This paper proposes a cognitive model in which people begin to search pictures by using semantic content and find a right picture by judging whether its visual content is a proper visualization of the semantics desired. It is essential that human search is not just a process of matching computation on visual feature but rather a process of visualization of the semantic content known. For people to search electronic images in the way as they manually do in the model, we suggest that querying be a semantic-driven process like design. A query-by-design paradigm is prosed in the sense that what you design is what you find. Unlike query-by-example, query-by-design allows users to specify the semantic content through an iterative and incremental interaction process so that a retrieval can start with association and identification of the given semantic content and get refined while further visual cues are available. An experimental image retrieval system, Kuafu, has been under development using the query-by-design paradigm and an iconic language is adopted.