How to perfect your awesome avatar:
When you post on a forum, your avatar makes up part of your personality, along with your "ethos", or apparent personality based on writing style. If you have a sloppy or badly made avatar, people will think you yourself are sloppy or unskilled. I'm not going to go into specifics on the creation of an avatar, but here are some tips to make your avatar clean and tasteful.
I'll use my cube as an example.
First off, the limits for your avatar are 116 by 116 pixels, and under 40 kb in size. You won't have to worry about the file size limit unless you're trying to upload something with layers, but the physical size is important. Your avatar will be 116 by 116. Even if the file you upload is of different size or dimensions, it will be stretched to meet that size. So when you finish making your avatar, make sure the file is that size, even if the image doesn't stretch that far.
Here's a few examples:
On the left is the actual image I used, and on the right is what would have happened had I not added extra space on either side.
When you go to the trouble of making a nice avatar, go to the extra bit of trouble in making sure you export it properly. I find that the best file type to use is a PNG. (as long as it isn't animated) What's the difference? JPEG and GIF files are lossy. They lose a lot of data in compression, and leave bad artifacts or dithering on your pictures. It's ok for casual photography, because it saves space on your memory card and is difficult to notice with large images, but most professional photographers use cameras that don't apply JPEG compression. When you're working with something small, it becomes a big bother, because there isn't much data there in the first place, and even a small artifact will ruin the look of your avatar.
On the top, GIF with dithering, GIF without dithering. On the bottom, JPEG with compression artifacts, and PNG 32.
Animation is a neat feature, but don't abuse it. Don't use animation just for the sake of having animation. Make sure it adds something to your avatar that improves it.
On left, bad, pointless. On right, somewhat better.
That's about all I have for now, if you'd like to add something or comment, feel free to post below.
Orange'you glad I didn't say banana?