As popular as selfies are, some people just don’t like taking pictures of themselves. But in the Work-From-Home Era, your name on the screen or a colored dot with your initials just won’t cut it. An illustrated avatar may be the perfect middle ground.
Do a quick search for “avatar generator” on Google or in your phone’s app store, and you’ll find a lot of options. The problem is that most of them have the same aesthetic, and illustrated-you will probably end up looking like a character in the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game—big-eyed, plump-lipped, and highly fashionable. Here are four free alternatives you can try.
This is a basic platform that allows you to build your own avatar by selecting the features that better reflect your face and overall vibe. Start by picking a hairstyle, then continue by changing it up with different colors, features, and clothes. You’ll end up with a stylish icon you can use on social media, your email account, and even Zoom calls.
Get Avaaatars’ platform is super simple, and that may also be a problem—you can’t actually see a customization option until you click on it. For example, there are 34 hairstyle options on a drop-down menu with names such as “LongHairMiaWallace,” making it difficult to visualize the ‘do even if you have seen Pulp Fiction.
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The range of skin colors is also quite limited on this platform, so if you’re looking for something more specific, you may want to try another.
If you like the whole Bratz doll look, then Avatoon is for you. This platform allows you to create a character that can reflect your personality, even if it doesn’t look exactly like you. You can gear up your avatar with the latest fashion trends and accessories, choose costumes, and even set background decor, such as furniture and plants.
You can spend a lot of time putting different clothes on your avatar and “taking pictures” in special outfits and poses, many themed for special occasions. This aspect of the platform feels like more of a game (you can win or buy gold coins to purchase more outfits), but you can definitely stick to using the freebies and renovating your avatar for your profile pics.
When it comes to the physical features of your avatar, though, your options are pretty limited. You only have seven face shapes to choose from, and four types of noses (all rather tiny, by the way). And the 11 types of eyes all look pretty much the same, except for the ones that are winking.
If this sounds frustrating, you can skip this step altogether by submitting a selfie. Right after you open the app, tap on facial recognition, and take a pic. The app will identify your features and respond with the avatar version of what it thinks you look like. In my case, that was very far off from my actual… well, everything, but the app gave me a chance to fix it all manually.
Avatoon is free for Android.
Memojis are everywhere and that’s probably why some people find them incredibly cringey. But Apple truly did a great job with this feature, and it’s one of the most comprehensive avatar generators out there.
The Memoji tool offers a complete range of skin colors, hairstyles, beauty marks, and accessories to reflect people from all cultures and backgrounds—including fantasy characters with green skin and elf-like ears. Some features, like noses and eyes, don’t have many variations, but each one comes with sliders to get colors and gradients just right. Apple’s tool also has other customizable fields you won’t find on other platforms, like age and hair highlights.
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To create your Memoji on macOS, open Messages and go to Preferences. Hover over your avatar circle, click on Edit, and then click on the plus sign under Memoji. On iOS, open Messages, tap Edit, and then Edit Name and Photo. If you are not currently sharing your name and photo with contacts, select Choose Name and Photo, tap the three dots, and then hit the plus sign under Memoji. If you have already set this up, tap Edit under your avatar circle and select the plus sign under Memoji. To take full advantage of this tool, use our guide and make an icon that truly looks like you.
Memojis are built into Apple operating systems macOS, iOS, and iPadOS.
When you go to the Picrew.me website, don’t get intimidated by the fact that the site is in Japanese. This might be one of the most fun and original avatar generators available.
This platform doesn’t offer just one avatar generator, but rather dozens of them created by artists all over the world. You can even make one based on your own drawings.
Unless you can read Japanese, the first thing you’ll need to do once you’re on the site is to translate everything. On Google Chrome, right-click on some empty page real estate and choose Translate to English. Remember to do this every time you go to another page. Chrome may also automatically prompt you to translate pages when you arrive. Then, pick one of the generators featured on the homepage or go to the upper right corner and click on the lightbulb to go to the Discovery page. There you can scroll through all the generators to find the one you like most—there are different styles and some even allow you to create animal characters.
When you click on one, you’ll go to the actual generator and you’ll be able to build your avatar. Use the side scroll to see all the fields you can customize, and use the grid and brush buttons in the bottom right of the image to switch between the feature you want and the color you want it to be. The number of customization options will depend on the generator, so the accuracy of your avatar will also depend on that. Most of the ones I tried, though, had a fair amount of hairstyle options, clothes, and accessories, although skin color palettes tended to be more limited.
Once you’re done, click the green button in the bottom left corner of your image, and download your avatar to your desktop. Regardless of accuracy, you can spend hours customizing drawings on Picrew.me, so even if you don’t find a perfect resemblance, you can certainly have a lot of fun.
Picrew is available through picrew.me online.