Design Your Own Snapchat Geofilter

Design Your Own Snapchat Geofilter

One of the newest and fastest growing social media platforms is Snapchat. The self-destructing messaging app reaches 41 percent of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States, EVERY DAY. Accessed only on mobile devices, users share photos and videos with overlaid text and graphics to a list of recipients of their choosing.

I’ve been having a lot of fun designing my own “geofilters” lately. When you take a photo or video within the app, swiping left or right will reveal a number of location-specific graphic filters to include. The geofilters are user-submitted, and available only inside of a given geofence drawn around cities, neighborhoods or even venues. So you’ll always see a unique set of filters available based on where your phone’s GPS registers you.


There are two basic types of Snapchat geofilter. They function in the same way, but their subject matter and setup will vary.


Snapchat encourages graphic designers to submit filter designs for community-based locations. These filters are free, but can’t be used promotionally in any way. They’re most suitable for cities, landmarks, schools and public spaces. No brand logos are allowed — unless the filter is for a university. Snapchat is very friendly toward higher education institutions.

They’re very picky in the community geofilters they activate. Of the more than 30 I’ve submitted, only five have been accepted. (More advice on that down below.)

Snapchat Yellow City Geofilter for Amarillo
The first community geofilter I designed is available anywhere within Amarillo city limits.

This type of filter can be used to promote a business, but it will cost you. Think of them as small, short-term ads. The basic filter starts at just $5, and the cost increases with the area and time the geofilter will be available in. The example below cost $150 to activate over an entire hotel for two and a half days during a convention I helped organize. Brand logos and trademarks are allowed. And you’ll get the added benefit of analytics on how many times the filter has been used and seen.

This on-demand geofilter was used 399 times, and seen by 23,000 people! (Totally worth $150.)


The basic requirements for both types of filter are the same with a few exceptions.

  • PNG-24 file with transparent background
  • 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels dimensions
  • File size under 300 KB
  • 100% original graphics
  • Make it visually compelling
  • Don’t cover too much of the screen
  • Must be appropriate for users as young as 13 (no cigarettes, alcohol, sex, etc.)
  • NO logos or trademarks (unless you work for a college/university or are paying for an on-demand filter.)
Snapchat TTUHSC Amarillo
We were allowed to use our logo on this filter for the TTUHSC campus in Amarillo.


Designing your Snapchat filter could prove challenging for those without graphic design experience. Just remember that any transparency, gradient or hole in your artwork can be seen through and the user’s photo or video will appear beneath.

It’s best to use popular design software such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop for the highest level of customization with you filter. Just remember to export your final artwork with transparency turned on. If you don’t, the area of your filter where the photo should appear will be a solid white box.

If you don’t have access to or know how to use design software, Snapchat offers a number of templates for designing filters right on its site. This works in a pinch, but the final geofilter won’t look as unique.


Once the artwork for your filter is complete, you’ll need to upload and submit it. The process is similar for both types. Type in an address and allow Snapchat to pull up the location through Google Maps. Then you’ll draw the geofence where you’d like the filter to appear.

If you’re submitting a community filter, be descriptive in your description and provide rationale for why the filter should be activated and who will use it. If you work with a college or university, tell them that so they’ll know you’re authorized to use it’s trademarks and logos. Review and activation usually takes about four days. Don’t be discouraged if your design is rejected. Make the necessary adjustments and try again.

If submitting an on-demand filter, have a credit card handy and be ready to pay for the filter. Review and approval usually takes only a few hours.


Snapchat has another feature called “lenses” that places masks, makeup and other effects on your face. I see a lot of people referring to these as filters also, and have been asked if I can design them. Just know these are not the same as your ordinary geofilter. They are available as a sponsored ad product, but they’re much more complicated and expensive to develop.

Snapchat Lenses kellypodz
Snapchat “lenses” and “geofilters” are not the same feature.

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