Scott Hanselman

The Internet's Best Placeholder Image Sites for Web Development

February 28, '13 Comments [25] Posted in Musings
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Placeholder images of Nicholas CageSo you're making a site but you haven't got the images ready. You'll need placeholders, but things are changing quick and you don't want to make a bunch of images you'll eventually throw away.

Enter placeholder image sites. The de factor standard for these sites is that you call a URL similar to and you'll get an image back. Sometimes you can add text, or add a g for gray scale. You'd be surprised how much more compelling it makes basic layouts.

For example, <img src=""> gets you this:

Here's a collection of the web's best sites for dynamic placeholder images.

The only image placeholder service on the web bringing you nothing but Vanilla Ice jpgs.

The internet was missing the ability to provide custom-sized placeholder images of Nicolas Cage. Now it can.


The internet was missing the ability to provide custom-sized placeholder images of Bill Murray.


More complex but more flexible, DummyImage lets you do colors, gradients and announce the size.

For example is

LorumPixels lets you choose from various categories like cats, nightlife, or people.

So gets you this. And it's random, which is a nice touch.


The original and cleanest, you get gray placeholders. is

For Placement Only is similar. gets you:

Placeholder kittens. gets you:

Or, if you want to fight, there's also

So gets you

Which inevitably led us to

Wherein yields

Like bacon?

Even better, why not for

Did I miss any awesome ones?

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:43:01 PM UTC is pretty nice. For example,
Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:53:39 PM UTC
Haha very nice.

I need to make use of the Bill Murray images soon!
Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:25:26 PM UTC is my go-to site for image placeholders.

With providing all the text.
Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:44:25 PM UTC
Thanks Benjimawoo!
Thursday, February 28, 2013 11:24:27 PM UTC
Woulda sworn I saw a warlock in there, but when I click it I get charlie sheen! :)
Thursday, February 28, 2013 11:54:04 PM UTC
I never knew such a thing existed! I am exposed to a totally new practice and plus it's hilarious. Kudos!
Friday, March 01, 2013 12:32:46 AM UTC
very nice and quite simple to use, i will use this in my next development.
Friday, March 01, 2013 1:31:03 AM UTC
The only thing about these sites is that you can't control what the image will be. For example, the "" site allows users to replace selected images with their own. I did a quick test of a few seemingly safe terms and got back some VERY risqué results. Probably not the best choice for, say, a prototype site for a church, etc.
Friday, March 01, 2013 1:31:54 AM UTC
John - Agreed, but I don't recommend for that reason. Some of the sites are random but most aren't. They cache based on size.
Friday, March 01, 2013 5:30:25 AM UTC
What about us poor https only site developers?
Jonathan Park
Friday, March 01, 2013 9:10:50 AM UTC
I'd give a shout out to holder.js, which generates images using local javascript. Main benefit here is that this works offline too.
Tim Iles
Friday, March 01, 2013 11:45:52 AM UTC
I've started using a client-side solution for placeholders, much better than depending on some third party service.

Just saw Tim above mentioned the same. It's really great
Nick Williams
Friday, March 01, 2013 7:42:43 PM UTC
Try out, as well. It's random content, meant to stress test the design, in case you are going to have user generated content. Really nice for seeing what a design will look like with "real" content.
Friday, March 01, 2013 9:50:03 PM UTC
My favorite:
Friday, March 01, 2013 10:26:54 PM UTC
Is there a service like this for animated gifs? I know you have a big collection of those ...
Friday, March 01, 2013 10:54:03 PM UTC
A cool way to use these services is to generate DIVs of random sizes and then dynamically specify the image sizes

Here is an example in JSFiddle.

I noticed that http://place*/ websites block requests if they see multiple coming. Would be nice to dynamically generate a page that looks like this

Anyone wants to try?
Friday, March 01, 2013 11:16:54 PM UTC
The URLs are very, VERY suspicious:

The ../sheen was inserted by me and it still works...
Monday, March 04, 2013 7:00:09 PM UTC
Thursday, March 07, 2013 5:47:25 PM UTC
There are beautiful pictures there are ugly pictures. But why choose you to show the ugly ones like that zombi one?

dan sp
Thursday, April 04, 2013 1:40:11 PM UTC
I recently found these: Since them I'm hooked they are awesome!
Stephan van Stekelenburg
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 8:29:40 PM UTC
I've looked around and found a service that offers images placeholder for every type of website and more... Musings please add it to the list -

David Cross
Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:02:56 PM UTC
Hello! This list is great, and it inspired our team to produce a more generalised service: PixelHoldr for creating placeholders.

The service allows you to create placeholder images using images licensed for commercial use from Flickr, solid fills and gradients. Also, once it has generated your placeholder it is incredibly fast loading thanks to our delivery network.
Sunday, August 11, 2013 2:51:29 PM UTC
I'd also like to throw out my own creation: . It's pretty much like some of the others, but it doesn't have a specific theme - it's "creature" agnostic.
Friday, September 27, 2013 11:32:36 PM UTC here is a pizza image service. It was just launched so only basic functionality right now but more is being added.
Monday, September 30, 2013 11:43:24 PM UTC
I'd also like to throw out my own creation. It's picutres of Austin TX.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.