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How to make an avatar

Updated on June 12, 2014

What's an avatar?

An avatar (also known as an AV or an avvie) is how someone on the Internet visually portrays themselves. This may include a 3-D model for computer games, a 2-D icons on forums and other similar sites, or text constructs from older systems. An avatar may even include the personality associated with an Internet screen name.

What it entails

1. Find an image that represents you.

This can depend on the context... maybe an image symbolizing you in DeviantArt is different than one for AIM.

It's got to be able to be seen when small. A lot of avatars must be only so many pixels tall and wide. Make sure you can pack a punch with what space you can fill.

It can be a photo of you, altered or not, or it can be a drawing or digital rendering.

2. Crop if necessary.

Usually you'll have to crop the image, often into a square shape. Just use a program like Photoshop or another image editing program.

With Photoshop you have to make sure you crop the area you want (the whole thing or only a portion of an image) into a perfect square. That could mean using the Crop tool or making a square with the shape tool and cropping around that (which is more work but then you can get a perfect square by using the SHIFT key to keep the lines to shape). Then go up to Image -> Resize.

An even easier way is starting with a blank document; then you can make it any size you want. Copy and paste the image into that so that you don't have to mess with the Crop tool. But make sure you shrink the original image before you copy and paste or else you'll end up with a blur that's a portion of the image after pasting.

3. Save.

4. Upload.


In computer games

The word "avatar" meaning a digital representation of someone began as early as 1985, when it was used as the character name in the Ultima computer game series. Becoming the "avatar" was the goal of the fourth game in the series. In subsequent games, the player was the avatar and the "avatar" was his or her screen character, which could be personalized. The term was later used in the late 80's games Shadowrun and Habitat. ater games assumed that you were the avatar and "avatar" was the player's visual on-screen in-game persona. The on-screen representation could be customized in appearance. Later, the term "avatar" was used by the designers of the role-playing game Shadowrun (1989), as well as in the online role-playing game Habitat (1987).

On Internet forums

No one really knows when avatars were first used in Internet forums, where they serve as representations of a user, his or her status and actions. Traditionally, avatars in forums are smaller and square for consistency, and near the heading of posts and profiles. Sometimes users can choose from available avatars or upload one of their own design. In some avatar systems, users can customize an avatar that is a human- or animal-like figure.

In instant messaging programs

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) used avatars before other more popular instant messengers jumped on the bandwagon. They're very small in these cases, as people don't really notice the avatars unless they are particularly eye-catching. I don't really pay attention to those of others on AIM.

In blogs

I do pay attention to blog avatars.

There are different ways to support avatars on blogs. A "gravatar" is an avatar from a central server that is linked to a user's e-mail address. The server moderates the gravatars for decency and other factors.

"Pavatars" are tags in a website's HTML that links to an image file.

"Favatars" use favicon files (which can be customized) on a user-controlled server. Both these and pavatars are not moderated.

In games

In video games, avatars are definitely used to represent that gamer to other players. They can be customized or fixed, or added upon as a gamer progresses through the game (with clothing, weapons, and more). The representation of the gamer's character may also be shaped by what they say and do and not just physical appearance, such as in the "cut scenes" of a game where you don't have control and it's like a movie.


In non-gaming scenarios

Any other time, avatars are 2- or 3-D representations, human or not, real or not, that can explore, communicate, and be customized. They can make interacting more interesting and fun by personalizing their experience.

Avatars serve different purposes and work under certain requirements, depending on who is using them. Younger users want their avatars for more entertaining and fun purposes, and respond better to more simple features. They also want their avatars to resemble them less, if not to retain anonymity. Meanwhile, older users prefer their avatars to more accurately represent them in reality. They want to experience the full range of options and capabilities of the avatar. The target audience of avatars recently has been those of ages 22-49, for social functions. Different avatar systems catering to certain ages of users make sure that they have options and features they can use their avatars how they want.

In an interesting study, researcher Lisa Nakamura and others have found that when an avatar can be customized, the options are ofen biased to those with ligther skin color rather than darker minorities.


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    • stars439 profile image


      8 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Thank you for sharing. GBY.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      9 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I'll have to try this - thanks for the info.

    • katyzzz profile image


      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Sort of like a trade mark, really, glass

    • metaphysician profile image


      9 years ago

      Avatar obviously used to represent the personality of the person. A person who choose an avatar must have based on his own unconscious image.

      Avatar is great for interaction in the internet especially if one is trying to brand oneself. Thanks for your very well researched hub!

    • James Wikman profile image

      James Wikman 

      9 years ago from California

      I found this page called

      Pretty Sweet!

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • Wingswriter profile image


      9 years ago from Nebraska

      I use my avatar to support my personal brand as a writer and entrepreneur. Thanks for the hub - great advice.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have found that the website makes this fast and easy.

    • amzill profile image


      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      thanks - this has proved a complete novice like myself with a great guide to how to get started trying to create my avatar. Myabe I can now create something a bit more interesteing for the forums than the star I have :)

      Thanks - great hub

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is great, I've got to do this....

    • profile image

      taletha ethedsiogg 

      10 years ago

      ha guys that is out there give me a call at 7575090293 that is a real number

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 

      10 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Glassvisage,

      thanks for the very useful hub. I was once fascinated by avatars and wrote a story about them. Check this out: Michael Scores Perfect


    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks everyone for commenting and sharing! Quick avatars are good to know how to make

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I make my avatars with my webcam its easier and faster … not that im slow with PS J … but as for low rez images for my forum posts I just go to section “Avatar.”, pick a physical object (such as my face : )) that I want to capture as an avatar and take the shot/s then I click on the ones I like and save ‘em for later use/uploading to forums or blogs… it takes me 5 sec instead of 5 min with PS well its quick’n’ dirty but it works … just wanted to share ;)

      … is it me or there are too many “I”s in that post of mine ?

      : o)

    • profile image


      11 years ago


      its very cool prog but i foun anoter more easy prog its Video UserPic

      its have vey good demo without time limit!

      cool right?:)

    • red23 profile image


      11 years ago

      Cool, but I didn't see any Brithish spellings. How 'bout "Photoshoppe?"


    • cgull8m profile image


      11 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for the detailed explanation, I tried to use Gravatar before I wasn't happy with it. I will try one of the above techniques. Thanks.

    • NightFlower profile image


      12 years ago

      This is nice to know. I have my own makeshift way of making avatars but this info is good to know. Your avatar is very cute.


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