You really need an avatar or profile picture in your day-to-day online life. They add a certain personality to your online identity and allows you to distinguish yourself from the rest of the flock.
You need them on Facebook, in your instant messaging application, and you can even use Gravatar to personalize your comments on MakeUseOf, and a ton of other sites.
A lot of people are too shy, or paranoid, to use a ‘real’ profile pictures. It’s understandable. You just don’t want to have your face next to everything you say and do on the internet. That’s why you build your own avatar: a digital caricature to represent the online you.
Below are four highly diverse online services that allow you to build your own highly personalized avatars, ranging from black-and white sketches to animated 3D.
Build Your Wild Self is that one-in-a-million avatar tool. It draws your kiddy self in rich colors and imaginative features. Inner adults do not exist. You should still find a remnant of the kid in you. The resulting avatars have that grainy pencil-drawn look about them. Talk about character.
Sure, you can use the tool to draw some normal arms and buttocks, but how boring would that be? Rather put in a little octopus, lying, or arachnid. Consider it a conversation starter.
When you’re done, click on ‘Get a Wild Desktop‘ for a big wild-you picture. Crop the image, or just take a screenshot of the part you want to keep. Easy as that!
With Avatar in our wake and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland on the horizon, you’ve got two very good reasons to get excited about 3D. And don’t forget Heavy Rain. While you’re at it, why not build your own 3D avatar? With a bit of tweaking, it’s like looking in a 3D mirror. The only downside of Avatara is the need to sign up to render your avatar.
Once you’re satisfied with your avatar’s appearance, you can choose an animation. Use breathing for a simple mugshot, or have yourself dance around on the screen.
The easiest way of ‘extracting’ the avatar is to mail it to yourself after signing up. This will give you an animated gif of your 3D character. Not a lot of sites still allow for animated avatars, but even in the worst case scenario, you can still use the 3D you as a still.
Back to pencilwork, Digibody’s Caricature Maker is for those of you who aren’t looking for the most realistic depiction. Draw yourself in caricature with a few heavily exaggerated facial features. There’s things little more personal than enlarging and making fun with your own characteristics. After all, it’s the quirks and imperfections that make you… well, you.
The tool is sometimes a little slow to respond, and seems to reload the page with every customization, but the result is often hilarious. I give you my word, you’ll have a hard time finding a lot of normal facial features on that page.
Once you’re done, save the image to your desktop in png, gif or jpg, or extract the HTML to embed it on a web page or in a forum.
One of the best avatar (I should say, mangatar) creators. Whip up a funny manga-style profile picture in a whip. It’s one of the avatar creation services that’s used a lot with Gravatar.
Where the above caricature makers really focuses on facial features, FaceYourManga takes on your character by exaggerating facial expressions. It’s easy to make a smart-, angry-, energetic-, or happy looking avatar. Throw in some crazy accessories, and you’re all set.
What avatar creator do you prefer? Tell us your personal picks in the comments section below!