Since the dawn of time, humans have been kinda obsessed with selfies of one sort or another.
Some of the oldest art in the world — over 35,000 years old, in fact — features outlines of hands drawn in the caves of Indonesia.
That was the best way those ancient people found to say “I was here, remember me!”
Today, we still have that urge to represent ourselves, to be seen as we want to be seen, and to be remembered. And one of the ways we answer that call in modern times is through our profile pictures.
In a digital-first world where a profile picture may be an acquaintance’s first introduction to us — and in some cases, the only introduction! — that single image holds a lot of value.
Thankfully, there are many companies that have seen the value in the PFP (that’s profile picture) and created a rich array of profile picture apps to help folks create images we feel truly represent us.
And we’ll talk about several of those options in this article. But first, let’s pave the way for success with a quick tutorial on taking a great pic!
Set Up: How to Look Amazing in Your PFP
Profile picture apps are only half of the recipe when it comes to whipping up a great pic.
There are several other elements that go into taking the picture itself that are critical to its success.
Get the Gear
If you already have a camera that takes great pictures, you’re off to a strong start!
If not, that’s totally fine. Today, most smartphones are capable of taking pretty good pictures. And of course, you can always enhance your image later with the help of some of the apps we’re going to talk about.
Whichever tool you choose, get yourself a steady tripod — or at least a level surface — to set it up on. You’ll also want to get familiar with your device’s self-timer feature or grab a remote, because you’re going to need time to get into position.
How far back you move from the camera depends on a lot of things, like its lens and your own preferences, but a typical head-and-shoulders shot usually requires you to be at least 6 feet from the camera.
Secure a Clean Background
This is another element of photography that used to be more relevant before background remover tools hit the scene.
Typically, you’d want a clean, minimal, and bright space behind you in a profile photo. The fewer things back there, the fewer distractions from the star of the show — you!
However, if that kind of background is hard to come by where you are, you don’t have time to set up a whole scene, or you discover something later that you wish you had removed from view — don’t stress. You can easily clean up pictures and replace your background with Pixelcut (more about us later).
Find the Best Lighting
Lighting is the unsung hero of any great selfie.
Bright indoor lighting, especially from overhead, has a way of casting lots of shadows on your face and making your features harsh.
Lighting made for photography — think box lights and those ring lights that became popular with the rise of Zoom — is a great option.
However, those can be expensive and difficult to set up.
The easiest and most affordable option? Mother nature.
Overcast days, a few hours after sunrise, and a few hours before sunset are all times when the outdoor lighting is perfect for taking a photo of your face. Shadows are minimal and you’re less likely to need to squint against the sun.
If you're positioned by a window, face it to take advantage of natural lighting for indoor photo taking.
Consider Your Presentation
One of the best things about profile photos is they allow you to convey a ton of personality without saying anything at all.
That’s why how you choose to present yourself in your PFP is definitely worth thinking about before you click that button.
First, let’s talk body language.
Science and pro photographers agree, a genuine smile is your best bet. This guide shows you how to get one — and provides some tips on eye contact, head positioning, and interesting expressions to consider if you want to get creative.
As for clothing that can be seen in the photo, it should match the occasion. Updating your LinkedIn profile pic as part of the job search process? As they say, dress for the job you want!
Creating a new profile picture for your YouTube channel all about space exploration? A starry background and your favorite NASA shirt will fit the vibe perfectly!
Above all, remember that people have a knack for spotting anything that seems “off.” Don’t force a toothy grin if it feels uncomfortable, and don’t wear that 12-year-old suit jacket if it obviously doesn’t fit in the shoulders anymore.
Act natural and comfortable, and people will feel welcomed by your profile pic.
Execution: Use Pixelcut to Create an Awesome PFP
Whether you’re looking to create a trendy PFP for a social media platform or a more polished look for your professional website — or both! — Pixelcut is the tool for you.
No more messing around with complicated and expensive tools. Photoshop, anyone?
Pixelcut is an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that makes it fast and easy to edit photos, create designs, and generate art (including PFPs) from the comfort of your computer or your iOS/Android device.
With Pixelcut, there is no end to how creative you can get when designing profile pics, product photos, ads, and more:
- Use our image upscaler to improve resolution and colorizer to bring life to images
- Cleanup pictures to magically erase distractions
- Add your own backgrounds, stickers, text, etc. with our background remover
- Batch edit multiple images at once to save yourself lots of time
- Create unique art with our AI images generator
- Use the profile picture maker to show off who you truly are
- New feature: Generate a unique AI avatar that looks just like you! (app only for 2022)
Pixelcut’s PFP maker brings the fun back to the profile picture creation process.
You just focus on capturing the shot that best represents your personality, and Pixelcut’s powerful editor, available on desktop and mobile alike, will help with the rest.
Erase distractions or wholly replace the background of your PFP with solid colors, patterns, or photos — the options are endless — to set the tone you’re going for. Touch up any blurriness, poor lighting, or sub-optimal coloration in a snap. Kind of overwhelmed on where to start? Tap into one of Pixelcut’s templates for a flawless yet fast outcome. Time to refresh your photo for the season or a special event? Just open up your project in your Pixelcut workspace and layer on the filters, stickers, and other fun effects.
Ready to take a little break from reality and create one of those AI avatars that are all the rage today?
All you have to do is add a handful of quality photos of your face from different angles. In a few hours, we’ll send back 100 stylish versions of you — ten different styles of avatars, each with ten variations — that you can upload anywhere you need a fresh new profile pic.
Trying to nail that just-right profile pic for Instagram? Here’s How to Create the Perfect Instagram Profile Picture.
Looking to present as a top-rate pro on LinkedIn? We also have a guide for that. Read 8 Tips for Taking the Perfect LinkedIn Profile Photo at Home (Plus 4 Mistakes to Avoid).
With Pixelcut, photo editing and even creation really is as simple as a few clicks — or the swipe of a finger.
Bonus: 5 More Creative Profile Picture Apps to Try
Looking for more solutions for creating or editing awesome profile pics? Look no further, because this roundup features five more tools that stand out in each of their unique categories.
Prisma: This AI Turns Photos Into Art
Prisma is another AI-powered photo editor, but its special touch is turning traditional photos into what look like paintings.
Prisma has been programmed with over 700 different art styles so you can go from looking like a cartoon to an abstract version of yourself.
Prisma is available on web (in beta) and mobile devices. The app includes a free trial before you have to choose from one of their various subscription plans.
We should also mention that Prisma’s sister tool, Lensa, is a simple photo-editing app featuring retouching, background changing, filters, and frames.
avataaars generator: Create Old School Avatars
We’ve come so far in the world of profile pics that simple, 2D avatars actually feel a little old school now!
But if simplicity is what you crave, the look and functionality of avataaars generator is for you.
The website is free and easy to use. Generate a random avatar or use the fields to add your desired features, then share your new image, download it to your device, or capture the code behind it to paste into your own website.
PhotoDirector 365: Most Like Photoshop
PhotoDirector 365, part of the CyberLink suite of tools, is a fully-featured editing and design tool that handles everything from photo enhancements (enlarging, changing background, deblurring, etc.) to effects, graphic design, animations, overlays, and more.
Obviously, it’s a little high-powered if you’re just looking to create stellar profile pics, but it does make for an affordable Photoshop alternative if you’re looking for that.
This robust platform is available on web and mobile and has free as well as paid features. It can be bundled with other CyberLink tools like Director Suite 365 and more.
Picsart: Make Almost Any Digital Art
Picsart is another suite of tools that powers lots of creative endeavors: photo and video editing, drawing, graphic design, video and animation creation, gif making, and more.
When it comes to photo editing specifically, Picsart offers batch edits, background and object removal, filters and effects, text, and templates.
These features can be used on web and iOS, Android, and Windows devices. While many of Picsart’s photo and video editing features are free, to access all of its capabilities you’ll need to choose a payment plan.
AI Time Machine: See Yourself Throughout History
AI Time Machine, created by the genealogy platform MyHeritage, is a really cool entry into the field of PFP creators and editors.
With AI Time Machine, you add photos of yourself and the platform will use AI technology to provide pics of how you may have looked at different points in history!
So if you’re wondering how you look in a suit of armor or want your profile pic to show off your Viking heritage, AI Time Machine is here to fill that very specific niche.
AI Time Machine is available via the MyHeritage mobile app and website. As of late 2022, the new tool seems to be testing pricing, so some users are granted a free trial while others are asked to pay (typically under $20) for the set of images the tool creates for them. The website mentions a possible subscription plan in the future, with more benefits for MyHeritage Complete plan users.
Take Pixelcut for a Spin and Create a Stand-Out PFP
Whether it’s professional or personality-filled profile pics you’re looking to create, we understand how valuable it is to have a tool that helps you quickly and affordably make graphics that truly capture who you are.
That’s why we created Pixelcut, and why we continue to add features that make creating a great digital profile approachable for our users.
Join the more than 10 million small businesses, creators, and entrepreneurs who rely on Pixelcut to grow their personal and professional brands.
Sign up to start using the Pixelcut web app right away. It’s free!