How To: Get Unique Face Filters by Following AR Creators on Instagram

Get Unique Face Filters by Following AR Creators on Instagram

It's easy to forget just how cool face filters are. Augmented reality has come a long way, and apps like Instagram now offer a suite of awesome effects to play with, but some of the best ones aren't easily found. There is a treasure trove of exclusive, custom face filters that are unavailable to the general public, but not at all inaccessible — you just need to know the right Instagram users.

Instagram announced a program in May 2018 that let brands, public figures, celebrities, and other popular creators make original face filters for their audience via Facebook's Spark AR Studio platform. Accounts join the closed beta through Facebook with a linked Instagram, then they'd design original face filters via the macOS application. There are around 20,000 users in the Spark AR Community, so there's likely a ton of filters out there you've probably never seen.

Even though at first it was strictly for accounts that already had huge followings, such as Kylie Jenner, NBA, Ariana Grande, BuzzFeed, Vogue, and Gucci, it's a great way to boost follower numbers. You'll see a cool filter appear in your explore page and wonder why you don't have it. The creator posts in the description "Hey! Follow me for access to this effect!" So what do you do? You follow that creator.

How to Get Custom Filters on Your Instagram

Adding hidden filters to your story camera is quite simple: Follow a creator who makes them. Perhaps the most notable Instagram filter creator is Johanna Jaskowska, even if others make more filters. By our count, Jaskowska currently has six face filters available for Instagram, most of which follow the same theme of adding material effects to your face without actually hiding it behind the filter.

All you need to do to gain access to these six filters is to follow Jaskowska. Once you do, you'll find them scattered in the filter section of the Instagram story camera (tap the smiley face in the bottom right). You'll know a filter was made by Jaskowska not only because of its distinct style but because you'll see her tag appear at the top of the display when choosing the filter.

Another good person to follow would be Instagram product designer George Kedenburg III, who works on Spark AR. He created a "Desktop96" face filter, which throws you inside a Windows 95-looking desktop environment, as well as "Battery Life," which throws a battery indicator above your head.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

So you're following Jaskowska and GK3 on Instagram. What now? How do you find other creators that offer these filters? There are a few things you can do.

Tip 1: Check 'Lenslist'

If you're looking for a comprehensive database of filters, effects, and creators, look no further than "Lenslist," which not only offers an easy way to discover new creators and their effects but also lets you manually search for content. It even allows creators to directly upload original effects to the site.

Because Lenslist is interested in AR across the mobile landscape, you'll find that some filters aren't exclusive to Instagram. Lenslist covers Snapchat and Facebook as well, so just keep that in mind when browsing for that next great effect.

Tip 2: Use 'Suggestions for You'

One of the fastest ways to rack up these custom filters is to find participating creators via Suggestions for You after following a filter creator. This section appears whenever you start following an account, but you can also open it manually by tapping the arrow. Expand the window further by tapping "See All," and you'll find a lengthy list of creators to follow.

It's important to note that, while helpful, these suggestions won't exclusively filter (pun intended) for participating creators. You'll find accounts in these lists that don't make their own filters, but it can be tough to tell without actually following the account since some participating creators don't mention their filters in their bios either. If you follow an account and don't see any new custom filters in your story camera, you can always unfollow that creator.

Tip 3: Follow the Hashtags

While there isn't enough coordination between Spark AR and creators at this time to use one universal hashtag, you might find creators using similar hashtags when advertising their new filters on their feeds:

#ar
#effects
#filter
#followforfilters
#instafilter
#instagramfilters
#instalens
#instamask
#sparkar
#sparkarcreators

It's likely once the ball gets rolling, creators will start using the same hashtag to better place the community on the digital map. Until then, these hashtags will just have to make do.

Tip 4: Dive into the 'SparkCreators' Account

While Spark AR is backing all of these creators, it doesn't have an Instagram account of its own. Instead, the best we have is a "SparkCreators" account. This Instagram page has no posts. Rather, it is an account that filter creators follow. While not all of its 850-odd followers are filter-makers, many are. Like Suggested for You, SparkCreators provides a good stream of accounts to pick up, you just have to do the leg work.

Having Trouble? Here's a Starter List

If you're having trouble finding creators with the methods above, we've gathered a shortlist of the ones we've found. Use this as a base to get you started, but don't stop there or you'll be missing out on hundreds of cool AR face filters.

Cover image and screenshots by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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