Tips and tricks to make a cool PFP for Instagram.

Instagram profile picture of a person with long hair and a beard in a white bucket hat edited onto different backgrounds

On the internet, anyone can be anything.

Whether you want to become the biggest influencer in the fashion industry or position yourself as the most capable real estate agent around, your Instagram Stories and posts can reflect the part of yourself you’ve always wanted the world to see. For all the dreamers and creators of the world, starting an Instagram account is your chance to invent and embrace your personal brand.

The downside of internet anonymity: Social media is rife with catfishes. With an estimated 95 million bots and plenty of scammers on Instagram, users are getting more and more cautious about who they actually follow and trust. If you have a blurry headshot or the default Instagram profile pic (PFP), your account may not make the cut.

On the flip side, a cool PFP for Instagram can inspire trust and plant the seeds for strong follower loyalty by showing off a little of who you are. Here’s what you need to know to make a standout PFP of your own.

What does PFP really mean?

PFP is an acronym for profile picture, but it can also stand for “picture for proof.” When social media users want to verify that a person is real or a claim is true, sending a quick PFP request will do the trick. It’s essentially an update to the saying, “pics or it didn’t happen.”

The rising use of PFP is a testament to the rising scrutiny of users on social media platforms. With viral films like “The Tinder Swindler” and “Fyre” presenting real-life horror stories of catfishing, influencers, and the web, it’s safe to say that no one wants to be the star of Netflix’s next documentary.

Adding a clear, trustworthy Instagram profile photo is the best way to provide visual evidence that your or your business are, in fact, real.

How to make a cool PFP for Instagram.

An Insta-worthy PFP can give users a positive first impression of your brand. When you effectively show off what makes you or your business unique in the little circle next to your username, you can gain followers, engagement, and user trust. These three steps will help you quickly make a cool PFP for Instagram.

Choose a template

If you want your profile image to stand out from the crowd, a typical selfie won’t do the trick. Some of the most eye-catching PFPs start with Instagram profile picture templates, which can pair real-life images with design elements that make your photo pop.

Select a free or premium template from the Adobe Express Instagram profile picture maker — or tap any template featured later on in this post — to start customizing a PFP that matches your Instagram feed and your brand personality.

With a quality template, you won’t have to worry too much about fixing the aspect ratio of your profile pic when you finish your work. Express templates are already squares, perfectly matching the Instagram profile picture size requirements: 110 px by 110 px.

Take a close-up headshot

Once you know what template you want to use, you need to take an image of yourself to add to your customization. At this point, it’s important to remember that PFPs are small icons that can be difficult to see, whether you’re on an Android or iPhone or using Instagram from a computer web browser. To make the most of the pixels you have, you need to opt for a close-up shot.

Close-up images can humanize your brand by helping Instagram users put a face to your name straight away. However, they don’t have to look like boring school photos or professional LinkedIn shots. Since Instagram is a creative platform, you can pose in different angles or use fun facial expressions to make your PFP a little more exciting.

Match your style to your brand.

Unlike Instagram posts, Instagram profile pics leave little room for you to customize your template with your brand colors and fonts. In fact, Instagram PFPs don’t typically include any text at all.

Instead of letting your brand elements do the talking, let your style shine. Choose a shirt, props, and accessories — like a hat, glasses, or earrings — that effectively express your brand. For example, if you’re running a cosplay account, it makes sense to be dressed as an anime character. However, a lawyer who wants to look ultra-professional might want to wear a suit — even if it’s a vibrantly colored one.

Free PFP templates

Now that you know the three basic steps to creating a PFP for Instagram, check out these templates to get you started. Click or tap any template in this blog post to customize it by adding your own close-up photo.

Hot tip: Use the Adobe Express mobile app to import a headshot directly from your iPhone or Android’s photo library to make your PFP creation even easier. If you’re reading this blog post on a smartphone, simply click into the Adobe Express app here and get started.

More tips for making a PFP for Instagram

Find good lighting.

Great lighting can make or break a photo. Before you jump in front of your camera, make sure to find a high-quality light source that can make your photos look bright, clean, and clear.

Natural lighting is always your best bet. If you’re indoors, you can simply face a window while taking your photo. However, you’ll want to avoid the harsh direct light, which can cast unflattering shadows on your face.

Don’t be afraid to take aesthetically pleasing pictures if it fits your brand. If you’re a creator like a photographer or artist, it can make sense to take your photo with an artsy lighting source, like neon lights or a prism. Still, at the end of the day, your profile pic should still be clear and easily identifiable as you.

Tap on the template above to customize it with your gorgeous, well-lit picture.

Choose an artistic background.

Your backdrop is one of your most powerful tools when you’re making a cool PFP for Instagram. Rather than using a plain-colored backdrop, you can set yourself against cool backgrounds like a geometric pattern, a gradient, or a mountain scenery — no need to hike a trail just to snap your profile pic.

Adobe Express allows you to change your background color for free in a matter of minutes. Once you upload your photo, you can tap to remove your background, then place your new cutout on any other image, pattern, or color.

If you’re choosing a pattern for your backdrop, make sure your background won’t clash with your clothes. (Mixing plaid flannel with a polka dot background is definitely grounds for a ticket from the fashion police.) If you’ve taken a picture with a plain shirt on, you can make your PFP more exciting by placing it on the template above.

Flourish with design assets.

Once you have the perfect background for your PFP, you’re all set to tap “Edit Profile” on Instagram and upload your new image file. However, if you want an extra cool PFP for Instagram, you can always add a bit of flair. Jump on our Instagram profile picture maker online to choose extra design assets to place on your image in just a few taps.

Tap the image above to make an Instagram PFP that makes you look like a shining star.

Put your image center stage.

When you change profile photos, you don’t want your final product to appear lopsided on your profile. The best Instagram PFPs are perfectly centered, so make sure your picture and other design elements are well-aligned. Plus, if your final work isn’t already a perfect square, make sure to resize to Instagram’s recommended 110 px by 110 px dimensions — or use the template above to ensure you can skip this step.

Get Adobe Express today