We all just want our PCs to have pretty portraits, right? Years ago, I wrote a post on character portrait generators. For some reason (thanks, Google), it’s the first-page result and brings to this blogs tons of people.
And it’s terribly, terribly out of date. 2018 was a long-past time of very limited options. So, behold. A new, annotated list of portrait generators, which will be updated as new options appear on the market. There are thousands of generators these days, and I’m only showcasing the ones that will be genuinely useful (ie. omitting those that only bring to the table a single female body type and no options for other genders).
If you know any other useful resources, add them in the comments!
As previously, I’ll be using two characters to test the options. This time, Jakub and mine characters from our latest D&D campaign:
- Tonight, a midnight-blue-skinned elf, cleric of twilight
- Fish, a goblin pistol-wielding arcane trickster
Let’s see what we can do!
My personal favorite and a go-to in most cases. Hero Forge, even in its free version, offers a plethora of options: various faces, body types, animal-themed races, turtle shells, fantasy and modern equipment, familiars, spell effects, bases, poses, facial expressions, all the painting options, decals… Extra bonus: it can do Shadowrun. With a free account, you can save your designs and tweak them later. You can also order a miniature 3D printed according to your design. In Premium, you also get custom tokens for virtual tabletop.
If I were to talk about cons: not everybody will like the comic-y graphic style, as it’s obviously ‘plastic’ and unrealistic. The facial expressions are also rather poor.
An AI-powered project, letting you create any kind of art through mixing, matching, and adjusting. Pros: no two pictures will be the same, works on a multitude of art styles, you can make anything from portraits to scenery. Potential: giant. Cons: you will be playing with this for the longest while if you have anything specific in mind. Keeping consistency of art style if you’re making more portraits will be a challenge. No option to just pick items and add them. Works best on classically pretty faces, but has no problem with aging or androgyny. Look into adding extra genes and start with somebody else’s creation as a starting off point – it’ll save you a lot of time.
But, you can do much more than just portraits: you can make full characters by mixing and matching styles. Again, hard to make something very specific, but hell, is it useful for monsters and NPCs.
There are thousands of those, usually meant for creation of profile pictures for social media, OC (original characters) portraits, and good-old dress-ups. Most of them have a cartoonish or anime style, and there aren’t many to choose from if you want to make different races than a human or an elf. Older characters will also be a challenge. However, you might still find these useful:
Got horns, got colors, looks like doodles, counts as cute and chill.
Not a portrait per se, but a really cool character card overlay.
Pretty cool: it has things like hearing aids, a wheelchair, vitiligo patterns, different body and hair types, headwraps, and it’s very prettily drawn. Plus: great for your trans characters. If you don’t mind the pastels, and are after this soft look, give it a try. Extra point for giving me an ability to put stars on Tonight’s face. Modern clothing only – but you know: damn aesthetic. Sadly, it’s impossible to make a goblin here, but you can end up with a really cute half-orc.
I could not not-include this one. You need a goblin? Get yourself a goblin. Or a gremlin. Either way, it’ll be adorbs. Jakub made Fish for this one, and he happened to pick the same eyes as I did, so there’s that. That’s all you need to know about Tonight/Fish dynamics in the game.
Another AI-backed project, this time incredibly useful for quick generation of NPC portraits. The images here are small 512×512 pixels, as the author says they don’t want to make artists / commissions obsolete. Just go to the page, browse, and download what strikes your fancy – or even grab full pages with multiple portraits (here’s the NPC thing). It’s possible to use their system to make your own portraits, but it requires some backend work, so not everybody will be willing to do so (I wasn’t).
A rather new thing on the market, Token Vault specializes in, unsurprisingly, tokens. I haven’t used it myself, as I have no need for it, but the options seem very interesting – and unlike some websites, it looks like you won’t throw your computer through the window in frustration (I hate Character Creator’s UI, ok? It’s the clunkiest thing since Hero Machine).
No free option, but if you need a lot of tokens, this might be worth checking out.
Currently in development post-Kickstarter and available exclusively as a paid early-access mobile app, Portrait Workshop from Worldspinner looks interesting. I personally haven’t tested it and I’m not planning in the near future, but the options seem many and the purchasable commercial license might be very useful for some folks.
As I’ve mentioned, I will be updating this list and adding more resources and generators as I find them! Do you have any you’d like to recommend? Drop them in the comments and let’s make life easier for others!
While I have you here
Double Proficiency is a two-person operation of Anna Urbanek and Jakub Wisz: a pair of writers and graphic designers working on a variety of tabletop RPG projects. You may know us from the successful Kickstarter campaign for Herbalist’s Primer and our series of illustrated encounters called Wayfarer’s Decks. We are working on multitude of cool and useful setting- and system-agnostic supplements, books, and our own RPG games.
Take a look around our website and consider joining our supporters on Patreon!