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How to Find Image Sources (for most Artwork)

Last posted Jul 25, 2018 at 07:39PM EDT. Added May 29, 2011 at 01:03AM EDT
31 posts from 18 users

A couple days ago, DrPepperfan (I think) asked me how I'm able to find image sources so quickly.
How, you ask? To be honest, DPF, usually with absurd ease. To quote one of my past posts, "search engines are credit to team!"  
Another part of it, though, probably comes from my years of experience with art websites like deviantArt and FurAffinity. This part I will now share, for the convenience of all persons who wish to find image sources, the original artist(s), and/or other pictures by the same artist(s). (This info applies mainly to meme-related artwork, especially those images posted on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Furries pages.)

Each art website (deviantArt, FurAffinity, etc.) and general image posting site (Ponibooru, E621, etc.) has its own file naming scheme. If you're lucky, the posted image will retain its original filename, making the original source (mostly) easy to find.

Art websites:
Filename: [title of art piece; all non-alphanumeric chars replaced with underscores]_by_[artist name, same deal with the underscores]-d[base-36 code].[jpg/gif/png/whatever]
Art page: http://[artist name][title of art piece, with hyphens instead of underscores]-[the base-36 code converted to base-10] OR http://[artist name][base-36 code]
Filename: [10-digit number, usually starts with 1].[artist name]_[misc. words relating to pic].[jpg/gif/png/whatever]
Art page:["full" or "view"]/[upload number]

Example: "Young Rainbow Dash" by AtomicGreymon on deviantArt


Example: "-Kihu commission-" by AJ-TheCanaanFox on FurAffinity


[Continuing tomorrow, need sleep plz kthxbai]

(I know you are going to finish this tomorrow, but…)
If filenames or other obvious things don't work out:

Jeffrey's Exif Viewer – Breaks down image information.
TinEye – Searches for website pages that have hosted the same image.
SauceNAO – Pixiv, Magazine image, anime, and others search.
GazoPa – Tries to be like TinEye, but mostly sucks.
iqdb – Imageboard search.
二次元画像詳細検索 – Searches for 2D images.

You can even mix the websites up, getting a high quality picture from saucenao, and then running it through TinEye for origin searching.

O_O Holy crap. I thought that reverse image searching was still under beta! Now you've given us not one, not two, but THREE fully operational reverse-image search engines?!?

Olivia's right. You win. Forever.


@Olivia & Don:
You guys are talking about Ogreenworld's post, right? After being so epically upstaged, I'm feeling a little disinclined to continue…

EDIT -- Might as well add something I forgot about FA: The artist listed in an image filename can be found at[username]. In the example above, 1241669148.aj-thecanaanfox_hiku_comission_4.jpg is from AJ-TheCanaanFox's FA page at

Last edited May 29, 2011 at 10:40PM EDT

Reverse image search definitely helps, especially when it is an image that's been iterated into different languages. Google Images also has a feature that allows users to see "similar images" or "more sizes" that will help isolating the original instance.

If you've already identified the keywords and appx. time period associated with the image, you can also narrow down the Google search results by using "Custom Range" (ex: 1/1/2009 – 12/31/2009) on the sidebar.

Great thread is great.

Featured on the front page??  

Sorry for not continuing yet everybody, busy with RL stuff. I'll definitely have free time tomorrow, if I don't get this finished later today.

First, a quick note to append to the details about deviantArt: All images uploaded directly from deviantArt should at least have the "d[base-36 code]" part in the filename.
Another example: "Pegasus Ponies" by Slugbox

This image has been resized, recompressed as a JPEG (although the file extension is mistakenly PNG), and the first part of the filename is a hexadecimal jumble. However, we can see that the base-36 code is still there: "d3hhiik"
Surprisingly, you can simply type "[base-36 code]" into your browser's URL bar to take you right to the original page:

Back soon, kthxbai!

EDIT: By the way, that oh-so-important base-36 code relates to the post order on the entire dA website. "Pegasus Ponies" is (apparently) the 210,769,148th piece of artwork uploaded to dA.
3hhiik  ==>  210769148 (
The original art page is also found here:
Surprise! There's that base-36 code again, converted back to decimal. The same is also true for the "Young Rainbow Dash" pic above (3d1u8w  ==>  203319392), and -- I expect -- any other pics from dA.

Last edited Jun 01, 2011 at 03:56PM EDT

Damn. This past week I went through 300 pages of older MLP pictures saving any noteworthy ones I found. However, for organization sake I renamed some of the artwork because I did not know what all the numbers were for. I should have looked at the forums more.

Sigh… I guess this means I'll have too go through all the MLP Pics again, not that that's a bad thing. :D

Thank you so much for the heads up.


Continuing on to general posting websites:

Filename: [post number] – [image tags].[jpg/gif/png/whatever]
Original post:[post number]

(Kind of obvious, but whatever.)

Example: "18082 – gilda pinkie_pie rainbow_dash.png"

If you're lucky, the original source URL will also be posted with the image (in the "Source" field below the "Tags" field).

That's it for tonight this morning, everyone.
And awaaaaaay I go!  

OK, need help here. This pic.

This is from dA, but it doesn't have a base code of what sort. I could find the artist, but it seemed a bit slow, and some artists have 20 or so pages to go through which may not be quite smart…….

Any idea how? It's not the fist I encountered…..

Last edited Jun 06, 2011 at 09:16AM EDT

pug on toast wrote:

OK, need help here. This pic.

This is from dA, but it doesn't have a base code of what sort. I could find the artist, but it seemed a bit slow, and some artists have 20 or so pages to go through which may not be quite smart…….

Any idea how? It's not the fist I encountered…..

Because I added this comment an hour ago I was unable to put this as an edit…..

The finel way of searching:

If you can only find the artist and file name, the search in deviantart is usually trusted. And sure enough, I found the source of this picture:

'Nother quick thing to add about dA:
Images uploaded earlier than August 2010 don't have the base-36 code in the filename; images from about 2004 and 2003 don't have the artist's name either. (Although, I have seen a few artist galleries where old filenames are being converted to the newer format.)
If the artist is in the filename, you can still type in [artist name]; try replacing any underscores with hyphens (just like the example Mister J provided: Click the "Gallery" tab, then click "Browse" (out of the "Featured", "Browse", and "Scrapbook" links near the top) to sort the art pieces by date. Happy browsing!
And thanks for reminding me, Mister J.

To save all the fluff of explanation, I had a picture of a drawing I made 5 years ago based off a picture I found from the internet, where now I need the original picture for a university application, and so far google's reverse image search, normal searches across multiple search engines with related terms, and the sites shown here haven't worked, which I understand is probably because my picture has the same content, but different everything else, file name, size, format, which is upsetting because 6 days dedicated to trying to find the damn original picture sucks, especially when I need to submit the application in 8 days.

Short story, I drew a picture of a picture from the internet, and am now trying to find the original picture, but am sucking out, any suggestions?
You should be able to see my drawing here (Link below this), which after seeing it is understandable why nothing wants to work.

If somebody helps in reasonable time or tries to, or if nobody says anything either, thanks for trying/helping/reading this, and have a good day.

-Guy who is missing half a head of hair because UGGHH

PS. If that link doesn't work I believe I uploaded the image where you can see it on my profile..?
New here so I think it went through.

Last edited Feb 21, 2018 at 11:29PM EST

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