What is Morguefile & Why Is It Free?

Don’t let this seem too complicated?  Like any other mastery experience it is only tricky the first time you do it.  After that it becomes a mechanical process.  Use this tutorial in conjunction with the next tutorial  What is Jigzone & Why Is It Free?

The morguefile was created by Michael Connors as a college student in 1996. It is currently a collaborative effort between brothers Kevin Connors and Michael Connors, with Johannes Seemann.  The morguefile contains photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative projects by visitors to the site. I have set out an argument about why it is good practice to acknowledge the artist’s accomplishments.

Zebra Grazing Jigsaw Puzzle

Zebra by Hot Black

Are the Morguefile images really free?

  • Yes, the morguefile images are really free to use in creative projects, although they are not in the public domain. Students and teachers are still responsible for the legal content of the images including model releases and property releases. These images are provided with free usage rights, it is similar to taking the image yourself, but you can not claim ownership of the image.

What does it mean I have to alter the image?

  • The Morguefile license is specifically for designers and illustrators to use the images in a creative process creating work of their own. If you would like to use the image in a blog post, we recommend contacting the photographer and providing a by line under the photo with the photographer’s name. This is generally agreed to be acceptable.  The Virtual and Traditional Jigsaws in the Classroom Workbook 1. Provides templates so that students can easily contact authors and let them know about how they have used the images and to say thank you.   (NB. Workbook to be released this week.)

Can Morguefile images be used  on tshirts, mugs, calendars?

  • You should follow the Morguefile license and alter the images to create your own work. But it is possible to contact the photographer and credit their work if they agree.  In the book I suggest that when these kinds of creations are being designed it is time for the students to be using their own artworks.  As you can see from the title of the book and the materials list these activities are designed to be integrated with traditional hands on Visual Arts projects.   By the time students are having their own jigsaws cut from MDF they should (One would hope) be using their own artwork.

Setting up the Morguefile Page for an eCLISP

I suggest that you dedicate a page to Morguefile linked from the class blog so that all students know exactly how to locate Morguefile and can see the instructions as well as easily download the attribution templates.   In the coding section of the workbook I also show students how to set up a table so that they have a permanent attribution record.  (NB * When the book is released there will be links here too.)

I have struggled for quite a while with finding a way to acknowledge the artist who took the photo whilst at the same time not interfering with the linking of the picture into Jigzone so that on a click the jigsaw opens.   I think that I am happy with the way it all sits in this article.  In the book I show how to keep a table of attribution and my next trick now is to write to each photographer and invite them to the Blog.   It should be enough to tell each artist once – from there they can drop in from to time if they wish.

Does that sound complicated?  Like any other mastery experience it is only tricky the first time you do it.  After that it becomes a mechanical process.  Use this tutorial in conjunction with the next tutorial  What is Jigzone & Why Is It Free?


  • Murphy,J. (2013)  Global Citizens Creative Arts Text. Insights and Activities. Kindle.

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