April 14th, 2009

Avatar Me KAC

RPG Avatars

I run a Play by Post game set in my Savage Earth setting (no relation to Savage Worlds). Sometimes, when there are a lot of characters interacting, the speaker can get lost in the text. The players have the benefit of having an avatar appear next to all of their posts, but NPCs do not enjoy this luxury. To this end, I have created a special UBB tag called [avatar]. Any character name between these tags will pull a graphic file from my site and display it as a left-aligned avatar.
I thought it might be fun to show some of these, along with a couple of styles I have developed.

These are some early ones. They are a painterly style, which, although it gives a realistic feel, was time consuming and not always satisfactory. Antaea for instance, I like very much. The lighting on Mako sucks. Since these are avatars only, I don't want to spend too much time on them.


Defense Counsel

This was loosely based on Dirty Harry



Speed was more of a priority, rather than photorealism. I also didn't like the hit-or-miss I was experiencing in the results. I've recently switched to a much faster and more consistent method. I think of an actor or type of person I think would be close. I do a Google image search for portraits. I use that as the basis for making a quick ink-line drawing, modifying as needed to make it closer to my vision. I'll add a layer for flat color, then in-between these layers, I will put a shadow layer and a highlight layer. Then I can quickly paint in modeling without being destructive. I'll add an edge light to make it pop, and then a background to establish mood or typical setting. The results are not nearly so realistic, but they take half the time and are much closer to what is in my mind's eye when I start. The final drawing is more of a comic book styles and frequently deviates drastically from the reference image. Here are some recent examples:

Dan Hu
Based on some Indian Child actor

A random portrait, found on a search for "Farmer Headshot"

Based on David Jason (Rincewind or Hogfather's Albert)

based on Angelina Jolie

Based on Marlene Dietrich. This was my first attempt at an avatar using this style, and is flatter than the others.