Skip to main content

DIY your own Snapchat World Lenses with new (and free) Lens Studio

Introducing Lens Studio by Snap Inc.
Snapchat is now letting users create DIY augmented reality World Lenses. On Thursday, December 14, Snapchat announced Lens Studio, a desktop app that allows anyone to create a lens, submit it for publication and then share using a scanable Snapchat code.

Lens Studio is ideal for users with previous 3D design experience, but Snapchat is also adding a handful of tools for those new to crafting content beyond the typical two dimensions. The software opens to a window with several template options that make it easier to get started. The templates allow you to choose what kind of movement the lens will have, whether that’s a fully animated character or multiple objects that pop up when the user turns the camera around. Snapchat even included two templates for users who haven’t worked with 3D objects yet, including a two-dimensional picture frame you can add to the AR space.

Available for both Windows and Mac desktop computers, Lens Studio allows users to customize their lens with with a handful of different tools, including importing 3D objects created in other programs and editing the existing object with different colors, textures and lighting effects. As creators work, a preview on the side shows what the Lens will look like for Snapchat users. Along with designing the lens, the software also allows creators to provide instructions, for example hinting toward an action users can take to animate the lens.

Lens Studio won’t mean that users will suddenly have hundreds more lenses to scroll through before finding the right one. Once the lens is approved by Snapchat, creators get a Snapchat code that’s scanned to activate the new lens, then users have 24 hours to use the lens before it disappears and requires a rescan to use again. That allows brick and mortar businesses to create a lens that’s exclusive to customers that visit their store, for example. With 95 percent of the geofilters inside Snapchat created by users, it’s also possible that Snapchat could choose to add to its in-app lenses from Lens Studio users in the future.

The scannable lenses, however, will likely create an increase in unique world lenses to send to friends. By limiting the lenses to a code scan, Snapchat creates a sort of exclusive World Lens system that’s only accessible to users that have visited a certain location, giving users the ability to share unique lenses rather than that dancing hot dog we’ve all seen.

The software’s beginner-focused tools, however, suggest the tools aren’t just for advertisers and graphic design professionals. The software is only for World Lenses, or the options using the rear-facing camera. Lens Studio doesn’t currently support those selfie AR effects like interactive masks and puppy faces.

“With the launch of Lens Studio, we’re excited to make Lenses more accessible to creators, and experiences within Snapchat more personal and diverse,” Snap Inc. said in the announcement. “We’ve seen how much more fun Geofilters have become since first inviting the community to create their own three years ago — and can’t wait to see what you build with Lens Studio!”

Earlier this year, Snapchat launched sponsored World Lenses, which allowed advertisers with big budgets to create a dancing mascot or other promotional AR objects. Lens Studio opens up those custom lenses to more users, from small businesses and artists to the computer savvy that just want to design their own lens — because why not?

Lens Studio is a free download, available from Snap’s new page for the software, which also includes tutorials for using the new program.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
Watch your toes. Snapchat’s new lens turns the ground into hot lava
snapchat ground segmentation ar lenses image copy

Kids who grew up pretending the floor was hot lava can now actually turn the ground into a molten mess using a smartphone and Snapchat’s newest augmented reality technology. Snap Inc. has launched ground segmentation World Lenses, a new tool that recognizes where the ground is in a photgraph in order to douse it with water or, yes, turn it into hot lava.

The feature demonstrates just how far Snapchat’s augmented reality technology has come from just simply placing a dancing hot dog into a scene. The ground segmentation technology uses machine learning to identify which parts of the image are the ground and which are not, a challenge that involved teaching a computer the geometry and semantics of the real world.

Read more
Oppo steps into augmented reality with its HoloLens-like AR Glass headset
oppo ar glass headset news

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 may have a new challenger next year. Smartphone maker Oppo has announced a pair of augmented reality glasses, and stated they will be released during the first three months of 2020. Oppo’s AR Glass headset is part of an effort to expand beyond only making smartphones, and was revealed alongside plans for a smartwatch and an Oppo-produced mobile processor.

Oppo's AR Glass is similar in design to HoloLens. A visor stretches across the front of the headset, attached to a band which holds it on your head, plus there is a forehead rest to keep it in position. This is not something designed for everyday wear, but more for home and industrial use. At home, Oppo says the AR Glass will be used for augmented reality content and games, while in the workplace, and somewhat less specifically, Oppo sees it being used for augmented reality services. These could include 3D modeling, planning, and design.

Read more
Forget the puppy ears. Snapchat and VSCO can make your snaps look like old film

What happens when you mix VSCO film-inspired presets with Snapchat’s augmented reality lenses? AR film effects like light leaks and flares. On Friday, November 8, VSCO announced the popular editing app’s first Snapchat lens, created in a partnership with the social media app.

Called analog, the Snapchat filter is designed, VSCO says, to recreate film’s "happy accidents," mistakes, and imperfections from the smartphone camera. The Analog lens has two filer options. Film creates light leaks, flares, glare, and distortions inspired by film cameras. Prism mimics the effect created when holding a prism up to a camera lens, creating refracted light and a doubling effect, as well as some random rainbows.

Read more