What's up with the Avatars with space background and colored border? Semi-officially, the preferred style for avatars is to use an upper-body shot (preferably armed) with a colored border or glow on an outer space background.
Many people have asked why this is the case, so this post is to explain the mythology behind this avatar style. (:
The basic explanation is that this style shows your character in space with your personal energy sheild surrounding you. This lends an element of character realism to your avatar, especially when you are seen by other players floating in space.
This style has some echoes in history, the two most prime examples being:
1977 Topps Star Wars Trading Cards/Stickers (blue and red sets)
1980 Xanadu, the 9 Daughters of Zeus
How do I make an Avatar like that?
You need a few things:
1) an image editor capable of layers and a "glow" or "stroke" filter. (I use Photoshop)
2) a space background. Normally, this one is used:
First, create a layer with your foreground image, and knock out the background using the eraser tool, or whatever tool works for you (I use the polygonal lasso)
Second, paste the star background behind your foreground.
Third, set focus to your foreground and apply a suitable color stroke or glow. (I generally use a 3px stroke)