Avatar (computing)

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For other definitions of "avatar", please see the disambiguation page.

An avatar is a 2D or 3D representation, or alter ego of its user. Such 2D icons are commonly used on Internet forums, chatrooms, and/or other net communities as profile pictures. 3D avatars are reserved for more interactive and complicated environments, such as virtual reality. Avatars have existed for nearly as long as the Internet has been around.

Types of avatars[edit]

A 2D avatar, which may be found on Internet forums.


This two-dimensional type of avatar image media typically portrays art of the individual's fursona. A 2D avatar can also be referred to as a "profile picture" (PFP, for short). It is often a bust or view of the character's face, and sometimes from the torso or chest upwards, and may include the character's name. A 2D avatar is typically simple with large features, because such an icon is often displayed and compressed with a size averagely at 100x100 pixels on older forums and websites. 2D avatars can be "drawn" using traditional methods, such as pencil, pens, or paint. They can also be drawn digitally on a computer or smart device with an art or drawing application. The example shown on the right is an avatar with the size of 100x100 pixels. These types of avatars came about when Tim-Berners Lee adapted HTML to the World Wide Web in 1993.

Text display[edit]

An avatar can also refer to a described construct used in online text-based role-playing games, such as MUCK or MUDs. Players utilizing a text-based platform may commonly reveal the name, species, fur color, clothing, items, and other features their avatar may possess. Text-based role-players, wizards, or a game master may sometimes call an avatar a "player character" (PC) when referring to them out-of-character or in second person.

A group of 3D avatars in VRChat.


A 3D avatar, commonly referred to as a "model" is commonly seen in computer games or online virtual worlds as animated representations of the player's persona in places such as Second Life, or VRChat. A three-dimensional avatar are graphically more detailed than two-dimensional avatars, and avatars depicted using only words. These types of avatars offer a 360-degree view of the character's body, physique, colors, and other features. 3D avatars are also easier to animate or move around in, giving a sense of immersion when interacting with one. Screenshots or pictures of a 3D model may also be used to create a profile picture or forum icon, similar to a 2D avatar. To create a 3D avatar from scratch, a colorless sculpt must first be built and shaped into the desired physique or pattern, and then a texture representing fur, flesh, material, or color is placed on the sculpt. Character creation systems built into programs or games can be utilized by its users to create their avatar.

Avatar and furry[edit]

Avatars, regarding a character in the furry fandom, can also refer to the above methods of display. Furries have commonly created avatars in places such as FurryMUCK, Furcadia, Second Life, and more recently, VRChat. It is common to find them on instant messenger applications, or Internet forums that uses buddy icons, or messaging stickers.

Avatar versus fursona[edit]

Sometimes the term avatar is used interchangeably with the terms character and/or fursona. A character encompasses all the qualities of a fictional entity, including a description, back story and beliefs. A fursona is an anthropomorphic animal or creature, whether bipedal or quadrupedal, which is a type of character, but can incorporate the form of one's avatar. An avatar is merely a visual representation of its user.


See also[edit]