Samsung rejected my first Galaxy Theme Submission, but here’s how to apply

With my company working from home, I have been given the gift of time. The two hours per day that I would have been spent shuffling on and off crowded buses are now being put to better use. I have been drawing more, cooking more, doing more home workouts, and I finally watched The Queen’s Gambit like the Netflix sheep that I am. In fact, I was able to draw so much that I actually got the point where I was happy with my work! This is a cool new feeling for me, the control freak perfectionist that I am.

I work as a UX/UI designer during the 9 to 5 workweek (well, 9 to 7 if you work in South Korea like me), which involves a lot of drawing, ideating and general creativity. This leaves me with a lot of motivation to do my own thing outside of work, but not a lot of energy to finish my personal creative projects. Now that I am a professional creative, my hobbies are starting to feel like a missed financial opportunity. I keep thinking of ways I can turn my hobbies into“side hustles” (ugh), rather than on how I can improve my ~process. This is evident from my failing YouTube channel, a blog with few readers, and multiple subpar Instagram accounts.

This is when the idea of becoming a Samsung Galaxy Theme designer really started to look like a golden opportunity. I could use my newfound ability to like my artwork, and possibly make money from selling it. Samsung Galaxy Themes are basically a wallpaper, font and icon design that you can purchase or download for free for your Samsung phone. I came across the application process for designing these themes in early November 2020 and took note of the dates for submission. The applications are only accepted during four window dates throughout the year. This was finally my chance to turn my hobbies into a “side hustle”.

With all of my creative gusto and energy from not having to interact with humans on buses, in cafes or offices, I got to work on my theme design. Despite all of this energy, I of course did the entire application in about 4 hours, the day before the deadline (stay true to yourself). Now that I have been rejected, I am hyped for my next submission! So hyped, in fact, that I am here writing this post and going to help others submit their themes and by doing so further reduce my own chances of being accepted. Wait, that doesn’t sound right? We’re here now, so let’s get into the process.

How to Design and Submit Your Own Samsung Galaxy Theme

First of all, it should be known that Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator skills will be required for you to complete your application. You will also need a Creative Cloud subscription or a cracked copy of Photoshop your friend gave you in Semester One of University.

Then, you need to download the ‘Theme Submission Starter Kit’ from the Samsung Galaxy Theme page. Be sure to read the instructions carefully about how many designs you need to submit, the resolution, the dates and general requirements for submission. Here is the step by step guide from their website (Step 5 kind of screwed me over):

Once you download the file, you can open up the PDF example for submission and the PSD file to design your own themes!

Read the directions carefully to make sure you are changing the correct components of the design. Here are the directions:

  1. Turn on Generate Image Assets
    Under the File menu, select Generate > Image Assets
    Photoshop will create a new folder in your directory and automatically export all of the required JPG artboards.
  2. Replace Backgrounds
    Double-click the Background Smart Object layers within each artboard folder and replace with your custom designs.
  3. Replace Icons
    Double-click each Icon Smart Object and replace with your custom icons. Replacing a particular icon will automatically update all instances of that icon.
  4. Replace Fonts
    For all text and numbers, change the font used to a custom font of your choice.
  5. Submit
    Save the 6 UI JPG screens as a single PDF document and upload with your application.

Okay, and you're done! Great job! They did a great job of explaining it to you, so my work here is done. But here are a few helpful tips… I guess.

The PSD file setup of the submission template

Replacing Smart Object Layers with Your Designs

Icons to redesign using smart object layers

In order to add your backgrounds and icon designs, you need to replace the smart object layers in the PSD file. The image above shows just some of the icons you need to redesign and replace using Illustrator or Photoshop. In my case, I illustrated the icons in Procreate on my iPad, sent the PSD files to my computer, and copy and pasted the individual icons into the smart object layer. To select the smart object layer, double click on the layer icon image (first image below). This will open up the layer in a new tab (next image below). Paste your icon to the artboard, resize it to fit, and delete the original logo or simply hide the layer.

You must save the layer for it to make changes to your PSD file. Once you have saved it, you can exit. You can edit these layers as much as you like! Make sure all of your icons are the same size and have the same alignment on the layer (but you knew that already).

Double click on the smart object layer to open it
Double click on the smart object layer to open it in a new tab, edit and save to your file

Repeat this step with the background images and all other icons in the design. You can change the arrow buttons, the colours of other icons like the search icon, all using smart object layers.

To easily click on different assets to locate their layer, make sure you have ‘auto-select’ on. This way, you can click an asset, and it will highlight its layer automatically. Never turn this off, it is very useful.

Keep going until every element of the template is uniquely yours. Please don’t copy and paste icons you found online. YOU MUST DESIGN THEM! Use your pen tool skills, get a nice colour palette and do your thing!

Here are the designs I made for my first Galaxy theme. I think I was rejected because I only submitted one design. I didn’t realise I needed to make three designs for the submission, which was a very silly mistake on my part! I have a tendency to get excited and ignore instructions. I am working on my next submissions for February. I hope that I will be accepted in the next round of applications… or the next… or the next!

My First Submission

Here is the design I submitted in December 2020! I drew the wallpaper and icons in Procreate and edited some of the other icons in Illustrator. I used the wallpaper illustration to determine my colour palette. There are so many things I would do differently, but you have to start somewhere!

Looking back on this experience, I am so glad I submitted this design! I am so excited to try again in February, now knowing exactly how to design everything for submission. I have lots of ideas for future themes and I feel confident I can get accepted! If not, I might just have to go back to being an iPhone user…

If you enjoyed reading this post, you can find me on other parts of the internet, too! I hang out in a lot of cool places like YouTube, Instagram, my Korean Picnic Blog and I just joined Twitter? If you like my illustrations, there are more where that came from on this Instagram page. Good luck with your Samsung Galaxy Theme submissions, and have a great start to the new year!

My company here in Korea just moved into the Samsung R&D campus as part of one of its startup accelerator programs. Maybe I can track down the person who rejected my submission and buy them a free lunch at the cafeteria (that serves… free lunch)!

And remember, ‘if you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough’ (Chris Dixon)…

Industrial designer in Seoul. From Melbourne. www.joquinn.com.au

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