Doodling and making my own fun images to use when chatting has been something I’ve done for years. Though I do have to admit that with the amount of memes, gifs, and easy to share loops that perfectly match a moment are pretty ubiquitous these days, so I haven’t been doing this as much as I used to. It hasn’t stopped me from creating custom drawings and fun characters, but it’s long past time that I start releasing my own sticker packs. Now that my time has opened up a bit it seemed like a good time to give this a try.
For this post I’ll describe how I setup a document template for the Graphic App on the iPad Pro for creating stickers. I’ve been using Graphic when I want to work in vectors on the iPad Pro and it’s as close to an Adobe Illustrator Experience as I’ve gotten on the iPad. It’s certainly not Adobe Illustrator and also unfortunately not compatible with Illustrator, but it’s the best vector application I’ve come across on the iPad.
Like most things smartphone related, there are unfortunately multiple formats and aspect ratios and pixel densities if you want to make stickers for more than one platform or Apps. Thankfully it’s not overly complicated to setup document templates and a workflow to create the stickers. Specifications for each platform can be found on their developer pages:
In order to use one illustration across multiple Apps we need to find a set of dimensions for our file’s size. iMessage’s largest supported image size is 206 x 206 points @3x (618 x 618 pixels) and WhatsApp requires exactly 512 x 512 pixels. I generally find it better to work at two to three times the final size of a final output image, so instead of making the document 512 x 512 pixels I could potentially use 1024 x 1024 pixels and then resize the final images later. This is also good since the iMessage App icon is this size as well, so I can choose to work at either 1024 x 1024 pixels or 2048 x 2048 pixels. Let’s use the smaller size for now as the size of our document template.
After creating the new document in Graphic, the first thing I do is update the grid for the document. Not every project will need a grid but having a reliable grid across project templates makes things much easier down the road. Since the recommended margin around the final Image for WhatsApp stickers are 16 pixels, set a margin of 32 pixels in the document. Since it is 200% the size of the final image we’ll get the correct margin when we resize the image later. No part of the final image should enter the margin.
Be sure to adjust the spacing of the grid as well so that it’s more uniform within the dimensions of the document. Setting spacing for x and y to 20 pixels with 6 lines of subdivision makes a grid that suits my needs, but use what makes sense for your project.
One of the minor annoyances with Graphic is that there isn’t currently an option to create document presets. That means this setup has to be repeated for each new sticker document Or to make duplicates of this template for each sticker.
Since I’m not a fan of unnecessary repetition I created a folder of document templates that I copy when making new documents that need to have a common setup.
This isn’t as seamless as a document template but until this feature is available this does save time and allows me to have the same settings for each new document by copying the file instead of doing these same steps for each new document. Since I haven’t found a way to do this (maybe there is and it’s not talked about or documented on their website) I tweeted at @GraphicApps to ask. Maybe this will be a feature we see soon?