I've found that building a library of graphic resources such as textures, patterns, brushes, icons and vector artwork has been valuable to creating quality web design in a short time. You never really know what exactly you'll need for any project beforehand, so why not go out and grab everything you find interesting now? That way you won't need to during crunch-time. Better yet, you won't need to spend a cent. Here's a list of the best freebies out there to get you started.
Go Media is a team of artists and designers out of Cleveland that provide tutorials, resources, and advice. They are very active in the design field working for clients and have tons of great resources to share. The freebies section here has mostly vector artwork, with plenty of other interesting tid-bits sprinkled in there like scatter brushes and Photoshop actions.
Psdtuts is a Photoshop tutorial site that is part of the Tuts+ Network. The network also consists of design tutorial and resource sites for Illustrator, Flash, After Effects and much more. Psdtuts is my favorite place to find tutorials, and they have a really high quality collection of freebies to offer. They have a great selection of icons and Photoshop brushes there.
Chris Spooner is the man behind the design blog spoongraphics. He is an amazing web designer who is active in offering great resources and insights to fellow web designers. His freebie section consists of unique icons, brushes and textures that have a characteristic hand-drawn feel.
Bittbox is the creation of Web Enthusiast Jay Hilgert, and he is dedicated to pumpin' out quality free resources for designers. He has a huge library of web design elements to choose from (34 pages deep!). This is a great place to find buttons and interface elements.
Iconfactory is the place to go for quality icons. They offer great icon packages to buy, but also have a wonderful collection of freebies. Their freebies have the same great quality and come in a wide range of sizes and formats for pc and mac.
I'm putting Smashing Magazine down at #6 because if it were #1, as it should be, you'd probably not need to read the rest of this post. Smashing Mag sets the bar for the design industry in articles, resources, tutorials, and inspiration. Certainly their freebie section is awesome and should be in every web designer's faves.
7. Blue Vertigo
Blue Vertigo is a massive collection of links covering every corner and category of the design world. I come here to look for more free stock photo sites, but there's so much more I'll never have time to see. The navigation is *unique (meaning nice try but XXX in my opinion) and there's a variety of ways to find what you're after.