I've decided I want to start making avatars and signatures to.
I'm currently using paintshop pro...
But yeah, I'm not very good yet.
Maybe you guys can give me some tips for my work?
Maybe a better program to use, or maybe link me to a good tutorial?
Anyway, I managed to make my first avatar, 100x100.
It's Rin from vocaloid!
Drawing made by Daffangel
I can resize and crop... that's pretty much everything.
I want to learn how to make effects and such.
Anyone got tips for me? Thanks!
Re: Amber's Avatars
Well, I'm not too familaiar with the functions of Paintshop Pro, though I'd imagine that it shares many of the features of Photoshop, which I use to make avatars.
Avatars are pretty straightforward to do for the most part, but the real art in avatar design is in knowing where to crop your picture so that it looks distinguished, yet identifable to other members.
Otherwise, here are 5 essential steps I would advise for designing an avatar:
1. Always ensure that your source picture has a high enough resolution and plenty of picture to crop around.
2. If you downloaded a picture, chances are that areas intended to be black or white won't be at their best levels; therefore, if you have a feature on your program that allows autocontrasing or equivalent, you should use that. (Do not use a feature such as autocolour or autotone)
3. If you want to use a character's head for an avatar (which I imagine you would in most cases), crop it so that the most essential and unique features are visible; ensure that the facial features (eyes, nose, mouth etc.) are fairly central, but not too central, otherwise the overall look may appear forced and unnatural. Don't worry too much about having to clip details such as loose hairstrands or long pigtails, unless such features particularly distinguish your character. If you are going to cut away the background (save the file as a PNG if you are), then you can get away with cropping your character's head so that the furtherest extents "touch" the edges of your avatar. But if you are going to keep the background, then try to avoid doing this, as doing so can result in your character looking cramped.
4. For an avatar I wouldn't really advise the use of effects, but if you would like your avatar to appear raised on a page, you could try a drop shadow effect on your program (if it has this feature) and save it as a PNG file, so that the transparency data is preserved. If you observe the "Mei" avatar I designed for Flowermaiden, you'll see that there's no background beyond the character; therefore, colours such as those from AF are visible where there is none. The same effect would apply for an avatar with a transparent drop shadow effect.
5. Finally, when you've finished editing your avatar, downsize it to 150x150 pixels but make sure you save it as a copy so that your original file is not replaced. If you intend to revise or update your avatar in the future, also save an "master" copy in a lossless compression format (such as PNG or TIF) so that data is not disgarded with multiple saves. Always refer to this file when making changes to your avatar but be sure to save a copy in the format you need. Final note: images tend to look a little soft when you downsample them (as many pixels are disgarded or reprocessed) so you should restore the image's crispness with a sharpen tool (or equivelant). You do not need to sharpen it much, just enough to make the subtle details crisp, but not jagged. Also (and this is important), when you downsample your avatar, do not use a method such as "nearest neighbour", because this process selectively disgards the less necessary pixels and relocates the more essential ones, resulting in a jagged image. Downsampling methods, such as "bilinear interpolation" or "bicubic interpolation" apply filtering for a better result. Finally, save a copy as a PNG to upload to your target site.
Well, those are my tips, I hope they'll prove useful for your new lineup of avatars in the future.
Best of luck! :)