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Creating a sleek osu or forum avatar in Photoshop tutorial

Someone asked me to create a tutorial on how to create a sleek looking forum avatar (Or osu avatar, in case you play that game). As there are many people who would like to create a forum avatar like that themselves, instead of asking someone to do it for them.

In this tutorial, I am going to use Photoshop CC to create the avatar. But if you have an older version of Photoshop, like Photoshop CS3. You could still follow this tutorial. Except that you may need to fumble around to find some of the options I mention here.

The way I used to create the forum avatar below is not really the only way to create an avatar like that. In a huge program like Photoshop, there are tons of ways to do the same thing. I chose this method because it felt the most intuitive for those not used to Photoshop. If you took your time to learn Photoshop someday. You will be able to expand on the methods I am teaching you in this one and create a much better avatars. But for now, let’s focus on how to make a simple avatar:-

Opening the Image

Open the image you want to create your avatar from in Photoshop. For this tutorial, I will use the following picture, which is created by xox. If you like, you could create any image you want for this tutorial.


Rendering the Image

Before we create our forum avatar, we need to render this image. Rendering is the process of removing any background from the picture. The more you know about using Photoshop selection tools. The better rendering you could do. So let’s do that first:-

  • Select the Wand Tool Magic-Wand-Tool from the tools panel.
  • In the options bar, type the value 30 into tolerance. This value determines how much pixels Photoshop will choose once you click on the area you want to select.


  • Click on the blue background in the picture, and then press the Delete button. And Photoshop removed the background for you:-


  • Repeat the last step to remove all the blue areas we were not able to select the first time. Here is the picture after I finished rendering it:-


Creating the avatar background

Now we have rendered the girl picture, it is time to create the basic avatar. Which is a rounded rectangle in this case. We will use the Rounded Rectangle Tool Rounded-Rectangle-Tool to create that rectangle:-

Before we create the shape. First, let’s create a new layer to have the forum avatar rectangle on. Having the rectangle in its own layer will allows us to have the avatar border and the girl separately. This gives us a lot of flexibility to edit each of them separately, as we will see later.

To create the a new layer, simply click on the “New Layer” button in the layers panel:-


And Photoshop will add a new layer for you. Just above the currently selected one:-


Now is the time to create the rounded rectangle:-

  • Select the rounded rectangle tool Rounded-Rectangle-Tool from the tools panel.


  • In the options panel, enter the radius of the rounded rectangle you are going to draw. Higher radius means the rectangle cover will be rounder. After some experimentation, I decided that the value of 50 is the most suitable for the avatar.


  • In the tools panel, make sure that the foreground color is set to white. That will be the color of the rounded rectangle we are about to draw.


  • Draw the shape so that it covers your character. Here is how it looked like for me. Don’t worry that the character is covered by the rectangle for now. To draw a square instead of rectangle, hold down the shift button while you are drawing it. Which is what I did to create the rectangle below ;)


Creating the forum avatar borders

There are tons of ways to draw borders around the rounded rectangle we created. In here, I will do it the simple way:- by creating a selection and then filling it with the brush tool:-

  • Create a new layer to contain the avatar border, just like we did a few steps ago.
  • Now let’s create a selection identical to the one we just drew. To do that, in the layers panel, hover the mouse button over the thumbnail of rounded rectangle layer. Then hold the CTRL button (Command in Mac). When the mouse cursor has selection icon besides it, click on the thumbnail, this will cause Photoshop to create a selection that looks like the shape of the rounded rectangle.

In case what I just said didn’t make sense, this picture will explain to you what you need to do:- :)


  • Now let’s turn this selection into a border selection. To do that, select Select->Modify->Border from the main menu.
  • The border Selection dialog appears:-


  • In the dialog, enter the width of the border you want to create. In this example, we will enter 10 there, but you could enter any value you see fit.
  • A selection surrounding the rounded rectangle will appear.


  • After we turned the selection into a border selection, all you have to do now is to paint inside this selection using the brush tool. Just like how I did here:-


  • Now you could say we are done. But I think it won’t hurt to make the forum avatar border a bit more fancy. We will do that using layer styles. Which is a simple yet an effective ways to create effects in Photoshop.
  • To create the layer style, right-click on the layer containing the avatar boder in the layers panel. Then select blending options.


  • The Layer Style dialog appears.
  • In the Layer Style dialog, make sure that the Preview checkbox is checked, so that you would be able to see the effects on the Avatar border as you create them.


  • Now let’s activate the “Bevel & Emboss” layer style. To do that, click on the checkbox besides “Bevel & Emboss”.


  • The avatar border will get a nice 3d look in it. Except that the effect may be forced for some people. We are going to fix that now.


  • To show the “Bevel & Emboss” options. Simply click on the “Bevel & Emboss” in the Layer Style dialog:-

Bevel-Options copy

  • And the bevel & emboss options will appear at the middle of the dialog. To lessen the strong bevel you just created, simply drag the depth slider to the left. As shown in the following picture.


Placing the girl inside the avatar and cleaning up

Here is how the avatar looks like now. All that’s left is to place the girl inside the avatar we created.


  • To place the girl in the avatar, in the layers panel, simply drag the girl’s layer so that it becomes be between the avatar background layer and the border one. Here is how the final avatar looks like:-



  • We still have some cleaning up to do, as you can see, some unneeded parts of the girl picture are still there, and so we need to delete those pixels.
  • In the layers panel, select the girl’s layer, so that it becomes the active layer.
  • From the tools panel, select the Marquee rectangle tool Marquee-Selection-Tool.
  • Now drag to select the part of the girl that is below the border. The parts we want to delete.


  • Now press the Delete button on your keyboard. And that unneeded part is gone.


Cropping the image

Before we could save the forum avatar and upload it to wherever we want, we still need to crop the image, so that there won’t be anything in it besides the avatar. Here is how to do that.

  • Like we did before, select the contents of the border layer. Again, this is done by hovering the mouse over the thumbnail of the layer. Then holding the Control button (Command in Mac). Then clicking on the thumbnail. Here is how the border looks like after I selected it.


  • Now, crop the image by selecting Image-Crop from the main menu. And we are done:-
The final forum avatar we created
The final forum avatar

You could use these steps to create forum avatars of any size. And by changing the effects or shapes. You could end up with many different results.


I really hope you find this tutorial useful. If you have a tutorial idea. Specially if it is something I know how to do, don’t hesitate to suggest it to me in the comments section~

Would you like to learn Photoshop?

Simply subscribe to my mailing list below, and you will receive free chapters of my book “Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures”. Which I hope will help you learn many of Photoshop basics :)


See Also

I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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