Support Solved Avatar Quality

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Amaury, Jul 31, 2013.

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  1. Amaury Defense Attorney

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    Note: If this belongs more in one of the Graphic Art forums, feel free to move it there, staff.

    Okay, so each forum I visit has different dimension restrictions on avatars. For example, the limit on SEGA Forum is 100 x 100 while the limit on Final Fantasy Shrine Forums is 125 x 125.

    Taking the new avatar I just changed to a while ago, see how it's crystal clear here? Well, if I reduce it to 125 x 125 for Final Fantasy Shrine Forums, it starts to get a bit spotty (example); then if I reduce it down again to 100 x 100 (from 125 x 125) for SEGA Forum, it gets even less clear (example). Since I visit more forums than the two I mentioned, you can guess what happens.

    Examples:
    • Forum 1 Limit: 200 x 200
    • Forum 2 Limit: 150 x 150
      - Reduced from 200 x 200
    • Forum 3 Limit: 125 x 125
      - Reduced from 150 x 150
    • Forum 4 Limit: 120 x 120
      - Reduced from 125 x 125
    • Forum 5 Limit: 100 x 100
      - Reduced from 120 x 120
    • Forum 6 Limit: 80 x 80
      - Reduced from 100 x 100
    • Forum 7 Limit: 60 x 65
      - Reduced from 80 x 80
    These are the actual limits across all the forums I visit, I just didn't name the forums. Also, for reference, I reduce the dimensions with Imgur.

    Now, here comes my question: Assuming XenForo, like vBulletin, automatically downsizes avatars that are too big to the set dimensions, what would output a better quality? An image that's automatically or manually reduced? For example, whatever the software, if a forum's limit is 100 x 100, would uploading a 200 x 200 image and having it automatically re-size to 100 x 100 or manually re-sizing it to 100 x 100 produce better quality?

    Something else I noticed is that it only seems to happen with avatars I choose. If I have the awesome graphics artist Llave make me an avatar and I keep reducing it down for each forum's dimensions, the quality doesn't seem to drop -- or at least the drops aren't noticeable if the quality does drop.
     
  2. Misty gimme kiss

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    You will always, always get better results by having whoever made the avatar for you (or doing it yourself) downsize it.

    When forum software downscales an avatar (whether it's for dimension restrictions, file size restrictions, or both), the technology used creates an image with a lot of artifacts--basically, it doesn't look so great. When you scale something down in Photoshop, it deals solely with the dimensions first. It will usually output something a bit blurry (which is good! it smooths things out), so I usually sharpen things when they've been downscaled. Then, when you're exporting the image from Photoshop, you can toggle different options to get the file size you need.

    Xenforo is rather unique in terms of forum software in that it doesn't have a "maximum" avatar size. The image you upload remains the dimensions you uploaded it at, and it will be automatically scaled depending on where you're looking at it. For best results I'd recommend simply uploading a 200px by 200px image, since that's the maximum dimensions KHV utilizes. That goes for any forum--whatever size the avatar is most commonly displayed it is the size of the image you should upload.

    When you do request an avatar, and you plan to use it on multiple websites, ask whoever is filling the request to provide you with all the sizes you'll need. It only takes an extra 20 seconds to make all the sizes, so it's not a lot of trouble on the creator's part.

    I usually edit my avatars at larger dimensions than I will typically need (like 300px by 300px), then scale them down for whatever I'll need. Going from bigger -> smaller usually produces clean results if you do it in Photoshop and know what you're doing.
     
  3. Amaury Defense Attorney

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    Llave must be THAT amazing if his don't lose quality -- or at least nothing noticeable like I said -- when I re-size them for each forum. :3 It's probably why he likes the requests to have avatars of at least 800 x 800 pixels.

    I try to find bigger images than I need as well, if I can -- I couldn't find anything bigger than 210 x 240 for that Angelo one I had previously. For example, this is the unedited version of my current avatar, with dimensions of 2140 x 1246:
    Cloud Strife.jpg

    I also, like you, go from large to small. However, as you saw from those examples in the OP, the smaller ones were still spotty.

    As for Photoshop, I unfortunately cannot afford that. I used PhotoBucket until I noticed you couldn't go higher than certain dimensions; that's when, per Keyblade Spirit's suggestion, I changed to Imgur, which I like better. You can crop and re-size in one place rather than two separate places and the URLs are shorter.
     
  4. Llave Superless Moderator

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    There are a number of factors that come into making an avatar fit dimensions etc. First off, I usually ask for a larger image for two reasons: Better quality in general (less chance for pixilation, like those downsized images you provided), and it's a lot easier to erase backgrounds or unnecessary parts in a picture.

    I understand that not everyone can afford photoshop, or know how to use it accordingly, but I've always found online editors to be really second hand. If it doesn't bother you, by all means use them, but there are people who are more than happy to help who have photoshop. (You can use gimp, I think that's free but I've never used it.)

    The image you have of Cloud is a .JPG aka .JPEG file (Joint Photographic Experts Group) file. When JPG files are saved, they use "lossy" compression, which means the image quality is lost as file size decreases. When I edit a picture and save it from Photoshop, I save it as a .PNG file (Portable Network Graphics). PNGs support better transparency options and have better compression, hence the lack of pixelation.

    Hope that answers your questions.
     
  5. Misty gimme kiss

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    Gimp is a great alternative to Photoshop, I used it for many, many years. It's more than adequate for most any image editing, some people swear by it--but if what you're mostly doing is resizing images or small edits, it'll work out just fine.
     
  6. Amaury Defense Attorney

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    It does, thank you. So that's why when I re-size yours, quality doesn't go down -- because of the PNG.

    Is there a way to choose what to save it as? When I go to Save Image As, the only options I get are "All Files" or the default blank. I've got some PNG files from the avatars I've found, but most are JPG. Additionally, I've got two folders for these images; the ones I have for yours are indeed all PNG. :3

    As for GIMP, I couldn't really figure it out, I believe.

    Like I said to Llave, problem is figuring it out, and I don't believe I could, if I recall correctly.
     
  7. Hiro ✩ Guardian

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    To save files as a PNG, just type .PNG or .png at the end of the file name.
     
  8. Amaury Defense Attorney

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    Great, that worked. Thank you kindly.
     
  9. Plums Wakanda Forever

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    For the Photoshop price concerns, Adobe recently released the CS2 suite again for free, so that's definitely an option if you choose to go that route ('specially since it's pretty much the same in terms of just doing the basic stuff and what not).
     
  10. Amaury Defense Attorney

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    Thank you for unlocking this, @Misty / @Plums.

    I had a new question: Why is it that when avatars are made smaller their quality is better?

    Here's an example: This image is fuzzy, right?

    Avatar Big.png

    The dimensions are 700 x 534.

    Now, scaled down to 200 x 200, it looks sharper:

    Avatar Small.png

    Why is that?

    @Llave, this is your area!
     
  11. Llave Superless Moderator

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    It basically depends on when you resize how many pixels per square inch you put in but usually it compresses them down just making it more sharp to see. Unless the picture is vectored it usually will always look better smaller.
     
  12. Technic☆Kitty Hmm

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    I don't mean to be nitpicky but it looks as though you've distorted the image instead of cropping and then resizing. I recommend cropping a 1x1 scale square before resizing to a square, specifically when the initial image is not square. That could also be playing a part in the reason it appears to have better quality.

    If you'll compare the images below you'll see what I'm talking about.

    Avatar Small.png Avatar.png

    Most of the time though, when you resize an image to be smaller than its initial form, it's going to appear to have better quality. Really, most of that is because the spots that make the initial look bad become smaller and blend in with the rest of the image.
     
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