Generating random avatar images in Django/Python

28 October 2020   0 comments   Python, Web development, Django

tl;dr; <img src="/avatar.random.png" alt="Random avataaar"> generates this image:

Random avataaar
(try reloading to get a random new one. funny aren't they?)

When you use Gravatar you can convert people's email addresses to their mugshot.
It works like this:

<img src="https://www.gravatar.com/avatar/$(md5(user.email))">

But most people don't have their mugshot on Gravatar.com unfortunately. But you still want to display an avatar that is distinct per user. Your best option is to generate one and just use the user's name or email as a seed (so it's always random but always deterministic for the same user). And you can also supply a fallback image to Gravatar that they use if the email doesn't match any email they have. That's where this blog post comes in.

I needed that so I shopped around and found avataaars generator which is available as a React component . But I need it to be server-side and in Python. And thankfully there's a great port called: py-avataaars.

It depends on CairoSVG to convert an SVG to a PNG but it's easy to install. Anyway, here's my hack to generate random "avataaars" from Django:

import io
import random

import py_avataaars
from django import http
from django.utils.cache import add_never_cache_headers, patch_cache_control


def avatar_image(request, seed=None):
    if not seed:
        seed = request.GET.get("seed") or "random"

    if seed != "random":
        random.seed(seed)

    bytes = io.BytesIO()

    def r(enum_):
        return random.choice(list(enum_))

    avatar = py_avataaars.PyAvataaar(
        style=py_avataaars.AvatarStyle.CIRCLE,
        # style=py_avataaars.AvatarStyle.TRANSPARENT,
        skin_color=r(py_avataaars.SkinColor),
        hair_color=r(py_avataaars.HairColor),
        facial_hair_type=r(py_avataaars.FacialHairType),
        facial_hair_color=r(py_avataaars.FacialHairColor),
        top_type=r(py_avataaars.TopType),
        hat_color=r(py_avataaars.ClotheColor),
        mouth_type=r(py_avataaars.MouthType),
        eye_type=r(py_avataaars.EyesType),
        eyebrow_type=r(py_avataaars.EyebrowType),
        nose_type=r(py_avataaars.NoseType),
        accessories_type=r(py_avataaars.AccessoriesType),
        clothe_type=r(py_avataaars.ClotheType),
        clothe_color=r(py_avataaars.ClotheColor),
        clothe_graphic_type=r(py_avataaars.ClotheGraphicType),
    )
    avatar.render_png_file(bytes)

    response = http.HttpResponse(bytes.getvalue())
    response["content-type"] = "image/png"
    if seed == "random":
        add_never_cache_headers(response)
    else:
        patch_cache_control(response, max_age=60, public=True)

    return response

It's not perfect but it works. The URL to this endpoint is /avatar.<seed>.png and if you make the seed parameter random the response is always different.

To make the image not random, you replace the <seed> with any string. For example (use your imagination):

{% for comment in comments %}
  <img src="/avatar.{{ comment.user.id }}.png" alt="{{ comment.user.name }}">
  <blockquote>{{ comment.text }}</blockquote>
  <i>{{ comment.date }}</i>
{% endfor %}

I've put together this test page if you want to see more funny avatar combinations instead of doing work :)

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