How to make your own Instagram AR Filters

Instagram’s clearly where your business needs to be in 2024. It’s where 9 in 10 users follow business accounts, proving that there’s ample opportunity for your brand to gain the followers and engagement it needs to grow. And when it comes to creating new ways to engage with audiences, we’ve seen a couple of interesting options. From stickers to polls and swipe-up functionality, there definitely is a lot for brands to work with.

But there’s another option available, one that allows your brand to get even more engaging. AR filters are available and they are helping create interesting and ways of helping your brand get exposed to more people. But what are Instagram AR filters?

How to make your own Instagram AR Filters:

What is an Instagram AR Filter?

Augmented reality (AR) filters are computer-generated effects designed to be superimposed on real-life images. AR filters work with your camera, adding a layer or imagery in the foreground or background of your image. There’s a good chance you’ve come into contact with an AR filter in one way or another on Instagram. For example, the Fresh AR Prince filter is a throwback to Will’s Smith iconic role as The Fresh Prince of Bel-air.

While Instagram AR filters were introduced back in 2017, it wasn’t possible for anyone to create their own AR filters until recently. Facebook released its in-house AR filter application called Meta Spark Player, a tool that gives you the chance to build your very own Facebook and Instagram AR filters. What’s more, Meta Spark Player is also available on Google’s Play Store for Android devices and Apple’s App Store for iPhones. The app gives users the chance to see what their AR filters will look like on a smartphone. The filter adds a hat to selfies or adds graffiti on the background if you flip your camera.

What is in Meta Spark Studio?

Meta Spark Studio makes it possible to customize images and videos for both Facebook and Instagram. While creating your own AR filters sounds like a complex undertaking, Meta Spark Studio was built to make the process easy. It also comes with a host of features. Let's explore the capabilities it provides:

1. Versatile and expandable AR platform

Begin crafting immersive experiences without coding using templates and patch editors, or utilize Meta Spark's APIs to develop effects using JavaScript and drive your innovations to the next level.

2. Robust and immersive features

Whether you opt for visual programming with node-based logic or prefer to customize with code, Meta Spark Studio simplifies the creation of interactive AR experiences, complete with target tracking, depth mapping, occlusion, audio and haptic integrations, and more.

3. Publish and monitor performance

Leverage Meta Spark Hub for comprehensive management and performance tracking of your AR experiences across Meta's suite of apps and devices. Easily share AR experience links, publish them when they're perfected, and distribute them to millions of users worldwide.

How to Create Your Own Instagram AR Filter

Cretating your very first Instagram AR filter will mean learning a few new ideas and terminology, but nothing you can’t grasp. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get started creating yours.

Step 1: Download Meta Spark Studio

Meta Spark Studio is a desktop application and comes in at 464 MB in size. While relatively small, it’s a powerful tool that you’ll find very easy to use the more you work with it. It is currently only available for Mac and Windows users with no mention if Linux users will see a version of the app. If you are a Linux user, consider using Wine, a popular compatibility layer designed to allow Linux users to install and enjoy Windows applications. While we haven’t tested Wine and Meta Spark Studio, give it a try, it may work.

Step 2: Get Familiar With the Platform

Once installed, we recommend that you take some time to cover a few tutorials to get familiar with the platform. Meta Spark Studio comes with a helpful welcome tour. It lasts five minutes and will help you get familiar with most aspects of the platform.

Meta Spark Studio app

If you need more guidance, head to the learning centre where you’ll find a collection of tutorials. The Getting Started section includes basics that will help you quickly come up to speed with features and how to navigate Meta Spark Studio. It also includes tutorials on creating a face tracking effect, previewing Meta Spark Studio effects, using the face reference assets, using templates, features and processes, effect lifecycle, policy, and more.

Step 3: Adding Your Object

Next, pick the type of AR filter you’d like to create. In our example, we’re going to create a world object. This option allows us to place a 3D object in a real-world setting.

new Object Meta Spark Studio

To get started, click on the project of your choice and you’ll be transported to a canvas, also called the Viewport, with your object placeholder preloaded. 

Note: if this is your first time using Meta Spark Studio, you will need to accept their policy agreement before gaining access to your canvas. 

The Viewport may look like a complex canvas, but remember to use the tutorials section for guidance on using each feature if you get stuck. When in the Viewport, you’ll need to add an object. You can import one or access Meta Spark Studio’s growing library of objects. We’re going to use the AR Library to import an object. To follow along, click on File in the main menu (top left of application), then click on Import from AR Library. 

Meta Spark Studio Library

A new window will open with various options. Select 3D Objects from the left-hand menu.

3D Objects AR Library

Once you’ve found your object, click on the Import Free button.

As Facebook uses Sketchfab’s library of assets, you’ll need to create a Sketchfab account or log into their site using your Facebook, Google or Twitter account.

Adding Sound

While in the AR Library, you have the option to add sound to your AR filters and can import clips directly from the library. 

Step 4: Add Effects

With your object in the Viewport, it’s time to add effects. These will relate to how your object reacts to user manipulation. Effects include how your object will move and how it will look when positioned at different angles in the real-world. For our object, we’re going to use a rendering of the moon. To animate our object, we’ll drag-and-drop it from the Assets panel into the Scene panel, just below the “drag here” menu item.

Scene panel Add Effects

With our object in place, we can begin to change its colour, there are various ways to manipulate it. You can:

  • Change the directional light to give a 3D object more depth and realism.
  • Enable and disable appearance on front cameras, back cameras, or both.
  • Alter the animation of your object.
  • Add more effect, like additional animations, textures and materials.

Enable for / Meta Spark Studio

Step 5: Test Your New Effect

Test New Effect

To test your new AR filter, you can send your test file to Instagram or Facebook. This will give you a preview of how your filter works on each platform.

Step 6: Publish Your Effect

When you’re ready to publish your AR filter, click on the “upload” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the app.

upload button Meta Spark Studio

AR filters are subject to review by Facebook. The process can take a few days. Ensure your filter meets Spark AR’s policies and guidelines. For more on creating filters that are approved without fail, read the submitting newly created effects for approval.

Wrapping This Up…

Instagram AR Filters are a great way for brands to produce interactive content to stay top-of-mind with their audiences. As your filters can be applied to Facebook and Instagram, you have access to a large audience filled with users who love customizing posts and stories, meaning more reach for your brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Instagram AR Filter?

An Instagram AR (Augmented Reality) filter is a computer-generated effect designed to be superimposed on real-life images. These filters work with your camera, adding layers or imagery in the foreground or background of your image, enhancing the visual experience.

What is Meta Spark Studio?

Meta Spark Studio is a desktop application provided by Meta (formerly Facebook) that allows users to create custom AR filters for Facebook and Instagram. It offers various features, including templates, patch editors, and APIs for developing effects using JavaScript. It simplifies the creation of interactive AR experiences with features like target tracking, depth mapping, and more.

How do I get started with creating my own Instagram AR filter?

To create your own Instagram AR filter, follow these steps:

  1. Download Meta Spark Studio from the official website.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the platform using the welcome tour and available tutorials.
  3. Add your object to the canvas in the Viewport.
  4. Add effects to your object, such as animations, textures, and materials.
  5. Test your new effect on Instagram or Facebook.
  6. Publish your effect by uploading it through Meta Spark Studio.

What are the key features of Meta Spark Studio?

Key features of Meta Spark Studio include:

  • Versatile AR Platform: Allows for immersive experiences without coding using templates and patch editors.
  • Robust Features: Includes target tracking, depth mapping, occlusion, audio and haptic integrations.
  • Performance Monitoring: Use Meta Spark Hub to manage and track the performance of your AR experiences across Meta's suite of apps and devices.

How long does it take for my AR filter to get approved by Facebook?

The approval process for AR filters can take a few days. Ensure that your filter meets Meta Spark's policies and guidelines to avoid delays. Submitting filters that adhere to these guidelines increases the chances of faster approval.

About the Author
Nadica Naceva, Head of Content at Influencer Marketing Hub, is a seasoned writer and reviewer with in-depth expertise in digital and content marketing. Leveraging her extensive experience in guiding content creation and strategic direction, Nadica brings a critical eye and analytical approach to reviewing articles and educational pieces. Her commitment to accuracy, integrity, and innovation with each review helps IMH grow as a leading source in influencer marketing. Her insights are backed by first-party data, ensuring content meets the highest standards of relevance.