Google has had a few dozen pre-made avatars available to Gmail and Google Workspace users for years. But if you prefer something other than your smiling face, you’d have to hunt around the web for some image to use for an alternative. Today Google is introducing a new avatar system called Google Illustrations, which lets you choose from a huge variety of scenes, elements, and custom colors.


Google Illustrations is sort of like a super-simple version of those kid’s computer art programs they had back in the 90s. You start with one of hundreds of pre-made images separated by categories, then tweak it. Individual elements of the image can be removed or moved around, and colors can be adjusted, either for the whole image or in part. Exactly what you can customize within the elements of an illustration varies from image to image.

Untitled 1

To get started, open the Gmail Android app (or any similar app with access to your Google profile). Tap on your profile image to bring up your Google account management page, then tap your profile image again. Tap “Add Profile image” at the bottom of the screen to start checking out the Illustrations options. Of course, users still have the option to use a photo from their phones or any other saved image as a profile picture.


The company stated that this new tool was especially important for users who don’t feel safe or comfortable sharing their face on the public web. Inclusivity, in the form of as many varied categories and customizable images as possible, was a primary goal of Illustrations.

Google says that Illustrations is going live today, September 27th, in Gmail and Contacts on Android. Once set, your profile Illustration will sync across your profile on every platform. The option to create and edit Google Illustrations will be coming to the web and iOS apps in the future, but a specific timeline was not given.