Background: An emoji overview:
Fig 1: Current Apple emoji skin tones. Available tones vary by emoji font designer (e.g., Google, Microsoft).
Emoji people were originally only available with a light skin tone. Recently, more skin tone options have been added (Fig 1).
However, they are just a recoloring of the original emoji, and thus may not have realistic hair options. For example, the only women’s emoji hair option (as seen above) is “long and straight” and the only men’s hair option is “short and generally indistinct.”
Below, we will propose a method for easily allowing custom colors by using a phone camera, but first let us examine the present emoji situation.
The current state of the art:
Fig 2: Emoji families (or possibly “emoji movie theater with low seats, and two children in a row in front of two adults”) currently only exist in this one shade.
Fig 3: unlike an emoji family, Emoji Santa Claus may have varying skin tone.
Fig 4: emoji cats can have multiple facial expressions. The emoji cat is unique among non-human animals in having a wide range of facial expressions.
Fig 5: Unlike the cat, the emoji snake has no ability to express emotion. Font limitations may make infinite combinations of facial expressions / skin (or scale) colors impractical, so less popular options (“coral snake that is crying while listening to music on 70s headphones”) are not currently available.
Fig 6: The emoji fish exists in six variants—pufferfish, yellow fish, blue fish, dolphin, lungfish (cartoon), and lungfish (realistic).
Instead of selecting from a list, a user could set an emoji skin / fur / scale tone using the built-in camera in their phone (Fig 7).
Fig 7: With the cameraphone in their left hand, this tomato-colored user is taking a picture of their right hand for use in the auto-emoji-coloring algorithm. Now the emoji people on this phone will have a tomato option.
Fig 8: Now that we’ve decoupled eye color, hairstyle, hair color, and skin color, it is possible to make any combination of features. These new features can be applied to all animal emoji as well.If you want your cat emoji to be colored the same as your actual cat, you could take a picture of your cat instead of your hand. Perhaps you could even make the “car emoji” the same make and model of your actual car!
It was apparently possible to add the flags of every country in the world, plus Antarctica (), so clearly space is not extremely limited. Perhaps Blue Emoji Cat With Red Whiskers really will be added in a future Unicode update.
PROS: Opens up a new world of hilariously colored animal emoji. Increases employment for font designers and font-related programmers.
CONS: Opens up a new world of font-related bugs. Assumes you’re willing to have a 250 megabyte font of “all combinations of human and animal skin / scale / fur / feather tones, hairstyles, hair colors, and eye colors” in memory on your phone at all times.