How to make your own Instagram mask

Augmented reality filters are one of the most effective ways to attract an audience to stories on Instagram. More than 400 million people view stories every day and the constant increase in interest in masks is not at all surprising. Instagram owners understand this – if at first you can only choose one of several templates, today any mask to your taste is available. All you need is your imagination and the free Spark AR Studio program.

Why you need to make masks
Then it’s fun and interesting.
Having decided to test this or that Spark AR feature, you can easily fall out of reality for several hours, grimacing in front of the camera and monitoring the work of the mask being made.

– Followers of your followers see the mask and start using it themselves, promoting you for free.
You can make good money on this. Thanks to the popularity of stories, masks have become a good promotional tool. They allow you to increase your audience at minimal cost, so the profession of an AR creator instantly became very popular.
The main types of masks
Actually masks covering one or another part of the face . This also includes tattoos, freckles, tears and any other images on the face. Such masks are made literally in two clicks, so the number of them is a million; It is difficult to come up with something new and attractive in this field. But probably.
Additional elements on the head, face or next to them . False beards, mustaches, elven and cat ears, horns, hats, glasses, etc. There are also a lot of such masks, but making a good decor is noticeably more difficult than drawing on the face.
dynamic masks . This includes masks with moving images, changing shapes of objects, and particle systems that can simulate snow, steam, fire, and more. The effect of such masks depends more on the imagination and sense of taste of the author than on skill.
Face correction . Changing the shape or size of parts of the face, changing the color of the eyes or skin, makeup, etc. Setting this up in Spark AR is easy, so there are a lot of these masks. At one time, masks with the effect of plastic surgery (smoothed skin, improved face shapes, enlarged eyes, etc.) were popular, but with the introduction of a ban on “plastic surgery” by Instagram, their demand has decreased.

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Background replacement . The filter changes the interior of the apartment to the streets of New York, the Amazon jungle or some beach. Technology still falls short of the dreams of insta-bloggers, it’s easy to notice the substitution, so such masks are usually used to “refresh” the video. The format is in high demand by companies, since some advertised product or brand name can be placed on the background.
Interactive masks are one of the most popular types. Instagram is able to track facial expressions, movements of the head, arms or legs. Spark AR allows you to attach mask effects to these movements. The simplest interactive masks change the property of one of the mask objects depending on the movement. Complex masks are created using Javascript programs. An example of a complex mask is a game in which the character is controlled by facial expressions or hand movements.
Filters applied not to a person, but to the surrounding space . Placement in real space of various objects of augmented reality – from simple geometric shapes to models that look like real ones. One of the promising areas, which is still only gaining popularity.
Do I need special knowledge to create masks
On the one hand, art education, knowledge of Photoshop and the principles of building 3d models are good bonuses. On the other hand, the presence of imagination and taste is much more valuable here. The only thing you can’t do without is some knowledge of English (there is no Russian version of Spark AR yet).

Hardware and software for working with Spark AR
The minimum requirements for the current version of Spark AR are listed on the Spark AR community page . For version 127 this is:

64-bit Intel Core i3 (2.5 GHz) or AMD Bulldozer/Jaguar/Puma/Zen processor with SSE4.1 instruction set
Windows x64 version 10 or higher or macOS 10.14 and higher
screen resolution not less than 1280*768
4 GB RAM or more.
You can make masks without a camera using SparkAR test faces, but this will greatly reduce your capabilities, so having a camera is desirable.

At first glance, the requirements are not high, only on a computer with such parameters it will be possible to comfortably create only simple masks. Spark AR performs constant image processing, creating a significant load on the processor and video system.

When working with complex dynamic masks and 3d objects, a more powerful technique is desirable:

In addition, to view the finished masks “live”, it is advisable to use a smartphone with the Stark AR Player application installed. And although its requirements are low, for the smooth operation of complex masks, it is better to choose a more powerful smartphone

Spark AR Studio is a free download from the official community page . The program is available in versions for macOS (version 10.14 and above) and Windows x64 (10 and above).

After downloading, run the installation and follow the instructions.
If you don’t have iTunes installed, you’ll need to download and install it. You will also need a Facebook account – you will need to enter your login and password from it when you start Spark AR.
After launching, the program will offer to create a new project from scratch or based on one of the templates.You can select Face Mask and create a mask in “two clicks”, but for a better understanding of the principles of the program, we will do everything without a template.
Select Blank Project and wait for the Spark AR Studio working window to open.On the top left is the scene panel. It lists the objects used in the scene on which the mask will be created. By default, it already has a virtual smartphone camera aimed at the face of the built-in Spark AR model. You can change the model by clicking on the camera icon below the image, but the choice offered is poor and sad. Therefore, it is better to immediately enable image capture from your camera.
Click the “Integrated Camera” button at the top of the list of models.Now we need to include the tracker in the scene. A tracker is a virtual scene element that recognizes a three-dimensional object in a real image. There are 4 types of trackers in Spark AR so far – faces, flat surfaces, points and hands. We need a face tracker.
Right-click in the scene panel and select Add Object – Face Tracker from the drop-down menu.
A new element appears on the scene panel – faceMesh0, and a coordinate basis should appear on the scene itself, tracking the position of the head. Now you can attach other objects to it, which will move and turn with your head.
To create a realistic mask, you should use a special object – a face mesh (Face Mesh). Select faceTracker0 in the scene panel, right-click on it and select Add Object – Face Mesh.A face grid appears on the scene. She hasn’t been assigned any material yet, so her face is covered in a checkerboard pattern.
To assign a material to the mesh, look at the right side of the screen. There is a property panel of the element that is currently selected on the stage. Now it is faceMesh0 and on the properties panel, respectively, the properties of our mesh. Click on the “+” sign next to the inscription “Materials”.
The face is white because a new material has been assigned to the mesh – it is white by default. The new material (as well as all the resources used on the scene – 3d models, images, blocks, etc.) appeared in the Assets panel (Assets).
To change the mask, you need to edit the properties of the material. Select the Assets material0 panel and look for the item Shader Properties – Diffuse – Texture (Shader Options – Scattering – Texture) in the properties panel.
If you click on the inscription “Choose File …” and select any image on the computer disk, it will appear on the mask.
To make a realistic tattoo, the image should not have a white background, but a transparent one. Such images most often have a PNG extension. They can be found on the Internet.
Click “Choose File …” and upload the selected image. The picture appeared, but the background remained white? So the background is opaque.
Select the new texture that appeared in the Assets panel in the Textures list and delete it by pressing the Delete key – there is no need to litter the scene with unnecessary resources. And repeat until we find the desired texture. After spending some time, it is quite possible to find what you need. For example – the texture of the muzzle of a tiger (after all, the year of the tiger is in the yard). By the way, now it can be downloaded directly from here.
We impose a texture on the material and – the result is obvious (literally).
It is noticeable that the figure is shifted upwards. It is not difficult to fix this – you need to set the texture shift in the material properties in the Tiling Options – Offset item (Mosaic Options – Shift). We need to move the texture down a little on the Y axis – we
This can be done using the Particle system. Add it to the face tracker.
The emitter0 element appears in the scene panel, and on the scene itself – a strange thing with moving plates – this is a particle emitter. First of all, it must be positioned correctly – move the point from where the particles fly out to the mouth and turn it so that the particles “fly out” in the right direction. To do this, you can zoom in on the scene (the easiest way is with the mouse wheel), move it (by clicking on the wheel and moving the mouse) and rotate it (by moving the mouse while holding down the right button).
To move the emitter, select it in the scene panel and move it with the mouse.
In order not to get confused, it is better to move the object along separate axes – if you move the mouse pointer to one of the object’s axes, it will move only along this axis. To rotate an object, you need to change the type of mouse action at the top of the scene. Let’s turn the emitter so that the particles “fly out” of the mouth.At the same time, no particles are visible on the preview – this is because we have not yet determined their appearance and have not assigned a material to them.
In the properties of the emitter, in the item Shape – Shape (Form) select “Sphere” (Sphere) and give it a radius of “1”. In the Materials section, we assign a new material to the particles in the same way as we did for the face mesh.Now the particles have acquired materiality. But they do not look like spheres, but like discs flying out of the mouth. Disorder. Yes, and the number of particles would be nice to raise. And so that they fly not only forward, but also to the sides. Everything is solved.
We uncheck the Particle – Billboarding item, if the particles have not rotated as they should, you can still “tighten” them manually by setting the rotation angles in the Particle – Rotation item.
Change the Emitter – Birthrate parameter to 150.
The expansion parameters in the Emitter – Spray Angle item are set to 20 degrees vertically and 50 degrees horizontally.Already better, but it still doesn’t look like steam.
Select the particle material – material1 – and change its transparency in the properties: Render options – Opacity – 10. Now it looks like steam, but we still need it to come only from the open mouth. Fortunately, Spark AR allows this.
Select faceTracker0 on the scene panel, in the properties click on the button Patch – Create (Create a patch) and in the menu that appears, select Mouth Open (Open mouth). The patch editor panel opens, controlling all the interactivity of the scene.
To understand the patches, one article is not enough, but we do not need much yet.
We select our particle emitter in the scene panel and “pull out” its visibility parameter into the patch editor – to do this, click on the arrow next to the Properties – Visible item.A new window appears in the editor with the title emitter0 and one parameter – Visible (visibility).
We connect the Mouth Open – Open State output with the emitter visibility parameter with the mouse:Ready! Now steam comes out only when the mouth is open.
What’s next
You can send the mask to your smartphone, shoot a video with it and send it to your friends. To do this, you need to install and run Spark AR Player on your smartphone, enable USB debugging (the application will tell you how to do this), connect your smartphone with a cable to the USB port and click the “Test on device” button on the Spark AR toolbar studio.

After pressing the “Send” button, the mask will be downloaded to the smartphone.

You can take photos and record videos. At the top of the screen is the current FPS. And you can publish the mask on Instagram.

Make sure your Instagram account is synced with Facebook first.

You can see this in the Instagram settings – Account – Linked Accounts – Facebook. After making sure, select the menu File – Publish in AR Spark Studio. If the mask does not meet some requirements, the program will inform you about it.
Here she asks to add the purpose of the mask. We click “Add Experience”, again “+Add Experience” and add “Sharing Experience” – we want friends to be able to use this mask in their stories. Now there are no problems, the mask can be uploaded to the Spark Hub on Facebook.

After the download is complete, the Spark AR Hub page with your mask will open in the browser – you will need to fill out a form, adding a description of the mask, attaching a short (up to 15 seconds) demo video of your mask (this can be done in AR Player), indicating the authors, etc.

After filling out and submitting the form, it remains to wait for the moderators to check the mask – this can take up to 10 days.

After checking, the mask will appear in the list of Instagram effects, you can make stories with it and share with friends.

As you can see, there is nothing difficult in Spark AR. Do not be afraid to experiment – change various parameters, add objects and elements to the mask – very impressive effects can be obtained completely by accident.