Images for your thesis cover, for example stock images

Finding a good image for your cover

The first thing a reader of your thesis will notice is the cover. Therefore, you would probably like it to look good, to attract a potential reader and reflects something from the content. At Persoonlijk Proefschrift, we come across the most divers covers. Ranging from self shot nature pictures to scanned child’s drawings. In all cases, there is a story behind the picture and we notice that doctoral students like to give a fun or surprising touch to their cover.

In this article, we will discuss the ways to get a good image for your thesis cover. To get inspired, you could visit our thesis example page.

What requirements does an image for my thesis cover need to meet?

The most important aspect of the image for your thesis cover is the quality of the image. This is expressed in a resolution, which needs to be 300 dpi at the minimum. When the resolution is under this threshold, the picture will look pixelated in the final print.

When you would like to use a painting, drawing or something similar, we advise to scan the object. During the scanning process, you can choose in which resolution your item is scanned and saved. An average consumer scanner will be well qualified to reach the resolution requirement. Not every painting will fit in your scanner, so in that case the alternative is to take a picture of it or go to a copyshop. Usually, when taking a picture, resolution is not the problem. Even most phones can easily reach 300 dpi. However, the challenge with a picture is the lighting and the way in which the picture is taken. So, when taking a picture, pay attention to the positioning and cropping, and make sure there is enough light.

Do not forget that the cover of your thesis is twice as big as the front of your thesis, since there is also a backside. This might influence the image that you choose.

Stock images

The options described above are not always available. Nevertheless, there are large databases that offer you plenty of choice for a nice image. These are called stock images.

What are stock images?

A stock image is a picture that a photographer is selling through an image database. The picture is not exclusive and can be bought by multiple customers. When you buy a stock image, you are allowed to use it under several conditions. These conditions depend on the use of the image and they differ per database. You can assume that you are allowed to use all stock images for your thesis. The conditions often change when you would like the picture commercially. Of course, do not forget to check the exact conditions at the database, before you buy the picture.

Where to find stock images?

There are many different image databases, but we will discuss three of them. One of which offers free images.


Shutterstock is the biggest stock image website with over 131.000.000 condition free images. The search option works well and all images are neatly categorized.


Before you can use Shutterstock, you need to get a subscription. This consists of a minimum of 5 images and is valid for a certain amount of time. So, getting a single picture will also costs you €49,-. Below, you can read more about options to buy a single image from Shutterstock with us, at a lower rate.


Fotolia is an Adobe database. Similarly to Shutterstock, you can look for images in categories. Further more, you could also decide to search per image format (pictures, illustrations or vector).


Buying a single image is a possibility at Fotoalia. At this website you use credits to pay. A good quality picture will cost about 8 credits, but you need to buy at least 10 credits. This means that an image will cost at least €1,40.


Through Unslapsh it is a bit more difficult to find the right picture, but the setting of the images is good. Where Shutterstock and Fotolia offer a lot of ‘standard’, often commercially tinted, pictures, Unsplash shows you unique photos.


You can use Unsplash for free.

Persoonlijk Proefschrift and stock images

At Persoonlijk Proefschrift, we have several subscriptions for various stock image websites. So, when you would like us to design your thesis and you need an image for your cover, you can order the picture through us for a reduced price. A single image from Shutterstock can be bought at a price of €25,- per image, if you purchase it with us.

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