The DK Vine Forum differs from most internet message boards in that, rather than users uploading or linking to a custom avatar, users pick from a selection of custom-made Neon Head Avatars shaped in the likeness of various Donkey Kong Universe characters. This creates a
pretentious, different for the sake of different unique way for people on the forum to stifle their creativity and individuality identify themselves and others, in a way that is archaic and needlessly restricting the site to a white on black layout visually cohesive.
In the past, these avatars were created and uploaded by the DK Vine Site Staff, but in later years numerous avatars have also been created by our ambitious forum-goers, and, after some review for quality control, uploaded to the site. These can be submitted on the forums in the Neon Head Avatar Showcase Thread.
Avatar Submission Guidelines:
-Avatars must be sized to a resolution of 71x62 pixels and saved as a transparent PNG file (previously, a transparent .GIF).
-Source Images should be taken from a screen shot, or official promotional image related to a DKU title. Some avatars in the gallery are sourced from artwork not used to promote a DKU game that introduced or featured them, but these are the exception rather than the norm. Do not trace a Source Image from any unofficial materials.
Al user-created avatars will go through a strict quality control check. If you too would like to submit a Neon Head for a DKU character not already in our Avatar gallery, we recommend taking a look at the two tutorials linked below, and, below that, some general tips that may help you further.
General Avatar Creation Tips:
In-Depth Neon Head Tutorials:
The thing with characters that are straight from polygonal models is that the polygons need to be rounded, otherwise they look like shit. You've got to smooth them so that they look more natural.
Don't go crazy with the amount of colors. Try to limit your color scheme. If you find your neon avatar uses two colors that could easily be mistaken for the same hue anyway...just go ahead and make them the same.
For VERY small shapes, such as beady irises in eyes, or single stray strands of hair, use one line to represent an entire shape as opposed to tracing around the entire object.
Sometimes, your source image may have part of an arm or other object obscuring part of the face. This is okay, but you must fill in the missing portion of the outline as if the obscuring object weren't there. If too much of the source image is obscured for you to “guess” the rest of the outline with the path tool, you probably need to find another source image.
Characters with long hair or large headpieces may need to be shrunk down or strategically cropped (so long as the character's silhouette is still recognizable) to fit the wider-than-it-is-tall 71x62 format. If possible, find a source image pose where such elements have been blown back.
Use the primary colors. (Do you ever see a neon sign with mauve or taupe?) Where possible, jack up the color palette to the max. Generally, any color picked from a reference image via the dropper tool can be adjusted to have a saturation value of 255 and still look like it's supposed to. This is especially important for human characters and others like the Kongs, because representing skin with a color too pale can make a character look like a corpse.
This is one of most common mistakes made by beginners and it is, unfortunately, also the worst: Do not ever, EVER distort the aspect ratio of the source image, or your trace over of it, just to fit it to the canvas. There is no “minor” adjustment here: it WILL be noticeable and it will NOT look good.
Ease off on the blur. You only need the blur to simulate the glow! Don't make it look like an N64 title here!
Do not use the color black. Ever. It's the antithesis of what the neons are trying to do, and won't show up on the forum. For that matter, avoid dark colors period. As a general rule, use no darker than 40% grey for black objects, unless you are tracing eyes, in which case, use white. The Ness avatar is a great example of this.
Don't be afraid to mess with the settings: the 50% opacity for the glow layer for instance is largely a suggestion, and some heads may be too tall and need to be shrunk down, resulting in a slightly thinner line weight. Reference the other avatars in the gallery and adjust things like glow and stroke width accordingly if your final result is a bit off from the others. Some will even break the rules to do something thematically appropriate, like the back-lit Twinkle.
This Compendium of obnoxiously obsessing over outdated web design elements has been brought to you by Cameron with additional content provided by Aussie Ben.