There are several options:
1) You can draw and write your own. A 3×5 index card cut in half works great. You can either just write the name and date or you can draw (and color) a picture of the person or event. You may want to draw a symbol of their contribution on the card, such as making a picture frame around artists, a treble clef with composers, a crown for government leaders, a cross for Christian leaders, etc. You can also cut them out in shapes if you’d like, either a basic “person” shape or a representative shape such as a crown for government leaders etc. If you choose to do shapes, you can reproduce the shape several times on a sheet of cardstock and copy/print to to have ready to write or draw on and cut out.
2) You can find free or cheap pictures to use. Some people buy old sets of encyclopedias to cut up. But now we have the internet! You could do your own searches, but that takes way too much time for me. I prefer to use picture groups already put together from websites like Homeschooling with Notebooking. I’ve also found a few nice ones at Christian Hearts Homeschooling.
3) You can purchase sets of figures. We used to sell a timeline with pictures you color yourself. I just found it available online now – Drawing from the Past. Homeschool in the Woods produces the History through the Ages timeline figures you can color, but I’ve never used these.
Start by ordering the PIPEline of HisStory and get started creating your own unique timeline by any of the methods listed here.