A couple months ago, I spent a bunch of time creating a community geofilter for Snapchat. I spent a large part of that time understanding Snapchat’s rules, and overcoming a few unique challenges that this project presented. Now that I understand the process of making one, I want to help you create your own.
If you’re not familiar with Snapchat geofilters, please checkout this post first. After Snapchat had accepted my geofilter, I received quite a bit of attention from friends, the Hanford Sentinel, and the LA Times. I also noticed several people asking me about how to create one for their own city. So, rather than just walking you through my case study, I’ve decided to create a completely new geofilter for my college and take you behind the scenes of how to make one yourself.
Designing for a Geofilter
For reference, the place you submit your geofilter is on Snapchat’s geofilter page, where you can also read the rules for submission directly from Snapchat. First of all, you need to find out what city, or part of your city that you’re going to create for. This will vary depending on your city. For me, although Sacramento has a few geofilters for the city, my college didn’t have a geofilter yet. Take the time to decide what your focus will be. If your city is small or doesn’t have a geofilter yet you can make one for the entire city. If you’re from a much larger city, it may be worth it to focus on a small part of your town that is unique and unrepresented by a geofilter yet.
Understand the limitations. There are time limits, size limits, and guidelines that you must be aware of and take into account throughout the whole project. For example, because Snaps have a time duration between 1-10 seconds, it requires that the geofilter be clear enough to convey the context of the location in as little as one second. It’s also important to understand that the geofilter will likely cover one-third or less of the device’s screen. This places an emphasis on reduction of your design to a small size. It limits the amount of fine details and emphasizes the need for higher contrast in your design.
Be sure you keep in mind the 1080 x 1920 pixel finished format needed for submission. You need to make sure no important parts of your design enter the 149 pixel buffer zone at the top and bottom of the document. This is because that’s where the icons, buttons, and settings are in Snapchat. Lastly, keep things simple. Try not to cover too much of the screen. Avoid making a border. These limitations are extremely important to keep in mind. Everything else is extra.
Second is to understand your target audience. Snapchat mainly consists of teens and young adults between the ages of 13-24 years old. You need to appeal to them and the interests they have. Create a intersection of commonalities among the different users using visual tools like a Venn Diagram. Some of these could be interests, cultural aspects, geographical aspects, and shared experiences.
You also need to take into account the nuances of your audience based on the geographic location. How are the people in the Snapchat age range unique in the geographic location you’re creating for? In my example, what makes my geographic location is that most likely the people using this geofilter will be college students. This also narrows my target demographic more towards 17-24 year old college students of Sacramento State University. The more focused your target audience, the better you are able to tailor your design towards them and have it more strongly resonate with them.
Discover how you can take the commonalities and incorporate them into your lettering style. Letter styles have many connotations which you can take advantage of in your piece. I decided to go with a script to convey the formality of higher education, but I kept a playful spirit by having letter interactions. As part of the planning I did for the piece, I included a tree branch as the letter interaction. This was a way to speak to the “city of trees” title that Sacramento, and Sacramento State are widely referred to as. Sacramento State’s school colors are dark green and gold, so I thought as a way to incorporate the city of trees aspect, school colors, and the emphasis on reduction of the design to a small size.
Finalize Your Design
Create the lettering. The preliminary steps can become very tedious, but if done right you should be able to easily draw from your inspiration to draw up your final concept. Take your time a merge those ideas into the single best concept that achieves your goals best.
When you’re finished, you can bring your work into Adobe Illustrator to create vector artwork of your design. If you’ve never used Adobe Illustrator or created vector artwork before, watch this video tutorial I made to help you digitize your work. Otherwise, I would suggest working with the pen tool if you have experience with it to make a cleaner design to submit. Remember to keep in mind the dimensions (as mentioned earlier) and the submission guidelines when finalizing your design. There are also free downloadable Illustrator and Photoshop templates available on Snapchat’s submissions page.
When you’re finished vectorizing your work in Adobe Illustrator, open your Illustrator file in Photoshop. Select File > Save for Web & Devices and save your work as a 1080 x 1920 high quality PNG file with a transparent background. Just remember that the file must be under 300 KB.
Submit Your Work to Snapchat
Finally, go to the submissions page at Snapchat to submit your work for review. You need to draw a geographic boundary of where you want your geofilter to be used. Also you need to add your name, email, and tell them why the place is meaningful to you. Be sure to make sure there is nothing wrong with your design, and the response to the meaning of the geofilter to you is exactly how you want them. Once you submit the form, you will no longer be able to change anything.
Snapchat will then review your work, and if it follows their guidelines and they like it, then they will notify you via email if and when your geofilter becomes active.
Get the Free Geofilter Design Guide!
Subscribe to get the FREE Geofilter Design Guide. It includes 12-steps to design & submit your geofilter. You’ll also get free lessons from the Snapchat Filter Design Course