Introduction: Make an Avatar

Avatars are very important to being identified on any social site, this instructable will show you how to choose and make an avatar that suits you.

(Skip to step 3 if you want to get straight to the making part)

Step 1: Why Is an Avatar Important?

An avatar is the image that you place next to your name to accompany it in your postings. It is a very useful thing to have so people can recognize your posts at a glance because it is much bigger than your name and the mind does not have to go through the process of translating the letters to make sense of them and then tie them back to you. It also breaks through the sea of orange on instructables (the colors may differ on other sites) so people can see that you posted it at a glance. If you have the general pic of a person image or a commonly found picture on the web, do you think people will notice your posts as much.

An avatar after being used for a long time, becomes a surrogate face for you on the site it is used on.

Step 2: Choosing an Avatar

To choose an avatar is to choose a digital face for yourself, it should reflect a part of you or people will see it as reflecting a part of you even if it isn't.

If you have a picture of a famous person as your avatar, people will think you like that person. If you have a picture of LEGO's as your avatar, people will think that you like LEGO's, the same goes with K'nex. If you have a rapper, people will think you like rap, football means you like football or just sports, trees means you like nature and so on.

Your avatar will give someone a first impression of you even if they do not know it. Maybe at first people saw me as some sort of pyromaniac or the equivalent of one with explosives or they saw Kiteman as an old scientist.

Your avatar should fall into one of these categories:

Step 3
  • A picture of yourself (only if you really want your face on the internet)
Step 4
  • Some sort of character you would be know by, preferably with a face.
Step 4
  • Some of your digital artwork
Step 5
  • A picture of one of your instructables (these steps also apply to artwork)
Step 6
  • Your name incorporated into some sort of picture.
Step 7
  • General instructions if you already have a picture.

Step 3: A Picture of Yourself

If you want to have your avatar be a picture of yourself, though I do not recommend it, then you want to follow these guidelines

  • You want to be in a well-lit room with ambient light
There would only be faint shadows, enough to give your face a 3D look and no need for a flash to cause red-eye.

  • You want to take the picture in Landscape, not portrait.
Most peoples heads are taller than they are wide, so when your picture is cropped to fit the avatar shape, your whole face fits in the square.

  • You want to take the picture against a wall, preferably white.
This will less distract the viewer or give away any other information besides your face. (if you are posting your face, you may not care anyway)

  • You might want an image editor made for photos so you can fix them.
Picasa is a great program for organizing and fixing photos, and yes, it is free.

1. To make the avatar of your face, position yourself in front of a wall or some other sort of backdrop.

2. Hold the camera out as far as you can and experiment to see at which distance your face is 100% in the frame. You can also have a friend help or use a tripod

3. Take a few pictures because there might be a problem with each one and sort through them until you find a good one.

4. Put your pictures on your computer and open up Picasa, it should instantly upload the pictures and allow you to sort through them, so you can delete bad ones and keep good ones

6. Then you can find the best one, crop it to either a square or a horizontal rectangle with the right amount of room around it, whichever you prefer. This will ensure that your whole face fits in the picture so it does not look like someone cut off the top of your head.

7. Then export the image to the desired size, larger the size, longer it takes to upload, and then upload that picture to Instructables through the image library. Set it as your first image in your avatar list, and then it is there.


Remember, when you post a picture on the net, anyone can see it and it can travel very fast to places you could not even imagine, it could travel to some random blog in Arabic or Mandarin or some other random language that you cannot read within hours for all you know, and there are also the people who could use that picture along with other things to stalk you, you have been warned.

Step 4: Something With a Face

Faces give anything that has one that is anything similar to humans, a sense of humanity. People will see it and correlate it with your face. It will make people see you more as a person and less as something that just posts on instructables

A few things to go by:

  • Look in the mirror
The best way to get facial features right is to use your face. Just look in the mirror and draw out on paper what you see or take a self portrait with a camera and draw over it in Paint, Apple works, or GIMP

  • Give it a smile
People always like smiles, so give it a nice big smile, slap one right on there and make it big. Do this unless you want it to be sad/angry/confused/etc. then look in a mirror and try mimic that expression.

  • Look a little to the side or straight ahead.
These are the two positions the face should be in. To the side is much easier because all you do is take the facial expression, group it together, and then make it thinner and move it to the side, make sure the nose looks like it is being looked at from the side too. If you want to look straight on

  • Keep it symmetrical
The faces of animals are almost always close to symmetrical. They are only a small ways off because of coloring or facial features being lower/higher to the other on the other side. Make one eye, copy it to the other side and reverse it, put the nose right down the middle, make sure the smile looks very close to being symmetrical with a small difference between the sides. the only reason they should not be symmetrical is if your are trying to give it an expression, as I said before, look in a mirror and go from there.

  • Have a white background or black border
You can use these to make your pic look better with the site, this is especially good with digital images because people will only focus on the subject in the pic and not the stuff around it.

Making the avatar

Now, because there is no good way to explain how to make the content of the avatar for this one, I will start at the point after you have made the avatar

1. Make the face or thing with face using the guidelines above.

2. Make sure it is a square so nothing gets cropped.

3. If your editor supports layers, then create a black square that goes over your whole creation and cut a square out of the center of it to make a border, if you want one. You can always make a series of rectangles on the edges that combine into a border.

4. Save image and upload to Instructables, set as avatar.

Step 5: A Picture of One of Your Instructables

One way to find a good picture is to use a picture from one of your instructables. Can be your favorite one, or most popular, or just an instructable that you like. Here are some suggestions for picking an instructable.

  • Pick your favorite instructable.
By having it as your avatar, people will see what you like and will get to know you better.

  • Pick your highest rated or a featured instructable.
Many people when they read instructables will look over the name of the person who made it but will remember the instructable itself. By having that instructable as your avatar, people will see it and say, "I know that instructable and it was pretty good" and will probably check it out again and maybe congratulate you on it.

  • Pick one that is different.
If your instructable is different, people will remember you for it, it could be offbeat, or totally innovative or do something that no one has done before, different just stands out.

Making an instructable picture an Avatar

1. Choose the instructable
This part is totally up to you, just choose an instructable that you want to represent you.

2. Choose a picture.
Usually the best picture for an avatar is your intro picture, but if you can find a better one, then go for it. If needed, take another picture of the instructable and use it, if it is still around.

3. Crop
Because most pictures are rectangular, it is good to crop your image to a square to make sure all of the desired pieces are visible, you can use Picasa or any other image editor for that.

4. Export from Picasa or scale down in image editor
Depending on what camera you are using, your file may be pretty big, so shrink it down to minimize download time. The default picture is only 180px tall so yours should be shrunk to something larger than that, maybe 300px tall.

5. Upload, Set as avatar, and let the world see your instructable.

Step 6: Your Name

Another option for making an avatar is to incorporate your name into a picture. I have had a lot of experience with this one because I have made many avatars with names on them for assorted people. A few tips for doing this are...

  • Make sure it can be read
Tiny text on a small image is impossible to read, so make it big and readable.

  • Do more than just type it out
If you just type your name out, it is boring and it will be another face in the crowd, put something behind it, put it in an interesting picture, don't just let it stand there alone in a plain old font, do better than that!

  • Skip the Times New Roman/Arial/Georgia/etc.
Don't use the default font, find a fun one that is not just a boring old one. You can even make your own letters as I do in my sigs, just draw them out and erase the mistakes.

Making the Avatar

1. Start by planning the image out, you can do it either on paper or on the computer, it does not matter.

2.a If drawing on paper, just scan the image up, crop it, and set it as your image.
Make sure that it is readable and do what you feel like doing to make it great.

2.b If drawing on your computer or typing up.
Open up the image editor and whatever pic you want in the background if you like.

3. Start editing
Use the text tool to type out your name in whatever font you want and whatever style you want. Or you can start drawing out the words, make sure you save frequently so you can go back before you made a mistake, some editors do not have great undo buttons.

4. Crop the image
Use whatever crop or select tool there is to crop the image to a square and save the file, check the dimensions though before you save to make sure it is not too big or small.

5. Upload to Instructables and set as your avatar.

Step 7: General Instructions

Use these guidelines if you already have a picture that you want to use, here are a few guidelines:

  • Look at what it may say about you
Just look at the picture and ask yourself what it might make people think. What might people think about you when they see it. Even though people say, "Don't judge a book by its cover," many people do anyway so it is good to make your "cover" reflect you.

  • Does it make fun of people
Do you think if people see it that they would feel insulted? If so do not use it unless you think that the people will be able to laugh along with it too.

  • Can you crop all of the important parts into a square? (If it is not already a square)
You must remember that when this image appears next to your name, it is cropped into a square at the center and resized to 64x64 pixels, so you might want to take the picture's location of instructables and replace whatever all caps name is at the end and enter "THUMB" to see what it will look like. If parts that you want are cut off, crop the picture to a square with everything that you want in it. You can even add whitespace to the top and bottom (or left and right) to make the picture a square, without cutting anthing out of it, and then resave the image.

Making your picture into an avatar:

1. Take you image and open it in your image editor

2. Try crop it into a square that is at least 300 pixels on each side, if you cannot, skip this step.

3. Resize to the requested size of the site (Not needed for instructables, but smaller pics upload faster)

4. Upload to site and set as avatar.

It is not very complicated.

Step 8: A Few Extra Tips.

Here are a few extra rules to go by when choosing, switching, or making a new avatar.

  • Small Pics=Faster downloads
This is a rule that I always forget to implement and it really annoys me when I do. If you are using a picture as an avatar, make sure it is small, just a little bit bigger than the box on the page, so it does not take forever on downloads. This really deoes not matter on instructables though because when you upload an image, many different forms of it are made for different uses so the original picture does not have to be the exact size, it just makes uploads less painful.

  • Do not take anything that is not yours without permission.
Most of the time, people do not care if some sort of image that they have pops up all over the internet, but some will be very angry if they do, and may file charges if you do not remove it. Mostly, those who complain, complain about you using their artwork or some other kind of picture that they took and deem it valuable. One thing to go by is if there is a watermark, do not use it, because that person intends to sell that image or keep others from using it as their own. In general, If it ain't yours, don't take it. (without permission)

  • If you want to have different avatars all of the time, stick to a theme.
If you change your avatar a lot, sometimes people will get confused about who you are, that is probably why Kiteman, Gorrillaz, and I rarely change our avatar, we sometimes change just for holidays and a few other things, but we always stick to our respective avatars or some variation of them. I do not change mine because I like my image and it is an image that someone can correlate their thoughts of me with.

  • Do not post anything offensive.
This is a big one for avatar making, you do not want to use anything that makes fun of anyone's religion, race, country, gender, sexual orientation, etc. It may make some people who think you are being serious very angry and may complain about it to the admins. It definitely is a good idea to stay away from avatars that display that sort of message. It is a big no-no.

Now, good luck and go make your avatar!
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