Graphic emoticons, and by this we mean anything that's not a text based emoticon e.g. :-) can be found all over the Internet. They're commonly used in instant messenger, email, blogs and forums. They're also becoming increasingly popular on mobile phones and in Japan all mobile devices come with lots of emoticons pre-installed.
There are a range of graphic emoticon styles. The styles we think are worth writing about are static and animated.
When My Emoticons first launched in 2003, static emoticons, 19x19 pixels in dimension, were the standard format. MSN Messenger was then and still is the only instant messenger application that allows people like you and I to install our own emoticons i.e. to add more than the ones that you see when you download the application.
These are some samples of our small messenger emoticons:
They seem quite unsophisticated now. We sometimes refer to them as 'retro' emoticons because there's something edgy about them that makes us want to continue to showcase them on our site. You can see the full collection here.
When MSN Messenger released version 6.0, animated emoticons were a new feature. They were still small in size but it brought a new lease of life to MSN Messenger.
A while later, MSN Messenger increased the size of custom emoticons that they'd allow users to upload to a maximum of 50x50 pixel dimension. This allowed people like us to create much more sophisticated and detailed designs. Since MSN Messenger launched animated emoticons, other companies such as Yahoo Messenger and AIM have done the same and created animated icons. However, they still don't allow you to add your own emoticons.
These are four of our favourite animated emoticons that we designed. To view more click here.
There are lots of designers creating emoticons which means that there are lots of different styles. We act as Emoticon Critics and recently we reviewed lots of emoticons - big emoticons, small emoticons, allsorts - to find our favourite animated emoticons on the web. You'll see lots of different sizes and styles. Different people like different things. Some of the images won't work in MSN Messenger but will work in emails. Here are some examples:
You can see our favourites here.
Some animated emoticons have developed an almost cult like following. An example is the dancing banana, which since it was first designed has been adapted into hundreds of different varieties.
There are lots of websites that provide free static and/or free animated emoticons. The majority are to download for using as instant messenger emoticons but many can also be used in email. Some websites are completely dedicated to email emoticons e.g. Incredimail.
Typically, at emoticon and smiley websites you can download individual images. We reviewed lots of websites and tell you what we think in our list of the top 25 emoticon websites.
We did the same for review for emoticon software applications. These are useful for when you want to download lots of emoticons. Smiley Central is one of the most popular websites for this. We reviewed a lot of applications and tell you what's hot and what's not here.