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How to create a custom emoji on an Android device

Although traditional emojis are great in a pinch, custom emojis are a fun way to get your message across perfectly.
By
March 14, 2023

Texting has taken over the world, especially as millennials and Gen Z ditch phone calls in favor of sending short text messages all day. Whether you prefer sending SMS or you prefer using an instant messaging app, there’s a level of convenience and expression that only texting can uniquely provide. And no text is complete without an emoji to showcase exactly how you feel 🥰. If you’ve overused the usual emojis and find yourself yearning for more creative emojis, you can create some custom emojis on your Android phone to send to your friends. Here’s how you can do so!

Note that most of the methods below will send the custom emoji as a sticker or an image. It is not possible for the average user to create an officially recognized custom emoji. So sending a sticker is the next best solution when you want to send a custom emoji.

QUICK ANSWER

Gboard is the easiest way to create and send custom emojis on Android. Enable Emoji Kitchen in Gboard settings present at Emoji, Stickers & GIFs > Suggestions while typing > Emojis. Then you can select one or two emojis to see custom options based on your selection.

You can alternatively use Bitmoji if you want personalized emojis. Further, you can create your own stickers from your images for true one-off personalization.


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Gboard and Emoji Kitchen

The easiest and most seamless way to create a custom emoji for the occasion is through the use of Gboard and its Emoji Kitchen feature.

Custom Emoji Gboard Emoji Kitchen 2
Google

Emoji Kitchen is a very unique feature on Gboard on Android smartphones. As the name implies, it lets you cook and explore new “recipes” and variations of emojis by mixing two existing emojis. Google takes the simple ideas behind two emojis and creates some rather unique results through its AI smarts. The end result is an emoji that is just so much more fun to use.

Not all emojis can be remixed. But most entries outside of the people and flag emojis can be remixed into new combinations. There are thousands of combinations you can achieve with the ones on offer already.

How to use Emoji Kitchen on Gboard to create custom emojis

  • Download the Gboard app from the Google Play Store.
  • Set Gboard as your keyboard of choice. You can change the default keyboard on your phone by going to Settings > System > Languages & input > On-screen keyboard. Here, toggle on Gboard.
  • In Gboard’s settings, ensure that Emoji, Stickers & GIFs > Suggestions while typing > Emojis is enabled. This specifically relates to enabling the Emoji Kitchen feature.
  • Open the chat in the text messaging app where you want to send the custom emoji.
  • Ensure the keyboard app opens in the text field, and that this keyboard app is Gboard.
  • In Gboard, open the Emoji pane. This is usually the left key or the second left key beside the spacebar, depending on your language settings.
  • You will see the usual emojis here. Click on any single emoji. This will show the selected emoji in the text field, alongside some custom emoji suggestions from Emoji Kitchen above the emoji field.

A single emoji will present suggestions based on that emoji. But that’s not all. Emoji Kitchen can really go wild with the combinations. If you use two of the same emojis, Emoji Kitchen will suggest an intense version of that emoji. If you use two different emojis, Emoji Kitchen will create a combined result. If you use more than two different emojis, Emoji Kitchen will consider the last two emojis only.

Note that the emojis are sent as stickers, so they should be available in all apps that support sending stickers. If an app doesn’t support stickers, the custom emoji is usually sent as a small, square image.

Bring back the old Android blobs with Emoji Kitchen

Do you miss the blob emojis that were present in older Android versions and other Google services? Well, you can get them back, thanks to Gboard’s Emoji Kitchen. Simply start cooking an emoji with the magic wand emoji 🪄, and you’ll see the familiar blobs pop up as suggestions.

Android Blob emoji with Emoji Kitchen
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority

Gboard and Bitmoji

If the Emoji Kitchen doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, and you are looking for something a bit more personalized, then you can try out Bitmoji.  This will especially resonate with Snapchat users as Bitmoji is widely used on that app. You can further use the bitmoji avatar in apps outside of Snapchat in this way.

Bitmoji 5
Bitmoji

Google has integrated Bitmoji inside Gboard itself. You do need to install the Bitmoji app to complete the integration and setup, but once done, you wouldn’t need to swap apps just to insert a Bitmoji as you will be able to do it from the keyboard itself.

  • Open the chat in the text messaging app where you want to send the Bitmoji.
  • Ensure the keyboard app opens in the text field, and that this keyboard app is Gboard.
  • On the keyboard top bar, click on the post-it-like icon, which is for stickers.
  • The middle icon is the Bitmoji icon. If you don’t see it, you may also spot it as the first option in the Sticker pack tab right next to it.
  • Click on Add Bitmoji. This will take you to the Google Play Store to download and install Bitmoji.
  • Open the Bitmoji app and set up your personal bitmoji avatar.
  • Once your avatar is set up, you will see your Bitmoji as suggestions in the Bitmoji tab in Gboard.

Why can’t I see a new emoji?

There are going to be times when you receive a text, and you just see some ⍰⍰⍰ symbols in it. If you are wondering what they are, chances are that they are new emojis that the sender has, and you don’t. When your phone is unable to recognize a new emoji, it will usually display a symbol resembling a question mark inside a box.

The Unicode Consortium is the organization responsible for adding new emojis to the Unicode standard. Since new emojis are added every year to reflect our conversational needs, these new emojis need to be added to your phone for you to be able to see them and send them. This emoji addition is done when your phone updates to the latest available software update.

How to update emojis on Android and iPhone

If you’re just seeing ⍰⍰⍰ symbols, you should consider checking for a software update on your phone and installing it.

On Android, go to Settings > About phone > Software information, and see if there are any pending software updates. On iPhones, go to Settings > General > Software Update, and install any pending updates.

You cannot independently update emojis (without an accompanying system software update) on iOS. You can do so on Android, but the process requires root access and is not advised for most users as it is risky and wrong changes can cause your phone to go into a bootloop.


If you’re looking for even more emojis, you can check out these top recommended emoji apps for Android. If you want a truly personal emoji like no other for use in apps like WhatsApp, you can also consider making your own stickers for WhatsApp.