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Forums » RP Discussion » Your Preferred Chara Icon (no crit, only brag)

NO CRITICIZING OTHER ICON STYLES
Feel the burning need to say something unkind about an icon method different from yours?
Then this is not the thread for you.

But go on ahead and tell us:

-- Your usual icon choice for your characters (photograph, faceclaim, illustration, 3D model, anime or manga, custom commission, fandom IP, et c.)

-- What, if any, other character icon styles you have used or still use that are different from your usual, like what's the history there.

-- Not only style, but content. Do you have a cache set aside for multiple reaction faces? Is your character usually in portrait, or some other telling focus like an item from their hobby or work? Do you like to get artsy with it and zoom in on a smile or eye? Color or black and white? SPECIAL EFFECTS?

-- Why that character icon method rules, just absolutely kicks, is to you the sweetest of cheeses; like yea tho you walk through the valley of roleplay you shall fear no icon, for yours is the .gif, the d*sney, the reapersun commish before they got big, the best boy from that anime you know the one yeah you do don't lie, the portrait you learned basic imaging software to make transparent, and thou art with thy fellow nerds, amen.

once again, i don't want to hear why other icons don't work for you.
this is not a compare and contrast.
this is a mighty yawp, for bravery!

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I typically use my own original art for my character icons! But I realized that sometimes if I didn't have a design pinned down yet, it would keep me from making the profile altogether. So now in situations where I don't have art, I find an aesthetic picture that captures their vibe, like I did with Dante.

I think the artsiest I've gotten is Ansel, who just have a rough sketch that highlights their colors and shapes. I actually like theirs a lot. But I also have Tyler's action shot.

I like it a lot, it keeps my art drive up, lets me represent them as accurately as possible, and just looks cool. It's fun!
hmm yeah i guess i sorta have a theme, don't i
bMSyaHK.png

everyone gets forward facing portraits done by me because i'm obsessed with aesthetic and don't feel satisfied until every character's on the same page. i don't keep my profiles public anymore so i guess it doesn't really matter, but once upon a time it was nice to have my characters immediately identifiable as "mine" just by the icon art. although it was a double-edged sword because it was extremely obvious my anon characters were...well, me

inb4 "luscin but crowley's is different" okay but like crowley is super cool and deserves standing out with grayscale
oven Topic Starter

here's my history of icon preference


We didn't have icons when I started roleplaying, but we did have nifty lil boxes on the character sheets where we could draw fullbody references, or even just cut and paste reference points from magazines.

I was pretty terrible at illustration at the time, but being able to represent the image in my mind so others could more clearly understand what that character looked like? Paramount to my learning how to draw.

Yes we used to trace manga and just convert the details. (Yes that's totally fine to do, so long as you're honest that you've done it and aren't trying to sell the end result to anyone else under false pretense.)

We would trace screencaps and magazine photos too, and you haven't lived through hardship unless you've tried to capture kevin bacon's weird little elfman face from off the lightbox that is your RGB television. hands sweating the whole time not because it felt like a crime, but because those machines were toasty.

Being unable to draw, actually, propelled me to learn how to write better, too. They both played off one another, writing to fill in the gaps that drawing couldn't express, and drawing to give the physical minutiae their full deserved representation (like posture, expression, wardrobe)

Once I was in forum roleplays on php boards and at livejournal, realistic face claims were all the rage. Hunting for the PERFECT REPRESENTATION in a real human face somehow made my characters feel more real too, like they were the clay learning how to walk and talk as soon as they had the photograph to prove their personhood.

BUT THEN, FANDOMS

anime, animation, manga, comic book, suddenly we had all these scans to choose from, with expression sets too?? SO BOSS???? not to mention fan artists, who not only drew fandom character icon and emotive sets, but could draw your character *in that media style* as well.

which gave me the bravery to keep working at drawing. illustrators were no longer unreachable anonymous names in cartoon credits, they were drawing for websites and followers and themselves.

my personal renaissance, when it comes to character icon art, was the webcomic boom.

SO. MANY. FANDOM. EXPRESSION SETS. and they were already online! AND THE WEBCOMIC ARTIST WOULD CROP AND SIZE THEM FOR USE.
aldkjfajk;jafd;algd;ajadlflakdjf <3

ohmygribble don't even get me started on freelance animators and their glory days in javascript. i'll cry.

now i can't set aside all these abstract lil pixel animated gifs, because my characters have undergone so many genre transformations and method migration that i wanna stay flexible with their representation. plus it bullies me into being descriptive in the writing, and i like the idea of letting a reader build in their own minds what the character looks like, especially if they're into drawing scenes.

it be like having fanart of a book character, it's always going to be a freaking treat to see how your characters live in someone else's head rent-free.
Faceclaim, AI generated, or Art commission - however I get it, it's usually their face, since I think it helps my rp partners/groups get a sense of who they're talking to and learning about. I can't trust that my words create the same image in other people's heads as it does in mine, especially when a picture - as they say - is worth a thousand of them.
In my head, my faceclaims are also often characters (on a show/movie/wrestler/etc.) rather than the actor that plays them. Like - I have a character (not on RPR) that's a lawyer for a criminal organization - I didn't cast him as Robert Duvall, I casted him as Tom Hagen - because Tom Hagen is a tremendous character and I strive to be able to capture that guy in my writing. And people know Tom Hagen, and what he's about, so even if I can't fully capture him in my RP, it helps my partners interact with him as if he was like that, you know?

I have one character who's a paladin, so I use her diety's holy symbol, because that part of her is more important than what she looks like in the RP she's in - very much combat heavy, and about her internal dialogue than her interactions with my rp partner's characters - they're running a world, and my character's in it.
intrusive_plots wrote:
-- Why that character icon method rules, just absolutely kicks, is to you the sweetest of cheeses; like yea tho you walk through the valley of roleplay you shall fear no icon, for yours is the .gif, the d*sney, the reapersun commish before they got big, the best boy from that anime you know the one yeah you do don't lie, the portrait you learned basic imaging software to make transparent, and thou art with thy fellow nerds, amen.

Just kinda went off there, didn't you? lol
oven Topic Starter

Ruberiot wrote:
I like it a lot, it keeps my art drive up, lets me represent them as accurately as possible, and just looks cool. It's fun!

oh, word

i have entire folders of character art that just ... aren't digitized ehah. starting from basics in FireAlpaca has been a steep learning curve, but i one-hundo understand the satisfaction in having your styles match. >D

Saturninum wrote:
everyone gets forward facing portraits done by me because i'm obsessed with aesthetic and don't feel satisfied until every character's on the same page. i don't keep my profiles public anymore so i guess it doesn't really matter, but once upon a time it was nice to have my characters immediately identifiable as "mine" just by the icon art. although it was a double-edged sword because it was extremely obvious my anon characters were...well, me

No shame in the representative brand name, that's how we find our crowd

that is an extremely professional lineup, like a commercial game guide roster or a party icon list on an rpg; sets an excellent tone fr fr
oven Topic Starter

silentruth wrote:

Just kinda went off there, didn't you? lol

i'm like an arthritic dog that just got a diet change to formula food, my brain is BOUNCY

AI -- YAAAS I'VE SEEN THAT AROUND it's so amazing just sliiightly abstract, like a portrait but with life! it looks like they move and change expression even tho they're just static i am so excited to see more of that

i like that symbol method , too, like that's an excellent way to 'distance' your character from the concept of appearances. cos yeah a religious acolyte WOULD rather represent the whole of their ideology than the mere personhood in service to it.

i would absolutely use a Mr. Orange movie screen grab for icon and supplement with Tim Roth rxn sets for a more comprehensive shortcut to understanding a character's oeuvre and history and even just genre. so i don't know who Robert DuVall or Tom Hagen are (sounds real familiar, don't tell me i'll see if the roomy knows and we can pretend its 1990 and google doesn't exist) but i am picking up what you're putting down. sometimes there's no easier way to say "spiderman, but the good one i mean".
I fall into the self-made illustration category here. The only time I'll use something other than that, is if I'm in a pinch and want to throw a face on a character until I get a portrait made, or if I have more than two characters that share a page.

All icons are usually from the bust/neck up, and depict some sort of emotion to reflect the character they represent. It's like a little entree before reading about the character (or it speaks for them if I don't have anything written in a profile yet).

Dramatic characters, like my girl Gigi, usually have some sort of snark smile, where as a degenerate character may look like they're about to go full raccoon and rummage through your dumpster. Sometimes I want a icon to do the storytelling for me.

There are a few things I keep consistent whenever changing an icon, emotion being number one, but sometimes I like to carry over background colors or themes from icon to icon. There is one particular character I am notorious for doing this with mostly because she's my longest played, but I also love her symbolism. She will always be on some sort of purple background, and I'll usually hide a Deaths-Head Hawkmoth somewhere in her portraits. Because. Symbolism ✨. I like when a combination is identifiable, so someone can see the colors purple, white, black, and gold, and go "oh hey that Xail". It's like a character silhouette.

I used to use anime icons back in the day. Only because 1) they were popular, 2) I didn't know how to draw digitally at the time, and 3) all the pretty doll/character icon creators were, well, anime related. I was never into anime myself, but man, Rinmaru had some great doll makers.

Never really got into the whole face claim thing for icons, mostly because all of my characters are... not human. And I don't play them in super realistic settings. Granted, I do have a few with "face claims" but it's more for art reference if anything.

As for my favorite type of icon? Okay. I personally don't use them, and never will, but I am absolutely tickled when I see someone roll up with a stock photo as a character icon. I haven't seen them used here, but they show up occasionally on some of my other sites.
oven Topic Starter

SmaugtheKitty wrote:
I like when a combination is identifiable, so someone can see the colors purple, white, black, and gold, and go "oh hey that Xail". It's like a character silhouette.

w i s d o m

SmaugtheKitty wrote:
As for my favorite type of icon? Okay. I personally don't use them, and never will, but I am absolutely tickled when I see someone roll up with a stock photo as a character icon. I haven't seen them used here, but they show up occasionally on some of my other sites.

ahaha! yeah i've never seen that before but it makes sense. that's what they're there for, anyway, entire libraries of searchable-by-trait stock image options. bet that makes finding a head-canon face match a lot easier than trying to jam an incredibly regular character into Idris Elba trousers.
A quick glance at my character page is about 80-20 my art to others, but besides that that anything goes. Cartoony or realistic, close-up or mugshot, I love it all. One day I want to do an animated icon if I can nail it.

I don't really have a favourite icon, but I have an anti-favourite I can't in good conscience use after the artist ran off with like $6000 in Kickstarter money meant for Pennywise-themed body pillows. Not sure how to feel about that one.
oven Topic Starter

sland wrote:
the artist ran off with like $6000 in Kickstarter money meant for Pennywise-themed body pillows.

that was a wild read, start to finish

see yeah i love the "could be a frame in a published cartoon" closeups and expressions zooms.

i've only ever accomplished the most basic three-frame pixel gifs, it really is a labor of love
fig

im a big fat sucker for that not-super-realistic cartoon-y stuff. really. i love the way a stylized interpretation of my character looks, i love when it is gorgeous and polished but still has that whimsy to it. i love when the person drawing my character has a distinct style as well, and when they take liberties? i love hearing how my characters are perceived by others based on my writing

i tend to just make sure the face is in the uh. icon. otherwise any posing is fair game, we do not operate consistently here at all ever
I'm gonna throw it out here - I cannot draw humans. Animals? Sure! People? Nah. I'm getting there, but even then I get flustered when trying to draw my characters. Haha. As well as that, I don't want to use real people as face claims. I have nothing against it, I think it's because I struggle to find anyone that fits perfectly!

So, I've made use of various AI art programs (mainly extensive hours on ArtBreeder) to make face claims for my OCs. It's by no means perfect I try SO HARD to make them look less uncanny valley but it doesn't always work lol and I'm updating them constantly, but it's good enough as a jump-off point. Gives me something to work off, and the people I'm RPing with something to look at. Plus it's all free use!

I'd say they're pretty accurate, after a few months of work. That being said: when I get some spare cash, I'm splashing out on some proper commissions! It's hard to get the right "vibe" with AI art. I don't think AI generations could ever hold a candle to the real thing ☺️

Sol is a totally different beast - I've not managed to figure out a face claim for him for... well, as long as I've had him, lmao.
I prefer to draw my characters' avatars from scratch, but it's less because I enjoy it, and more because I have my own code of ethics about using others' work so I'm not comfortable with just snagging whatever off google images or using a generator.

This does mean that some of my characters are using art I created a while ago before they existed just because I've noticed people around here bounce hard off the question mark avatar though. All I can say is I'll make the ones I care about a picture actually intended to represent them eventually.

2 of my characters use picrews and I consider both placeholders. I didn't have anything that would work for them on-hand. Both are also anon, because I don't want picrew avatars associated with my account. I'll de-anon them when I get around to drawing their avatars in the next century or something.

Worth mentioning the way I feel about art only relates to how I conduct myself and I don't care how others do things. I don't have anything against avatar generators, I just have extremely rigid expectations of myself and never feel like character generators fit my needs anyway.
oven Topic Starter

fig wrote:
im a big fat sucker for that not-super-realistic cartoon-y stuff. really. i love the way a stylized interpretation of my character looks, i love when it is gorgeous and polished but still has that whimsy to it. i love when the person drawing my character has a distinct style as well, and when they take liberties? i love hearing how my characters are perceived by others based on my writing

i tend to just make sure the face is in the uh. icon. otherwise any posing is fair game, we do not operate consistently here at all ever

YOUR CURRENT USER ICON MADE ME SCREAM

but yeah i like to bounce between chara icon styles tooo, for lack of ability to settle on ~an aesthetic~ ahahaha.

_Skylark_ wrote:
I'd say they're pretty accurate, after a few months of work. That being said: when I get some spare cash, I'm splashing out on some proper commissions! It's hard to get the right "vibe" with AI art.

I'm living for what AI art is doing nowadays, it's such an accessible and versatile trend but yeah it's v. young and still difficult to wrangle or polish unless the artist has some skill in painting / photorealism.
Aardbei wrote:
This does mean that some of my characters are using art I created a while ago before they existed just because I've noticed people around here bounce hard off the question mark avatar though.

aha, ssssame, i only have old art scanned and all the new art i've done has nothing to do with roleplay characters so it's back to the labs for me.

surely we can reword your info into a mighty yawp, for bravery, like:

AARDBEI PREFERS TO BE THE CRAFTSMAN OF THEIR OWN DESTINY

like there IS something pretty admirable of choosing a path to challenge yourself, and i found that art and writing have built off one another through my lifetime, so that if i couldn't reach a corner of expression in one then i'd have the other to help. it's definitely not a bad habit!

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