Bing image search vs. Google, Yahoo & Tin Eye

Bing image search interface

As you might imagine, in the course of writing Lines and Colors I do a fair bit of searching out art images on the web — whenever possible searching for the largest examples of images of artwork that I can find.

One of the ways I do this is to use the “image search” features of the major search engines. Unfortunately, Google Image Search, which used to be the standard, has been diminished in its usefulness, as Google, perhaps nervous about copyright issues, has gotten namby pamby about searching for large images and taken away the ability to search for images in extra large or custom, viewer chosen sizes.

I have of late switched the majority of my art image searching to another search engine.

Bing Image Search

OK, I hear you snickering (Bing, really? BING?). Yes, Bing, Microsoft’s seldom used (but actually decent) competitor to Google’s overwhelming dominance of the search arena.

While Google hamstrings its image search, Bing offers a full featured image search, that not only allows you to search for extra large images, but offers a few features Google’s version never did.

Unlike Google’s typically spare opening page, Bing Image Search is crowded with suggested images of pop stars, cute animals and a bunch of other pop culture garbage you’re sure to be fascinated by. (I think if you’re logged into a Microsoft account, it may remember your own recent searches.) The simple search field is at the top.

In the initial search term result (images above, with detail crop; I’ve searched for “Dutch landscape painting”), click on “Filter” to the right, and in the sub-navigation that drops down, click on “Image Size” at the left. You’ll have a choice for Small, Medium and Large, as with Google, but in addition you can choose “Extra Large”, or enter custom size parameters in the provided fields. I often search for 2000 x 2000 pixels. (The little icon in the right side of the search bar is for “search by image”.)

The filtered page will show large images with the size displayed over them. If you click on the hamburger menu at the upper right, you’ll have the option to display information from the page under the images.

Clicking on an image gives a close up. In the column to the right, the first two entries are ads, the third is the link to the originating age for the image, Under that are buttons for “Visit site”, “Pages” and Image sizes”, and below that similar images (related, but not the images in question) and related searches.

Clicking “Pages” produces a list of pages that display version of that image.

Clicking “Image sizes” organizes the image sources by the size of the image (largest is not always best as some may be watermarked or less accessible than others, you can also have multiple choices for the same size image).

The little icon in the search field at the top of the page (that I assume is supposed to be a camera) opens a Visual Search box. It offers you the option to upload an image, or enter a link to one, and search for other, hopefully larger, versions of that same image. It also allows you to search for a page with additional information about an image you’re trying to identify.

Google Image Search

Google image search interface

The Google Image Search initial returns on a search is similar to Bing’s. A link for “Tools” on the right drops down a sub-navigation from which you can choose “Image Size” on the left, with choices only for Small, Medium and Large as well as “All”.

The filtered returns show page location under them, image size is not available.

Google image search interface

Clicking on an image shows a preview in a right hand column, with the page name and link below it. In this case, the size is available by rollover. Under that are “Related images” (similar but not copies of the same image), and “Related Searches”.

Google image search interface

The Camera icon in the search bar is for visual image search. Upload or paste the URL of an image (the image itself, not a page containing an image), and returns an array of copies of the image with the source page underneath.

If you right click (or Control-click on Mac) on an image in Google Chrome, you will see a choice to “Search Googe for image”. There are plugins that provide the same functionality for other browsers.

Yahoo Image Search

Yahoo Image Search interface

Yahoo Image Search exists. Why, I’m not sure.

The initial search term results look much like Bing or Google, but there is no page or size information. Clicking on “Advanced” at right provides filters for color, size and image type. Sizes are S,M,L. (The others let you search by color as well, from the sub-menus.)

Clicking on an image returns a detail panel with the page and size info and the option to “Visit page” or View image”. There is no visual image search that I can find.

Tin Eye reverse Image Search

Tin Eye reverse Image Search interface

Tin Eye is a venerable visual image search engine that provided that service before the big guys, um… borrowed the idea. I mention it primarily out of respect for that. It still does a good job in its initial mission, but there is no provision for image size choices. Tin Eye offers plugins to put their reverse image search in browser menus. Tin Eye offers a service to track your own images and notify you if it finds they’re being used elsewhere, but the service is expensive, probably mostly of use to corporate intellectual property holders.

Tip for searching by site

All three of the above major search engines allow you to search for images (or other content) from a particular site. In the regular search bar, enter the search terms, followed by a space and then the word site, a colon (no space) and the URL of the site. For example: “dutch landscape paintings”. This will return a page with results for that topic only from the Sothebys auction site.

Other sources for high res art images

General search engines are just one avenue for searching out art images on the web. Another, often more fruitful way to find large art images is to do local searches on the sites of major museums, or on art image agglomeration sites, such as the Google Art Project, Wikimedia Commons of the Art Renewal Center. These should be the topic of another post.

Happy image searching!

(Oh yes, and Time Sink Warning!)


Charles Dana Gibson

Charles Dana Gibson, pen and ink illustration
Charles Dana Gibson, pen and ink illustration

Charles Dana Gibson was one of America’s great “Golden Age” illustrators, and one of its finest proponents of pen and ink illustration.

He is particularly known for his drawings of the “Gibson Girl”, an idealized example of what at the time was becoming known as the “New Woman”. The Gibson Girl became a symbol of women who were coming to the fore and taking on new roles in society. Gibson’s drawings also made the Gibson Girl a fashion icon.

There are a number of remarkable pen and ink artists from that period, toward the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, but few had the same combination of delicate subtlety and bold freedom that exemplified Gibson’s command of the pen.

His illustrations ranged to many other subjects. The Library of Congress has a nice online exhibition feature that outlines some of his major areas of interest, while focusing on the Gibson Girl.

Many of the reproductions of Gibson’s drawings appear to reflect the discoloration of the paper on which they were drawn, but they are still highly enjoyable.

For more, see my previous posts on Charles Dana Gibson.


Jean-Pierre Gibrat

Jean-Pierre Gibrat, French comics artist, Flight of the Raven, bandes dessinées

Jean-Pierre Gibrat, French comics artist, Flight of the Raven and others, bandes dessinées

Jean-Pierre Gibrat is a French comics artist and writer noted for his graphic historical novels set during wartimes in France.

He gained the attention of American readers of European comics with the translated version of his 2002-2005 graphic novel, Flight of the Raven, set in Paris during the WWII occupation.

The book is beautiful, filled with lush evocations of Paris. Gibrat studied various locations in pen and watercolor before translating them into story backgrounds in his comics drawing style, which is also done in pen and watercolor. Gibrat is also noted for his appealing depictions of female characters, and his attention to the visual details of everyday life.

Flight of the Raven was preceded by a related story (but not a direct prequel) set in the same time period, The Reprive, and was followed with a three volume story, Mattéo. — also set against the backdrop of war, but further back in time, in this case WWI.

You can find a number of his books on Amazon, some translated into English, some in French and other language editions.

The Reprive and Flight of the Raven were published in multiple volumes in France (three and two volumes, respectively) but were combined into single titles in the English language versions. The three French volumes for Mattéo are apparently being translated individually; only one has been released so far, the second English language volume is due in November of 2019.

Though he is both the artist and writer for his current work, Gibrat’s history of comics art goes back further, through collaborations with Jackie Berroyer and other writers, and work in the French comics magazine Pilote.

As far as I can determine, Gibrat does not have an official website, so I’ll point you to what resources I can find. You can also just try a Google images search for “Jean-Pierre Gibrat“.

[Note: Some of Gibrat’s work is erotic in nature, particularly a graphic novel titled Pinocchia, and a search may turn up images that are NSFW.]


Eye Candy for Today: Jacob de Gheyn pen drawing

Chestnut Tree with some trees around it, Jacob de Gheyn, ink and chalk drawing

Chestnut Tree with some trees around it, Jacob de Gheyn, ink and chalk drawing (details)

Chestnut Tree with some trees around it, Jacob de Gheyn (II)

Ink and chalk drawing, roughly 15 x 10 inches (36 x 25 cm), in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, which has a zoomable version on the website. You can download high-res images if you get a free Rijksstudio account.

Dutch painter and printmaker jacob de Gheyn II, who was active in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, had a wonderful drawing style, both bold and subtle at the same time.

I had the pleasure of seeing this drawing in person some years ago (at the Morgan Library, I think) and I was really taken with the way De Gheyn used his pen lines both to create texture and to define the volume of the tree. I love the contrast between the areas of trough bark and the smooth section on the trunk and under the branch that faces us.

The figure (presumably that of another artist sketching) is almost incidental, but still holds visual interest, particularly in the folds of the coat.


Hendrick Goltzius, The Resurrection

The Resurrection, from The Passion of Christ, Hendrik Goltzius, engraving

The Resurrection, from The Passion of Christ, Hendrik Goltzius, engraving (details)

The Resurrection, from The Passion of Christ, Hendrik Goltzius,

Engraving, roughly 8 x 5 inches (20 x 13 cm), in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hendrick Goltzius was a German born Dutch printmaker, draftsman and painter active in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Among his other accomplishments was a folio of prints depicting The Passion of Christ, from which this is an instance of The Resurrection.

Like most prints, there are multiple impressions of this one, the Met itself appears to have a second version, and there is one from the collection of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art that can be viewed i more detail on the Google Art Project.

The figure of Jesus is less than prominent in the composition than the foreground figures of the soldiers guarding the tomb, the foremost of which seems almost oblivious to the events behind him. The figure looks posed, and it’s highly likely that Goltzius had a model to work from.

The artist’s engraving lines, though solidly placed on the foundation of his superb draftsmanship, have a casual quality more in common with etching or pen and ink than engraving. Goltzious was also an accomplished pen artist.

I really admire his use of line in the depiction of drapery, particularly in the figure of the angel, and the contrast with his hatching on the stone and dirt surfaces.


John Donohue’s “All the Restaurants in New York”

John Donohue's All the Restaurants in New York, pen and ink sketches

John Donohue's All the Restaurants in New York, pen and ink sketches

Since 2017, New York based artist and writer John Donohue has been pursuing his — admittedly unlikely — quest to draw all of the restaurants in New York City (estimated to number around 24,000, not counting ongoing closings and openings).

He takes this on by sketching on location in pen and ink, without preliminary pencil drawings. He then adds touches of a single color to the drawings. His drawing style is casual and sketch-like, with an almost cartoony feeling at times — unsurprising as Donohue has contributed cartoons to The New Yorker.

There are plans in the works for three books of drawings of restaurants in New York, London and Paris. In the meanwhile, Donohue has prints available.