Q. Can I make my own emoji if I don’t see a character on my phone that fits my needs? Where do the ones on the phone keyboard come from?
A. If you want to start at the beginning, the original set of 176 emoji pictographs were first created for a Japanese telecommunications company by Shigetaka Kurita in 1999 — and are now in the Museum of Modern Art. These days, an organization called the Unicode Consortium maintains the standard set of emoji used by apps and platforms, and now counts more than 2,700 characters in Version 11 of the set, with more on the way. But if you don’t see the exact character you need in the current bunch, yes, you can create your own.
Both the Google Play store and the iOS App Store have a selection of emoji-making apps that guide you through creating your own characters. Some, like inTextMoji for iOS, can insert custom characters into messages through their own built-in emoji keyboards, while other apps create small images you can send, like pictures. (Before installing a third-party emoji keyboard on your phone, read its reviews and permissions requests first, as security companies warn that some of these apps can be dodgy or want a lot of access to your information.)
Communications tools like Slack may allow you to create custom emoji for use in the software. You can design emoji in drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator and share the finished images through text and email. Online emoji-generators can also be found around the web, like Google’s Made With Code emoji project.
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