In a world where we are increasingly communicating through text, the humble emoji – the little comic pictograms we use to decorate text messages, emails, and online chats – has never been more important. Emoji can even make us appear friendlier to others. Originally from Japan, emoji was used everywhere in the late 1990s – a universal language that transcends devices, operating systems, and international borders. No matter what country you come from or what language you speak, we can all recognize happiness in the "blushing smiling face" emoji or know that the person sending you an eggplant emoji is clearly in the mood for eggplant parmesan.
Emoji can be used to convey a variety of emotions. What to do if you want to say something specific with an emoji and can't find the right one for the task? You can always make your own emoji, although there are some limitations. Here's how to get started. Also, check out our guide on creating your own emoji in Android.
Use a messaging service that allows custom emoji
If you use a messaging app like Discord or Slack – the former is popular with multiplayer video games while the latter is used by many companies for internal communications – you can be happy to learn that adding your own emoji is a problem is easy process.
To add an emoji, you need to create one first. Messaging services are usually restricted. With Slack, with which we will be demonstrating, emoji cannot be larger than 64 KB and neither the height nor the width may exceed 128 pixels.
Open the photo editing software of your choice (e.g. the free, web-based Pixlr).
Once you are confident of your artistic skills, you can use the tools included in the program to create an emoji. For a traditional emoji look, start with a yellow circle with a shape tool. Note: Use a transparent background so that the emoji appears seamlessly against any background.
Then add features like mouth and eyes using tools like pencil or shape tool.
If you want to create an emoji from a currently existing image, the process is simple. First, find an image that you want to turn into an emoji, such as E.g. a picture of Nic Cage in the film Con Air.
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Open the picture in your photo editing software. Using the lasso tool, trace the edge of the future emoji.
When you've made a full circuit, cut out the selection (CTRL + X) and then create a new image (preferably making the background transparent so the emoji looks good against any chat background).
Paste the image into this new window.
Make the changes you want and save the image as a PNG (to keep the background transparent).
However, in the end, you'll create your emoji. Once you've saved it, open your messaging app (Slack in this case).
Click the "Emoji" button and scroll down until you see the "Add a custom emoji" link here. Click on it, then upload your image file and give the emoji a name.
In Discord, find the server you want to add an emoji to and open the drop-down menu in the top left.
… And choose Server Settings.
Next, click on Emoji and then click the Upload Emoji button.
Note: You need authorization on the server to upload emoji. If it's a server you've created, you have it automatically. However, if the server's creator has put restrictions on uploading, you need to speak to them.
The next level: pitch the Unicode consortium
Uploading emoji to services like Slack or Discord is easy, but you may be wondering how to integrate your emoji with the business offered by major platforms like iOS and Android. As it turns out, the emoji phrase users will find on just about every device (including classics like "smiling face in sunglasses" and "face with a zippered mouth") is actually regulated by a group known as the Unicode Consortium. Unicode is a widely used standard for encoding text on electronic devices that ensures that text sent from a device, regardless of make or model, will be properly displayed on the receiving end.
The consortium maintains a carefully controlled list of approved emoji. If you want your emoji creation to appear in this prestigious catalog, you must submit a proposal to the selection committee. The committee judges emoji based on a number of factors. Aspiring emoji artists need to consider how often people would actually use the new emoji, how clear the image is, and whether it fills a niche that other emoji currently don't have. (Emoji can't be specific people or brands, so unfortunately our Nic Cage emoji is dead upon arrival.)
The full requirements for submitting a proposal can be found on the consortium's website.