Avatars, or the well known Gravatars, are tiny images, often called your online identity, picture, badge, logo, or graphic image which represent you and/or your blog. Some use photographs of their face or body, or a body part like an eye, nose, or hand. Others use pictures of animals, flowers, scenics, or graphic images. Many professional bloggers use their logo.
Many people like to see these graphic representatives of their blog next to their comments, or now, with the new addition of avatars and Gravatars to WordPress.com, in their WordPress Administration Dashboard listing of the top posts, My Comments comment follow panel, and on the Comments Panel, as well as within the comments of many WordPress Themes.
Adding Gravatars to WordPress and WordPress.com Blogs
Then Gravatars support was enabled for all WordPress.com users. Those with a Gravatar attached to their email will see their Gravatar image appearing on all WordPress.com blogs, as soon as they finish enabling all WordPress.com Themes.
WordPress.com bloggers can add an avatar image to their blog by going to the Users > Your Profile panel. In a box currently on the left side is where to upload your image. The image should be no bigger than 128 pixels, though 80 pixels square is the standard. The image must withstand “shrinkage” down to 16 pixels, the size that appears on the Administration Panels Dashboard.
If you would like to add Gravatars to your blog, begin by registering a Gravatar image on the Gravatars site by signing up and submitting an image. Then follow the user’s guide which includes how to enable Gravatars on your blogging platform or program.
WordPress users can use the Gravatar WordPress Plugin from the Gravatars site, or chose from the Easy Gravatars WordPress Plugin or WordPress Gravatar Plugin by Il Filosofo. Both have excellent features and customization.
How Do I Make My Avatar/Gravatar?
Your avatar or Gravatar comes in only one size when uploaded. Traditionally it is 80 pixels square, but Automattic has stated that they want to increase the base size to 128 pixels. The key to creating a useful avatar is that it must be “shrinkable”. It must have the ability to remain viable and visible down to its smallest size usage.
On most blogs, the comments area features an 80 pixels square image. On the WordPress.com Administration Panels, the image varies from 48 pixels on the My Comments panel, 32 pixels on the Comments Panel, then shrinks down to 16 pixels on the Top Posts list on the Dashboard Panel.
On the front page of the WordPress.com site, the avatar images are 128 pixels and 48 pixels for the top blog posts listings. On the Blogs of the Day on WordPress.com site which tracks the most popular blog posts and blogs on WordPress.com, the avatars for the most popular posts are 96 pixels square.
That’s a lot of flexibility for such a small image.
Here is an example of four sizes of my avatar for Lorelle on WordPress. The first one is 128 pixels, then 80 pixels, 32 pixels, and finally 16 pixels.
As you can see, the image is clear at 128 and 80 pixels, but the image quality drops to nothing as it gets smaller. Only the color is retained. This test makes me reconsider the avatar graphic, don’t you think? Then how often is my avatar going to be in the top 10 blog posts lists and the 16 pixel size used? Hmm?
Many use a flower or body part. Let’s take this photograph of a flower by my husband, Brent VanFossen, and run it through it’s shrinkage as an avatar.
There is enough contrast in the colors and shapes for the image to hold to the small size, though it looks like a button rather than a flower a the smallest size. High contrast between the foreground and background colors helps hold the image through the shrinkage process.
Using another photograph of an orangutan by Brent, let’s see how an animal image, especially a face, handles the reduction in size that an avatar undergoes.
The facial features are lost at the smallest size, but it does hold most of the way down. The sparkles in the eyes, called the catch light, keeps the focus on the eyes and facial recognition possible even at the smallest sizes.
Using a graphic, especially a simple, high color and tone contrast design, holds all the way down to the smallest 16 pixel size.
From these examples, it’s clear to see that an avatar image with good contrast between the background and the foreground subject, uncluttered and simple will reduce down better than a busy, dark image. An avatar image can be anything, but it must be shrinkable.
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