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How to Search for Images

Published by: @akovia - September 1, 2014
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Difficulty: Beginner Est Time: 20mins Software: General Category: Graphics General


This tutorial will cover some searching techniques for finding high quality artwork to use for fanart sources. By far the most common way to search for an image is to use Google, but there are ways to help improve your results that I will cover here. I  will also link to a thread on the forums where we keep a list of high quality source image sites. Between the two, you should be able to track down what you need if it exists.

You will learn that finding good source images will save you lots of time and frustration if you are a regular contributor to the site. Spending that extra time trying to hunt down a good source image could actually save you hours of wasted time by trying to improve a sub-par image and then having it denied.

Google Image Search:

Searching on Google should be your first stop when trying to hunt down a source image. The key to finding a good vs. great image is how you narrow down your search criteria. Before you jump right in and start searching you should ask yourself “what type of artwork am I making?” This will help you to determine the minimum size of the image you need. Trying to up-size an image to make it meet our requirements will only lead to frustration.

Once you know the minimum size image you need, you can start to think about what good keywords to use to find the kind of art you want. For instance, if you were going to create a CharacterArt, you might try searching for the Movie/Show name, followed by the character or actor name. For a Poster, you could try adding “DVD” or “BluRay” after the show name. For Backgrounds, you could add “Wallpaper” to the show name. Narrowing down the results like this will really help you to target the image you are after.

Now that we know our requirements, we can get down to searching.
Let’s look at the options that Google offers and how we can use them.

1. First we need to turn on the search options.

2. Now let’s set the size of image we are searching for.
You ¬†can just go with the generic option “Large“, or refine it even¬†further by using the “Larger Than” or “Exactly” options.

3. Next we will enable the “Show Sizes” option which will overlay the image dimensions at the bottom of each¬†image.Search Image 1

4. Another not so known option is to search by “filetype”.Search Image 3

4a. Once you specify a filetype in the search box, a menu will appear beside the other search options where you can select other filetypes. This option comes in handy when looking for renders or logos.

5. At any point, if you come across an image in the search results that you like, you can drag it towards the top of the page and a box will open up for you to drop the image in. This will launch a new search for “Visibly Similar Images” Very useful if the image you found is close but not quite the right size or is a DVD¬†cover with lots of text and labels on it.
Search Image 5

You will be presented with a new page of the results.

5a. The first place to look is under “Find other sizes of this image“.
This will show you images that are Exact to the image you submitted, but at different size. This example only shows “Small“, but you will often get “Medium” and “Large” results as well.

5b. Next place to look is under “Visibly similar images“. Here you will find results that look the same but are not Exact. Perfect for looking for different versions of a DVD cover.
Once you click on the link to see the images, you will need to set your image size to “Large” again as it will show all sizes in the results page.

5c. Lastly, you will get other results that aren’t in either of the above categories. I don’t know why they don’t show up with the other results, but I have found great images here when I couldn’t find what I wanted in the other results. The thing to note is the image dimensions that are listed beside every result. You can inspect the image further if the image size is what you need. I recommend using the Imagus Extension to see the full size image just by hovering over the thumbnails.

Another way to search for “Visually similar images” is to click the camera icon in the search bar.
Search Image 7

Now you have the option to paste an image link from anywhere on the web, or even from your computer.
Search Image 8

I hope you can see how flexible the Google search options  are and how you can use them to narrow down and hone in on the exact image you are searching for.

iTunes Image Search:

iTunes is a great resource for posters, but it can also be useful as a good source to extract or rebuild a logo from scratch.

It’s very difficult to search for the hi-res images directly on iTunes, but I found a great site that does the legwork for you.

iTunes Artwork Finder

The site is pretty self explanatory. There are a couple of things to note though.

  • This isn’t a Google search and the title must be damn near exact.
  • ¬†Use the “High Resolution” link after it returns a result.

Search Image 9

Other good Sites:

Here is the Forum thread where people share their favorite sites to look for sources. This thread could be updated at any time, so it’s a good idea to check back from time to time, and to also share any gems you might like to share as well.
Good sites for sources

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