Designing Your Own Online Avatar

with Deke McClelland
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Designing Your Own Online Avatar
Video duration: 0s 3h 37m Intermediate


Designs dekeConstructed is a new series that breaks down the creation of cool designs so you can build them on your own. This installment is for everyone who needs an online avatar—that tiny image that has to communicate a thousand words about who you are in less than a square inch. Start by taking a photo of yourself facing forward—the traditional passport style. From there Deke McClelland takes you through the steps to transforming your photo into a cartoon avatar with Illustrator: tracing your features, refining and exaggerating the strokes, adding color and shading, and using gradients and patterns to fill in details like hair. Plus, learn some tricks for infusing your drawing with an extra bit of personality and exporting your final image in the best format for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Topics include:
  • Preparing a photographic tracing template
  • Tracing eyes and other features with the Ellipse and Pen tools
  • Roughing in hair and other complex features
  • Reshaping paths to enhance their accuracy
  • Establishing variety with stroke attributes
  • Coloring the avatar
  • Shading a face with gradients
  • Adding expression and personality
  • Saving a universally compatible PNG file


(marimba tune) - Hey gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to my new series, Designs Deconstructed. In which we take a look at some exciting graphic designs and we figure out how to make them. In this course, I'll show you how to create your own online avatar in Adobe Illustrator. That is to say, a simplified line drawing of yourself, a cartoon if you will, that represents you at your absolute best. I'll start off with this ordinary, head on snapshot of me that I had originally created for a passport photo, as documented in episode three ten of my weekly series, Deke's Techniques.

Then, I'll convert the photo into this highly graphic avatar, which looks great printed on photo paper at 450 pixels per inch, as you see here, but also works well at the much smaller sizes required for online profile pictures. Here's how it's gonna work. In chapter one, we'll import a photo into Illustrator and trace the eyes, nose, and other major features. In the next chapter, we'll refine those paths. Exaggerating the eyes, roughing in the hair, and establishing some variety to the strokes.

In chapter three, I'll show you how to add color and shading, in many cases using the original photograph as a guide. Then, I'll show you how to use gradients and patterns to create complex features like my hair. In chapter five, we'll add expression and personality. And in the final chapter, I'll show you how to export your image so that it's compatible with social media sites and other online platforms. Now naturally, I want you to feel free to work along with me, either on my avatar if you want the experience, or on your if you want real results.

And now, in just 32 habit forming movies, let me show you exactly how it works.

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