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How to Keep Your Awesome Avatar Awesome

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meizlizard

meizlizard

Automaton Tech

from Cupertino
108 posts

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.

Size:
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:
http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/6130/picture1xk2.png
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.

File type:
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.
http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/2521/filetypeska7.png
On the top, GIF with dithering, GIF without dithering. On the bottom, JPEG with compression artifacts, and PNG 32.

Animation:
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.
http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/4559/cubese0.gifhttp://img231.imageshack.us/img231/3006/legendarylizardsigka2.gif
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?

February 18, 2009 8:20 pm
semicolons

semicolons

Big Game Hunter

from UK
729 posts

It pains me just to look at that flashing cube... nice info on PNG in particular.

February 18, 2009 8:43 pm
behnood

behnood

Tinkerer

from Australia
40 posts

Very nice, but the flashing cube isn't very easy on eyes.

Live like there is no tomorrow.

February 18, 2009 8:49 pm
kalel

kalel

Big Game Hunter

from New York
560 posts

I couldn't agree with your post more. Thanks for posting this article and trying to make the forums a nicer place.

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February 18, 2009 8:58 pm
MintCreation

MintCreation

Sky Pirate

from Daddy Heaven :D
1,478 posts

That flashing cube is awesome - cheers!

I am not an agent in real life, only on weekends!

February 18, 2009 9:13 pm
beatej

beatej

Automaton Tech

296 posts

Good info - Thanks. Will have to change mine to PNG. I had thought it would increase the file size too much.

Simple as mine is, it took so long to get the 116x116, pixel by pixel. I was farmiliar with the stretching aspect from other image insertion experiences.
It kinda hurts me (sense of aesthetics?) when I see a stretched avatar..

February 18, 2009 9:19 pm
daba

daba

Big Game Hunter

from New Zealand
640 posts

so what's the best file type to use? and what pixel per inch is recommended?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke. Sharing large files and backing them up using Dropbox is just like magic, and you can get 2.5 GB of free storage when you sign up for Dropbox with this link.

February 19, 2009 12:45 am
kidkarma

kidkarma

Big Game Hunter

from so cal
515 posts

im pretty sure the flashing cube ate my soul

I think the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.
-Fyodor Dostoevsky
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February 19, 2009 1:06 am
meizlizard

meizlizard

Automaton Tech

from Cupertino
108 posts

Whoops, I just noticed that I labeled the dithered and not dithered GIF images backwards. Fixed.

so what's the best file type to use? and what pixel per inch is recommended?

PNG is best for still images, Animated GIF for animated, and JPEG for large images. Pixel per inch only matters when you're doing a print of something, for the web just leave it at the default. Professional prints are usually around 300 PPI.

Very nice, but the flashing cube isn't very easy on eyes.

Should I take it off? It's sort of intended to show what not to do.

Orange'you glad I didn't say banana?

February 19, 2009 1:48 am
lefich

lefich

Automaton Tech

from Atlanta, GA
167 posts

.. for the web just leave it at the default.

For info, that would usually be 72 PPI...

LETS GO TEAM ORANGE!!!!!

February 19, 2009 1:52 am
toddo

toddo

Automaton Tech

from Southern California
481 posts

That was really helpful! Thanks for taking the time to post it.:) Now what can I animate...

Macheist team: Green Monkeys

February 19, 2009 2:26 am
oldmanhorton

oldmanhorton

Automaton Tech

from New Jersey
154 posts

what is the best program to make custom avatars?

February 19, 2009 2:43 am
DistantThunder

DistantThunder

Automaton Tech

from Southern Illinois
170 posts

lefich wrote:

.. for the web just leave it at the default.

For info, that would usually be 72 PPI...

Personally I prefer 100 ppi, since that is the actual resolution of all the displays I've used over the past several years. It is quite rare these days to find a display that has a resolution as low as 72 ppi. But what was said earlier is true ... you don't even need to worry about this. For web graphics intended for screen display only, the actual pixel dimensions are the only significant factor; the ppi is not used or referenced in the rendering of the image by the browser. (For example, a 116 x 116 pixel image would look the same, whether it's ppi setting was 2 ppi or 10,000 ppi.)

Chillin' with the BLUE team.

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February 19, 2009 2:48 am
iceprincess0966

iceprincess0966

Automaton Tech

from Illinois
208 posts

oldmanhorton,
If you're talking about making one that looks like you, I think most people here are using FaceYourManga.

I could be wrong, but I searched around and that's the best I could find.

Thank you to the people who bought the bundle using my referral link

February 19, 2009 3:00 am
DistantThunder

DistantThunder

Automaton Tech

from Southern Illinois
170 posts

oldmanhorton wrote:

what is the best program to make custom avatars?

I use Photoshop. But you could probably get reasonable results with Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, GIMP (or Gimpshop), and any of the other popular image editors out there.

Chillin' with the BLUE team.

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February 19, 2009 3:01 am
spencersage

spencersage

Automaton Tech

from Fort Worth, TX
223 posts

Gosh, I just don't know what I could do to make my awesome avatar even more awesome... I think it's about as good as it gets!  wink

February 19, 2009 4:00 am
meizlizard

meizlizard

Automaton Tech

from Cupertino
108 posts

I really like Fireworks MX 2004, some of the last software Macromedia made before they were bought out by Adobe. You can probably find it really cheap on the web, and it still works under leopard. It's intuitive and powerful.

Orange'you glad I didn't say banana?

February 19, 2009 4:05 am
atm153

atm153

Automaton Tech

from Lincoln, NE
140 posts

This is a great post, meizlizard.  If I could give you some of my points for it, I would.  Even though you are a orange.

Go Green Monkeys!
Dropbox Referral Link

February 19, 2009 4:29 am
mwhogan

mwhogan

Big Game Hunter

from Dallas, TX
795 posts

Well, I came across this while looking for tutorials about animated GIFs, and now think I'll go back and try to improve my avatar by converting it to PNG format instead... thanks for the tips!

=========

Okay, so here was the original JPG that I wasn't entirely satisfied with:

http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/9688/picture3.jpg

<--- And you can see the new (PNG) to the left!

Thanks again for the info. This looks much better now.

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." -- Victor Hugo

February 26, 2009 3:42 am
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