My Halberds and Helmets Character Sheet Generator now picks a random portrait for characters. Take a look at the folders men and women on this page. Here is also where you can find links to the book tags mentioned below.
A few days ago I wondered about a face generating web service. Unfortunately, I didn’t really find anything useful. I wondered about random Mii generation, looked at some random avatar designing services, and pondered my options. I started looking at a prototype which would take a very simple face from an SVG file and just randomly alter some stuff. But then I realized that the haircut was going to be really important to distinguish one sex from the other and that I would never be able to do interesting haircuts using a few lines placed by an algorithm. Not without some serious thinking about automatic haircut generation, at any rate.
That’s when I decided to look at extracting faces from freely available fotos. Sometimes these can be found on Flickr, for example. I looked for databases of faces. When I looked at a database of faces from Flickr it had plenty of kids and babies, however. Not suitable for random D&D characters.
I started wondering about public domain images in old books. There’s an account on Flickr called Internet Archive Book Images which posts images extracted from the scanned pages of books available from the Internet Archive. And so I started from there. I searched this account for pictures of men and women, then I searched for particular countries, all in an effort to find some interesting images, and click through to the book they came from (distinguished by a tag on Flickr). Then I went through the images of the book, saved them to disk, extracted the faces I found interesting, and continued from there.
I now have 323 pictures of men and women! Yay! The distribution of gender, race and age is absolutely skewed, unfortunately, and I’d love to add some more interesting white women, for example. And East Asians. And Sinti, Roma and Yeniche (Jenische). So much more to do! And what about elves? And dwarves? Mission Impossible, I think.
Anyway. The books are in the public domain. The faces I extracted are also in the public domain. Feel free to use these images in any way you like.