The Breakroom

Expanding the Twemoji Universe

March 7, 2016

By Ged Maheux


Over the past few years the popularity of emoji has steadily grown. Heck, you can even send your sweetheart a kissy face emoji pillow as a gift! Over a year ago, we were pleased to be able to contribute to the ever-growing popularity of emoji as we helped Twitter design and develop their own unique emoji style for use on and their mobile apps.

Twitter recently announced an update to the Twemoji suite and we’re pleased to report we were once again able to lend them a hand in their creation. Twitter’s newly announced emoji cover the expanded icons added in Apple’s iOS 9.1 update and include dozens of new national flags, a newly-designed set of people icons with diverse skin tones, new animals, buildings, vehicles and more. The expanded set of emoji were completed here at the Iconfactory in Greensboro under Twitter’s direction over the course of two and a half months and helps bring the Twemoji suite in line with the current suite available in iOS 9.


Chief among the challenges of these new emoji was the creation of Twitter’s own set of diverse skin tones. Unlike the emoji seen in iOS, Twitter’s emoji have no levels of gradients or shading so finding the colors to represent each of the required diversity levels took some time. Adjusting hue and saturation levels to find the exact right combinations for primary skin tones, plus shadows and highlights required several rounds of exploration until we zeroed in on the correct values. The new people emoji were also improved upon from their previous versions thanks to unified eye, lip and hair colors that all were specifically designed to work with the various diversity settings.


The new Twemoji now also includes over 100 new flags from countries like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Macau and Sri Lanka. All of the artwork seen in Twitter’s flags were drawn by hand specifically to match Twitter’s existing emoji style and precise level of detail. We’re grateful Twitter users in these many countries can now find their own nation’s flag for use on Twitter.

We’re pleased to have been able to assist Twitter once again with the development of their cool and unique emoji suite. Like the universe itself, the emoji cosmos continues to expand day by day. Even more exciting emoji will be added in the months ahead and we’ll be standing ready once again to help our clients with all their emoji needs, should they call on us. No project is too large or small; make sure to check out our portfolio. You can learn more about the expanded emoji suite seen in iOS 9.1 over at Emojipedia and explore all of the icons we’ve helped create for Twitter there as well. 🖖