YOUR GUIDE TO STREAM OVERLAYS
Everything you need to know about stream overlays.
Table of Contents
You’ve decided to jump into the wonderful world of streaming. You’ve set up your channel. Now it’s time to focus on your branding and stream’s look. That’s where stream overlays come into play.
Getting the best designs for your stream is a crucial step on your streaming journey. This means choosing stream overlay packages that contain everything you need. Not to mention they should be easy to set up as well as compatible with your stream software.
Free Stream Overlays
When starting out, free stream overlays are the perfect way to get comfortable with streaming and test the waters. Even though they’re free, our overlays are easy to set up and use. They also include Photoshop layout templates. Assuming you’re familiar with Photoshop, you’ll be able to customize these designs.
What Are Stream Overlays ?
Stream overlay is a general term to describe the graphics and animations displayed during a livestream. These graphics are a great way for streamers to reinforce their branding. As a streamer having clear and coherent branding gives you a professional appearance. Aside from simply making your stream look good, certain types of overlays will also encourage engagement from your viewers.
Branding and engagement are two factors in creating a deeper connection with your audience and community.
Types Of Stream Overlays
Overlays come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Each type of overlay has a different purpose. The overlays that you’ll use completely depend on how you stream and your personal preferences.
Stream screens are informational graphics, used at different stages of a stream to let viewers know what’s happening. The most common screens are intermission, starting soon, ending and BRB.
A facecam is the OG overlay for streaming. The purpose of this overlay is to create a clear and distinguishable border around your webcam feed when streaming.
A simple background image or animation. This simple overlay gives you the freedom to create unique scenes. They’re Especially useful for running podcast’s that have multiple guests.
Stream widgets are a collection of advanced overlays that display events during stream. The most common widgets are chat overlay, event list & goals.
Alerts are how streamers display certain events during a stream. They’re a great way to make your stream more interactive. Alerts are commonly used when a viewer follows, subscribes, donates or sends bits.
An essential overlay for connecting with your viewers on other platforms. Displaying your socials on stream is a great way to encourage your community to engage with you outside of the stream hours and platform.
Getting A Stream Overlay Package
Rather than sourcing each type of overlay individually it makes more sense to get a stream overlay package. These packages include everything you need to create a consistent stream layout along with boosting your channels interactivity and engagement. In order to help you find the best package we’ve created a checklist of things you should look for in a potential package.
What To Look For In a Stream Package ?
- Platform Compatibility : It’s important to make sure that the package is compatible with your streaming platform. Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Gaming & Trovo all have minor differences which need to be accounted for. For example, if you’re streaming on YouTube you will need alerts for members and superchat . These alerts are unique to YouTube.
- Software Compatibility : The package should be compatible with your chosen streaming software. Whether it’s Streamlabs, Streamelements or OBS, it’s important to make sure all parts of a stream package will work. In general if the animated files are in WebM format, they will work across all platforms. It’s usually the widgets and alerts that need to be checked for compatibility.
- Easy Setup : Well designed packages should be easy to set up. Some packages will have quick install files for Streamlabs or Streamelements. In addition to that, having a detailed installation guide for the package is essential.
- Optimisation : Poorly optimised files can cause your system to lag. When it comes to stream overlays the main cause of lag are the animated ones. Animated files can be huge if not formatted correctly. As a general rule of thumb, if the animated graphics are in WebM format, they’re much better optimised.
- Customisation : What good is an overlay package if it looks the same as everyone else’s ? If tweaking your stream layout to match your branding and personality is important make sure to check what customisation options the package offers. Packages with customisation usually offer the template source files. Just make sure you have the necessary software to tweak them.
- Features : The price of overlay packages can vary. As tempting as a bargain can be, make sure you’re getting all the features that you want. Packages with less features tend to be cheaper.
- Language : A lot of the overlays in a stream package contain text. If you stream in a different language then look for packages which are use your language.
- Animated or Static : All overlays are not created equal. If you want animated overlays make sure the package you want isn’t static.
Example Stream Overlay Package
To help you understand what you can expect from stream overlay package, below are the contents of a lofi city pack.
- Animated Scenes (Intermission, BRB, Ending and Starting)
- Animated Webcam Overlay
- Animated Stinger Transition
- Animated Alerts (Twitch, Facebook & YouTube)
- Widgets (Goals, Chatbox and Event List)
- Offline Banner
- Animated Background
- Animated Top Overlay
- Profile Picture
- Stream Labels
- Photoshop Source Files
- Static Versions Of Animated Elements
- SLOBS .Overlay File
- OBS Layout File
Pros & Cons Of A Stream Package
Custom Made Stream Overlays For Twitch
Whilst premade packages are great, as you progress further with your streaming journey, there will come a time when you’ll want custom made overlays and branding that match your personality. In order to do this you will need to find either an artist or design studio to handle these custom graphics commissions.
However, one of the main reasons that premade packages are so popular is because of their lower price point. Getting designs custom made costs considerably more due to the nature of the work involved. Some custom design services depending on the quality and quantity of features you need, will cost up to 10x the price of a premade package.
With all that being said, if you can afford to do this then it’s definitely the superior route to go. Custom design puts you in the drivers seat behind your own branding and image.
Setting Up Stream Overlays
Despite what a lot of people initially think, setting up overlays isn’t actually done through your streaming platform. This means that Twitch, YouTube & Facebook aren’t involved in the process of setting up a stream layout. This is where broadcasting & streaming software comes into play.
At it’s core, this software is meant to broadcast live video and audio to your channel. They also allow you to add all sorts of additional features to your stream, including overlays.
The three most commonly used software used by streamers are OBS, Streamlabs, Streamelements. Each one has unique pros and cons. In most situations a combination of these applications are used. This is because OBS does not integrate with streaming platforms or have access to your data as a streamer. Both Streamlabs and Streamelements are integrated with your channel. As such they have access to data on events such as new followers, donations etc.
OBS is great for adding overlays to your stream. However, for displaying alerts and widgets you’ll need to use either Streamlabs or Streamelements in addition to OBS.
It’s worth mentioning that Streamlabs has it’s own desktop application, allowing you to manage all your overlays and widgets in one place.
Streamelements & OBS
- (Option 1) Set up overlays and widgets in Streamelements dashboard -> Plug widget links into OBS
- (Option 2) Set up Overlays in OBS -> Configure widgets in Streamelements -> Plug links into OBS
Streamlabs & OBS
- Add overlays to OBS -> Configure widgets in Streamlabs dashboard -> Plug widget links into OBS
- Configure widgets in Streamlabs dashboard -> Add overlays & Widgets to Streamlabs desktop
Although here we’ve only covered the three most commonly used software. There are quite a few other streaming software available. If you’ve not decided how you want to stream yet, it’s a good idea to do some research to find the best option for you.
How To Make Stream Overlays
Making overlays is a great way to take control of your branding. Its also really fun. With that being said if you’ve never used graphic design or animation software there will be a steep learning curve. Before we even discuss the tools needed to create an overlay template we’ll firstly give you an overview of the process.
- Decide on the theme and style you want to achieve. Keep in mind, you want to build overlays around your brand identity and personality.
- Look for references and similar styles around the web. Keep the references in a folder, and use them for inspiration.
- Choose an overlay template to start editing, or create one from scratch.
- Once the base design is complete, move onto animation. Add different effects, and make sure that the animation loops seamlessly.
- Render all of your animated files (WebM is the optimal for format).
- Add overlays to your stream.
*Remember that your brand is established by your audience’s understanding of who you are. Is your content serious and focused on competitiveness ? If so, your overlays should communicate this through, style and colour choices.
Using Templates Vs Creating From Scratch
When it comes to creating your own stream layout templates for Twitch, YouTube or Facebook you have two choices. You can either create an overlay from scratch or you can use a template to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Creating graphics from scratch is a very intricate process, and requires an understanding of graphic design concepts. Familiarity with design software also comes in very useful. This process also takes much longer due to the work involved. You’ll need to find out the recommended overlay sizes before you even start designing. This step is important, to avoid bigger problems further down the line. For example, if your webcam border isn’t using the recommended size, it will not fit neatly around the webcam video. Additionally understanding the difference between image file types is important in achieving transparent overlays.
When you use a template, the bulk of the design work has already been done. Layout templates include the source files allowing you to make edits to them. They allow you to add your logo, change colours, include your socials and even change the text used. It’s important that you find a template that is as close to your theme as possible.
Regardless of which route you choose, both of them require an understanding of the rendering and exporting process. Rendering is the process of creating a video file from your animation software. Exporting is the process of creating an image from your design software.
For image files it’s best to use PNG and for animated files use WebM.
Creating Overlays Without Photoshop
Creating an overlay without photoshop is still possible. Photoshop can be pricy so it’s natural to want to find free or cheaper alternatives. One such alternative would be creating the overlays using design software that’s available for free.
If the idea of learning to use advanced software doesn’t appeal to you, there are some great tools for making overlays. These tools are designed specifically for creating overlays. The result is a process that is streamlined for what you need to achieve. Not to mention much easier to pickup and learn.
Stats Stream Overlays
Stats overlays do exactly what they sounds like. They will show certain stats during your stream in real time. The most popular types of stat overlays are those displayed in game. Stats such as kills, ranks, or wins are a great way to quickly introduce viewers to your skill level. Additionally, if you’re competing in certain competitions, they’re a great way to build suspense and hype.
Another type of overlay is used to show performance stats for your PC. This could be FPS, CPU usage or core temperature.
Valorant Stats Overlay
Prowess is an app on the Streamlabs store that allows you to share your stats in game for Valorant.
The stats available to display are : Rank, Win/Loss, Kill/Death/Assist, Headshot Rate, Kills Per Round.
Warzone Stats Overlay
This overlay from codstats has can display stats during your stream. The stats can be based on either session or total stats.
Fortnite Stats Overlay
This Fortnite stats overlay is another app on Streamlabs, allowing you to display certain stats whilst streaming. The stats can be filtered either on a weekly or daily time period.
Apex Legends Stats Overlay
Updating every few seconds this kill tracker for Apex is the perfect way to engage and impress your audience.
League & Teamfight Tactics Overlay
Show viewers your current rank, lp and history. Set it up one time, from then you’ll get live updates as you stream.
CPU & GPU Stats Overlay
Show your GPU and CPU stats on screen whilst streaming.
Special Stream Overlays
Not every overlay out there is used solely for branding. There are a few other kinds of overlays out there. These overlays are designed to create a more interactive and engaging stream.
This is an awesome overlay for OBS to display your controller input on stream. Usually highly skilled players will use this type of overlay for their stream, as it gives the viewers an insight into the proficiency of the player. Rocket league is one such game where you’ll see many streamers using this kind of overlay. This plugin has different skins to choose from, depending on which kind of controller you use. You can even create your own custom skins.
Keyboard Input Overlay
This overlay is perfect for keyboard and mouse players. It’s a plugin for OBS and is completely free to use. The plugin comes with presets for keyboard, mouse and gamepad. You can configure the layout, look and arrangement of the buttons. These input overlays are a great way give viewers a look at how certain tricks or techniques can be done.
Twitch Music Overlay
Share your favourite tunes with viewers using this handy overlay plugin that displays your current Spotify song. Not only are you introducing your viewers to new music, save time constantly answering “what’s the name of this song” questions.
Get your viewers hyped with this plugin by creating a countdown for the beginning of your stream. This is a perfect way to start your stream, as it gives your viewers time to join before the show starts. In addition to using at the start of your stream, you can use the timer when closing out your stream.
By having a timer at the end of the stream you give your viewers a last chance to ask any questions. But also, as a streamer it gives you a time to interact before the stream ends and let viewers know when you will be live again.
If you want to take streaming seriously, then it’s a definite yes. Overlays were once considered a nice to have aspect of streaming. It has since become a core part of a streamers branding. As a content creator branding has become incredibly important. Your brand image is in essence the feeling your viewers get when they engage with your content. It makes sense to ensure that your visual branding is consistent with how viewers think of you.
If you have an understanding of all the different kind of graphics available for streaming, it’s much easier to choose which ones are best for you. A lot of the overlays are applicable to the vast majority of people. However in some cases certain visual elements just won’t work on a stream.
For example, a webcam feed whilst playing GTA role play will certainly break the immersion. Another example is using an event list vs alerts. Both display the same information, but the former is a much cleaner way to do it if you have a lot of follow or subscriber events.
Well optimised stream graphics should not cause your stream to lag. A good way to test if your layout designs are causing lag is to monitor the CPU usage with the overlays enabled vs disabled.
If your CPU usage drastically increases when the overlays are turned on, then it’s definitely an optimisation issue.
- Animation files should be in WebM format and no larger than 20mb
- If using OBS make sure plugins are not causing any issues
- Try changing stream quality, higher quality streams use more resources
- Use static files instead of animated ones
If none of the above work it might simply be that your computer isn’t powerful enough.
Setting up a stream layout can be time consuming to say the least. If you are changing to a new PC having to set overlay all over again can seem daunting. Luckily some streaming software allow you to save your stream layout and import it again with few clicks.
Yes it’s possible to add overlays if you stream on Ps4 or console. To do this, check out the video below and make sure to follow all the necessary steps.
Most overlays will work on all the major platforms. Overlays are set up using streaming software. As such a better enquiry is whether or not they work with you broadcasting software. The overlays we create at Hexeum are highly compatible with all the major platforms and software.
There are quite a few factors that make a good stream overlay. Both visual and technical factors should be considered.
To understand what makes an overlay good we first need to consider the purpose it serves. Overlays are a way to communicate both branding and information to viewers. A good overlay should clearly convey information, and be consistent with the rest of a streamers branding.
If you’re looking for an overlay package you can expect to pay $30-$40 depending on where you look. For non animated overlays you can expect to pay around half as much. Individual overlays can also be bought at varying prices. However if you are looking to upgrade your whole stream, it’s recommended to opt for a package deal.
Custom made overlays will cost considerably more, and prices vary a lot more depending on the designer.