Guidelines For Contributing Avatar Features for MeMaker
PLEASE NOTE: Expect many changes, problems, and reforms to this document as requests and ideas begin to come from other users. This is just a beginning, and we want everyone to submit their ideas. If you feel that you have an idea that could be added to this document, feel free to add it to the list or contact Jason (see bottom).
Creating Avatar Features in MeMaker
While creating avatar features for MeMaker is essentially a simple task, it takes talent to create something amazing. Programmers like Jason can code really well, but often their artwork isn't of very good quality! So we hope to gather artistic people that share the creation goals described in this document. Feel free to ask questions if you have any; Jason's contact information is at the bottom of this page.
This page is here to describe some of the basics of creating features for use in MeMaker, including recommended styles and sizes. It will also explain how to upload your themes or sets so they can be included in the default MeMaker install.
As MeMaker grows, a certain theme may emerge from the mess. For now, we don't care what style you use as long as you make something. We want to hold on to that. So have fun!
If you really want a set of features or standards to follow, try Tango's Guidelines. Though not completely focused on avatars, their design helps create a clean, uniform design that works for many kinds of digital art, without interfering with the artist's personal style. Nobody has created a theme set based on Tango yet, and we would love to see someone take the challenge.
When we first created MeMaker, we let anyone submit art from whatever editor they wanted. Sadly, that caused big problems: files from different artists were often incompatible or didn't work the way the program expected, so the developers never knew what to expect. Now we ask that all artists use Inkscape to create submissions, even if it means following web tutorials at first. There is nothing wrong with that, though: Inkscape is an amazing program, and if you haven't tried (or heard of) it, you're missing out!
When the project finally comes out of beta, we are hoping to have loads of artwork included. However, this means an increase in file size. Because of this, we need artists to cleanup their artwork. In some cases, the file size can be reduced by 11k! It might not sound like much, but in the bigger picture when all those files are put together, it makes a huge impact. If you're an artist wanting to submit your artwork, please take the time to look at the MeMaker/cleanup guide.
This is very important to us! Please only submit artwork you created _yourself_, and explicitly state under which license the artwork can be used. You can read about the different types here.
If you want to see your artwork included in the basic install of MeMaker, you have to use the Creative Commons Share-Alike License. This means that people can do whatever they like with it, as long as they use the same license on any resulting creations of theirs. This is because we hope to let anyone use MeMaker in whatever way they like.
More restrictive licenses can be used if you prefer for some reason... Just remember, that work will not be included in the default install. It also doesn't stop anyone from mimicking or improving upon your art, then taking credit for it, and what little legal recourse exists wouldn't do much. (Does that sound like fun?) If there is a different license that you feel would still be usable with MeMaker and you want to talk about it, please contact us.
In order to honour your contribution to the project, please send your full name or nickname along with your graphics. There will be a 'Credits' section in MeMaker which tells everyone who helped us. (If you don't want your name to be published, that's ok. Just tell us.)
Sizing and Fitting
When creating avatars, please base the size according the the objects currently found in the base set. This makes it so that features found in MeMaker can all work together. If they can't possibly fit, you're not going to see it in the MeMaker base pack. When making your hair, for example, you should try the hair on all Heads. Consider a hat: can it work with some hair, but not with others? We know that not all features will play well together, but try to do your best.
Images are going to be in a 200x200 square visible area, please make sure to stay within these borders! If your feature doesn't fit when used with other avatar features inside the visible area, it becomes distorted, rendering it useless. If you have something special that will break those bounds, and think we should have more space than that, then talk to us -- we can make the change accordingly if we agree with you. MeMaker is very young, so we can still make substantial changes with each new version.
We haven't implemented a way to choose between flesh tones yet. So if you have a set of tones you would like to have, be sure to put them as individual features with similar names, so they're close together in the preview screen and give the user variety.
We will be posting a howto on fitting your feature with others in the future. It's a little tough to explain otherwise.
Please, please, please, 'Vacuum Def' your artwork-files just before saving them. That removes all unused definitions from the code and in effect often shrinks the code (and thus the filesize) _very_ much. That has the following benefits: a) The files are smaller b) The files don't take that long to be parsed. In Inkscape, you simply click on File -> Vacuum Defs and save it. So please, it's just a click away. Thanks.
As of version 1.0 alpha, images will be layered in a way that we feel would render best in MeMaker. This system can change with any major release, so if you feel it should be something different please tell us. For now, this is the default order, with glasses as the top layer: Glasses Hair Beards Eyebrows Eyes Nose Mouth Head Ears
Eventually we want to implement a system based on weight or similar to create and control the placement of features. If you have an idea of how we could do it, please let us know. The 2.0 release series should let the user change the order of layers, which should fix some features (like ponytails) that might not work right due to layering problems.
Packaging themed or non-base set features
We will be programming in a feature to automatically import theme sets so they can be easily downloaded and installed to the user's computer. Users will be able to simply click the import button, select the theme file, and it will be unpacked and copied to their home directories in the proper subdirectory. If you wish to create one, simply tar.gz them with the same file structure found in the base pack -- a 'Features' directory, then one subdirectory inside it for each feature type (beards, eyes, etc.) -- and your work will be easily implemented. Just to be clear, file structure should be as follows, with the '.' indicating the base directory:
./Features/beards ./Features/ears ./Features/eyebrows ./Features/eyes ./Features/glasses ./Features/hair ./Features/head ./Features/mouth ./Features/nose
Using anything outside of this will cause confusion for MeMaker when importing, so try to avoid it. Please try to talk about the licensing in the Features Directory under the name of your theme. For example, BigAndBold.license. This lets the user review the license if it ever becomes necessary.
Base Set Artwork
If you want to have your features as part of the base pack, just send your files added to the base set to the Launchpad servers using bzr. We will consider adding them to the base set from that point.
Uploading Changes into Launchpad
The best way for developers to use your artwork in MeMaker is to have your art uploaded and added to the main package. This way we can easily merge features together and accept or reject them at that point.
If you need help with it, Jason is willing to help you personally. He is still learning how bzr works, but "should have enough gray matter" to get you started. As soon as the main feature set is ready to be used with bzr, he will give details, and in the meantime contact him through the addresses at the bottom of this page.
What is MeMaker?
MeMaker is a simple, user-friendly way to make avatars that match the creator's unique style. These avatars can be saved as images and used in many places.
Why would anyone want to make an Avatar?
Avatars are a very unique way to express who you are. They're usually a stylized representation rather than a literal photograph, but still let others recognize you online at a glance, either from your appearance or other items you include from your life, like a favorite instrument or kind of animal.
In MeMaker, we hope to give people a way to create avatar faces that can be customized to match whatever they imagine or want. Our ultimate goal is to offer enough unique features in a simple interface that anyone can easily create a variety of avatars even the first time they use the program.
Where can these avatars be used?
A great many places can use avatars but we don't usually think about it. Some examples include:
Desktop environment Login Screens & About Me
- Chat or Messaging
Forums & Discussion groups
- Online IDs
- Blogs, Journals, or Planets
Traditional & User-Submitted News commenting
Question-and-Answer sites (i.e. YahooAnswers)
- Social networking
- Many other places!