View Full Version : Some thoughts about avatars

Weird Harold
01-02-2006, 08:50 PM
A couple of things I've discovered about resizing images for avatars:

1: Resize to the maximum pixel dimension permitted -- here that's 100x100. Every pixel you give up on the dimension reduces the amount of detail the image can show by the sum of the dimensions -- a 99x99 pixel image has 100+100= 200 fewer "picture elements" (pixels) and "picture elements" are what show detail. (actually 199 fewer because one is counted twice.)

2: If you're starting from a very large image, resize in stages -- reduce 50% at a time; for especially difficult pictures reduce 25% at a time. When you get down to a largest dimension just over 100 pixels, switch from percentage change to your 100 pixel target size.

3: Crop images so that they're roughly square and don't include anything except the subject -- Want to use a picture of your dog or cat? Crop away the couch and and food dishes and everything except the dog or cat and whatever else make the picture worthy of an avatar.

4: For animated avatars, reduce the number of frames to the minimum required to show the action. TL's filesize restriction puts a practical limit of about five frames on a full-sized avatar and maybe seven frames if you're willing to accept a smaller avatar.

5: Avoid pictures with a lot of detail. 100 x 100 pixels only give you 10,000 points of information to show detail. If you start with a picture that is 1000x1000 pixels, every the 100 pixels in the original have to be averaged down into one pixel in an avatar -- any small details in a given 10x10 section of the original will be lost.

6: choose a bright image with high contrasts -- or increase brightness and contrast as much as possible. Dark images tend to lose contrast when reduced in size and become just a dark square instead of an avatar.

The bottom line under all the Geek Talk is that some pictures just don't make good avatars and others take a lot of fiddling to make good avatars.

If you need a program to resize images, IrfanView (http://www.irfanview.com) Is a free image management program for Windows that is very good at resizing images and converting them to JPG format for use as an avatar. There are many other image editing programs out there, and most of them can make suitable avatars, but they can't beat irfanview's price. :D