Improve Your Space Face

The first impression of your characters portrait could decide in the subconscious of someone, overwhelming you in PvP, if he kills you – or not. If someone gives you the contract – or not. If that trustful individual falls for your scam – or not.
We are visual creatures after all. I know, I know. But you can’t proof me wrong! Or impress me and do it in the comments, please.

Anyway, there is no reason not to make your character look good!
Personally I appreciate and enjoy it when seemingly effort was put into an avatar picture. So I decided to share some knowledge about portrait photography with you; And how this can be applied to EVE characters of course.

Here are the things covered:

  1. Field of view (or the golden ratio / rule of thirds)
  2. Light
  3. Background
  4. Expression, Posing & Camera
  5. One more thing

1. Field of view

There was always this phenomena that most humans appear to like pictures that are slightly off over ones that are all symmetrical order. An explanation might be our brain looking always for shapes we have seen before, to categorize it. But if a shape is slightly off it gives our brain a reason to think about and analyze what is “wrong” with this picture – making it interesting to look.

The golden ratio gives an mathematic explanation for this appealing off-symmetry. But I think this is a bit too abstract to work with in the everyday life.
Instead, I recommend the rule of thirds to you. Now what is that?

Very simple: you divide the picture in thirds with two vertical and two horizontal lines. The area where the lines cut each other are significant points where you should place important features of your space face. Usually that would be the eye(s) of your character.


Honestly nobody will really be able to tell you if the golden ratio or the rule of thirds is the “better” one.  They both work. But – at least for me – the rule of thirds is easier to apply in everyday life because it’s easier to remember. Apple also seems to think this is a good idea.

2. Light

Lighting basically decides if your character is bad or good; Evil or friendly. You can achieve totally different moods purely with the lighting of a scene. Of course we are a bit limited with that in EVE.

Like pretty much else light has a code embedded in it’s color. In movies those are heavily used to generate a specific mood. Some examples: Green light is looking sick, strange and unhealthy. Yellow/Orange light looks warm and cozy, inviting to stay for a cup of tea. Blue on the other hand is cool and calculating, sometimes mystic like the night. And so on and so on. La La Land would make a good case study.

The absence of light can be a stylistic device too. In general you can say that the more shadows you have on a face the more threatening or even evil a face appears. Hard shadows favor this impression. Especially on the eyes, as they are the main focus point when we humans decide on if a person is enemy or friend. Right after that comes the mouth. So combine dark shadows on the eyes with a nasty expression to look like a true blood raider.

Killah Bee 669000721_512
Looks like he is about to decide how he’s going to kill you, right? (the background gives even wings to this one. But could be +1 zoom closer and bit lower, I think.)

Soft shadows combined with low light usually look more mysterious than threatening.

Looks like she’s in deep thoughts about the 42.

For a friendly, open looking face it’s the way around: choose warm light with soft shadows and avoid a lot of shadows around the eyes. Sadly to make your character smile mostly ends up to be more of a cringe. But well, I think we can live with that. EVE is serious business after all!

Tiberius Stargazer 92325148.jpg
No hard shadows, well lit; Must be a nice guy! (could have used +1 zoom and positioning a bit lower, though)

3. Background

Nowadays if you let take a picture of your real face from a real professional they tend to put you in front of a white/grey/black background. That’s because those are the most neutral colors everyone has a chance to look good in front of. Like lighting the color of a background reflects on your character. If you are unsure
In the EVE client there as much bad as good backgrounds to be found. So I’ll try to explain what makes a background good and what bad. Note that this also reflects my opinion.


  • high differences in hue between small areas of the background
    (like this striped ones)
  • background too close to the color of your characters hair/clothing
  • including good distinguishable shapes
    (e.g. horizontal stripes which can make the outline of your character blurry.)
  • motion blur
    (I truly hate to look at this, imo very uneasy on the eye.)


  • saturated colors
  • colors that makes it easy to distinguish your character in front of it
    (e.g. a figure with black hair should not stand in front of a pure black background because hair and background will blend into each other)
  • optimal: light of the background reflects light on your character

Summed up: Don’t let the background be distracting from your space face.

4. Expression, Posing & Camera

I’m confident you know what facial expression and pose means from your day to day life. But I want to ask you, if have you have ever thought about how it comes across to fellow capsuleers?
You might do that before choosing the badass-shady-amarrian-emperor-who-hides-his-eyes-behind-a-hod-style. ;)

What I really want to get into are some tips on positioning of the camera. It basically all depends on what you want to achieve:

  • Frog perspective – even a very slight one
    If you let the character look down on the camera he/she appears tall and mighty as you from your observing point seem to be smaller than him/her.
    Recommended for the tough, intimidating PvP badass, or the steeled wormhole veteran whose coming out on top solo with his Loki vs a whole gang.
2112051328_512-Arianna Fuchsstadt
See how Miss Foxton is looking down at you? (Pretty much perfect portrait, if you consider that’s bad ass wormhole stuff she does.)
  • Shoulder perspective
    Gives a mysterious feeling like the character doesn’t want to talk to you and rather keeps his secrets.
    Recommended for the sleek wormhole explorer who needs a good starting position to run away quick.
Every second, she starts running! (But she’s too low in the frame!)
  • Eye level
    When you want to interact with your opposite on one level that’s a good choice. Also let your character look directly into the camera.
    Recommended for all the Jita-Alts to scam off the unwary or serious business people operating in business where some level of trust is needed after all. Like hauling or corporation management, diplomatic stuff, etc.
The Judge 573001734
Handsome isn’t he? Must be a diplomat or so. (Apart from who this is, objectively it’s just a good portrait.)

5. Oh yes, there is actually one more thing:

Break those rules! They are meant to be broken if you feel like it. In fact they’re nothing more than guidelines and ideas. There is no “only truth” to it. Be creative.
You are in a f****ing sandbox after all!

If you need some inspiration I recommend to checkout this gallery on eveportraits.

Found this somewhat useful or entertaining? Feel fee to share!
Need advice on your avatar? just send me your space face via Twitter, and I will have a look at it.


The idea for this post came while stumbling over this thread in the forums.

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