Part 1: Creating a Hand-lettered Sticker Pack for iMessage


Disclaimer: Since I am not an iOS developer, I have partnered with a friend (who we'll call JP) who handled the technical details of the sticker submission to the App Store. For more information on the technical requirements in submitting the sticker pack to the App Store, please refer to this page: Otherwise, if you are interested to know about the process to create them by hand, and prepare the submission-ready pack, do stick around (get it?).

To see the rest of the stickers in the pack, and to support our work, you can download Nasty Christmas from the App Store.

Here's what to expect from this series:

Part 1: Tools, Planning and Research

Before diving right into the creation process, some steps need to be taken, to make sure that everything will be smooth.


Here are the tools and materials I used to make this iMessage-ready sticker pack.

  • For sketching and drawing:
    • Pencil
    • Paper / Sketchpad
    • Brush Pen / Marker
    • For digitizing:


Before starting, JP and I discussed on the theme for this sticker set. We knew we wanted to do something for Christmas, and JP suggested that we do a slightly rude one. I said cool, and we started to think about the words that will be the essence of the message. We then typed everything into a Google Sheet. Here are some of those, and as you can see, a lot of them did not make the cut. Because most of them were ridiculously long, we had to find some way to shorten them while still making the message clear and ensure that they still pack a punch.


From there, we chose the top 20 that was the easiest to do and would be the most usable of them. I had to make sure that the messages were not too rude so as not to offend the sensibilities of the people. (But then again, looking at the sales, maybe we should have gone for the most offensive possible, haha!)

After we had decided the words I will design, I looked for inspiration.


With the theme, I immediately knew that I wanted to go for a rough hand-lettered look since it was meant to be slightly rude and more personal. I scoured the App Store, Pinterest and Google for similarly-themed and styled stickers to give me some ideas. Here are some:

Inspirations for iMessage Stickers
Inspirations for iMessage Stickers

After researching, I slept through the ideas so I can let my brain do the processing for me while I sleep, and to make sure that I don't plagiarize exactly how they did it.

After researching and preparing the tools, we're now ready to do some concept sketches, which will be the topic of the next post. See you there next week :)

Story Time

I wanted to make some stickers for some time now, but the cost of going into iOS development is too steep for me. While I now have been a convert to the iPhone, I am still pretty much a Windows guy who is so tempted to get a MacBook Pro. However, spending more than three grand for a laptop and paying 99 USD yearly for an Apple developer membership is not something I can afford at this time. Much more, I probably won't be able to use the membership much in a year.

Then here comes JP, a college friend, who gently suggested that we work together on this Christmas sticker project. I was not too confident that we would get a lot of sales, but I just wanted to first dip my toes first. It is a good experience and I gained a lot from it. Expect to see more stickers next year.