Nearly every site on the Web, especially social networking sites, use avatars. These are what define you to the people who see your posts or profile. There are three types of avatars on the ‘Net: the generic ones that come with the service, a plain photo of yourself/your dog/your kids, and snazzy (often animated) avatars that get people’s attention.
Avatar Photo (avatar.pho.to) is a free online service from Pho.to that allows you to take any graphic and turn it into a cool avatar. Of course, since they’re avatars, they focus on facials (headshots). The app has some nifty features, but the coolest is its great AI that uses facial matrix intelligence to pinpoint facial features in a photo.
To experiment with Avatar Photo, I needed a head shot to fiddle with. I decided to use one of my favorite people, so I image.Google’d a good bust of Bruce Lee. This is the photo I started with.
When you select to upload a photo onto Avatar Photo, it accepts the pic and then immediately takes you to a screen where you can crop, modify colors, and do some basic filtering on it to make it right. I tried a few of the options, but settled with just a simple cropping in order that this original could serve as the base line for the other (more fun) filters to be had on Avatar Photo.
Once you’re done with the general editing, you are taken to the next page. This is where the fun filters are that show off both the power of the facial recognition in Avatar Photo, but also create some great effects. Most are animated gifs once completed.
The samples use Britney Spears as the model. These include emotional filters that ad smirks, winks, cross-eyed movements, and so forth to your avatar. This is where the facial mapping comes into play. The next set are collages like kaleidescope, water effects, and so forth. The bizarre list of filters includes Matrix filtering, flashing, Terminator and skeleton imaging, and waterfalls. The last group, the animated masks, creates things like snowfalls, bubbles, and various eyeball-enhancements.
Below are the samples I did from each of the four categories of filter options. As you can see, there’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with Avatar Photo.
At the very least, Avatar Photo is fun to play with and makes for some cool, fun, and often hilarious effects. Plus, it’s free!