How Many Different Ways to Create an Avatar?

avatar_collage

Collage created with Photovisi

An avatar is a very important component of your on-line presence, used to identify you in social networking sites such as blogs, Voicethread, Facebook and Twitter. As an adult, I prefer to use a photograph of myself so people can recognise me, but our students should be using images that represent them, but they cannot be identified from. At the beginning of the school year, it is a fun activity to ask students to create their own avatar and save it, so it can be used throughout the year on different sites. Here are some different ways to create an avatar, which usually need to be resized to about 100 x 100 pixels (you can use the free software “Irfanview” to do this):

Using your own Image:

  1. Draw a picture of yourself in “MS Paint”, or another simple drawing program such as “Doodle”, and take a screenshot. This one is especially good for primary students.
  2. Draw, paint or sketch a picture of yourself on paper (or ask a friend to!) and take a photo.
  3. Use a photo of yourself taken from an unusual angle – your foot, hands or back of your head for example.
  4. “Be Funky” at  can be used to alter a head shot. You can change the contrast, make an etching, convert to black and white, crop and rotate the photo to render the image unidentifiable. “Be Funky” has a huge number of free options, as well as the premium offerings. (Bottom middle)
  5. “PhotoFunia” is another great site with lots of options to alter your own image. You can become a criminal on a “Wanted” poster, a billboard star or an artist’s model.

Cartoon Avatar Creator Sites:

  1. “Build Your Wild Self” (bottom right) is a really fun one for young students and animal lovers – you can create avatars with animal parts, like elephant ears, giraffe legs and crocodile tails. I think this is my favourite one to use, but it is Flash-based, so it can’t be used on Touch devices (ipods, iphones and ipads.)
  2. “WeeMee” for cute cartoons (middle image), but you do need to register with an email address.
  3. “Doppel Me” for comic representations (top right), again you need to register with an email address.
  4. Make a Lego avatar (top left) is a good safe and simple to use site for younger students.
  5. Portrait Illustration Maker is another good, safe site for school students. (bottom right)
  6. Portrait Icon Maker  – Very similar to the above – safe, free and suitable for students.
  7. Simpson’s Character Creator – Fun, but students need to sign up and agree to advertising.
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid avatar creator –  For fans of the book – Go Wimp Yourself!
  9. Picassohead – Very artisitic, easy to use and safe for students.
  10. Create your own Superhero – safe and good for middle to senior school students (need to register and sign in).
  11. The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge has a more comprehensive list (including some of the above sites).

To make this a more meaningful activity for students, ask them to create two or more avatars, using different methods and then review the products and processes. Which avatar do they like best and why? Which site or process did they enjoy using the most and why? Which do they think would be the best for junior primary/middle years/senior school students and why?

21 comments

  1. Suzanne C

    These are great ideas for original avatars. I am constantly reminding my students not to use complete names if they use them at all. Giving them fun options for pictures further promotes the safety online point. I Picasso’d myself and will try the others (with my students, too)! – thanks again! /Suzanne C

  2. Sara Jo

    I love the collage of avatars you created with Photovisi. I just learned about that site the other day, and I am looking forward to using it in a post soon. Hope you’re enjoying the challenge!

  3. Anna Bring

    Nice to find so many examples of places to create avatars (I’ve bookmarked your post!). When I get some students I will do “create-an-avatar” as a first task. Maybe I could figure out a good get-to-know-eachother exercise from it as well.

  4. Pingback: Avatar, Avatar, Make Me an Avatar | Webster Christian School Library Blog
  5. Nancy C

    Hi Britt,
    I like that you have not only listed sites, but given some information about each. I especially like that you designated sites that are suitable for the older kids. I teach elementary kids and they would be thrilled with anything – but I think it can be tricky with middle and high schoolers.
    Good work.

  6. Pingback: Create An Avatar | imstillearning
  7. Carol Satta

    Loved your list with brief explanation and also the student activity suggestion. I’ve copied a link the this post into my Teacher Challenge post on avatars which I’m still composing. Look for a pingback!

  8. Scott Duncan

    Hi Britt,

    I am in the process of planning a CyberSafety unit and space on the Ultranet for the start of the school year and have included some lessons focusing on avatars. Thanks for sharing some other great resources here. I’ll be testing them out and no doubt adding them to my collection.

  9. brittgow

    Great question Kirby! I really like using “Build your Wild Self” because you can choose from all sorts of fun animal parts. But for my own avatar I prefer to use a photo that has been altered in a creative way. You have given me a great idea to create a poll to see which tool people like best!

  10. brittgow

    Thanks Emil, I know what you mean about using your own photos – perhaps “PhotoFunia” and “BeFunky”, as well as Photoshop or Irfanview, would be good options for you?
    Yes, Kay, Kristy and Anne, students always seem to enjoy creating their own avatars. I have added a few sentences to the post about how to make it more meaningful – ask students to use a few of the different tools, then compare the products and processes. This allows them to use higher order thinking skills – creation, analysis and evaluation.

  11. Anne De Manser

    Thanks Britt, what a great resource. We’re going to start the year with a unit on building a positive digital footprint and I think making avatars might be our first activity 🙂

  12. Kay McGriff

    I love the collage of avatars and the list of sites you can use to create them. I used photofunia for mine. You can read about it at So you want an avatar
    I definitely need to make time to share these with my students. They will love creating an avatar.

  13. Emil Harden

    Thank you for so many options for creating avatars! I was struggling with the blog challenge for today. I’m just not the picasso/creative type. I much prefer to work from my own photo.

  14. brittgow

    Thanks Anne, Miss T and Michael for your comments. I really like “Photovisi” for creating collages – very simple interface and easy to use. I have managed to register my avatar with “Gravatar”, so I hope it appears in a few more places now. I might have to keep adding to this post, I am finding some great new sites for creating avatars – not all of them are suitable for students though!

  15. Michael Grether

    This is great! While I am personally not in need of an avatar, these are great resources for dealing with students on the web. Students love a way to personally express themselves, even if it is changing the color of an object.

    Thank you very much.

  16. Miss T

    Brit
    This post is a great resource for making avatars. I must remember it, and actually speaking of that I just popped it into Diigo for myself when the students get back to school.
    I registered my avatar at another site, and it is linked to my email address, and shows up on other blogging platforms. Unfortunately I cannot remember where I did that!
    Here is my post on Avatars.My Avatar Post

  17. Anne Mirtschin

    Hey Britt, this is great! Not only have you given us 10 different sites to create avatars, you have also given examples of them. Thanks for sharing these sites. They will be a great resource. How did you like using photovisi?

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