House of Mabel Design: Programs: RISC OS Avatars
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RISC OS Avatars


Some time ago I designed a set of graphics for the ArgoNet Voyager version of ArcWeb which included an image on/off button of a girl who stuck her tongue out when you clicked on the button.  When ArgoNet wanted to move to Browser (and later ended up with Fresco), I redesigned the graphics to a more minimalist style and the girl only lived on in the custom directory sprite (using the Desktop+ module, and with the tongue sticking out when you opened the directory).

When I started designing  HTML³ I noticed that Netscape Composer had images to show how alignment would affect the images within the text of a web page, and I thought I'd go one better - as well as the boring standard way of showing lines of fake text and bits of colour to show how where the images would lie, I resurrected the girl and had her look in the direction of the alignment.

Time passes and HTML³ is starting to get a bit long in the tooth; the windows are getting a bit cluttered and yet I want to be able to add even more options.  So I'm thinking of a fairly major re-write, possibly even scrapping it and starting on HTML4.  One of the ideas this threw up was to get rid off all the individual girl images and have one über-image drawn on the fly, which would allow for better colour handling, more animation and so on.  This idea snowballed, and took in a custom smiley project I was working on for Acorn Arcade/The Icon Bar's forums.



  • Gender
    • Male
    • Female
    • Special character (see below)
  • Skin colour
    • Caucasian
    • Afro-Caribbean
    • Asian
    • Oriental
    • Skull
    1. Same face shape for all (except skull), just change colours.
    2. Need three colours for shading
  • Hair colour
    • Black
    • Brown
    • Red
    • Blond
    • Grey
    • White
    • others possible, such as blue and green.
    1. Again, basically change the colour variables
    2. And at least two, maybe three, colours for hair shading
  • Hair length
    • long
    • short
    • halo
    • none
    1. Implementation could auto-change based on colour? ("long" would look different between races?)
  • Weight
    • regular
    • heavier 
  • Eye colour
    • brown
    • hazel
    • green
    • grey
    • blue
    • red
    1. Only need one colour; might need to make sure black is included though.
    2. Use circles not points in vector mode - remember that it can be scaled
  • Facial hair
    • moustache
    • beard
    • both
    • goatee
    • sideburns
    • fringe
    1. Could be implemented by combining.
    2. Eyebrows automatically bigger for male than female
  • Glasses
    • small
    • small (John Lennon student style)
    • large
    • comedy large
    • sunglasses (small)
    • sunglasses (larger)
  • Specials
    • monkey
    • robot
    • vampire
    • red squirrel
    • smiley face (if using fully customised smileys on online forums)
    1. These would be one-offs, and not configurable - blonde goateed monkeys would just be too silly

Configuration via a single program in !Boot.Resources.Configure in RISC OS 4 style boot sequence, or Apps in older versions.  As long as it's seen on bootup it can be called via a system variable from any program that needs it.


  • Versions
    • generate short alphabetic code (I'd be something like :MWYSRGGO:, a monkey would be  :s:monkey: and so on)
    •  On-the-fly drawing code to be written
      • Scalable - defined a 
      • using ColourTrans for dithering (can use subtle colours and let OS worry about how to display it in low-colour modes)
      • animating (require some kind of binary representation to handle combinations)
        • tongue
        • close eyes
        • screw up eyes
        • mouth open (chin moves down)
        • oo-sound
        • mouth open bit + oo-sound bit = grimace
        1. Uses: tongue sticking out + screw up eyes + mouth open = proper tongue sticking out configuration
        2. Uses: mouth closed, open and oo-ing should be enough for faux speech animation
        3. Uses: close eyes + oo-ing = yawn
        4. Random stuff can happen - leave a window open too much and get yawns, burps etc.
        5. No eye animation - custom job for HTML3(/4)?  Or allow for mouse follow in other apps?
    • GIF version for use in HTML3(/4) documentation - copy in on change (or use directly from !Boot location) so all docs have you personal avatar to guide you.
    • Author to pre-render all smiley combinations for online usage.
    • DrawFile version for DTP
    • Sprite version?
  • Number
    • Personal (online presence etc.)
    • Assistant (for help docs etc.)
    • Can clone assistant from your own image.
  • Uses
    • HTML3(/4) - images window especially, but could be on all windows?
    • Could replace !Help and BubbleHelp with avatar
      • plug in support for speech synths?
      • Speech changes based on gender - possible on older SupSoft module with tone change?
    • Online smileys
    • Add to email headers, display image of sender in Posty etc.
    • Mouse follow silly; could add in clocks, random cookies, download weather info, other reporting functions.
Avatar animation (work so far)

Avatar animation (work so far)

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