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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Emoticon Design
Design

How to Make Twitch Emotes

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to make custom emotes for Twitch in Adobe Photoshop. We’ll create both an emote from a stock photo and an emote from scratch. When finished, you’ll be able to upload your emotes to your Twitch dashboard if you have an Affiliate or Partner account.

What You’ll Learn in This Twitch Emoji Tutorial

  • How to use the Select Subject feature in Photoshop
  • How to use the Pen Tool in Photoshop
  • How to use the Mask feature to cut out photos
  • How to make a custom brush in Photoshop perfect for drawing
  • How to resize artwork to make Twitch chat emojis

Tutorial Assets

You'll need the following resources in order to complete this project:

What Are Twitch Emotes?

You may be asking yourself, in addition to what they are, how to add emojis to Twitch. Twitch emoticons are small chat icons that Affiliate or Partner channels can offer to their subscribers as a reward to use in their channel’s chat. They are exclusive to each channel, so having custom emotes is a must if you want an incentive for viewers to subscribe.

The best part of creating your own custom Twitch emojis is being able to bring something special to your streams. Whether it’s an inside joke for your viewers or just your glorious face, it adds such flavor to your channel and builds your streaming community.

Let’s get going with how to get emotes on Twitch! 

1. How to Prepare Your Stock Photo for Twitch Chat Emotes

Step 1

Open your stock photo in Adobe Photoshop. Save the photo as a .PSD file from the start so your work won’t get lost. Grab the Magic Wand Tool (W) and, in the Options Bar, hit Select Subject

Select your subject using the Select Subject Option

This won't necessarily select your subject perfectly, but in the case of this photo, it makes getting the outline of her hair very easy compared to manually cutting it out. In the Layers panel, hit Add a Mask.

Hit Add a Mask to turn your selection into a Layer Mask

Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a shape around the head of your subject, being careful to outline their chin. This will be the focus of your Twitch chat emoji.

Use the Pen Tool to cut out your subjects head

Step 3

Create a folder in the Layers panel and drag your working layer into it. In the Paths panel, hit load path as a selection. Select your Group in the Layers panel and then hit add layer mask.

Apply the mask to the group to maintain image quality

Step 4

Next, you're going to duplicate your original layer holding your stock image. Delete the layer mask on this duplicated layer. 

Use the Pen Tool to carefully cut out your subject's hand. Once again, load the path as a selection and mask your layer.

Use the Pen Tool to carefully cut out your subjects hand

Step 5

Now you should have one masked hand layer and one group folder containing the head layer. We're going to use this document as the base for our Twitch emoticons.

Now you should have one masked hand layer and one group folder containing the head layer

2. How to Customize Your Twitch Emote Composition

Step 1

Now that we have our stock photo prepared for our Twitch smile emote, we can work on the emoticon's composition. Create a New Document that's 500 x 500 pixels, 72 DPI, and Color Mode set to RGB. Make sure the document has a transparent background.

Make a New Document for your twitch chat emoticon

Step 2

Copy (Control-C) your head group and hand layer from your working photo file and Paste (Control-V) into your new document. Scale the head and hand down to fit into your Twitch emoji composition. I scaled them down to approximately 33%.

I like working in a new document so that if I want to make changes to the original stock photo, I haven't lost any image quality, and I can always change my mind about how I've clipped the layers for emoticon use.

Copy and Paste your head and hand layers into the new document

Step 3

Rotate your head layer so that it's tilted about 45° toward the hand. Also make sure the hand layer is above the head.

Step 4

Group (Control-G) your layers in the Layers panel and Double-Click the group to open the Blending Options. Select Drop Shadow and use the following settings:

  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 38%
  • Angle: 90°
  • Distance: 6 px
  • Spread: 0%
  • Size: 4 px

Hit OK when you've applied all of these settings.

Apply a Drop Shadow to your Twitch Emoji

Step 5

Save (Control-S) your working emote files. From here, we'll move on to creating a custom emoticon from scratch, but if you're keen on only working with a stock photo, you can move on down to Section 5 of this tutorial for tips on Twitch emote size!

Save your working file

3. How to Draw Custom Emotes for Twitch

Step 1

Let's start creating our custom Twitch emote with some brush settings. Feel free to use whatever brushes you want for drawing, but this is my current favorite. In the Brush Settings panel, apply the following settings:

Brush Tip Shape

  • Size: Variable, I started with 17 px
  • Angle: 34°
  • Roundness: 67%
  • Spacing: 4%

Shape Dynamics

  • Size Jitter: 0%
  • Control: Pen Pressure
  • Minimum Diameter: 21%
  • Roundness Jitter: 0%
  • Control: Pen Pressure
  • Minimum Roundness: 1%

Transfer: selected, everything set to 0%

Build-Up: Selected

Smoothing: Selected

Custom brush settings

Step 2

In a New Document, this one also 500 x 500 pixels, create a New Layer. Grab the Brush Tool (B) and sketch out your basic emote composition. This one will be the same as the stock photo emoji, with a smiling face and a hand giving a peace sign. I like to be quick and sloppy in my initial sketch.

Make a loose sketch

Step 3

Reduce the Opacity of your initial sketch layer to 30% or so and make a New Layer. Choose a dark brown #3b0600 or whatever dark color you'll be using for your line art, and tighten up your sketch. My second sketch below is a bit too detailed for a Twitch chat emote, but the basic idea is there!

Tighten up that sketch

Step 4

Hide your initial sketch layer and reduce the Opacity of your working sketch layer to 30%. Create a New Layer for your line art. Note how simple the eyes have become. Personally it takes a couple of sketch layers for me to feel comfortable with tightened-up line work.

Work up your line art

Step 5

Hide or delete any sketch layers below your working line art layer. Note that the focus here is a large face, an easy-to-read expression (in this case very happy), and a cute peace sign with the hand. Too many details will get lost with the final emote size.

Finalize your line art

4. How to Color and Complete Your Twitch Emote

Step 1

On a New Layer beneath your line art, start coloring in your work. I like to use the same brush as my line art layer since it's easy to paint with. 

start coloring in your work

Step 2

When working on an icon that will eventually be on a transparent background, I find it easiest to use a very bright color that isn't a part of my piece to help determine the boundaries of the emote. I've set my background to neon green #00ff00, though you're welcome to try another color if it works better for you. 

Color in the skin, mouth, and eyes in flat colors before adding any shading or highlights.

Fill in your design with flat colors first

Step 3

I like making the hair pop a little by adding some fun shapes of a lighter color. Note that I've lined the bottom of the eyes with a darker brown than the skintone and done the same under the nose and in the ears. Often when coloring in a drawing, I'll put flat colors, shadows, and highlights on separate layers for easy editing.

Adding shadows and highlights

Step 4

Don't get too detailed in the shadows or highlights for your Twitch chat emote. You'll lose a lot of this detail when it's resized for use in your channel's chat, but creating a larger drawing means you can use and reuse it in a variety of ways outside of emojis.

Twitch chat emote with coloring finished

5. How to Make Your Twitch Emote the Right Size

Step 1

Twitch emote size is pretty important. They mostly appear pretty small within the chat window, and you'll want users to know what they've selected and others to know what they're trying to communicate. 

Twitch specifies three emoji sizes:

  • 112 px for larger platforms
  • 56 px for retina displays
  • 28 px for web

With one of your working chat emoticon files open, go to File > Export > Export As. Use the following file settings for your first export:

File Settings:

  • Format: PNG
  • Transparency: Selected

Image Size

  • Width: 112
  • Height: 112
  • Resample: Bicubic Sharper (this is better for reduction)

Repeat these steps at the other sizes for each of your icons so you have three separate PNG files for each icon design.

Save your Twitch emote in 3 separate sizes

Step 2

Note how small the 28 pixel emote is! It's hard to see, but even at this size we can clearly make out the smile of the Twitch emote and the hand! Experiment with other expressions or compositions and test out the size in this Export menu.

When exporting, make sure to give each Twitch emote a unique name so you can easily find them while uploading to your channel.

Check out how small this Twitch emote is

6. How to Upload Emotes on Twitch

Step 1

You've done it! Now to answer the question of how to get emotes on Twitch. As stated above, if you're an affiliate, all you need to do is prepare your emoticons at the right size, as we did above.

Step 2

Simply head on over to your Channel Dashboard to upload them within your Affiliate or Partner Preferences. You'll find the Twitch guide on emotes incredibly helpful for this part.

It's up to you whether you upload three separate sizes of Twitch emote in their Advanced Mode or let the site compress a single larger file in Simple Mode. You'll also find answers to common questions like "How many emotes can I have on Twitch?" or "How long does it take to approve Emotes on Twitch?"

Great Job, You're Done!

Now you know how to make your very own custom Twitch chat emotes! Whether you're working from a photo or making your emote from scratch, you've got the basics to make a whole fun set of chat emojis as subscriber incentives for your channel!

Finished Twitch chat emotes

5 Awesome Emoji Packs to Use on Twitch

If you'd rather use some pre-made Twitch chat emotes, Envato Elements has you covered with these fantastic sets:

30 Emoji Icons

30 emoji icons Set of 30 Emoji Icons

This set of emojis is bold, simple, and fun, with a range of smile Twitch emotes in a variety of expressions.

100 Emoji & Smiley Bundle Pack Vol 1

100 Smiley Emojis

This set of emoticons is cute, simple, filled with fun bright colors that easily stand out in a sea of comments. The expressions are easy to read, which makes this set perfect for chatting. 

Most Commonly Used Emoticons

48 Emoji Bundle of Icons

This icon bundle is so varied in design. It goes well beyond assorted smiley faces, giving your users plenty to talk about!

30 Avatar & Emotion Icons - Flat

30 Avatar and Emotion Icons

Break away from complete simplicity with some avatars perfect for making your chat a bit more personal.

Fast Food - Vector Set of Characters

Fast Food vector chat icons

Get weird and wild with some fun fast food icons for your Twitch chat! Especially useful if you stream something like Cooking Mama or Burger Time!

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