Justin Gerard (update)

Justin Gerard fantasy illustration
Justin Gerard fantasy illustration

Justin Gerard is an illustrator based in Georgia who works in the publishing, gaming and film industries. I first profiled him in 2009, and pointed out my admiration for his richly imaginative dragons. Since then, in the midst of his other work, he has been creating a series of equally imaginative “Monster of the Month” illustrations.

Gerard’s monsters are wonderfully over-the-top and beautifully rendered in the fantasy art/concept art vein of dramatic imagery. He can somehow make them simultaneously gruesome and visually charming.

There is a portfolio of his work on the GalleryGerard website. You will find more examples on his ArtStation portfolio, in which you will also find close-up crops and preliminary drawings for many of his Monster of the Month images.

Gerard is regular contributor to the Muddy Colors website and among his articles you can find walkthroughs and descriptions of technique.

Justin Gerard is married to illustrator Annie Stegg Gerard, who I have also previously profiled.


Chase Stone (update)

Chase Stone, illustrations and concept art
Chase Stone, illustrations and concept art

Since I last wrote about illustrator and concept artist Chase Stone back in 2014, he has created a new website, and has posted new work there as well as on the site of his artist’s representative, Richard Solomon.

Stone works primarily in the areas of fantasy and science fiction, his dramatic highly realized approach bringing a visceral presence to both genres.

I particularly enjoy his illustrations for the Magic The Gathering set: Amonkhet, which are an imaginatively stylized take on Egyptian gods. He also paints great dragons, as well as dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

His website galleries are divided into Trading Card, Editorial and Book illustration. He also has prints of many of his pieces available on InPrint. His gallery on the Richard Solomon site includes a brief bio and mention of his process.

For more, see my previous post on Chase Stone.


Mario Borgoni

Mario Borgoni posters and paintings
Mario Borgoni posters and paintings

Mario Borgoni was an Italian painter and illustrator active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is noted in particular for his travel posters of beautiful tourist destinations like the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Sorrento and the Italian Rivera.


Alexander Rothaug

Alexander Rothaug, mythological painting and illustration
Alexander Rothaug, mythological painting and illustration

Alexander Rothaug was an Austrian painter and illustrator active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I assume he might be categorized as a Symbolist, which in itself is a loose classification as art styles go.

Rothaug seems particularly inspired by dramatic scenes from myths and legends, often populated with stylized, exaggeratedly muscular figures and rough, visceral textures.

It’s his use of texture that grabs my attention, particularly in the representation of rocks and stone.

Be aware that a number of the works you will find contain nudity, even if highly stylized, and might be considered mildly NSFW.


Same Energy – image similarity search with Deep Learning

Same Energy - Image similarity search with Deep Learning

In my previous post on Bing image search vs. Google, Yahoo & Tin Eye, I mentioned the “visual search” or “search by image” features of the major search engines, in which a reference image is the basis of the search rather than text.

Bing and Google will search first for additional copies of the same image, and when past those, will show “similar images” or “related images”. This can be an interesting way to discover new art and artists.

In comments on that post, a reader was kind enough to inform me of a new and fascinating entry into the field of image based search: Same Energy.

Same Energy is based on deep learning, a subset of machine learning, which is a form of computer process that is sometimes over generously called “artificial intelligence” or “AI”.

Although I’m sure Microsoft and Google are incorporating elements of machine learning into their image search algorithms, I believe they still rely heavily on associated text, tags and meta information. Same Energy appears to rely entirely on deep learning.

Bin an Google similar images search

I fed a source image of Monet’s On the Seine at Bennecourt to Bing, Google and Same Energy. The regular search engines returned many sources of copies of the same image, and then started to suggest “similar” images (images above).

Same Eneregy similar image search

Same Energy, while often finding a few copies of the same image, would much more readily start showing a range of similar images, often with more varied results than the big two (image above). I found its results were pretty good in terms of similarity, but often ranged wider and led to interesting discoveries.

When you upload an image (most easily by dragging one from your desktop, there is no provision for entering a URL for an image on the web), Same Energy immediately displays a tight grid, arranged mosaic style, of numerous images (you can modify the grid under “Settings”). The image being referred to is displayed at the upper left.

Clicking on one of the similar images places that image in the upper left, and shifts the response and field of images to similarity to that image. It also allows you to click on that new reference image and see more detail, including a link to the page from which the image was sourced (images above).

While Same Energy seemed to have a broader interpretation of “similar” than the major search engines, it was quite good at recognizing the nature of the image and the quality of the art. I deliberately tried to get it to mistake very realistic paintings for photographs, but it almost never did. It also did not readily mix in amateurish low quality paintings with high quality work by more accomplished painters. Both of these can be unfortunate tendencies in the big search engines’ image similarity searches.

The combination of the quick, densely displayed returns and the level of quality makes searching for similar images more engaging with Same Energy than with Bing or Google. I found myself fascinated, dragging images of widely varied styles into the interface, and often tracking down images that came up that were new to me, and bookmarking often. If you sign up for an account, the option is offered to save images and create Collections.

Searching for images with nudity, as in figure drawing models, returns blurred images. You must click through on an image and check your acceptance to see images that contain nudity, or have been tagged NSFW, etc. Be aware that the results (many sourced from Reddit) are then pretty much unfiltered.

I tried uploading an image from my own webcomic, Argon Zark!, and I found the returns actually gave me some insight into how others (or at least a deep learning algorithm) might perceive my style (image above).

You can also enter text searches, but I found this feature weak at this point in the system’s development. I tried the names of several artists, and many weren’t recognized as viable search terms. There is no provision yet for setting image size, or other refinements that might possibly be added in the future. Also, I noticed the same images coming up fairly often in my searches for a given genre, for instance landscape painting.

Same Energy is young, still in Beta, and likely has a much smaller database of indexed material at this point than the big players, who have been at it for years and with significantly greater resources.

Jacob Jackson, the developer, indicates that Same Energy is an ongoing project and will continue to be refined and improved, even while its reach increases.

I, for one, will be stopping back frequently to indulge.

The upshot is, if you’re looking for alternate sizes or additional information on a given image, use Bing or Google. If you are more interested in exploring, discovering and just having fun searching through art images (or any kind of images), give Same Energy a try.

[Timesink Warning!]


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 site:sothebys.com”. 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!)