Create and Sell LINE Stickers: How To



LINE is a popular chat / messaging app by LINE Corp. developped by Naver Corp., It also allows free phone call worldwide (which is nice). It can be used either on PC or on your phone. It's especially popular in Japan, where it originated, but has spread widely in Asia and the West, partly for gaming chatrooms.

One fun feature is that you can share chat stickers (stamps).
Another one is that you can also make your own stickers and sell them on LINE Store!

Simply put, there are 3 steps:
1. Create your own stickers
2. Submit your stickers in LINE Creators Market to LINE staff
3. Put your approved stickers on sale in LINE Store


0. ACCOUNTS


To create LINE stickers, you first need to have a LINE Creators Account.

Obviously you have downloaded the LINE app and signed up.
Now, to be allowed to sell stickers, you must sign up in LINE Creators Market.


You'll also need a Paypal account to receive money.
Once you're all set, you can start making stickers.


1. HOW TO DESIGN LINE STICKERS.


There are quite a number of restrictions, either regarding format or content.
Before starting creating your stickers, it is important to get acquainted with them all fast, so as to avoid, as far as possible, the disappointment of your stickers being rejected countless times.

Regarding design and format, there are basic GUIDELINES, the two main being the Creation Guidelines and the Review Guidelines:


1.1. CREATION GUIDELINES


1.1.1. Creation Guidelines for Regular Stickers.

Regular stickers being simply simpler versions of animated stickers with different format requirements (number of items per set, file size, resolution), we'll focus on animated stickers.

FYI, here is the guideline for regular stickers: Sticker Creation Guidelines.


See right below for an explanation of what these all mean.


1.1.2. Creation Guidelines for Animated Stickers.


According to these Creation Guidelines for Animated Stickers, so as to complete a full set, you'll need to create:

* 1 Main animated Image (labeled 'main.apng'), which must be 240x240 pixels. It is the animated sticker that will be displayed on the top of the sticker set sale page. People won't be able to use it. It can be a sticker from your set, but it must be resized to 240x240, or it can be a different sticker. It must follow the regular Animated Sticker standards (see below).

* 1 Chat Thumbnail Icon ('tab.png'), which must be 96x74. It is the image that will represent you set in people's sticker list to identify your set. Best make it a simple, easily recognizable image.

* A set of either 8, 16 or 24 Animated Sticker Images (apng). Maximum size allowed is 320x270 and minimum size is 270x270. These animations must have between 5 and 20 frames (for 1 loop), 1 to 4 loops, and must be at most 4 seconds long. Maximum animated file (apng) size is 300k.

The linked guideline states that you must trim your images, but that's not compulsory (I have never done it).

It also links to a more detailed guideline, the Animated Sticker Creation Guidelines.

In it there is one very important point which, if not complied with, may result in the simple rejection of your stickers:


This basically means that the first image and the last image of your animated sticker will sometimes be displayed as still images and must represent your sticker adequately. Those 2 images should be similar (they can be the same but they don't have to be and I don't recommend that they are, cf. below) and express the idea behind your sticker.

That's about it concerning the technical requirements, which are pretty straightforward.
Follow the content requirements, which are only hinted at at the end of the given guidelines.


1.2. REVIEW GUIDELINES


Unfortunately, there are lots of things that you cannot put into stickers, and the censorship is pretty harsh. And LINE is always right, they can do whatever they want and obviously reject stickers that may not comply to one guideline or the other (including hidden guidelines which we will see later):


Better get used to it and get to know the restrictions that are publicly available.

Sticker Review Guidelines

You should particularly pay attention to the Moral Guidelines (paragraph 3).
Beside the obvious (no incitation to or representation of crime, child porn and abuse), nudity (3.3.) and sexiness (3.16.) are not accepted (but as we'll see later, that is especially true when related to women), which means no swimsuit, bikini or the like, and in general no erotic posture. No 'overtly offensive or crass image' (3.11.) either, i.e. technically no pissing, shitting, etc. (but then again you can find such stickers in LINE Store...). Anyway, pay attention to all the points mentioned in the guide.

Are also important the Rights and Legal Guidelines (par. 5), that forbids the use of copyrighted material (unless you own the rights) and – that's quite important – the use of material that don't have a clear owner, 'such as fanfiction', e.g. you can't refer to famous lines or scenes from movies (but it's all tied to LINE reviewer's knowledge, so obscure references should be all right).

There are a lot more things to say about what you are or arent allowed to put in stickers, but that can't be infered form the guidelines alone: continue reading or skip to the 2nd part of this article to learn more.

All of the previous in mind, you can start making your own stickers!


2. CREATE STICKERS


You need:
- Adobe Illustrator (AI) or an equivalent, to design and make png files and
- a png assembler / converter to make the apng files (the 'stickers') from the png files you made with AI. For this purpose I have tried (after watching it mentioned in this video) and I still use Animation Image Converter, which is simple and efficient, and does the job perfectly.

First you have to create a new AI file. See the format requirements above if you have already forgotten them (or click here to see the Guideline again).


I am completely self-taught and knew almost nothing of AI when I started making stickers. It's not that difficult. Keep it simple at the beginning. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube to learn bit by bit. Curiosity and imagination do the rest of the job.

The basic concept is that each layer (in the lower right) will be one of the png files (images) of your future apng file (animated sticker). Number them. Plan ahead.



For exemple, this is one sticker of my Food Festival Series.
I went for 20 images that will be displayed at the speed of 10 images per second, in 2 loops (thus making a total of 4 seconds).

Once you have designed all 20 images (that should flow as nicely as possible into a small movie), you have to export each layer (Save for Web... alt + shift + command + S) individually and 'fuse' them using Animation Image Converter (AIC).

Get your exported png files into 1 folder, select all and drag-drop from your desktop into the AIC window.



Don't forget to modify frame rate and loop. Then simply Export.

After that, ALWAYS open your apng in a simple image reader to check if it has the right number of frames. The main cause of frames disappearing is that, in your animation sequence, some identical frames repeat consecutively. Be sure to avoid that (you may just change one image only slightly if you really want to have identical frames).

If all fits, you are good to go.

One problem that you may encounter is a apng file size over 300k. Using gradients or photos for your frames considerably raises the file size. There are several things you can do if that happens (AIC will tell you if the file size is over 300k):
- In AIC, go in the Quality tab and select 7zip (heavier compression) or zopfli (heavier still).
- If that doesn't solve the problem, then you have to modify the filesize in Adobe Illustrator. There are several factors you can act upon. When you save a frame (Save for Web... alt + shift + command + S), you can change (on the top right in Preset) from PNG-24 to PNG-8, and/or change the Art Optimized to None, and/or change the Image Size to a smaller size (bear in mind that one side MUST be at least 270 px).
- If that's not enough, you can try and shrink your canvas size (e.g. if it's a rectangle, trim the longer side to make it more like a square).
- If that doesn't work either, you have to reduce the number of frames of your apng.


I had that problem a few times, once because of gradient overuse (the Good Night in Usagi-chan's Life 2) and all through the Libeko the Poodle Series because it uses only photographs (very heavy comparing to simple AI shapes).


All right, now you're all set, you have your 8-, 16- or 24-sticker set (plus your 'main' animated png, plus your 'tab' image): you can now submit your stickers.

In My Page of the LINE Creators Market, make a New Submission of Stickers, don't forget to change Sticker Type to Animated Stickers, fill in Title, Description, etc. (you don't have to post a preview of your stickers somewhere)(I gave up when they made me redo a set over and over, and it didn't slow down the process afterward).


Now Save and go to the Sticker Images tab, Edit and upload your stickers. You can also change the number of stickers in your set there.

If you upload your stickers one by one, you don't have to rename your files. If you want to upload one big zip file, you must rename your files (tab, main, and numbers) before compressing and uploading the whole.

You can change the price of your set in the third tab, although I don't really recommend raising it (base price is 0.99 for a regular sticker set and 1.99 for an animated sticker set).

When all is done, Submit!



Submit LINE Stickers: Terms of Use, Restrictions, Censorship



You have designed and created a set of stickers, animated or not, and are now ready to submit it for review. Nearly there!


2. SUBMIT YOUR STICKERS FOR REVIEW


When submitting your stickers, you will have to agree with Terms of Agreement and LINE Creators Market Terms and Conditions of Use, through which we learn new pieces of capital information. Then your stickers may get approved (good for you) or rejected (too bad), but even if your stickers are rejected, you may still learn something of LINE's hidden guidelines.


2.1. TERMS OF AGREEMENT


When clicking on the Submit for Review button, Terms of Agreement now pops up:


A few things to infer from those Terms regarding copyrights (in addition to what we were told in the Guidelines, see PT. 1):
- LINE does not want to be involved in copyright problems: you should check that your stickers do not violate any copyrights, and if a copyright claim is made, your stickers will most likely be banned at once.
- LINE does not care about copyright problems among stickers creators, which may mean that you are allowed by LINE to copy someone else's stickers. Which may be a questionable issue. Without a satisfying reply from LINE.

These Terms also refer to the LINE Creators Market Terms and Conditions of Use.


2.2. LINE CREATORS MARKET TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE


You should read it all. Really.
Let us dwell on a few interesting points.

2.2.1. Regarding Accounts:


Of note:
- 4.4.2) = You may not speak badly of LINE. Or your account will be terminated. That's quite something.
- 4.4.5) = Inactive accounts can be terminated without notice.

 2.2.2. Regarding Privacy:


A very interesting piece of literature.

It starts by asserting the importance of the designers' privacy.
Well, for starters, privacy should be a choice. As of now, there is no way at all to contact a sticker creator. None. (Unless you know him/her from chat, ofc.) Which means there is no direct communication between the creator and those who buy their stickers. All has to go through LINE. This is not about privacy. This is about control. And this is a good example of complete control.

The second paragraph is weird, most probably because of translation errors, but we get the gist of it, i.e.: you have no more privacy in two cases:
- if LINE decides that you may (!) harm or have harmed LINE's reputation (!)(What can that mean?! Is writing these very lines harming LINE's reputation? Am I going to get banned without notice for it?)
- or if a third party claims that you have violated any ToS, law or whatever (written by LINE or not) and if LINE decides that you may violate or have violated the said ToS, law or whatever. And knowing what position LINE takes regarding copyrights quarrel (see 2.1. above), this is not reassuring (for the incriminated creators, ofc).

This part also links, for the first time, to LINE Privacy Policy. This is basically a vague explanation of what kind of private information LINE stores and how it is used. We learn that 'safe' third party providers handle our personal info too.


2.2.3. Regarding Contents:


When you submit stickers, you lose your moral rights regarding your work: LINE (or even a third party!) can use and modify it as they please and (cf. Terms of Agreement above) they do not care about copyright claims or issues between Creators. This is actually illegal in many European countries, among others, where it is impossible for creators to give up their moral rights concerning their works. International treaties work in the same way. (More info here, here, here, here, and particularly in Japan, where LINE Corporation is based, and where moral rights cannot be waived).


Now we're talking business. LINE reviews and if the content is 'appropriate', LINE distribues, 'for a fee'. And now an important point: LINE may further restrict (even though your 'content' was approved) or terminate its distribution, without notice, and without you even noticing it (because you have no way to know what was sold where).

2.2.4. Regarding Revenue:



This is important! it's about the money you make when selling your stickers through LINE.
Basically (9.1.b), take the sale price, minus a 30% fee (for sale platforms), and divide it by 2. That means that if someone buys one sticker for $1.00, you get (1-30% = 0.70) : 2 = $0.35.
There is VAT (Value-Added Tax) too, but the whole paragraph is unclear (if VAT is applicable, it is entailed in the price, and you get to get the VAT, hence you also get to pay it to whichever entitled entity)(i.e. LINE does not want to pay VAT to the respective Countries).
There also is an obscure 'Withholding Tax'. Which is 20% for most of the world. So when someone buys one of your stickers, you get in fact $0.28. Out of the supposed $1.00 sale. True, better than nothing. But, yeah?
You can actually waive this Withholding Tax, depending on your country of financial residence, if you submit an Application Form for Income Tax Convention. You basically have to get a proof of residence from your tax office, fill a bunch of papers (scroll down on the Q&A page linked right above to get links to all papers), and send them to LINE in Japan. I did that and it worked.


2.2.5. Regarding Restrictions:


You may not do all these things (and more) or your account may be terminated.

2.2.6. Regarding Liabilities:


LINE is responsible for nothing. We had guessed that much.


Moreover, these Terms and Conditions of Use refer to the STICKER REVIEW GUIDELINES which we have met in the Previous Section of this tutorial.


Once you have submitted your sticker set, all you have to do is wait.

After some time (currently about one week), your set is either Approved or Rejected.
If it was Approved, all is good, you're almost done.
If it was Rejected, you got a message in the Message Center, that states in laconic fashion the reasons for the rejection. You have to take those into account and modify or replace the incriminated stickers.

Now let's have a look at the rejections and at the messages from LINE staff, and see if we can infer any useful information from them.


2.3. LINE'S HIDDEN GUIDELINES


After submitting a few sets of stickers and getting rejected consistently (which hopefully won't happen, of course), you may notice that there are patterns, i.e. numerous HIDDEN GUIDELINES which are most likely available only to reviewing staff (for internal use).

Note: one thing that you have to remember is that reviewers only copy-paste replies. There will never be (or at least, I have never had) any personalized reply. And I have NEVER had any reply to ANY question I have asked (for precision, or future reference): you MUST comply to their demands or your stickers will never be published. There is no room for argument. And how would there be? no one knows the inside rules.

2.3.1. Regarding Sale Regions.

For unexplained reasons, you may be ordered to limit the Sale Region to a consistent list of 25 countries:



You may notice that this list does not include countries of very similar cultures and worldviews (i.e. Monaco, Andorra, Eastern Europe, etc., etc.). LINE reviewers must have a truly vast knowledge of the world to make that assessment. Although one may notice that 3 main zones are kept out: Africa, Middle East, underdevelopped Asia. Which may hint at something else (*religion*, ahem) about the actual location, gender and personal beliefs of LINE review staff, but we won't voice it here for fear of reprisal.

I had my stickers limited to those same 25 countries for 2 different sticker sets (Happy Birthday, Libeko). Birthdays may not be apprehended similarly around the world (and this set is about birthday cakes only), but something else may have triggered the rejection. The second set is about pets. And pets also appear in the birthday set. It may be the conception of dog as a pet that so conflicts with the cultures and worldviews of the 170 remaining countries.


You must have noticed that this region restriction relies heavily on a (most annoying) all-purpose justification ('conflicting worldviews') that is used without ever giving a precise reason. I have asked numerous times for clarification, but have never had any reply to this day (at all, in fact).

In a more local fashion, I once had a set (U&K1) forbidden to sale in Indonesia only.



2.3.2. Regarding the 'scantily clad characters' and 'stickers that contains sexual expressions' restrictions.

In my Happy Birthday series, I had originally designed 2 animated stickers in which characters in light attires would come out of the cake. The 'funny' and interesting part is that one got rejected but not the other. Here they are:



 

The male version got accepted no questions asked... but the female got rejected for both reasons:


Again here we may gather hints regarding the gender and personal beliefs and culture of the reviewer, without being able to do anything about it. Forewarned is forearmed.

On the same topic, even hints of 'sexual expressions' (here the raincoat cliché) for humorous purpose are forbidden. Those two versions of the same animated sticker both got rejected one after the other, leaving no margin of manoeuvre but to abandon the concept.



2.3.3. Regarding the 'stickers that display overly offensive or crass images' restrictions.

The important point in the wording is 'overly'. Which means it is all a question of degree, so as to leave the largest latitude for the reviewer's judgement. By means of example, here are three versions of a sticker where a X character 'marks the spot' (the whole set was made by request and is not sold in LINE market anymore). Only the last version got accepted.



2.3.4. Regarding 'causing confusion'.

Sometimes the reviewer just doesn't get it. An example for this is a sticker in which the X character is being ask where the exist is and he points at a coffin (we all die). Not to the (confused) reviewer's taste.



2.3.5. Precisions.

* The cryptic message: 'Adjust the first frame of each sticker...'


It took me a few times to understand that it refers to the point mentioned in the first part of this tutorial (1.1.2.): the first image MUST be representative of the idea of your sticker.

* A precision regarding unclear copyright infrigement and 'fan fiction': it applies to games and apps (for the Online Gamers Series, previously Global Assault Series).


* If you plan on releasing the same set in different languages, you have to limit the sale regions so that they do not overlap, because the stickers with 'same designs or poses' can't have duplicates in the store, regardless of the language used.


Of course, the aim of all those visible and hidden rules, and of the punitive aspect of the review (there is no room for discussion at all, since you can write to the reviewers but will never get a reply) have but one goal: to encourage self-censorship, to produce harmless stickers. (It's our job to do something interesting within those boundaries.)

When your stickers are approved at last, you're not quite done yet!


3. RELEASE AND SELL YOU STICKERS ON LINE STORE


Once your stickers have been approved, you still need to release your stickers, i.e. to put them on sale in LINE Store. Just go to the approved set in Manage Items, and click Release in the upper-right-hand corner.

A new dislaimer pops up, that warns against copyright violations (again):


Click OK and your stickers will be published and available for purchase shortly (it usually takes a couple of hours). Congratulations!


Now, you don't get to use freely the stickers you created: you still have to buy them. Since you get a monetary share on each sale, it amounts to buying them at a discount rate. But still, LINE is a bit stingly here and could easily let creators use their own stickers for free... Not happening, ever, I suppose.

Once your stickers are out there, it's all up to LINE, because you have no control over their distribution.

There is a statistic tool in My Page (Sales / Transfers: Sales Report) that can show you day-to-day / month-by-month bulk sales for each sticker set, but there is no way of knowing how many of each sticker sets sold, or for how much (prices vary, probably due to local sales or VAT differences – see point 2.2.4. above), or who bought them, or from where. Those would be invaluable info. But then again, complete control, and you can't do anything but be content with the little info that LINE gives you.

Anyway, that's all, folks! Good luck to all!

***

I hope these two pages of information about designing, submitting and selling your own stickers for the LINE app helped. If you have questions or if you notice some error (I am just human), don't be shy!



Juillet Poke&Mon Images Et bla




Mardi, au matin.

Fin juillet déjà, et chôme enfin. Après chaleurs, un temps automnal, gris, venteux et frais. Oh well.

Bientôt un peu de montagne, puis boulot à nouveau, et un peu de rivage, puis boulot à nouveau.

On continue les stickers LINE, quand on a un peu de temps. Prépare un tutoriel, par ailleurs, où l'on essaie également de deviner les règles cachées de cette entreprise dictatoriale.

Hier, en bas, près le tabac, un groupe d'une bonne vingtaine de personnes étaient ensemble et esseulés, à tapoter frénétiquement sur l'écran de leur "smart" phone : c'était un rdv de chasse au Pokémon. C'était très drôle, et un peu-beaucoup inquiétant également.

Café au lait.




Beaucoup aimé Koe no Katachi. Bien meilleur que Kimi no Na wa ou autres Bakemono no Ko.

Les hommes auront-ils un jour leur hominisme (le mot est laid) pour les libérer du "féminisme" fondamental ? Les institutions comme le mariage sont fondamentalement opposées à ce que les gènes veulent de nous et pour nous (ensemencer le plus possible de partenaires différents). En ce sens les couples gay ont un équilibre adéquat (partenaire de vie, partenaires de sexe) que les femmes se refusent catégoriquement à voir, car il s'oppose à ce que les gènes veulent d'elles pour elles (nidifier pour enfanter). Tout serait plus simple si les gens ne se voilaient pas la face sur ce qu'ils sont sous ce qu'ils sont devenus dans le moule et sous la pression sociales (des contes de fées à la bourgeoisie).

 Le féminisme, par ailleurs, la "libération" des femmes, qu'est-ce à dire ? Certains acquis sont capitaux et étaient nécessaires : droit de vote, de disposer de son corps (pilule, avortement). Ensuite, il y a tout le reste. Qu'il faut taire sous peine d'être lynché. Pourquoi ? Ça aussi il faut le taire.




Agacé jusqu'à la lassitude de cette culture de l'image. Images, images, images et écrans en toute part de l'espace privé, public, réel ou virtuel. Photos de choses, photos de gens, photos de photos, photos du jour, photos gratuites, photos vénales, qu'on Like ou Keep, qu'on Report ou Flag. Car cette culture de l'immédiat imagé est une culture de la dénonciation, de la censure, de l'auto-censure et de l'oubli. C'est également une culture du contrôle aux enjeux financiers formidables, car on décide pour vous, grâce à d'invisibles algorithmes, de quelles images vous vous goinfrerez, et d'aucuns payent pour cela. C'est la culture majeure, qui est aussi une culture superficielle, une culture pauvre, du pauvre, et qui rend pauvre, en esprit, en curiosité, en mouvement, en durée. Les plateaux de la balance.

Les pires ennemis des artistes ? leurs compagnes. Pour quelle raison ?
L'étymologie dit tout : le pain sur la table.

Rivage des Syrtes, ou Cirage des Vitres ?
Ha ha.

Allez.