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How to use Spark AR’s DIY resources for pro Instagram Stories

Facebook’s Spark AR is making digital design more accessible than ever before for aspiring creatives. Get involved and make a buck.

Creatives are finally getting a peak behind the curtain in regard to digital design tools on social media, and developing the knack of producing professional quality work is easier than ever before.

In this case, we’re looking into the augmented reality features you’ll no doubt have seen on countless Insta and Facebook stories already. You know, the ones that answer some of life’s big existential questions, like ‘what McDonalds item are you’ or ‘what Disney character best suits your personality’.

By and large, most examples of social media AR are a little goofy, but the software used to create them is state-of-the-art, completely free, and way more accessible than professional (and expensive) alternatives. If you’re looking to make a buck from creative briefs, to spruce up your own marketing, or generally expand your creative capacity in an emerging DIY culture, you’ll want to know the basics of Facebook’s Spark AR.

If any of that sounds good to you, here’s Thred’s step by step guide below:

Step 1: Download Spark AR Studio

First off, you’ll need to actually download the software, otherwise your filter making ambitions won’t amount to anything more than a pipe dream.

Spark AR doesn’t cost a penny and the full range of features are instantly available to anyone willing to learn. Whether you’re all about Mac, strictly Windows, or maybe a rare blend of both, you can download the software here for your operating system of choice.

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 Facebook has provided a selection of eight templates to work from in the set-up. If you had concerns about starting completely from scratch, they can be put to bed now.

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 dubbed the ‘viewport’. This is the space in which you’ll build your AR 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. This is really important to consider if you’re working on commercial briefs that may potentially reach thousands.

On the left is where you’ll find the many parameters covered in the learning centre. Look them over and start for formulate ideas of how you’re going to later manipulate your assets.

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 you’re completely happy (or with your agency’s blessing) it’s time to publish your file, but first, a quick test.

Send the file to either Insta or Facebook by selecting ‘test on device’ to see how your efforts have paid off in the wild, and whether your creation needs a little polish. Will quality control now out the way, hit the publish button just underneath.

Spark AR admins will want to approve your creation to make sure all is above board before uploading, just to make sure you aren’t pushing some sort of radical alt-right agenda. This will likely take a few days to a week, but kudos, you’ve created a sophisticated AR design.

Don’t feel like you can’t explore further, however, as the platform allows for almost limitless possibilities once you get a handle on its inner working. It’s a fast track way to develop some really impressive skills for free and it’s worth making the most of.

With advertisers desperate to target Gen Z digital designers are massively in-demand, and if you can capture the imagination of people on social media too then you’re fully equipped for success.

Paid collabs are out there, all you need to do is find them.