Branding the Reverse Image Search Engine

In 2003, I attended a conference and watched a presentation that demo’d some pretty amazing image recognition technology. The idea of searching for images with other images was a new concept for me but as this technology advanced and we (silverorange and Idée Inc) became friends, it was not long before we were working together.

Fast forward to 2010 when the brand TinEye (a website designed to search for images with images) was being developed and prepared for the world stage, I was given the opportunity and challenge to create a mascot, a logo, and an identity for this service. This brand needed to represent speed and efficiency on top of being friendly with a great personality. The service was magical meaning a simple wordmark was not going to be acceptable and that was when the concept of a robot was born.

Drawing a Robot

TinEye is a fun brand but a mysterious one. While fun — it’s not childish. It’s fast, but comes with a level of mystery. Most of us could not explain how the TinEye technology works. We just accept and expect that it does. So how can we illustrate all of this with a single mascot brand?

The Sketches

Starting is always difficult. I can spend days simply thinking about possibilities before ever picking up a pen. While working on other projects, I allow ideas to come and go while randomly throwing everything down on paper. Here are some of those initial ideas.

Quick Drawings

And from that long list, we start to eliminate. Everything that doesn’t work for any reason at all has to go. One round at a time, we narrow the potential candidates down.

Selecting Just One

After much debate, the speedy one wheel robot won us all over. It was time to focus and expand on that single concept. How would this robot look in full color?

Adjustments and Final Revisions

The problem with the robot above was that he didn’t look fast. He was heavy looking missing the goals of speed and efficiency. Below is the finalized robot. With small adjustments to a slightly more football-player-like shape, the slimmer and lighter colours were necessary improvements.

Speed? Yes, he looks super quick to me and could out run us all.
Efficiency? Yes, those rubber like arms look great for picking out images.
Magical? Yes, how are all those floating objects staying together?
Friendly? Yes, he sure doesn’t look evil.
Personality? Yes, loads of it!

Playing With Emotion

The eyes are very powerful. The entire mood of an illustration can be altered by changing only the eyes and nothing demonstrates this better than the Pixar film Wall-e. A story without words but full of emotion. This alone provides the opportunity to use the robot in unique ways throughout the site.

Dissecting The Illustration

At the root of all illustrations, it’s simply a stack of individual shapes (mostly created with the pen tool). Here is a look at all those layers and a fun way to see how TinEye was created.

TinEye Services for Business

For the better part of 2012, I worked with Idée on TinEye Services for Business. This gave me the chance once again to experiment with many more fun story lines… and a colourful new paint job.


TinEye Labs

And of course, TinEye Labs, a place to show off current and future technologies and projects.


Side Tracked & Second Guessing

As a final note, unfortunately it’s not always a clearly defined road from point A to point B. Second guessing requires exploring and comparing alternative concepts against initial plans. On the path to the robot, our strongest alternative contender was an Owl. All of the same steps outlined above were also taken here right up to completion. This effort was necessary for consideration but proved and confirmed our robot was the right choice. I’ll conclude this blog post with the mascot that was almost TinEye.

This post was created with permission by the great people at A version of this post can also be found as a contributing guest post on the TinEye blog.

Published in Projects on January 2013

1 Comment

  • John Fujimagari January 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your creative process Stephen.

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