Create your own cartoon avatar

As crazy as it sounds, these days it’s becoming as important to maintain your online image as it is to make yourself look presentable in real life. Choosing a picture to have as your avatar for Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and the like can be a painstaking task. One simple and effective way of presenting yourself on social networks is to use a cartoon character version of you as your avatar. What’s more, you needn’t feel embarrassed about your profile picture because even if you’re really ugly you’re picture will look good. In fact, the uglier you are the more funny your character will be.

Here’s a round-up of some free online avatar creation tools, along with an image of how my ‘likeness’ came out with each of them:

Otaku JamesOtaku – The level of customization available in Otaku is probably the most detailed you’ll find anywhere. There are 16 different categories of elements to tweak, including front and back hairstyles, makeup and hands. Each of these categories gives you plenty of choices of attributes, so you can really fine-tune your character with Otaku. In fact, the Japanese-style image that it produces is probably the most lifelike of all the sites I looked at.

James DoppelDoppelMe – If you need a profile image or an avatar really quickly then pop along to DoppelMe. The level of detail isn’t as exact as Otaku, but the creation process is much faster. There are only 10 categories of elements to choose from, but there’s enough options within each one to allow you to make something that at least looks a little like you. In order to save your DoppelMe once you’ve finished you need to sign up for a free account.

James SimpsonSimpsons Avatar Creator – You’ve no doubt seen ‘Simpsonified’ versions of people of people in your friend’s lists before and have probably wondered how they did it. Well, there’s no great science to it. All you need to do is visit the Simpsons site and select from the various heads, haircuts, eyes, etc. on display in the avatar creator. Fans of the show will love the clothing and accessories, that reference things from the show in their design.

James MangaFace Your Manga – Probably my favorite of the five I tested, this one results in probably the most ‘adult’ looking avatar designs, and I reckon they’re perfect for use on personal blogs. There’s a high level of customization available, allowing you to tweak everything right down to the lines on your face. Once you’ve finished, your avatar will be emailed to you ready for use anywhere you like.

James MadMadMenYourself – If you’ve ever watched Mad Men and wondered how you would look if you’d had the life of an ad executive in 50s New York then wonder no more. Simply go to this site and piece your alternate self together using the wonderfully simple step-by-step interface. When you’ve finished making yourself look dapper, the site gives you the option to save just the head, the body, or the whole scene.

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