How to make emoji

Express yourself with our handy guide on how to make emoji

AR Emoji
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Language is always evolving, and the prime example of this in the digital age is surely the rise of emoji — the little cartoonish pictograms that adorn text messages, emails, even pictures these days. Every year brings a new wave of tiny, emotive drawings. Originating in Japan in the late ‘90s, emoji are now everywhere, a universal language that crosses devices, operating systems, and international borders. No matter what country you are from or language you speak, you can recognize the jubilance in the “Face with Tears of Joy,” or that the person sending you an eggplant emoji is hankering for some eggplant parmesan right now.

Emoji can convey a wide range of sentiments, but what if you want something specific, something not available among the typical slate of emoji? It is possible to make your own emoji, albeit with some restrictions. Here’s how.

Use a messaging service that allows for custom emoji

If you use a messaging app like Discord or Slack — the former is popular with people playing multiplayer video games, while the latter is used by a lot of businesses for internal communications — then you may be happy to learn that adding your own emoji is a simple process.

To add an emoji, you first need to actually create one. Messaging services will typically have restrictions — on Slack, which we’ll be using to demonstrate, emoji can be no larger than 64KB, and neither the height nor width can exceed 128 pixels.

Open the image-editing software of your choice (for example, the free, web-based Pixlr).

If you’re confident in your artistic skills, you could make an emoji using the tools provided in the program. For a traditional emoji look, start with a yellow circle using a shape tool. Note: Use a transparent background, so the emoji will show up seamlessly against any background.

how to make emoji create 1

Then, add features like a mouth and eyes using tools like the pencil or shape tool.

how to make emoji an step 3

If you’re looking to make an emoji out of a currently existing image, the process is simple. First, find a picture you want to make into an emoji, such as a picture of Nic Cage in the movie Con Air.

how to make emoji nic cage con air
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Open the image in your photo-editing software. Using the lasso tool, trace along the edge the future emoji.

how to make emoji an nic cage step 1

Once you’ve made a complete circuit, cut the selection (CTRL + X), then create a new image (and preferably make the background transparent, so the emoji will look good against any chat background).

Paste the image into this new window.

Make any remaining edits you might want, then save the image as a PNG (so as to preserve the transparent background).

However you end up creating your emoji, once you’ve saved it, open up your messaging app (in this case Slack).

how to make emoji add slack 1

Click the emoji button, then scroll down until you see the link labeled add custom emoji here. Click it, then upload your image file and give the emoji a name.

how to make emoji add slack 2

On Discord, find the server you want to add an emoji to, then open the drop-down menu in the upper left …

how to make emoji add discord 1

… and select Server Settings.

how to make emoji add 2

Next, click Emoji, then click the Upload Emoji button.

how to make emoji add discord 3

Note: You’ll need permission within the server to upload emoji. If it’s a server you created, you’ll automatically have that, but if the server’s creator has placed restrictions on who can upload, you’ll have to talk to them.

The next level: Make a pitch to the Unicode Consortium

Uploading emoji to services like Slack or Discord is easy, but you might be wondering how to get your emoji into the company offered by major platforms like iOS and Android. As it turns out, the set of emoji that users find on just about every device (including such classics as “smiling face with sunglasses” and “zipper-mouth face”) is actually regulated by a group known as the Unicode Consortium. Unicode is a widely accepted standard for encoding text on electronic devices, ensuring that texts sent from a device will show up properly on the receiving end, no matter the make or model.

The consortium maintains a carefully controlled list of approved emoji. If you want your emoji creation to show up in this prestigious catalog, you’ll need to submit a proposal to the selection committee. The committee judges emoji based on a number of factors; aspiring emoji artists must take into account how frequently people would actually use the new emoji, how distinct the image is, and whether it fills a niche that other emoji currently aren’t. (Emoji can’t be specific people or brands, so our Nic Cage emoji is dead on arrival, sadly.)

The full requirements for making a proposal are available on the Consortium’s site.

Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.
Social Media

Want internet immortality? Here's how to make the best memes

From Bad Luck Brian to Overly Attached Girlfriend, there's no shortage of memes in the world. But, there's always room for one more. Here's a quick rundown of memes and a guide on how to make your own.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step by step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Photography

Remove photo bombs, other unwanted objects with Photoshop’s new Content-Aware Fill

Photoshop's newest A.I-powered tool helps remove objects or fill in gaps for a distraction-free photo in the new Adobe Photoshop CC 2019. Here's how to remove an object in Photoshop using the new Content-Aware Fill.
Gaming

Jump into an internet DeLorean and play free Commodore 64 games online

The Internet Archive has added more than 8,800 full Commodore 64 games to its software library. Here's how you can play them completely free in your browser without the need for a joystick.
Mobile

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Photography

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…
Mobile

How to sell your old Google Pixel or Pixel 2 for the most money

So, it's time for a expensive new smartphone, and you'd like to partially fund the purchase by selling your old Google Pixel. Find all the information you need to get as much money as possible for your Pixel or Pixel 2 here in our guide.
Mobile

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Mobile

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.
Mobile

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Mobile

It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company also introduced a new Apple Watch accessory. Starting October 24, a USB-C magnetic charger will be available for purchase.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Product Review

Amazon’s child-friendly tablet is the complete package

Kids are tough on electronics and it’s difficult to police screen time and manage what they’re doing. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition could be the affordable answer to your prayers, with a rugged case and worry-free warranty.