How to find, choose, and create your own best avatars.
An Avatars Guide
The Qualities of the Best Avatars for Forums and Profiles
Usually the purpose of avatars is to attract attention to oneself. This can be accomplished by using:
- Bright Colors
- Unusual Photo Angles
- Unusual Macro Photos
- A Quality Image
Your objective is to sufficiently intrigue the visitor to drop by your account or profile page to see what is going on there. In the case of social media; hopefully they will friend, include, invite, request, follow, etc. In the case of writing sites, the visitor will see your list of articles or blog/website posts and discover a few titles they wish to read. Keeping in mind the rules as to bright colors and a quality image, the image subject matter is also important:
- Something Unusual
- Something Reflecting your Interests
- Something Reflecting your Mood or State of Mind
- Something to Convey a Message
- Something Representing your Niche where applicable
Intense Color Avatars
It's big. It's bright, almost to the point of being intense. And it's blue, which is most people's favorite color. All your forum posts, tweets, etc. will stand out from the others. Your content will be noticed and read, hopefully drawing people to your account or profile page.
Pretty much any bright, intense, predominantly blue avatar will work. Green is the next most popular color. Red and purple seem to be numbers three and four on the most-liked colors list.
In addition to color popularity, there is a whole industry dedicated to color psychology.
Crystals can provide you with all the bright, intense colored images you could possibly want.
Different crystals can be associated with different things:
- Moods or states of mind
- Medical associations
- Persons, places, and things
So, in addition to the brightness and color attracting attention; it is possible to select a crystal representing something reflecting your specific interests, etc.
As with crystals, astronomy can provide all the bright, color intense, and interesting images one could possibly want. The NASA Hubble Photo Gallery being your resource.
Astronomical objects can also be associated with different things.
- Your ruling and/or lucky planet.
- Galaxies can represent you have a wide point of view.
- Black holes can also represent a point of view.
- Persons, places, and things.
- Or you just happen to like bright, intense astronomy avatars.
The art of cropping images can also come into play. A wide-view astronomy picture may not work, but you notice a specific part of the image which would be absolutely perfect. More about that in the Lightning Avatars section.
Dog and Cat Avatars
Unusual Animal Avatars
Dog and cat avatars aren't exclusive to just folks whose hobbies include all things cats and dogs.
When I used this green cat avatar, folks commented and tortured me about it in the forums all the time. The bright green and unusualness was an outright beacon as to attracting attention.
As for when I used the dog avatar, everyone loved Spot. Because of the absence of the brightness factor, it wasn't as attention attracting as otherwise would be. But once noticed, he was loved and remembered.
Unfortunately, the usual full picture of your pet is just another average avatar. To you, your pet is a loved member of the family. To everyone else, it's just another dog or cat, etc.
If one's avatar is your pet, a full-on face shot is your best bet. When done right, it will be unusual enough to be memorable. And will give folks that warm, fuzzy feeling; which in turn will then be subconsciously associated with your profile.
And The Art of Cropping Images
As with certain other types of images, cropping lightning photos can result in some very worthwhile avatars.
The photo at right is a good example. As is, the photo is useless as an avatar; it would just be a black image with a purplish-white splotch near the corner. But if one crops the picture so as to solely display the "walking" cluster of lightning strikes, that would certainly look and qualify as unusual. Plus, you have the brightness and possible color intensity working for you.
It gets even better. Even with the lightning strike cluster thus enlarged, it still might be difficult for a viewer to ascertain exactly what it is. So they might very well click it to see the larger version on your profile/account/home page.
This brings us to the subject of "sneaky" avatars...
This avatar contradicts the bright colors caveat. Seems to be the exception that proves the rule. The avatar is unusual in that there are very few solid black avatars. The message is also atypical, usually perceived as humorous. This image is also sneaky in that the message is usually too small to read when tweet or forum avatar size, etc. The only way for the visitor to read the message is for them to click thru to the larger version of your avatar on your account or profile page, which is exactly what you want them to do.
Where to Get Public Domain Pictures, Images, and Photos for Use as Profile and Forum Avatars.
The absolute last thing you want to do is use someone else's copyrighted picture, image, photo, etc. as your avatar. To do so would basically be declaring to the world you are a thief. And if the rightful owner of the picture discovers the theft (and they will), bad things can happen.
Fortunately, there is a practically unlimited resource for public domain pictures, photos, images, etc.
Federal website images are public domain unless specifically stated otherwise by the website. This has to do with the fact the images and photos were created by government employees on government time and thus were paid for by the taxpayer.
Finding specific topic or types of federal website pictures is easy to do when one knows the best search syntax to use. The "site:.gov" phrase tacked on at the end of the search-string is the key.
Here are some examples:
- blue site:.gov
- bright green site:.gov
- amethyst site:.gov
- crystal site:.gov
- dog site:.gov
- galaxy site:.gov
Note the use of singular as opposed to plural. This will get you better results.
An important caveat. The search syntax used will also bring up state, county, and city websites. Always be sure the site you are liberating the image from is indeed a federal website. On the other hand, if you happen to live in that particular state/county/city..., only you can decide.
Some Final Thoughts...
Choose a profile or forum avatar that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. Why? Because it is going to be right in front of you each and every single day. So it really needs to be one you enjoy seeing.
In fact, what with the thing being in one's face every day, it can even be used for a little self-applied psychology. As an example, the current avatar I'm using is indeed for that purpose. It reminds me to not take time for granted and to make the most of it. And what with the astronomy background image on my profile page, it worked out quite well, i.e., "time and space".
May all your avatar and other online adventures be fun and prosperous.