Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Gossamer on February 12th, 2014, 9:32 pm

I'm really digging all these opinions. It's nice hearing the variety and I can tell some of you are incredibly brave throwing yourself open to critique by giving your opinions.

For the record, Hook was one of my favorite Once Upon A Time characters - and he wasn't a bad guy. Nothing in that series is stereotypical. He was oh so hot... seriously.

I've been considering for a long time putting a little bit of a box code limitation on size to cut down on the annoying ones. Threads like this remind me that I need to do that soon. I think no one is going to be offended if we do at this point since it seems to be universally annoying.

But its great, overall, hearing all these opinions. I think its nice we have such a diverse crowd and one willing to be open about their thoughts and feelings. I'm also happy no one is calling anyone out for having a thought on this topic. That's fantastic.


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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Orabelle Deepseeker on February 12th, 2014, 10:17 pm

Eleazar wrote what I thought! Except I know who Zoe Saldana is. She's not a characters I idolize but I saw her in "Pirates Of The Caribbean" and liked her in it. Of course she's been in many other well-known movies like Avatar and Star Trek.

But I didn't pick her because she's this big actress. She matched my character who has the exotic look of an ephyrian. Her rich caramel skin and long hair. I find that as her "ephyrian features." I was honestly afraid someone would mistaken my character is miss perfect so I tried to add flaws like the scars on her face that she hides, and her almost flexible yet unattractive body. For boxcodes, I don't mind the large ones just the ones that seem to be really dark and on top of that, in very curvy letters so it's hard to read.
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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Timshel on February 12th, 2014, 10:54 pm

I've thought about this a lot, actually!

Less about 'famous' avatars, but when I first got here, I thought it was fascinating: For a forum that puts so much emphasis on writing, people sure seemed to put a lot of effort into their avatars and boxcodes. You'd think they'd want the writing, and the writing alone, to speak for them-- no?

It was also interesting how well moisturized everyone in Mizahar seems to be.

But it does make sense. Your avatar and boxcode are your first impression, and first impressions are powerful. It takes me about 4-10 minutes to read a CS, much longer for a thread. It takes me seconds to look at a boxcode/avatar. Even if I don't mean to, I will judge you on them. They're all I have to go on for ~4 minutes.

Famous avatars are problematic because I already have all these emotions locked onto that face. I've watched 3 seasons of Game of Thrones. That's 30 hours. If you have a character from GoT as your avatar, your going to have to fight 30 hours of emotion already anchored onto that character. Sure, we can mentally compartmentalize, but I just think that should be unnecessary when there are so many stock images in the world.

As for the beautiful people, it does logically irk me that everyone's pretty, but that being said, I like looking at pretty people. I'm conflicted. Knowing the way the world works, I seriously doubt we'll ever get to the point where the average avatar is actually average-looking. I think it's almost a moot-point. Actively writing about how pretty your character is, is a whole other topic.

Lastly, Anime! Or rather, illustrated avatars. Ehati's post made me laugh.

I actually prefer animated, drawn, or painted avatars. I think they have the potential for a depth and atmosphere that I don't see often with stock images. I also get something akin to the uncanny-valley thing going on if I see a model wearing a rolex (or something similar). It breaks the immersion.

But yeah, if it's Kenshin or something, we have the same problem as before. Only worse because now you have to fight against my entire childhood.

Anyway. Avatars, Boxcodes, Signatures-- all that. They're your first impression. They're important. Most people should get that.
Last edited by Timshel on February 12th, 2014, 11:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Voldaire Cassiope on February 12th, 2014, 10:56 pm

I think this is a really interesting conversation, and maybe I can share some insight from a player who is brand new.

My first impressions of Mizahar were from scanning over the forums and figuring out what kind of role-players were here. In the past, I had grown disinterested in role-playing sites where the players used avatars of real people to represent their characters. I've never really liked seeing human models photoshopped and edited for a fantasy world, it breaks my realism. To be honest, initially I was somewhat displeased with the style because it was inconsistent. Some players had huge, complicated post templates with crazy dolled-up avatars and character sheets. I feel like all of that distracts from or attempts to cover up the writing, which sets off a red flag about their writing abilities. This isn't always true though, of course. However, on the other side, I also was unimpressed by the people who had no pictures or templates. I think that in order to succeed in Mizahar, you should aim for a subtle flair or unifying element, instead of large pictures and patterns.

After I registered this account, I spent the next six hours searching for artwork to represent my character, photoshopping the pieces I needed, coding the CSS, and writing out my character. By doing it all together, at once, I was really able to solidify my character's identity. I molded the appearance to the description I had already written: style was a slave to content.

If you're going to pick a model to represent your character, I personally feel like it looks best if they are more average looking, even if your character isn't average. It's also important to have lots of pictures of the model, so you can switch up your pictures across your threads and templates. They also need to be someone the average person wouldn't recognize. Picking a picture from Game of Thrones, like discussed here, immediately carries all of characteristics of that famous face, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Once again, this distracts from the writing.

Personally, I prefer using actual artwork or drawings to represent my characters. It's typically easier to find art for the character or style that I'm seeking. For example, my character is represent by a character from an anime, but I've never seen it. I found a picture of him after doing some keyword searches from the character's description which I had already written. After I found a few pictures of him I liked, I personalized them (added a frame around my sheet portrait, changed some colors, edited the outfit, added a blinking animation to my avatar, made a small signature) and uploaded them.

I've seen other characters utilize anime characters, and I prefer it to a model. However, I have the utmost respect for people who just have a unique art style or appearance to their character. I tried unify the pictures I used with pixel art/embellishments and some shared palette colors.
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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Eleazar Victor Syroin on February 12th, 2014, 11:16 pm

Voldaire, You are actually the prefect example of the main topic of the discussion (to me at least). I had barely seen the top of your Avatar, when I recognised who it was and began fangirling. (I love the anime he is from, although the manga is better as is the musical)Only after a few minutes did I remember that your PC wasn't going to be Sebastian Michealis, demon butler extrodiare, but a Character in their own right.

Having had a quick stalk of your posts I can easily see they are two different characters and Voldaire is a very interesting guy. But somewhere in my mind whenever I'm look at your avatar my brain is going 'Victorian Butler demon dude that loves cats' and it really hard not to think that.

Please excuse me using you as an example and sorry about my brain being hardwired into thinking 'anime'. Truthfully I really do like Voldaire for how he is written and designed.
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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Ricky Maze on February 12th, 2014, 11:22 pm

My interpretation as far as seeing the all these avatars and models is that it doesn't fully show the character based on looks, but at least helps set an example on how we imagine that character. We may choose a model or choose something that fits the character (like a drawing or something) to resemble that specific character, while the details and development we put into that character make that specific character unique. For me, sure Avatars help but I can see a character well enough with a well written description, as far as boxcodes I can only wonder why people may make oversized ones.

Any boxcode wider than 600 definitely appears too big for me, I try to look for the boxcodes that fit snuggly in posts, and asthetically please the eye as they either add to the theme or concept of the character. That's my opinion anyway. :)
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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Voldaire Cassiope on February 12th, 2014, 11:32 pm

Eleazar Victor Syroin wrote:Voldaire, You are actually the prefect example of the main topic of the discussion (to me at least). I had barely seen the top of your Avatar, when I recognised who it was and began fangirling. (I love the anime he is from, although the manga is better as is the musical)Only after a few minutes did I remember that your PC wasn't going to be Sebastian Michealis, demon butler extrodiare, but a Character in their own right.

Having had a quick stalk of your posts I can easily see they are two different characters and Voldaire is a very interesting guy. But somewhere in my mind whenever I'm look at your avatar my brain is going 'Victorian Butler demon dude that loves cats' and it really hard not to think that.

Please excuse me using you as an example and sorry about my brain being hardwired into thinking 'anime'. Truthfully I really do like Voldaire for how he is written and designed.
I certainly don't take offense to my character's picture being recognized, and I do agree it is a good example. Like I said, I try not to focus on the physical representation of my character, but rather his flair or style by using coordinating colors and patterns.

If someone looks at my avatar or character sheet and does not want to role-play with me because of my design choice, that is their decision. Mizahar is a big pond, I can swim somewhere else. :) Like was said earlier in this thread, your avatar and CSS are the first impression until they can read your posts. I picked pictures and colors that are true to my character. I'm sure others may not be able to say the same. As sometimes it looks like a certain picture was picked because the model was hot or was wearing something cute, not because it actually fit the atmosphere or look they were going for.
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Postby Wanda Endust on February 13th, 2014, 1:28 am

I hold aesthetics near and dear, but it's all just personal preference to me.

Firstly, on famous face claims, eh. I have never been tempted to use one myself. Maybe not so much because I impress my personal feelings of said celebrity onto the character who uses one, but because that face already has a set personality attached to it. Whether I like the person or not doesn't usually play into it, and it's more about the fact that it's already a fleshed out person in my mind.

Personally, I had to find Wanda's model before I fleshed out her character, because that's just how I operate. When I found her, I could easily picture her becoming a character because her personality wasn't set in stone yet. There was a definite mood to her style, which was what made me choose her as Wanda's model, but she was shape-able.

As far as avatars go, like I said, I'm a very aesthetically-based kind of person. An avatar lets me get a glimpse of what kind of person your character is, which is hopefully reflected in their avatar. If I'm being honest, I'll have to admit that if a person lacks an avatar, if their avatar is tiny, or if the image is skewed, my chances of being drawn to their character are lessened. But as far as signatures go, whatever floats your boat.

Now, back to Wanda. Some people could say that she's overly attractive. Her model is, after all, a model. But what matters more than how attractive a person's face claim is whether or not they capture the essence of your character. Wanda is bright -- not necessarily a cheery kind of bright, but a golden kind of bright. That was the only criteria I had when I was looking for a model, which should have made the selection process easier. The problem (and the reason I spent days looking) is trying to find an image that calls out to you. Your character is almost like a long-lost friend. You'll know what their supposed to look like when you see them, because it'll be like seeing that long-lost friend for the first time in ages. At least, that's how it is for me. If the image that speaks to you happens to be very attractive, that's okay. If they happen to be an anime character, that's okay too.

With CSs... I believe they should reflect the attitude of your character. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using the premade templates, but I've seen them so often that they've simply become generic to me. I'm a lot more likely to actually read through someone's CS if it's unique to the character. I don't necessarily need a lot of information, as long as the information provided is concise and specific. It's great to know their hair and eye color, and whether or not they're kind. But that only gives me about the same amount of information as I could discern from a 5 second conversation with the character. A CS should represent who the character is as a person. If you were writing a CS about yourself, would your personality only be worth three sentences?
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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Twister on February 13th, 2014, 1:04 pm

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This is one of my bigger templates. A gift from Ollic, with slight modification.

I'll be honest and say that I judge based on the visuals, too. Not in the way that "oh, they're ugly, let's not thread with them", but... I agree that superficial and overly attractive avatars and images throw me off, and oftentimes anime avatars have the same effect. To me, it says more about the player and the character than they probably meant to say in the first place and I'm aware the messages I read from these images might not even be there, at all. They're just mental constructs by yours truly. Famous actors or artists can also have that effect on me and I, personally, avoid selecting well-known faces of any variety for my characters and NPCs and have always avoided it.

In my past communities, it was sadly extremely common with anime avatars from the most popular series at the time as well as repetitive usage of famous TV personalities for character avatars. Be it peoples' favourite actor from the latest big hit movie, or the hot guitarist from their favourite band at the time... It didn't really matter which setting, time period or genre the roleplay itself was set in, either.

Does anyone else come from a community that always had a well-used "face claim" thread?

To me, the visual aspect doesn't necessarily overshadow the player's writing, but it complements it. It helps my imagination along when I read what they've written, so to speak, and helps put a face on the character when I paint the scenario up in my mind. I'm a very visual thinker, so images help me along a great deal. It adds to the roleplay, for me, if done tastefully and with care. Subtle images and smooth colour combinations, along with clever coding and good writing. You can use images and colours to project and enhance the personality of the character you're currently writing with to make the experience more enjoyable for yourself and, hopefully, for those you play together with. If you overdo it with too much colour, too big templates, sharp contrasts or with odd image choices... It can have the opposite effect. At least for me. The image you're projecting will be all garbled up and distorted and sometimes confusing and painful to look at, which distracts me from the writing. If the visuals don't match, it's often very difficult for me to take in the writing even if it's brilliant.

I do try to look past these things, though. I have plenty of pet peeves when it comes to writing and aesthetics (and character concepts), but I'm generally able to focus on the text even when the visuals are displeasing, so to speak. ... Sometimes I copy the text into a blank document if the templates are really painful to look at, but yeah.

Ramble ramble.
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Avatars, Signatures, And CS's Oh My!

Postby Soshakuakamamushi on February 13th, 2014, 1:39 pm

I want to share my opinion in this thread as well. Personally, I will not judge a PC because of their preference for Avatar style, be it real life models, sketches, digital art, in whatever style one may choose, Anime, realist, semi-realist, because I view that it's subjective, an avatar may look fitting for one person, but it may not for others. I prefer drawn characters for my PCs, no explicit reason, it's purely based on my personal preference.

Connected to the point above, I promised myself a long time ago to never view a particular avatar style with prejudice because I feel I do not have the right to judge someone, we're all part of the Mizahar family. I'm here to make friends, plot awesome events, and have a jolly good time, not to stare at someone's avatar with a frown on my face. If someone expresses their dislike to my choice of visuals, I will accept it, but I will not judge them back, I respect them for whatever style they use as long as it does not violate Mizahar's ToU, such as nudity for example.

In regards to writing style and pet-peeves, I strive to be open-minded, what gives me the biggest impression is OOC behavior, if a player behaves politely, is willing to learn, and listen to advices, even though their writing is deemed subpar, I will be more than willing to give them assistance how to write better. This stems from the realization that I have a lot to learn myself, being a 2nd language English Speaker.

As for huge boxcodes, I agree, 900px wide is max size for me, I try to not use templates that indent the text to an extremely thin paragraphs nor uses a very wide image that causes the horizontal scroll bar to appear, as most monitors have the bare minimum of 1024 x 768 pixel dimension, my templates ranges from 600 px to 840 px wide.
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