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Image search is evolving quickly. Today you don’t even need to use words to search images. Now you can use colors!. That’s right you can search images by color.

Let’s search the web for an autumn-like palette (yellow, red, brown) using the following 3 services. Let’s see how the search results are like.

1. PicItUp

PicItUp is a visual image search engine that combines word-based with color based search.

Test it: search for [autumn] and choose any color from the left column (I chose yellow). Now let’s look at the results:

picItUp - search images by color

Impressive, isn’t it?

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What the tool lacks: you can’t combine several colors to refine your search (for example you can’t search for a yellow-red palette) – you are only able to search for one color.

2. Multicolr

Unlike the above one, with the Flickr-based Multicolr service you can combine as many colors as you want.

Test it: choose several colors and watch how the image list changes with each color added (I combined red and yellow):


What the tool lacks:you can’t combine word-based and color-based searches with this service. You are limited with playing with colors only.

3. Etsy

Etsy, an online shop of handmade products, has developed color search for their own product database.

Test it: It’s real fun to play with. Just browse your mouse across the screen and watch various colors and same-palette products pop up.

Etsy - search images by images

What the tool lacks: here you are unable to either set the color option or the search term. Nonetheless the tool is such fun to use that you definitely need to try it out.

Now, what do you think could be possible practical applications for these tools?

Would you use them on a regular basis or are they just for fun?

  1. Dinflux Ed
    December 19, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the post, i am looking for a new header image and this is perfect!

  2. nickel22
    October 17, 2008 at 7:46 am

    naaaaa, fantastic.. thanks Ann :)

  3. kelly
    October 16, 2008 at 12:41 am

    Good tips there!! Thanks!

  4. Ann Smarty
    October 15, 2008 at 10:05 am

    @Amit, thanks for the input! Really they have launched a new color search tool here:

    There you can search by color and by tags.

  5. Michael Martin
    October 15, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Fantastic tools! Bookmarked this and will be back the next time i need some photos! :D

  6. Amit
    October 15, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Nice post. By the way, it is possible to enter the search term and also select the color in Etsy. I really found it quite amazing. And performance wise too, it loaded quite fast for fantastic way for search. Really worth playing with once.

  7. Ann Smarty
    October 15, 2008 at 3:51 am

    @Jeff, nice choice! I am happy to hear MUO was useful!

    @Aibek, Saikat, thanks!

    @alon, thanks for stopping by to comment. Picitup definitely has the huge range of search options.

  8. Saikat
    October 14, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Wow...this is a lovely article Ann! Really need these tools sometimes.

  9. alon
    October 14, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Good Review Ann!

    Picitup has as well search be similarity, search for creative commons images and search by shape..

  10. Jeff
    October 14, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    @ Ann

    Thank you so much, you won't belive how long I was looking for something like Multicolr. Awesome. I am now using it together with Color Pallete Generator. Guess where I found out about it ?,


    • Aibek
      October 14, 2008 at 4:34 pm

      @ Jeff - Nice combination ;-)

      @ Ann - cool post !

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