Update: As of March 2015 this article is still accurate.
Now that the new community blogrums are open people are exploring the settings and tools in the new system. Seems there are some gotcha’s you’ll want to avoid. Making your avatar image or badge has some dandy gotchas. Hopefully this tutorial will help you avoid them.
Yesterday I provided a link to Torley’s Welcome to a new Community System video tutorial. At about minute 5 in he explains how to add your avatar picture to the blogs/forum. I uploaded a couple of images and using Torley’s instructions got the images uploaded and one set as my Avatar picture. My 150×150 px image appears as a 36×36 px image in the forum. Phfffffpt! Not really what I wanted. See image #2.
Today Suella Ember put up a new tutorial in a forum post on how to make Cool Badges… badges… WTH is a badge and how is it different than than an avatar image? Short answer, yes. It is different. You can actually have an avatar image and a badge showing at the same time. See image #1. Also they show up in some different places.
She explains the big gotcha in badges. If you use one of the existing system badges you’re screwed. There is no way to totally remove it… ever… or at least until someone fixes the problem. So, you will have a funky bit of background covering part of your badge image. See image #3 – click to enlarge. Notice the background behind the Posts count. However, Suella provides a work around that minimizes the problem to what you see in image #3.
Do not use one of the System’s default badges. If you do you cannot completely get rid of it.
2. If you’ve already used one of the existing badges under ‘My Settings’ > ‘Social Connect’ switch to the ‘bayfog’ one. This will still keep the bar with the blue hashes (as in mine) but allows you to use a background of your own that will be mostly visible. All the other badges will make any custom background you upload hardly visible. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a way to completely remove all badge elements once you have used one of the existing ones! (Quoting Suella)
The images you use in the the system for a badge need to be 170 pixels wide and 195 pixels tall per Suella. I have more precise dimensions below. There are also color restrains to keep things readable. I’ll show you what is happening. I made a badge I suspected would have problems. See image #4.
You can see that my black hair allows my name to disappear. Also my 170×195 image is cropped to 145×177 px. So, I thought Suella’s ratio for the image was off. Plus the corners are rounded, which clips off my 1px black border. At the bottom and right side the black border completely disappeared. So, the image is being cropped rather than squeezed.
So, I tried making a 145×166 ps image to test Suella’s ratio and change the image around to allow for the black name the system adds. See image #5.
The result is surprising. It seems the image is a tiled background for this part of the page. I guess I could have downloaded the CSS file for the site to see what they are doing. Naaah! Too geeky and now it is obvious. So, a 145×166 image is too small. As best I can tell the image should be 145×176 px to fit the space given. Now, that is not a perfect size solution. Because as Suella points out, different sections of the site will display the image differently by giving it more or less space. This means my idea of a border is out.
Since changing width would probably create page layout problems I am guessing the width is pretty much the same across all the sites. I’ll find out eventually.
Turning on various options in the Social Connect section will change the hight. As best I can tell, with Topics, Blog Articles, Ideas, and Accepted Solutions turned on the images needs a hight of 206 pixels. So, the image should be 145×206 px to avoid showing the horizontal or vertical repeat you see in image #5. The bottom part of the image has your join date in medium dark gray text. So, you need a light color in the bottom part of your badge image.
The smallest display area is with all 4 options turned off, 145×146 px. This means that the bottom 60 pixels may or may not show depending on your settings and the page it appears on.
The image starts filling the area from the upper left and extends down and right. If the image is bigger, the parts past 146 px right and below 206 down will never show. If the image is less than 146×206 you may see the image start to repeat with some settings or on some pages.
Now I need to figure out where in the image the name is appearing and do something about that. I also need to figure out how much of the bottom part needs to be light colored. The name appears in a rectangle who’s upper left corner about 62 px down and 10 px right. The hight is about 50 px and width about 115 px. Width will change depending on your name. You can see I used Gaussian blur and transparency with the background I put behind my name. See image #6. I’m building the background into my image rather than trying to use the systems background you saw in image #4.
Other than having to create some contrast for the black name text and other gray (#606666) text you are free to design whatever. Or to use colors to hide the black or gray text. The big white blob of reputation stuff doesn’t help the look. But lots of people are designing some nice badges.
That white blob can be made transparent. Go into the Suella post and look through the pages of posts. You will see some badges have tranparent boxes containing the rank and stats text. Decide if you like how the text and transparent background for the text is handled.
WARNING: Once you change your text appearance by selecting a badge style, there is no way to go back. Look at image #1 and #8 to decide. Once you change, you cannot go back to a style like image #1.
You can pick one of the 4 default badge styles. Suella pointed out that Bayfog covers up the least but it has that odd set of bars to the right. Tokyo Madness creates the three translucent areas.
In image #7 you can see ModenTech with my background image, which is mostly hidden. In image #8 is Tokyo Madness and my background.
To use your image and a badge style pick the style and then pick your image, upload or select from your gallery.
You now know the information to avoid the trial and error I was doing.
Have fun. Let me know if I got anything wrong.