Friday, December 31, 2010

Reference Image Sources 1

Finding good references to use in the construction of images is necessary.  I use them to generate accurate representations of subjects but also to aid in colour design and composition choices.  The idea is that you refer to these while drawing  as much as you can and eventually you build up a mental reference library. 
For me that is a loooong way off so for now I have to find images to aid me.  There are a vast numbers of resources on the web.  My first impulse is to hit Google and perform an image search.  sometimes a good choice but what is pulled up is only as good as the image tags.  If you are looking for references you will be most likely looking for particular subjects, poses and locations.   

While one word searches such as dog (255,000,000 results) or sea (215,000,000 results) will pull up a wealth of images, a search for a Doberman Pinscher by the sea will not be so useful (25,300 results).  

The success and usefulness of image searches is heavily dependant on the filename the user has given the image and the context the image is used in. 



Try to make your filename a good description of the subject matter of the image. For example, my-new-black-kitten.jpg is a lot more informative than IMG00023.JPG.

Also the additional image contained in the alt attribute 

Not so good:
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt=""/>
Better:
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy"/>
Best:
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="Dalmatian puppy playing fetch"> 
To be avoided
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy dog baby 
dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever 
 labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier 
puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food"/>

The last one risks being flagged as spam.
Google has made attempts to improve image tags.  Well rather it has tried to use us to add additional tags to images in what I think is quite an ingenious device. 

By using a web based game called Image Labeler  additional descriptive labels are given by users to images on the web.
This will hopefully  improve the accuracy of results. 


While these improvements are been made there is a possibility that this broad search approach will disappoint.  Using specific reference image libraries is an alternative. Next time I will discuss some of the resources I have found to be useful.