Avatars to Go!

If you’ve visited a scrapbooking message board or online layout gallery, you probably noticed the little picture that shows up next to a person’s post. That little picture is called an avatar. Avatars are a fun way to express who you are to the virtual world and give your online presence a persona.

Avatars are used on message boards, online galleries, instant messaging programs and blogs. An avatar can be your own photo or a digital image you create, or you can choose from thousands of avatars that are available online. Here are some creative ideas for your own fun avatars!

Be yourself! Grab your camera and take a self-portrait to show us who you really are. Use creative cropping for an interesting image--crop in close or off to the side.
Show off your creativity by making an avatar image using your favorite digi elements. Keep it simple. Avatars are small images, so remember that small details and small text will not show up well. Brushes are great to use for avatars because so many are available that are low-resolution. (Try the Adobe Exchange for brushes galore!)
Show your team spirit! Get a bunch of your online friends together (or start an avatar challenge at your favorite digi site message board) and pick a theme for your avatars. Try using baby pictures, high school pictures, favorite Idol contestants, or anything else fun you can think of.

Be a cartoon! The internet is a virtual world, so why not create a virtual “you” to be in it? There are many websites where you can “build” a cartoon of yourself or convert a photo into a cartoon and use it for your avatar.
Use your avatar to send out positive energy. If your avatar image makes you smile, it will make others smile, too. Just think about how you feel when you see a funny bumper sticker.


In general, avatars are relatively small images, usually between 45px to 150px square (it depends on what the webmaster has determined). Sometimes the file size is also limited. If you try to upload an image that is too large, open it up in your image-editing program and resize it.

When designing an image to use as an avatar, start with a larger document (400-500px) and then resize the image when you are done. That is easier than trying to manipulate a small 125px document. When you are done designing, use your program’s Save command to save the file in a web format, which lets you change the image size dimensions without altering the original file. (In Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, choose File>Save for Web.)

To create an avatar from a favorite digi paper or digi layout, begin by opening a new 72dpi document. (Remember to size your document between 45 to 150 pixels square.) Open the digi paper or digi layout. Use the Marquee tool to draw a selection marquee around part of the paper or layout that you like. Copy and paste it into your document. It will appear large and “zoomed in” due to the difference in resolution between the two documents. You can leave it like that, move it around or resize it just slightly smaller until you like the way it looks. Add your name or an element and you’re ready to save for web!

After you’ve created your avatar, the final step is to upload it to the message board you belong to. Some message boards allow you to upload an avatar from your computer---you’ll find this option in the user control panel (User CP). That’s easy. But what if it asks you for an image URL? This means that you will need to have your image hosted on an image hosting site, such as Photobucket or Flickr. On sites such as this, you’ll upload your image and they’ll provide a code that you copy and paste into the image URL field.

That’s it! Just like that, your new avatar is on the web, showing the world who you are!

Want an even simpler way to get an avatar? I have designed a set of free avatars that are available for download here. Feel free to use them, so you can tell the virtual world about your digi scrapping passion!  


Clara Wallace is a member of the Digital Scrapbooking Editorial Board and has designed hundreds of custom chick caricatures and avatars for friendly, fun-loving paper and digital scrapbookers all over the world. Her chick graphics and digital kits are available at Matter of Scrap.


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