December 23, 2021

Stages of Creating An Emoji

An emoji is an 18x18 pixel graphic image designed to express actions and emotions in a specific situation. The existing set of emojis is constantly expanding. There are over 3,600 officially registered emojis for 2021.

The main source for the introduction and development of new emojis is the Unicode Consortium, adding new emojis to the existing list every year.

However, this is not the only way to add new emojis.

Each Internet user can draw their own variants of emotions, submit an application on the official Unicode website and submit them to the consortium for registration.

Unicode site

Apple emoji image for iOS and macOS

How to create emojis?

Annually, from April 15 to August 31, the Unicode Consortium considers applications and proposals for the introduction of new emoji. The best options are approved after selection, converted into a standard emoji, and added to the official list of the existing ones.

You can apply here.

In order to register your own emoji, you need to go through the following four steps:

  1. Drawing and preparing information about emoji;
  2. Creation of an application;
  3. Applying;
  4. Approval or refusal of registration.

The creation process is public. In other words, everyone can apply for approval of their own emoji, and also see what emojis other people create and suggest to add.

Stage 1. Emoji development

At the first stage of development, it is necessary to develop an idea for an emoji: where it came from, what it should mean and why it will look like that.

Note! At the initial stage of creating an emoji, make sure that your proposal doesn't overlap with similar proposals from other users. The Unicode consortium controls the entire flow of applications and may not allow your emoji variant to be considered if a similar one already exists.

You can check this information through the official list of the consortium. It lists both the approved options and the declined ones with an indication of the reason for the rejection.

Emoji Requests

Emoji prototyping process

It is much easier to create an emoji icon format than going through approval. The image must be presented in color and black and white and have 2 sizes 18x18 and 72x72 pixels.

The consortium also sets out inclusion and exclusion criteria. Each option is carefully evaluated, checked for compliance with the requirements, and then a solution is put forward.

To be approved, emoji must meet criteria such as:

  • compatibility;
  • distinctive feature;
  • completeness.

Emojis were originally encoded based on compatibility. Today, in addition to this, other factors have appeared that the Unicode consortium takes into account when choosing candidates: the level of use, distinctiveness, completeness.

  1. Compatibility. Are emojis in demand, and are they compatible with the most commonly used ones? The advantage will be the frequent use of compatible options.
Emoji combinations and their decoding

2. Usage level. Measures that can be presented as evidence include the following:

Is there a high frequency of use? Your proposal must include screenshots or searches for your emoji in search engines.

  • Does the proposed emoji have notable metaphorical references or symbolism? For example, a bull's head can literally mean a bull, a zodiac sign, a stubborn person, and so on.
  • Can the emoji be used in sequences? For example 💦 Sweat Droplets and 🤲 Palms Up Together can convey handwashing. Possible sequence options must be provided in the sentence.
  • Does the emoji represent something that is new and different? For example, because there is already an emoji for a broom, an emoji for a vacuum cleaner would not break new ground.

3. Distinctiveness. Evidence needs to be provided as to why this emoji is important. A visually iconic entity can be clearly represented by an emoji-style rendering that is sufficiently recognizable. For example, a beer mug reads like beer. That is, the emoji is recognizable.

4. Completeness. The proposed option helps fill the gap in the existing types of emojis. For example, if the collection of emojis based on zodiac signs is incomplete, the proposed option that completes the collection is more likely to be approved.

Stage 2. Making a Submission

As soon as the concept of a new emoji that meets all the requirements of the Unicode consortium is ready, you can apply.

Guidelines for Submitting Unicode

There is a specific order in which the emoji approval application process takes place. The proposed option should include the following criteria:

  1. Identification. An emoji name that accurately describes the image. For example, 👏 Clapping Hands.
  2. Images. Variants should be presented both in color and in black and white and have 2 sizes 18x18 and 72x72 pixels.
Emoji Image Unicode Requirements

3. Location classification. An exact indication of which category the emoji should belong to. For example, the 🍓 Strawberry emoji is categorized as Food & Drink.

4. Selection factors. A brief description of all the selection criteria specified in the relevant section.

All data is stored on the Unicode website in case the user needs help in forming an application, the presence of examples of approved and declined options, as well as instructions for developing emoji.

Everyone can familiarize themselves with the information provided and use the obtained data to improve their offer.

How to submit a proposal?

  1. The finished application must be exported to PDF format.
  2. Next, fill out the form for sending emoji encoded in Unicode, which includes the Agreement and License form for your proposed emoji.
  3. Then attach a link to a document containing an application in PDF format and an archive with emoji images in ZIP format.
  4. After the form for the proposal of emoji is filled out, you need to send the document in Unicode.

At the same time, it is worthwhile to study the requirements for documents and formats in advance to exclude rejection of the proposal already at this stage.

What are the stages of the approval?

Each option goes through three mandatory steps when considered. Only after that it can be approved or declined.

Approved and declined emojis
  1. Initial proposal. At this stage, the subcommittee and the consortium consider the proposal, assess the completeness of the fields, compliance with the samples, requirements, and the existence of a compelling basis for approval. Next, the proposal is sent for approval to the technical department.
  2. UTC Consideration after initial screening. After completing this procedure, applications acquire the status of pre-approved. Next, a meeting is organized at which a decision is made regarding which of the candidates is worthy of approval. Then the final list is sent for encoding in Unicode.
  3. Emoji embedding. After Unicode has agreed to embed emoji, all samples are sent to tech companies from emoji providers such as Apple, Google, etc., who create unique designs for the new emoji. Later, they are published and implemented in users' devices, after which the applications will begin to support the released new emoji.

Thus, it can take a year from the submission of the proposal to the approval. Information about the change in the status of the application usually arrives before the end of October. The approved version will be available on iPhones, Android mobile phones, Windows PCs, Mac OS, and more.

Information sources for filing an application

Information that you need when creating an application for a new emoji:

  1. Emoji List, v14.0;
  2. Guidelines for Submitting Unicode® Emoji Proposals;
  3. Emoji Proposals, v14.0;
  4. Full List of Emoji Requests.