How to create your own AR filter for Instagram Stories

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Social media sites are finally letting us creatives behind the curtain, and we’re doing some amazing things with their tech.

We are, of course, talking about the goofy AR filters circulating on Insta and Facebook that answer some of life’s big existential questions, like ‘what McDonalds item are you’ or ‘what Disney character best suits your personality’.

Fancy making one for yourself? Anyone can now make their own AR filters thanks to Facebook’s new Spark AR Studio. If you want to get in on the act and create something a little more original than a quirky Coca-Cola hat or a McFlurry filter, we’ve got a step by step guide below. 

Check out the YouTube video!


Step 1: Download Spark AR Studio

First off, you’ll need to actually download the software, otherwise your filter making ambitions will be nothing but a pipe dream.

Created by Facebook, Spark AR Studio is the software behind the custom filters donned by millions on Instagram Stories every year, and anyone can use it.

Whether you’re about that Mac or Windows life, get downloading here (yes, it’s free).


Step 2: Tutorials and ideas

Next, you’ll want to get familiar with the program’s interface, unless you’re in the 1% of folk who get by without IKEA instructions.

Luckily, there’s a bunch of easy to grasp tutorials in the Learning Center, and Sparky has thoughtfully given us eight templates to choose from in the set-up – if the idea of starting from scratch makes you want to cave in before getting the ball rolling.


Step 3: Setting the foundation

A bunch of lines will appear on screen, but do not be overwhelmed… they can’t hurt you. You’ll see a placeholder object in the central panel of the template known as a ‘viewport’. This is the space in which you’ll build your filter.

A phone preview then appears in the top right corner showing what your creation will look like on a bunch of different devices once uploaded, play around with it. To the left (to the left) is where you’ll find the many parameters to prod your filter and bring it to life.


Step 4: Upload an asset and get it moving

Like before, you have the option to choose a 3D asset from the AR library or to import your own from online digital packages – all paid for, of course. This will become the central tenet for your filter, so pick wisely.

Once you see it appear in viewport, use the Scene panel to edit how it will look, move, and interact with the real world. Clicking on this option will allow for a change of directional light, adding animations, and generally giving the thing a bit of life. You can also decide on whether or not it should work with the back camera.


Step 5: Test and upload

Once the prospect of wearing a digital hat or mask leaves you jittering with excitement, you’ll know it’s time to publish. But first, a quick test.

Send the file to Insta or Facebook by selecting ‘test on device’ to see how your effort had paid off in the wild, or whether it needs a little polish. If you’re content, hit the publish button just underneath it.

Spark AR admins will want to approve your creation to make sure all is above board before going live, and primarily that children won’t be scarred by your tomfoolery. This will likely take a few days, but well done, your journey is complete!

Check out the YouTube video!


Don’t stop there though, as you get accustomed to the platform and its inner workings the shackles really come off. You may even get land yourself a paid collab!

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