What is a Stream Overlay and why do I need one?

What is a stream overlay

All streamers want an attractive looking stream set up, but this can sometimes seem overwhelming. This is especially the case when you are new to the streaming world and not sure where to begin. This is why we decided to create this article to give new and current streamers tips and advice about what a stream overlay is, where to get free or premade overlays and how to design your own.

What is a stream overlay?

Stream overlays are what Twitch and Mixer streamers use to portray a certain style or theme across their channel, as well as make for an eye-catching and more interactive stream experience for the viewer. Displaying the channel name, eye-catching colors and even using subtle animation can be key to creating unique and brand defining overlay.

An overlay is extremely helpful in setting you apart from other streamers.

Being one of the most prominent features during your stream, an overlay has many purposes such as announcing recent interactions while live and promotes your social media platforms. This aids in bridging the gap between you and your audience. 

Overlays also display different key elements based on the streamer’s requirements, for example, when a viewer submits a donation, the overlay can display the donor’s name and amount. This in turn prompts the steamer to give them a shout out or a thank you for the donation. These are typically called stream labels.

Social media handles can be added to the overlay and is a great way to keep your viewers up to date throughout different platforms.

What Are Stream Labels?

Stream Labels are text overlays that update in real time based on interactions with your viewers and fans. These are crucial to creating an interactive and seamless stream overlay. They can display a donation, a recent follower, and tons of other stats from your top viewers on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, or Mixer.

Animated or static?

Stream overlays can be static or animated and can be applied around your webcam, as well as certain aspects of modular overlays that can be placed around your screen depending on what you are streaming, and where you would like them to be visible.

Our recommendation for animation is to keep it simple. The main focus of the overlay is to present information to the viewer and hopefully increase their retention rate.

Good ideas

  • Keep it simple, less is more.
  • Using smaller overlays.
  • Subtle animation compliments your design.
  • Webcam or greenscreen with stream labels underneath.
  • Colors that compliment each other (not too many)

Bad ideas

  • Covering up too much of your stream with assets.
  • Using overly bulky overlays.
  • Bad quality or too much animation.
  • Using too many colors or incompatible colors.
  • Incorrectly sized overlays, blurry or stretched.

Do I need an overlay?

No, an overlay isn’t necessarily something you have to have in the streaming world but it most definitely helps to set you apart from the other millions of streamers every day. It also helps to retain viewers as they have more information available to them about you and your stream. 

An overlay shows your viewers that you are committed to streaming and are someone worth spending their time. If you keep your viewers in the picture, they are less likely to grow bored and spend their time elsewhere. Audience interaction is key to growing a following.

Above all else, a stream overlay will make your channel more appealing and eye-catching. First impressions count a lot more when landing on a streamers channel for the first time. They don’t know anything about you other than your overlay and set up, so it’s a great opportunity to start out on the right foot.

Can I make my own overlay?

Yes, if you have Photoshop you can absolutely attempt making your own overlay. This way you are in full control over the entire design and aesthetic you want your stream to have. However, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you do:

Firstly, make sure you are creating your overlay to the correct size proportions. With a blank canvas of 1920×1080, start playing with shapes and designs to see how they would be laid out on your stream. Our Twitch and Mixer size guides would be a useful place to start.

Second, be aware that creating your own overlay, although a great project for yourself, must look good for your viewers to really appreciate it. You should have good knowledge about photoshop in order to use its tools effectively and in good taste. Furthermore, if you don’t view yourself especially creative in the design department, why not take inspiration from other overlays online, while retaining originality. Having no overlay at all is better than one that looks low quality and amateur. 

Not all fonts and images are royalty free.

Finally, having the images and font style of your choice is great but being aware of copyright is crucial, google fonts is a great resource for this. The last thing you want after spending hours creating your own work of art is to be contacted by a third party claiming copyright against you for using logos and images that you don’t have permission to use. Remember its simple to recreate a game style without infringing on copyright laws by using similar colors and thousands of free fonts online. 

After you have created your overlay, you will need to export your PSD as a transparent PNG in order to set it up on your streaming software.

Are PNG’s the only file types that work?

No, although PNGs are most favored due to their editability with photoshop, there are other file types you are able to use on your stream. JPGs also work, but they don’t offer transparency whereas other file types such as GIFs do, although keep in mind that GIFs are generally of lower quality. 

When creating animated overlays it’s advised to use the .wemb format. This is a royalty free google format which is small in file size and also offers transparency. We use this for all of our animated elements.

How do I use my overlay?

The most common software used for streaming is Streamlabs OBS, OBS, Lightstream, OBS.live and xSplit. You can use these programs to set up your overlay as well as other elements and is very easy to do so. To apply your elements, simply choose the overlay file and start positioning it where you would like it to be applied to your stream. There are many video tutorials online which demonstrate this for various different overlay elements.

Will my overlay work on any gaming platform?

Yes, your overlay will work on all Twitch, Mixer, Youtube and Facebook gaming platforms. The important information to be aware of is making sure that the overlay works with the software you use to stream. If you use your overlay on Twitch but also want to use the same overlay on Facebook gaming then the software should be able to do so. We ensure that all our design pieces are compatible with all streaming software and gaming platforms, making it easier and faster for you to do what you love.

Our artwork is compatible with ALL popular tools.

StreamLabs
Stream Elements
Lightstream-Green-SVG
TwitchLogo
MixerLogo
XSplitLogo
OBS

Where can I get a stream overlay?

Already have a great design idea in mind but need help with the execution? Don’t hesitate to get in touch and start the design process for your own personal stream overlay, created with all your original and unique ideas.

At TacticaLlion Designs we offer a variety of custom, pre-made and free overlay designs to fit all streamer’s needs. We specialize in custom artwork for streamers wanting to add an amazing stream overlay to their set up.

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