If you are on social media at all, or pay any attention to it, you will see that it seems like there are cartoon avatars everywhere you look today. They can seem just about as realistic as the person sitting next to you, or be as imaginary as a science fiction character, but they really are everywhere. Popular sites like Bitmoji, Mii and Cartoon.Pho.To have been trending in top usage rankings for years. But what makes them so darned popular?
In this world of selfies and the two second photo shoots, it is accepted, and expected really, for you to have your face plastered all over your social media sites. Some people are not comfortable with themselves in photos, though, and using a cartoon avatar that looks similar to their real person is a way to fit in but avoid the actual photo shoot. Others just love the fun and creativity of designing their avatar in a way that brings excitement, color and interest to their life.
In general, the avatars look similar to the person creating them because there really are a limited number of types of face and body shapes, so if the app you are using is sophisticated enough to include a good mix of these choices, you can easily find your characteristics without searching too hard. If you are honest with yourself about what you actually look like, you can create an avatar that resembles you pretty accurately. Bitstrips, through their new app Bitmoji, accomplishes this pretty well, as attested to by their millions of users.
For whatever reason, cartoon avatar design has become a multi-million dollar business, growing exponentially over the last five years and still rising. So how can you join in on this train?
First, you have to find a site or an app that interests you. This is harder than it sounds, since there are so many and their products are so varied. Depending on what you want your avatar to do or look like, you will have to search around for the app that is right for you.
Some sites are simply animated head shots, like Manga Avatar Face Maker and Portrait Illustration Maker. These apps will give you cartoon choices of hair color, skin color, eye color, glasses, and a few more basic options. You will not get an extremely realistic creation, but if someone looks hard enough and you did it right, they could probably guess which one was you.
Other sites, like anime character creator, Cartoon.Pho.To, Cartoonize, and BeFunky, take your actual uploaded photos and apply cartoonish characteristics to them, keeping the overall design but adding that caricature effect that makes it comedic or surreal.
Then you have the extreme sites, where you can design your avatar based on your interests. Mess Dudes gives you the opportunity to create funny and silly avatars that you can use in online networking. Build Your Wild Self lets you combine your body parts with those of animals like insects and birds. Another unique app, South Park Studios, lets you create your own South Park-style avatars for your display pic.
Whatever your extreme interests are, you can use them to help define your cartoon avatar. Surely there’s an app for that somewhere, and if not, you can always work on designing your own!