What is a Stream Overlay?

All streamers want an attractive looking stream set up, but this can sometimes seem overwhelming. Tips and advice about what a stream overlay is and how to get one..

In this article, you will learn:
• What elements make up a stream overlay.
• Good and bad design ideas..
• How to install overlays.
What is a stream overlay

All streamers want an attractive looking stream set up, but this can sometimes seem overwhelming. This guide helps getting the basics right.

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?

Overlays are visuals that are “overlayed” to a stream. Images, animations, and widget tools are the most prevalent. These are then placed (or layered) on top of your backdrop footage. Viewers will see your overlays on “top” of your gaming, camera, or screen-share in this manner.

Stream overlays and Twitch overlays are a loosely used words which can cover a wide selection of digital graphics. The most used are:

Overlays are often handled by using streaming software such as OBS, Streamlabs & Stream elements. Typically, with all animated elements WEBM is used and for static elements .PNG.

  • Webcam frames and green screen elements.
  • Lower thirds and social call to actions.
  • Visual overlays and elements.
  • Goal and chat widgets.

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.

Download stream overlays.

Why do I need an overlay?

Overlays are graphic boosts for your stream. Almost every streamer, to varied degrees, employs them. Overlays, when done correctly, can distinguish skilled streamers from beginners.

Twitch overlays, in general, provide five functions:

  • Overlays not only look amazing, but they also serve as the cornerstone to your online identity.
  • Overlays increase your concurrent visitors numbers by making your stream appear more professional as well as providing talking points for your current audience.
  • Overlays frequently provide crucial information about your channel, community, or content.
  • A good overlay approach may significantly increase audience donations and channel subscriptions.

Quality designed overlays make you stand out among a myriad of other small broadcasters.
For that reason alone, they are a must-have for every Twitch channel.

Can I make my own twitch overlay?

Yes, you can try making your own twitch overlay if you have Photoshop and/or After Effects. This will work on any platform you want to stream on, not just Twitch. This way, you have full control over how your stream looks and how it is put together. But before you do that, there are a few things you should know:

Firstly, make sure that you are creating all of your individual elements with the correct dimensions and ratios. Luckily, we have written a handy guide which details all the correct sizes.

Twitch Graphic Size Guide
View all the correct sizes and ratios with this handy guide.

Second, keep in mind that making your own overlay is a great project for you, but it needs to look good for your viewers to really enjoy it. You need to know knowledge of  Photoshop and After Effects if you want to create something eye-catching. Also, if you don’t think you’re very creative when it comes to design, you could get ideas from other overlays online while keeping your own style.

We provide source files with all of our overlays. This is a great place to start!

Tips for making my own overlay

Don’t want to download one of our ready-made feature packed overlays?That’s fine!
If you wanted to try making your own, check out these tips below.

Good ideas

Bad ideas

1) Should it be 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.

2) 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. Check below for some great free font sites.

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 it’s 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.

How do i install my overlay?

Would you like to broadcast with your new shiny overlay? To do this you will have to download streaming software such as Streamlabs, OB & StreamElements. These are free and very powerful tools, critical to make your new stream layout work.
Once downloaded, the artwork will need to be added as a new Source. This varies depending on the software, but let’s cover the most popular ones.


Streamlabs OBS Desktop setup

If you have purchased any of our overlays these all include Streamlabs .overlay files.
This allows you to instantly import complete scene collections, including all of your necessary overlays. This is a very quick process and one we recommend.

  1. Launch Streamlabs OBS and navigate to “Settings”
  2. Hit the “Import Overlay File” button under the “Scene Collections” tab
  3. Locate and click the .overlay file in “Install Files”
  4. That’s it! Everything is set up in your Scene Collection

Sometimes you may need to manually import overlays, such as your camera or displays, to Streamlabs Desktop at times.
To do this, Create a new source in the Sources panel.
Choose Image Source for static overlays and Media Source for animated overlays.
Select Add a new source instead, name it, then go to your overlay files on your PC.
From here, you can tweak any of the settings that you require before pressing done.

You may now move and scale your stream overlay as you like.

OBS Studio and StreamElements setup

Do you manage your stream with StreamElements or OBS.live?
If this is the case, you are most likely utilizing OBS Studio as your primary broadcast software.

  1. Extract the downloaded folder of your C:\ drive or desktop.
  2. Launch OBS Studio
  3. Open the “Scene Collection” tab and press “Import”
  4. Press the “Add” button and navigate to “Install Files
  5. Locate and double-click the Package_name.json file from the folder 
  6. Press “Import”
  7. Switch to your imported scene in the “Scene Collection” tab
  8. Your Package is ready to use

We recommend first loading your files into Streamlabs or StreamElements before configuring OBS alerts. This allows you to personalize animations and adjust alert settings. Go to the sections above to find out how! Return to OBS Studio once you’ve finished. Create a new Browser Source with your unique alerts URL.

What is a stream package?

Stream packages often contain everything a streamer need.
They provide all the necessary elements in a single download.
Perfect to get our stream up and running.

Packages are the most popular method of obtaining stream overlays for four reasons:

  • Unity, Each pack is based on a certain art style.
    Instead of seeming mismatched, your overlays have a consistent design concept.
  • Ease of use, You don’t have to download each overlay individually.
    Instead, a single, well-organized bundle has everything you require

  • More affordable, Most stream bundles cost between $20 and $30 USD. If you bought each component separately,the price rises.

  • Integrated, Stream package overlays are intended to function in tandem. For example, your animated stream transition and webcam frames work well together!

Stream packages frequently contain extras like Twitch panels, social profile images, and bespoke sound effects in addition to all the essential overlays.

Get stream overlays for free

Are you interested in trying before you buy?
Test out some of our free animated stream overlays by adding them to your stream. In contrast to other companies, we do not reduce the level of quality in our free designs. Full animated free packages ready to download.

We have an ever growing selection of premade and free overlays. We aim to create these in a magnitude of styles suitable for all streamers. We have cherry picked some designs below.

Closing thoughts and even more freebies.

We have also compiled the ultimate list of over 100 free overlays. These are from multiple designers from all over the world!

100 free twitch overlays
Over 100 Free animated overlays! The ultimate list.

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