It is the job of every dedicated Internet (over)user to organically know what a meme is – in the simplest terms, it is a popular and usually funny idea or concept that has been passed on from person to person via the Web, usually with a highly visual element and focus. It comes in various forms, most commonly through photos emblazoned with witty text.
So what if you want to not only consume but contribute to the Internet’s collection? There are websites you can use to easily create memes generated from already existing ones. All you need to do is to choose a meme template, type in your desired text and voilà – you’ve got a meme you can post and share. However, if you would like to take on the challenge to create your own meme from scratch, it’s actually fairly easy.
Step 1: Do your research
Know your memes. It’s good practice to take a gander at pre-existing memes that have achieved viral status. That way, you can either find one to use as inspiration or you can rule out the topics you don’t want to replicate.
The above image, for example, has been reappropriated into meme-dom many times.
Keep a watchful eye on trends. Regularly check your Twitter or Facebook feeds for relevant news – entertainment topics are usually a win. Take note of what makes you laugh the most and what gets the most hilarious responses.
Miley Cyrus is currently in the Internet spotlight.
Also, Breaking Bad is ending this weekend, so it’s often in the news.
Choose a subject you can relate to. If you’re not a sports fan, you might have a hard time selling a sports-themed meme (say that five times fast). Cute animals are always a great go-to when you are tapped out of ideas, but if you really want to push the envelope, choose a public figure you can easily imitate. If you’d like to use a personal experience as the center of your meme, choose one that’s easily relatable.
Decide on a medium. Of course the easiest medium to use is photo, but if you’ve got a knack for improve and being funny on camera, you might want to venture into video.
Step 2: Compose your content
Collect your materials. Before going any further, this is the point where you decide if you’re going to come up with your own stuff or recycle things you’ve found online. If you’re doing a photo meme and you want to use existing content, do the appropriate screen grabbing from videos you want to use; you can also surf the Web for images you’d like to use as pegs, or hit up Imgur’s meme-maker.
Keep it short and simple. Bear in mind that the attention span of the average Internet user is pretty short, so you want to make an impression right off the bat. Come up with a catchphrase that uses simple and memorable language.
Find the right expression to convey. Make sure your visuals match the sentiment you’re trying to portray.
Step 3: Have the necessary tools of the trade
If you’re doing a photo meme, it might be wise to have Photoshop installed (or use Pixlr Editor, a free online image editor that has similar controls and functions) . You can also look up meme generator sites like Imgur that let you upload your own photo background. Lastly, you can install photo apps on your phone that allow you to add text to your images, like Aviary (we’ll talk about both of these shortly).
If you’re doing a video meme, the easiest apps and sites to use are Instagram, Vine, and YouTube.
Step 4: Create it
Once you have your photo (whether you took it, screen-grabbed it, or found it somewhere online), you can use any of the services below.
When you get to the meme generator, click on “upload new background” and use one of the four options provided.
Wait for your photo to upload.
Once your photo is ready, it will appear on Imgur’s editing page, where you can type in the text that will go on your image. You can do all sorts of things like move the text around or resize it. You can also opt to submit it to Imgur’s public memes gallery. Be sure to name your meme before clicking on “make this meme!”
Your next page gives you a whole bunch of options on what to do with the meme you just created. If you want to keep it for later, just right click on the image and save it on your computer. You can also take note of the link so you can share it later on. If you do not want to save the image on Imgur, take note of the deletion link because it will only appear once. Otherwise, you can add it to your Imgur account (and you can create one if you’d like).
Congrats, you’ve just made a meme through Imgur!
After launching the app, choose either Camera to shoot a new photo or Gallery to choose an already existing one.
Scroll through the available tools and click on Meme.
Type in the text you want to appear on your image. Click apply. Then click Done.
Woohoo, meme by Aviary mobile app!
At this point, you already have a photo meme, but since Aviary is a photo editing app, you can check out other tools available to enhance your pic (effects, stickers, etc) but really … you don’t have to. You will find your finished product saved in the Aviary folder in your phone’s Gallery.
Open your image by clicking on File > Open then finding your image in its rightful folder or by dragging your image file into Photoshop.
To add text, click on the Type Tool icon (symbolized by the letter T). Choose Impact as a font and make sure you type in all caps. Fiddle with the font size until it is proportional to the image. Choose white for font color.
On the right side where it says Layers, right click on the layer containing your text and click on Blending Options. Choose Stroke. Change the color to black. Keep the size at 3px.
To save your photo meme without replacing the original photo, click on File > Save As. Choose JPEG as format. Keep the quality at maximum and hit OK.
You’ve just made a meme using Photoshop, yay!
What if you’re making a video meme? Read on.
After launching the app, click on the Instagram camera icon. To start shooting your short video, click on the video icon. You will have a total of 15 seconds to use, so use it wisely. Keep the record button (red video icon) pressed and let it go when you want to move on to your next scene.
If you’re unsatisfied with a clip, click on the X icon to delete. Note that you can only delete and replace the most recent clip in the queue, so try not to move on to the next scene if you’re not 100 percent sure you’re content with your clip.
Keep clicking next until your video shows up on your Instagram feed. That’s when you know that yes, your Instagram video meme is up and running!
Vine is similar to Instagram video in terms of steps so we’ll forgo the screenshots. After logging in and launching the app, click on the video icon on the top-right corner of the screen. To start recording, keep your finger on the screen (on top of your face, yes) and let go when you want to record a different clip. If you want your clips to have continuity and better transitioning, you can turn on the ghost option so a phantom of your last frame appears, giving you an idea of where things should be on your next clip.
Vine is pretty straightforward – there’s no real editing involved and clips are pretty short. You, may however, convert your Vine clip into a GIF, making it an even more interesting meme!
You can easily create a video meme by recording yourself on YouTube via webcam. When you’re logged into YouTube with your Google account, click on Upload on the top of the screen. On the page where you normally select files to upload to your YouTube channel, click on Webcam capture instead.
When you get to the next screen, you may need to allow your computer permission to enable to camera and mic. After you do that, click on start recording to begin your video. When you’re done, click on stop recording.
Note that this only works for continuous shooting, so be sure you’re all warmed up acting-wise before actually recording. If you messed up in the middle, your only available move is to start over. Once you’re satisfied with your video, you can hit upload.
The webcam option is very useful if you’re the thinking of posting a cover performance of your favorite song, or if you’re planning to do a tutorial video. As an example, here’s a YouTube tutorial video that has the makings of a meme. Obviously, don’t try this at home:
Another thing you can try is play a popular song in the background and record yourself either dancing to it or lip syncing. Take your cue from Joseph Gordon Levitt’s recent rendition of Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass:
Step 5: Launch it!
Of course, for a meme to be a meme, you need to get it lots of online exposure. Tweet it, post it on your Facebook or personal websites, share on on Reddit, email it to your family and friends. Happy meme-making!