There's lots of really neat things about dingbats. First off, since they're fonts, they're typically vector images that can be scaled to any size without loss of quality. Of course, this will really depend on how much care the creator put into the design of the original images -- but, for the most part, all dingbats are pretty versatile when it comes to scaling.
Okay, so they're fonts with pictures instead of letters -- what's so great about that? Well, it means that you can incorporate these elements into your digital designs as easily as text, but make some more interesting images. For example, you can use images from dingbats to create digital scrapbook embellishments or webpage background patterns. I'll show how to do this in a separate tutorial. For now, I'm just going to list a few great dingbats that you can download and use for free.
WWDesigns, created by WindWalker64, is a nice solid, basic dingbat font which features a lot of shapes, swirls and embellishment-type images. The screenshot to the left shows a sampling of some of the images you'll find, but don't be fooled by the black and white presentation. You can alter the color and style, just as you would with any text font.
In fact, if you have a good image editor, you can create all sorts of new looks. Here's a character from WWDesigns after a few quick tweaks with PaintShop Pro:
Another great thing about this font -- it's free for both personal and commercial use.
2. Faux Snow
Faux Snow, created by Brian Kent of Aenigma Fonts, is a varied collection of snowflakes -- and I do mean varied, there are 94 characters in all.
If you'd like to see even more snowflakes, you may want to check out RYP Snowflake 6 by Skeldale House Treasures as well -- which is free for pesonal use only.
3. Love Romance
Love Romance is an awesome collection of hearts, love and wedding themed images from Jess Latham of Blue Vinyl Fonts.
While the font can be freely used for personal and commercial purposes, the creator does note that you can always thank him for supplying the design by purchasing one of his creations at Blue Vinyl Fonts -- and there are definitely some awesome designs available there!
4. Face it!
This one is a little whimsical, but lots of fun. Face it! is a set of emoticon-like images that would make awesome icons or web buttons.
At first, Alfabilder (by Peter Wiegel) might look like an eclectic collection of unrelated images, but after a moment you'll see that each letter of the alphabet is represented by an object whose name starts with that letter. A is for apple, B is for ball, and so forth. At least, that's what I'm guessing -- there are a few images that didn't seem to follow the pattern for me, but I think it's because I'm calling them something different from what the designer attended.
Oh well. Whatever the theme, it's an awesome dingbat font with lots of basic images that can be used in a wide variety of designs!
I'm not quite sure how the name of this dingbat font was chosen, but Kfon has some fantastic elements that can be worked into a variety of design projects. I particularly like the cityscapes and swans.
On the other hand, it's easy to see where the Butterflies name came from for this dingbat.
And, here's a quick example of how I used the "B" butterfly from this dingbat in one project:
Putting Them to Good Use
So, these are just a few free dingbats you can use to start building your collection -- the real fun will be in actually incorporating them into your designs. For an example, check out our tutorial on Creating Design Embellishments With Dingbats in PaintShop Pro.
Also, if you know of any other great dingbat fonts that allow commercial usage, please drop as a link in the comments. I'd love to add more to this list!