A 3D render of a forest at night with glowing mushrooms
A 3D render of a forest at night with glowing mushrooms
Lighting the way through the new world of augmented reality.

Design, in many ways, used to be so much simpler. When you designed something on print, you knew the design was always going to show up the same way each time. Then along came computers and the internet, and a whole host of new challenges appeared. Designers had to start thinking about interaction a lot more, and if they weren’t, they were left behind in a flurry of WordArt and tiled psychedelic backgrounds. With all this new technology, users needed their handheld to help them navigate this new digital frontier. A new system was created, a new language to talk…


Photo by Stella Jacob on Unsplash

When I was a child, interactive media was quite a novelty compared to today. Maybe we would be allowed to go on the one computer at school to play one of those 90’s PC games that taught kids how to type. At home, we had Game Boys and computers, but interactive media on these way normally limited to purchased games or free online browser games (yes I know, I sound like a millennial version of Grandpa Simpson). Fast forward to 2021, and interactive media has blown up. People are using Snapchat and Instagram augmented reality effects left, right and centre…


Photo by Corbin Mathias on Unsplash

Quick show of hands: who else here, when first opening up the material editor template in Lens Studio, saw all of the glowing, twirling, shimmering materials and instantly felt intimidated by the sheer amount of math involved to make anything like that? If you raised you hand, good, that means I’m not alone! Creating completely procedural materials with nothing more than logic is definitely not the simplest task around. …


Using an imaginary rum brand as a case study to understand augmented reality (AR) in marketing

An augmented reality ship in a bottle
An augmented reality ship in a bottle
Set sail for new realities! Image: author

Choo choo! What’s that sound? That’s right, it’s the hype train rolling into town again. What’s it carrying this time, is it Bitcoin? Machine learning? Big data? Nope, the latest tech trend is augmented reality (or AR for short).

Not to be confused with virtual reality, which uses headsets to put the user in a virtual world, AR combines digital effects with a real-time camera feed and object recognition to create interactive experiences. The most famous example of this are the face filters found on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Zoom.

It was a key focus of the Facebook…


Photo by Kendal on Unsplash

Lens Studio can gives one the ability to create some truly amazing augmented reality effects for Snapchat. I’ve found the performance and speed with which these lenses display to be very smooth, and this is due in part to the strict requirements that Snapchat has for the quality of submitted lenses. However, this performance comes with a price. One of the most challenging things any lens creator faces is fitting everything into the 4mb of space that is allowed.

Creating complex and beautiful augmented reality experiences that are still within the size limit can be tricky, but there are several…


A step-by-step guide to creating a wormhole lens

A picture of earth from space
A picture of earth from space
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Materials can seem intimidating to get the hang of — so many interconnected nodes, math operations, and procedural textures. I know it seemed like magic to me when I first started, but beneath this complexity are some very simple principles, and understanding these will enable you to create your own relatively complex materials in a short space of time. In this tutorial, we will make a “space wormhole” lens, which has both an animated wormhole material and a stars background material. Scan the Snapcode below to see it in action:


A picture of a smartphone
A picture of a smartphone
Photo by Harrison Moore on Unsplash

Hi, yes you read that title right. I am a smartphone with a mind of my own, writing an article for Medium. I mean, I have to occupy my mind with something outside of opening Instagram for the thousandth time today right? Point is, being a smartphone, I tend to notice things about web and app design that most humans don’t, and I want to share with you guys the things that make me (and my smartphone friends) happy, as well as the things that frustrate us. So let me tell you about my day, as I happened to notice…


The expanded design possibilities offered by computer-generated imagery offers a chance to explore new horizons of website design and customer engagement.

Some glowing bubble things
Some glowing bubble things
The weird and wonderful world of CGI

“You know what there aren’t enough of? Brands” said no-one ever. There is a more thriving ecosystem of competing brands trying to feast on the nutritious morsels of human attention now than ever before. Studies estimate the average American is exposed to 4000–10,000 adverts every day. Standing out in this ultra-saturated market is becoming increasingly challenging, even for brands with a small niche and a solid business plan. Many websites are starting to look the same as each other as trends take off and vector illustrations are everywhere. …


A woman walking against a blank wall
A woman walking against a blank wall
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

What would you do if you won the lottery? An age-old (or at least lottery-old) question. People have mused over this countless times. It has inspired sitcom episodes, movies, Lin-Manuel Miranda even wrote a song about it. The answer though almost always involves stuff. Specifically, buying lots of it. A mansion, a helicopter, a boat, an island. Always more things, until the hypothetical lottery-winner is sitting atop a mountain of treasure like Smaug. Look deeper into the world of wealth, however, and you will find not an abundance of stuff, but an absence of it. …


Rainbow paint stripes
Rainbow paint stripes
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

The artist Henri Matisse once said: “With colour one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft”. Of course, everyone knows the easiest way to harness witchcraft energy is by sacrificing a goat, but that’s tricky to implement when designing a user interface. Fortunately, colour is a lot more flexible when it comes to UI design: it can convey meaning to an audience, affect their choices and even their feelings. Also since no goats have to be sacrificed, using colour is 100% vegan.

Obviously colour theory isn’t exactly an obscure subject: it’s pretty much semester one stuff for most…

Phil Cohn

Freelance AR experience creator and 2D/3D artist based in the Amsterdam area. Check out my profile at http://philcohn.com/

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