#DDBwerkbank: Digital handicraft lesson for Signal sticker sets

In our new series #DDBwerkbank (DDB workbench) we are going to explore what starting points there are for unexpected, fascinating and sometimes crazy actions in our portal – and then put these into practice!  We are beginning with a workshop in which we’ll create our own sticker sets for the Signal Messenger with objects from the German Digital Library!

By Alan Riedel (Audience Management)

#DDBwerkbank – Digital handicraft lesson: Your own signal sticker sets with the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek

First of all: Finding the perfect image material

Second: Downloading the perfect image

Third: Editing the perfect image

Fourth: Creating the perfect sticker set

Fifth: #DDBstickerChallenge!

Those of you who use a Messenger app like Signal, WhatsApp or Telegram inevitably know the (sometimes gaudy) stickers with cats, dogs or memes which enhance the chats. But where do these sorts of stickers actually come from?

In fact, you can easily make them yourselves, and in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek you can fortunately find all kinds of great image material (and quite safe with reference to licensing rights) for your own sticker pack. In the following virtual workshop, we’ll show you how you can do this. In doing so, we’ll concentrate exclusively on the Signal app.

Screenshot Signal Chat


Bonus: We’ve already compiled these sets: sticker pack: misc., sticker pack: suns, sticker pack: japonica and sticker pack: animals.


We need:

  1. A smartphone with the Signal app
  2. A computer with Signal for Desktop

That’s about everything. And off we go!


First of all: Finding the perfect image material

At present, there are 4.587.129 enchanting image treasures (as per February 24, 2021) from the sector of cultural heritage in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek. It’s no question that the ideal material for our aims is lying dormant here!

By the way, we’ve provided a few search ideas at the end of this article.

Screenshot Startseite

1. The search begins with a suitable search term on www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de.


Screenshot DDB

2. Too many hits? No problem: we can simply filter everything out which is not an image using “Medientyp” (“type of media”) in the box on the left.


Screenshot DDB-Filter

3. We only use rights-free images for our stickers in this workshop. The DDB has another practical filter here: clicking on “Verwendbarkeit“ (“usability”) in the box on the left enables you to directly set whether only images should be shown in the search results that may really be used without restrictions.

4. And now: we wish you success in your search!

Professional tip: the search results can be refined even further with the other filter functions on the left!


Second: Downloading the perfect image

Eureka! You’ve found the perfect image. Congratulations! Now it’s a matter of downloading it. As an example, we would now like to make a sticker from this one here:

"Plate II." Published in: The ornamental arts of Japan; Vol. 1 (1882), Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) (Public Domain Mark 1.0)

Of course, we now have to save the image. There are two possibilities to do this:

1) Simple variant: you click on the thumbnail on the right and download the image, or you simply take a screenshot. (How do you take a screenshot? Here’s some advice!)

2) Professional variant: click on “Objekt anzeigen” (show object) at the top left and you’ll be directed to the institution providing the image. This image version is frequently offered in a higher quality for downloading. But be careful: each institution handles downloading differently – it’s sometimes also the easiest here to take a screenshot.

Screenshot Objektseite


Third: Editing the perfect image

So. Now it’s getting really exciting. Among other things, the following applies for Signal stickers:

1) They should have the so-called “PNG format” (screenshots usually already have this format anyway).

2) Signal puts a frame of 16 pixels around the edges of the image later – so it’s best to leave a bit of space at the sides.

3) The stickers sometimes look even better without a background.

You can find detailed requirements and recommendations for stickers here.

But how do we get rid of the background? Good question. Answer: with image editing software, like Gimp (open source/free of charge). It also works with Paint 3D (instructions) in Windows 10 or Vorschau (Preview) in Mac (instructions).

Or you do it like we do: with "miniPaint" on the internet, an open source image editing software (many thanks to the software editor ViliusL).

Skip this step.

Screenshot MiniPaint1

1) The image can either be uploaded via “file” > open” > “open file…” or, even simpler, inserted directly from the clipboard onto the screen.


Screenshot MinPaint2

 2) Now you have to set the background to be transparent. To do this you click on “tools” in the taskbar and then on “settings…”


Screenshot MiniPaint3

3) Following this, activate “toggle” right up at the top near “transparent” and it’s done.


Screenshot MiniPaint4

4) And now we can start: the background can be removed little by little by using the erase function in the left menu. In addition, it’s possible to change the size of the eraser, to zoom in and out of the image and to use all other possible image editing functions. It’s a matter of just trying things out!


Screenshot MiniPaint5

5) As soon as everything is freed from the distracting background, the work of art just has to be saved as a PNG file. This can either be done via “file” > “export” – or simply by pressing the ‘s’ button on the keyboard.


Screenshot MiniPaint6


And that’s it.

Our finished image now looks like this:

Sticker Japan


Of course, we can still do all sorts of things with it. Such as, for example:

Photograph: "Aristide Briand entdeckt Dr. Salomon, zeigt auf ihn und ruft: "Ah, le voilá? Le roi des indiscrets! (Aristide Briand discovers Dr. Salomon, points at him and shouts: 'Ah, le voilá? Le roi des indiscrets!')" (1931), Staatliche Landesbildstelle Hamburg, Sammlung zur Geschichte der Photographie (State Image Office Hamburg, Collection on the History of Photography) (credit line) (CC0 1.0 Universal - Public Domain Dedication)


Or like:

Image: "Herr Reinmal von Brennendorf" (1305 - 1340), UB Bibliotheca Palatina (UB Heidelberg) (University Library Heidelberg) (Public Domain Mark 1.0)


Circular or other shaped cutouts always look pretty good, too:

Photograph: "Totentanz. Tod und alte Frau (The Dance of Death. Death and the Old Woman). Woodcut (1526; H. Holbein the Younger)" (1935), SLUB / Deutsche Fotothek (Saxon State and University Library / German Photographic Collection) (Public Domain Mark 1.0)


Fourth: Creating the perfect sticker set

When you have collected a few images, you have already done the most difficult part and you can create your very first sticker set!

As we said, this is extremely simple with Signal:

1) To do this, you must first open Signal desktop on the computer (if you haven’t already done this, then you must first download it here).


2) After you have opened the programme, you must now click on “Datei” (“file”) on the top left on “Sticker-Set erstellen/hochladen” (“create/upload sticker set”). Depending on the computer this can, of course, look somewhat different than in the image.



3) Now we slide our sticker works of art into the window, one after the other, and subsequently click on “Weiter” (“next”).


Then it will look like this.

Signal Sticker Set 3


Sticker Set Signal 4

4) Finally, we can assign emoji to the stickers.


Signal Sticker Set 5

5) And now away with it! Come up with a name for the sticker set and send it off into the vastness of the internet!

Important: It’s best to send yourself the link generated as a note in Signal, so that it can be shared later! Then the sticker set is also available in the telephone app and you can now really begin using the stickers.


Fifth: #DDBstickerChallenge!

We want to see the stickers!!! Please share posts on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #DDBstickerChallenge and tag us! We’re really excited!

Further search ideas:

  • book illuminations
  • picture book
  • initials
  • insect
  • Codex Manesse
  • musical instrument
  • primrose
  • guitar

Among others, the following institutions provide especially many and quite wonderful openly-licensed images:


Do you have your own ideas on what you could do with the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek’s holdings? Or would you like to share an article from this series with the world? Then just send an email to a.riedel [at] hv.spk-berlin.de.

Have fun making stickers!