Gatsby ImageSharp from a URL

July 29, 2018☕️ 1 min read

Recently, I wrote a Gatsby source plugin that fetch images from Dog API (gatsby-source-dog). After finishing the core functionality of calling the API, I was not satisfied because it only gave me dog image URLs. I can’t do all the fancy “blur up” or “trace SVG” effect from Gatsby Image with just an URL. I wanted to generate ImageSharp from those URLs.

After hours of research into how I could perform this, I decided to seek some directions from @jlengstorf. He pointed me to a function called createRemoteFileNode (thank you Jason). It became a smooth sailing from there as I could quickly figure out how to use it to implement my feature.

So, here’s how I generate Gatsby ImageSharp from an Image URLs:

High Level Concept

The function createRemoteFileNode takes a URL and download it to a local file. With an image URL, we use that function and 2 other plugins, gatsby-plugin-sharp and gatsby-tranformer-sharp to generate an ImageSharp from that file.

In my Gatsby source plugin, I fetched image URLs and turned them into a new node, DogImage. I then used the process described above to create new ImageSharp. Afterwards, I used the ___NODE appendix to connect the 2 nodes.

In Code

Let’s say we have a node DogImage with a field url, which is the image URL. We’ll use onCreateNode lifecycle function from Gatsby Node API to extend that node to generate an ImageSharp.

Let’s put this in our gatsby-node.js:

// in our gatsby-node.js
import { onCreateNode } from "./on-create-node"
export { onCreateNode }

Now, all the code we need will be in our on-create-node.js file.

What we wanna do is:

  1. Check if the node is DogImage
  2. Use createRemoteFileNode to download the image
  3. Link the newly downloaded File to the DogImage node

Here was how I implemented that:

// in our on-create-node.js
import { createRemoteFileNode } from "gatsby-source-filesystem"
async function onCreateNode({ node, actions, store, cache }) {
// if the node is not DogImage, we don't wanna do anything
if (node.internal.type !== "DogImage") {
const { createNode } = actions
// download image and create a File node
// with gatsby-transformer-sharp and gatsby-plugin-sharp
// that node will become an ImageSharp
const fileNode = await createRemoteFileNode({
url: node.url,
createNodeId: id => `dog-image-sharp-${id}`,
if (fileNode) {
// link File node to DogImage node
// at field image
node.image___NODE =
export default onCreateNode

With this code, we can perform this query

allDogImage {
edges {
node {
image {
childImageSharp {
fluid {

and get a “blur up” effect on our images. 🎉🎉

Wrap Up

This seems like a common functionality, yet it took me a while to research, explore, and implement. Hopefully this post saves you some time, problems, and frustration. To learn more about the star of the show, createRemoteFileNode, you can read more at gatsby-source-filesystem’s documentation. And if you want to see what I show you here in action, feel free to check out the source code of my plugin: gatsby-source-dog.