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What Are Overlays On Twitch? And How To Make Them

Have you ever watched a Twitch channel and wondered how they were able to customize the look? Sometimes there are some breathtaking overlays on Twitch that make a channel unique and stand out against others. But what are overlays exactly?

What are overlays on Twitch?

Overlays are graphics added to a stream. These graphics typically consist of a border design around the webcam display area. There are also often extra border panels attached to the main screen to relay information and branding design. These sorts of additional graphics help to maintain a unique and exciting feel to the individual channel.

Overlays are vastly popular among streamers. There are multiple websites offering overlays that are both free (and usually tragically boring) or premium (attractive, just like the other 20,000 streamers who bought it). We’ll get into where you can find these overlays later in the article.

But, if you don’t like the free overlays available and don’t want to pay for one, you can use graphics programs to create an original overlay of your own.

How to make an overlay on Twitch?

If you decide to make your own Twitch overlay, it’s not that difficult. Using graphic programs like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or free programs like Gimp is a fairly straightforward procedure.

For this tutorial, we’ll be using Adobe Illustrator, but the steps will be generic.

  1. Open the program of your choice and set the following parameters for a new project:

1920 x 1080 (16:9) with 300dpi

  1. Name your file and get creative designing your overlay, but make sure that you don’t cover too much of the screen.  The following image shows a simple top bar overlay created in Adobe Illustrator.
  1. When you’ve finished designing your masterpiece, it’s time to save it.  There’s a catch to saving though. The format for the saved image must be in the same aspect ratio of 16:9.  Also, the format to save is PNG.  This will make the background clear.  If you save the overlay as a JPG file instead, it will be a white background and cover your screen.  You only want your graphics showing and not the background, so make sure you save for the web as a PNG image.

That’s all for making an overlay.  But next, you are likely going to want to know how and where to insert the image you just made.  Let’s take a look.

Where To Install Overlay Image in OBS

  1. Open OBS software (if using XSplit, or another software program you may need to adjust these directions)
  1. Next, you’ll want to navigate down to Sources, just left of center at the bottom of the window.  Click on the + symbol to add a source.  Select Image.  Navigate to where you saved the PNG overlay image you created and load the image.

A window will pop up asking you to create new or add existing.  Choose to add existing as you already created the image.

That’s it!  The image overlay should be working now like in our example below.

What makes a good Twitch overlay?

As the question suggests, this is the quest for the best possible overlay.  So, what makes a good Twitch overlay?  Is it the design that sets one Twitch overlay over another?

The best way to see what a good overlay looks like is to check out what some of the top streamers are doing. One of the major trends these days is using a simple border-image around the webcam window. Also, make sure your overlays do not interfere with the game that you are playing. 

Take a look at the following use of a Twitch overlay combined with a smart setup of the game console to run in line with the webcam window and overlay.  This is Night Blue 3, one of Twitch’s top streamers when writing this article.

With Nightblue3’s overlay, it is clean and straightforward. Yet if you were to see it live, it is animated. The blue pulses with light make it look like mystical or magical ice or electricity surging through the border. It is a little beyond the scope of our simple static image top border.

Creating a winning combination of images or animations for your overlay will be slightly objective and also relevant to your audience.

For example, if you play a game like World of Warcraft, it wouldn’t make sense to have realistic circuitry animation with an anime style. It would be a different style and concept to anything one might find in the game.

Even the engineer’s professions in the game do not use technology with a Japanese animation design style. The game W.o.W. uses a design style closer to 3d cartoon than classic anime.

Most successful overlay designs have some form of relative design to the game which the streamer is playing.

Keep in mind that design is subjective. The best thing to do is check your game design style and watch what other streamers who are successful in your genre are doing.

Not to say that you should copy anyone else style. But, it doesn’t hurt to be on the same page as others in the same genre. Remember, though, that individual uniqueness is a selling feature for any channel or stream.

If you’re not a graphic designer or don’t care to go to all the trouble, there are several sources online where you can find overlays.  

Where can I find overlays for Twitch?

With Twitch being as popular as it is, there is a never-ending supply of Twitch fans’ resources. And if overlays are your product of choice, there is no shortage to choose from online.

Here is a list of websites where you can find Twitch overlays:

Own3D.tv – a selective collection of premium overlays.

Placeit.net – Twitch Overlay Maker – a large selection of customizable free and premium overlays.

Nerd Or Die – Overlays – a collection of select premium overlays.

Free Twitch Overlays – a collection of free and premium overlays.

Wdflat – a collection of free overlay elements.

Visuals by Impulse – a premium design service.

Streamplay.com – a collection of premium overlays.

Streamlabs Prime – Great streaming software that comes with free overlays.

Many of the overlays you get from these website can also be further customized to fit what you are trying to do on your channel. Creating animation is a lot more complicated than making a static image like in our example of a top banner overlay.

Overlays can be found in a variety of ways. First, some sites offer free Twitch overlays. Next, there are premium Twitch overlays that are offered at a price. These overlays are much more flashy and often animated compared to the free versions.

Premium overlays offer different design set solutions for everything from a new follower or subscriber popups to a custom webcam border window.

Most of the overlays one can get for free, or purchase are compatible with OBS and other popular streaming software. However, some require you to carefully install each component, which can make it a tedious process.

Many of the websites that offer overlays also feature other services and overlays that can be used for Youtube and Facebook.

With an industry as big as the video game industry you can be assured that there will be no shortage of graphic design suppliers for you to choose from

There are many premium themes and overlays which can be purchased that have already set up the animation. There is always a trade-off when purchasing any overlay.

Let’s take a quick look at making an overlay versus purchasing or downloading a free overlay.

Benefits of Purchasing a Premium Overlay

When you purchase an overlay, you typically get one pre-set image of your choice of broadcast software, such as OBS. The design is already completed for you and all you need to do is to customize the design with your streamer name.

Things to Consider With Free or Premium Overlays

If you purchase or even download a free overlay, there is one thing that you must be aware of. That is, your overlay won’t be original. Some people are okay with having an overlay that some or even many other streamers are also using.  

If you want to stand out with an original overlay, you’ll either need to make the graphics yourself or have the overlay custom made for you.

On the one hand, if you are a graphic designer, then you’ll want to make your overlay. On the other hand, if you are not a graphic designer, creating a cool animated overlay will be quite the project and may take some time for you to learn, yet alone be any good at it.

As always, if you have any questions or just want to hang with me, stop by my Twitch channel here and say what’s up!

Interested In Streaming? Check Out My Recommendations

Best Equipment (Mics, Cameras, Etc.) – Looking to upgrade your streaming equipment? Check out some of my recommended products here on Amazon. 🎙️📸🎧
Best Overlays, Alerts, Etc. – Want to make your stream STAND OUT? Check out the amazing overlays, alerts, and emotes at OWN3D.TV (click to check them out). 🎨😎👽
Best Streaming Software – Streamlabs Prime is the streaming software used by most major streamers. It allows you to multi-stream, set up a merch store, and much more. Click here to check them out. 🤖
Best Music – Looking for music you can safely play on stream? Epidemic Sound has thousands of DMCA free songs that you can safely play on your streams and Youtube videos. Click here to check them out.🎶🎸🎤

For even more streaming tips and how to content check out my Youtube channel here. And if you want to check out my streams then stop by my Twitch channel here.

Twitch overlays offer a unique and amplified branding experience for streamers and viewers alike. A unique and stylish overlay can help a streamer stand out and increase the streamer’s brand awareness.

Most successful streamers use a simple animated overlay design focused on bordering the webcam screen and animating streaming events such as new subscribers.

Making a static overlay is reasonably straightforward using major graphic software, both free and premium types. Animated overlays take more work and often must incorporate additional programs such as After Effects in the case of Adobe software.

Either way, overlays can really take your stream to the next level and are an easy way to make your stream look even more “legitness”.

👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers and viewers of streams answer some of the questions they may have regarding live streaming. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.