What is an Avatar?
An avatar is a graphical representation of oneself, or, in other words, a picture which represents the user. It can be similar in appearance to the user who created it; or it could be totally different, like an 'alter ego' of oneself. Avatars can be static or animated.
In Hindi, the word Avatar means...
"...the descent of a deity to the earth, in an incarnate form,
or some manifest shape..."
Most commonly, Avatars are used in Internet forums, social networking sites (such as Facebook or MySpace) or as e-mail signatures. More recently, users of Nintendo Wii have been creating 'Mii's' (Nintendo's version of Avatars) to represent the different players.
The simplest way to create an Avatar is to log onto websites which let you design, download and paste the graphics - all in a few minutes. Avatars can be saved by right clicking on the graphic and choosing "save picture as" (and saving like any other regular picture off the Internet) or else by copying and pasting the code (which is automatically generated by the website).
2D Avatars: DoppelMe
One of the most user-friendly freeware Avatar creators I came across is Doppelme.com. It lets you create a basic 2D Avatar and since the picture generated is a .Gif file, it can be uploaded practically anywhere.
Log onto http://doppelme.com/, and sign in the first time you use the website. When you sign in, you will be asked to submit an active e-mail address. After registration, open your e-mail account (the one you used to register) and click on the activation e-mail. Now you are ready to start your Avatar! Choose whether you want your character to be male or female, give it different facial expressions and hair colour and dress him/her up as you fancy. When you are ready, save your changes and copy the picture by right clicking on it and saving it onto your hard disk. Alternatively, copy and paste the code onto your personal website, blog or social networking page.
3D Avatars: Voki
As with everything else, simple 2D (static) Avatars have evolved into animated,
talking graphical representations, again created with incredible simplicity but with amazing end results. One such 3D Avatar creator is Voki. To log in, go to http://voki.com/.
As with DoppelMe, sign in the first time you log onto the website and you will be sent an activation e-mail. Click on the link in the e-mail to start your new Voki.
Upon entering the website, one notices several differences from the previous 2D Avatar-generator: the main difference being, of course, that the graphics are animated! There is a much wider choice of characters to choose from: not just male or female, but even popular animals such as cats or dogs. Simply click on 'Customise Your Character' to start editing your character.
Backgrounds, too, can be either static or animated; and again there is quite an impressive array to choose from. And if the offered selection isn't enough, one can choose to upload a picture from the hard disk to use as a background picture.
Giving A Voice To Your Avatar
Perhaps the best feature of Voki is the ability to give a 'voice' to your character. There are various ways to do this: the simplest being typing the words and clicking on the Text to Speech button (the 'key' icon'). Voki will 'voice out' what you have written (and it lets you choose which character will read it out too). Alternatively, click on the record button (microphone icon) to record a simple .wav file to attach to your character or if you have previously recorded a sound, click on the open button to locate the file on your computer.
Since Voki creates animated Avatars, it is not possible to just copy the graphic; however it lets you copy and paste the code (you can even choose which kind of code you require; be it for Blogger, Wordpress, Hi5, etc). It also lets you share your Voki with friends by sending it in an e-mail link.
For more information about 2D and 3D Avatars, go to :