You’ve probably heard the proverb saying that first you judge ‘how nice’, then you judge ‘how wise’. The same applies to your Twitch channel. Gaining audience is a hard challenge and without a decent visual design it becomes impossible. A properly made beautiful overlay is essential for every streamer who wants to be successful on Twitch. In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about overlays and how to create them.
What’s an overlay?
Overlay is a graphic layer that sits above the streamer’s gameplay. It connects all the elements of stream in a composition that is designed in a single style. This includes a frame around the workspace and streamer’s webcam, donation and subscription alerts. Overlay is an extremely important source of information for the audience. There are links to profiles in social networks and list of top donators.
Why do I need an overlay?
Good graphic design of stream attracts the audience, makes the stream more enjoyable for viewing. A quality overlay creates an image and makes the channel more recognizable among many others.
Overlay allows you to effectively use the space that is not used in the gameplay. With the help of overlay elements viewers can navigate in what is happening on the stream. That’s why it is very important to correctly select and structure these elements.
Elements of overlay
Despite the fact that each streamer chooses the overlay structure and its design individually, there are essential elements that are always used. Let’s look more deeply into them.
The workspace is the part of your computer screen you demonstrate by capturing it with OBS. It occupies most space of the stream. Viewer’s attention is focused precisely on the workspace and what is happening there whether it’s a gameplay, video you’re reacting to or your experiments in Photoshop. To be appealing to the eye it must be framed in a general style of your stream.
To be emotionally involved in your stream viewers need to see your face. This way user can look at the author reacting to what is happening on the stream and experience it with him. You need a Webcam overlay to make the stream look cool.
Webcam overlays exist in a variety of forms. The simplest way is to demonstrate everything that your camera fixes in a rectangular window. But there are more original solutions. For example, put a green screen so that your room does not distract viewers from the gameplay or demonstrate your face in a round window and corresponding frame. Note that webcam should not take up too much space and cover the game’s interface.
An integral part of any stream are donations. Donation alerts appear during the stream and are visible to everyone watching. More detailed information about donations you can find in our guide. The last donator, the amount of donation and the attached message can be displayed on your overlay in a special frame. You can also include the ‘last subscriber’ and ‘last follower’ section in your overlay. In gratitude to the viewers who’ve made the biggest donations you can show their nicknames on the screen in ‘top donators’ element of overlay.
In addition to the basic elements of the overlay, there are also optional ones. Optional, of course, does not mean useless. With the right approach these elements can come in handy.
Streaming is all about personalities. And what presents you better as a personality than your pages on social networks where you share your life and thoughts? Therefore, integrating links to social networks directly into the overlay is a great idea.
If you’ve already tried streaming, you’ve probably come across questions about the characteristics of your computer. Over time this question starts to annoy. Add into your overlay the ‘hardware’ section, which lists the most important characteristics of your PC and don’t be bothered anymore.
Your viewers can also be interested in what tracks are playing on the background during the stream. It’s not surprising because on streams mostly plays little-known music with creative commons license. You can find out where to find such music in our article about free music for Twitch. Here we will just add that in the overlay you can include a playlist that will show the titles of the tracks playing during the stream.
Typical errors should be avoided for maximum overlay efficiency. Such an error, for example, is the overload of overlay elements when all kinds of information on the screen distracts the audience from the stream itself. You should only show on your overlay the viewers themselves want to see. Integrating links to all the social networks where you have ever registered during your entire life is clearly not the best idea. Behind the coating of links the audience won’t be able to see your content but will know a thousand and one ways to contact you.
A common mistake many beginners do is using oversized elements when creating an overlay. In choosing the size of the overlay elements, always consider the interface of the game you are going to play.
It’s also important not to forget about the color scheme. Too bright colors is a bad solution for overlay design. The viewer comes to your channel to see the gameplay, not all the colors of rainbow shining bright with glitter.
How to choose an overlay style?
Choosing an overlay style, you need to take in mind what game you are planning to stream. For example, if you prefer playing Fortnite on your streams, make an overlay in the style of this game. Use the appropriate fonts, colors, backgroung and layout of icons. For the most popular games you can easily find a ready overlay on the Internet. In case you prefer little-known indie games, it’s worth doing a neutral design or something close to the whole genre. A great idea is making thematic overlays for each game you like. Your loyal fans will appreciate the diversity and beginners will immediately understand what game you are currently playing, when they come to the channel.
When creating an overlay, it’s also important not to forget about your personal brand. Every popular streamer has its own well-developed character and image. A particular style of frames or applying your favorite color to all the overlays that you use will help to emphasize your uniqueness. Be sure to integrate your logo and nickname into the overlay. This will certainly enhance your recognition. If you’ve just started to stream and haven’t made yourself an image yet, we recommend you to read our article “How to start streaming on Twitch?“.
What matters most is that you genuinely like the design of your channel. Of course, do not forget to ask advice from your friends and the opinion of your subscribers. You can only come to success by acting. Don’t be afraid to experimenting and you will succeed.
How to create an overlay?
There are many ways to create your own overlay from using special programs to buying a ready-to-use product. If you have experience in graphic editors, you can make an overlay yourself. Creating design on your own gives you an opportunity to fully express your ideas and thoughts.
Create an overlay from scratch or find already made layouts for overlays and modify them to match your taste. On the Internet there are many simple guides to create an overlay. For example, this one: How To Make An Overlay EASY In Photoshop For Twitch!
The finished overlay needs to be synchronized with Twitch via OBS or Xsplit. You can do it in just a few clicks. All you need to do is create a scene and add overlay image there.
If you don’t feel yourself confident with Photoshop, don’t worry, there are other ways to create an overlay whether it’s an order on freelance platform or usage of special services.
Ordering an overlay
If there’s not enough free time but you are financially capable, you can order an overlay from professionals. Our tips for creating overlays are applicable even if you not doing it yourself. Just consider this information if you’re buying an overlay on a website or ordering it on the freelance platform when explaining what you actually want. We recommend hiring a designer on one of the most popular freelance platforms: Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer.com.
Services for creating overlays
Creating your own beautiful overlay is not so difficult. There are lot of services for streamers which have been created right for this task. Many of them are already reviewed on our website. Here we will only briefly describe these applications so check our detailed reviews for more info.
OvrStream is an application easy enough to understand for anybody. The service is made not only for creating overlays. With its help you can do all kinds of visual design for your channel: animated donation alerts, subscription notifications and chat. When paying for a subscription you will receive several completely customizable themes for overlays. Just use the built-in editor and configure them however you like. A big advantage of OvrStream is the intuitive synchronization with Twitch. The cost of this program is relatively low, and you can test the app’s features in the free version.
Player.me is a unique service that allows you not only to create elements of stream design but also to share them with other users. The social network functions allow you to communicate with creators and exchange ideas. Make an overlay yourself or use the concepts of other people if they give permission. The website also has a huge library of widgets that you can add to your stream. Player.me is an excellent choice for creative people ready to post their creations for free access.
Own3D is a commercial platform for streamers. Their website provides a wide range of items covering all the needs of streamer considering visual design. As for overlays, in this section there is quite an impressive list of products made in the style of various well-known games. However, if you’re more into not so popular games, there are beautiful neutral themes in their store. The main product of the service are bundles. These are collections that contain most of the graphic products sold on the site. The whole composition of the bands is made in one style. Overlays in these compilations can be customized as desired.
StreamElements is a completely free service with tons of different features for streaming. We’ve already written about this app in ‘Giveaways’ section. Their overlay editor is just as perfect as every other feature StreamElements provide. You can create a stylish overlay and integrate all kinds of widgets into your stream to entertain the viewers. This app is cloud-based so you can gain access to the overlays you’ve created from another computer. Check out StreamElements for their intuitive overlay manager.
Stream Play Graphics is an affordable overlay provider with fully customizable beautiful overlays. There are lots of templates for you to choose from and you can always order a custom overlay exclusively for you on their website. All the overlays can be added into almost any streaming tool you might think of. Stream Play Graphics team is very supportive and will help with any issue you might have with their products. Choosing this app is a great idea due to their pretty low prices for high-quality overlays.
Visuals By Impulse offers all the elements of visual design for your stream separately or as a package. The prices wary and some items can seem a bit expensive but they are definitely worth it. The quality of overlays presented by VBI team is terrific. The best thing is that you can ask to change whatever detail you want in the overlay you’ve paid for or even order a unique design especially for you. If you’re only a beginner though, we recommend you to try one of their free overlays.
Nerd Or Die may seem like yet another store with overlays but there’s more to it. The main advantage of this service is the pricing. You can get the whole starter package of visual design elements including animated overlays and alerts for just $20. There is, of course, an option to create an overlay from scratch using their Overlay Maker app. It’s very intuitive and easy to setup. A wonderful choice for a novice streamer.
Now you know how important it is to make effort into designing your channel. Just consider our tips while creating your own overlay or customizing a premade one. Feel free to choose one of the tools we’ve described to ease the process. Hope our article was most helpful to you. Use your imagination, don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own unique style.
We hope these tips will help you on the way to success!
This post is part of the How To Guide: it will help you to setup the stream and get you closer to live-streaming insights and tools.
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