for both its aesthetic quality and ability to show the audience what is out there in the sky. Therefore, I must research and see whether there is any imagery I will be able to use, since I won’t be taking the photographs myself!

Diligence & Copyright:

There was obviously no point in starting this project if I did not have a realistic idea of how to get appropriate imagery, so I had already seen that NASA had large image archives.

As for the issue of copyright, I will need to look for imagery that either is completely free of copyright or has a Creative Commons license that allows it to at least be used for a personal project. If I was to produce the design commercially rather than for a graphic design academic project, then obviously I would need to ensure the correct permissions were there.

Google Images has become a very useful search engine for finding suitable images, with one filter in particular allowing images with suitable copyright licensing to be found.

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When combined with another filter that determines the sizes of the images shown (in this case I ideally need the 4MP option) then it helps to maximise the usefulness of the search.

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However, I also made sure I had a way to shift the project along if I can’t get suitable imagery. I did some initial experiments with illustrations of the planets (which I will detail in my next blog post) and also worked out during my research thanks to Kurzgesagt’s amazing motion infographics how simple vector illustrations would still result in a final design that would be perfectly acceptable.

Finding Images – Solar System


Being one of the most important space agencies around, it is not surprising that they have taken a lot of images from space that are outstanding and perfect for use in the project. Their Solar System Exploration website contains galleries, the only thing I need to be careful about is that not all of the images shown are available in high-res, so this will limit the choice.

Full Disk Neptune by NASA Solar System Exploration
Full Disk Neptune by NASA Solar System Exploration
Wikimedia Commons

“Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language.”

Now, it is important to make clear that for these projects, the use of Wikipedia is banned due to the fact that it can be highly unreliable, so I would just like to state Wikimedia Commons is not Wikipedia, but uses the same wiki-technology as Wikipedia. So, to collect suitable imagery I will be using Wikimedia Commons as the images shown are mostly copyright free and crucially, reliable.

The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

An example can be seen above with the image of the Sun which is a NASA image, but available through Wikimedia Commons.

Mind-map of Images needed – Solar System

To help me remember what images I needed to find and to have a resource I could easily add to, I created a mind-map.


Keeping a Bibliography

Thinking about the complexities of keeping all the information about an image, the URL so I can prove where I got it from as well as know the copyright status, I decided the way forward was to keep a unofficial bibliography of sorts. I found it very useful when I wrote my dissertation earlier in the year, so thought I’d use something similar.

A bibliography is needed.
An extract of the  bibliography I am building to keep information in one easily accessible place.

This will prove to be valuable when I am designing, as it will become a good reference. I can also hand it in at the end of the project to show the validity of the images used.

Finding Images – Constellations

For the images of the constellations, I hoped it would be just as simple as it had been for the Solar System. However, it soon became clear very quickly that I would not be able to find the necessary images for the vast majority as what I was looking for just does not seem to be out there.

Image of Orion: Taken in New Mexico, 2004. Image credit to Mouser
Image of the constellation Orion: Taken in New Mexico, December 2004. Credit to Mouser.

I managed to find an image of Orion, which I’ve shown above, but other than that, I think I will need to take a new direction with this chapter of the book, which will draw me back to vector illustrations which I spoke about earlier. I will be discussing the solutions to this in the next blog post.


I feel like I have made a big step forwards, not just in the sense of the project, but also in a sense of professional practice. I now have a way of collating the vast majority of the imagery I need, and have learnt to make the process efficient to save time in the long run.

On a side note, since I published the recent blog post about finding content for the constellations (especially the historical and mythological side) I have been able to source the info I need from the Universe book.