It’s been ten whole years since TwitchTV was born and seven since it took the reigns from Justin.tv. For a live streaming platform, that’s a huge deal. Especially since we’ve seen a handful of other streaming platforms fizzle out before hitting the 5-year mark.
If you are anything like us and have been keeping your ears to the ground, chances are you’ve heard how Twitch plans to mark the milestone. With animated emotes!
And even if you haven’t, don’t fret. We’ll bring you up to speed.
The Story So Far: Animated Emotes Through Twitch History
Up until now, if you wanted to use animated emotes on your Twitch streams—or even view one—your only options were to install BTTV (BetterTTV) or FFZ (FrankerFaceZ).
Among other things, these third-party chrome plugins opened up a new world of emote options — including animated GIF variants of your favorite 2D designs. They also meant streamers could—for the first time—upload custom animated emotes to their channel.
However, these features came with downsides. Your creations were only visible to others with the BTTV or FFZ extensions downloaded. And most times, they could not be used on channels other than your own.
There’s also the fact that since BTTV and FFZ emotes are free for everyone, streamers could not reserve certain designs for their subscribers — removing a powerful monetization tool. But most of all, these emotes were not supported on mobile devices, excluding a huge (and growing) chunk of the Twitch viewer base.
Where We Are Today: Opening a New Twitch Chapter
Many years later, with a solution finally on the horizon, streamers and viewers alike have cause to celebrate.
As of June 2021, Twitch partners and their communities can start flaunting native animated emotes. That means no more third-party extensions. Just a good old-fashioned ‘Drag & Upload‘ on the Creator Dashboard. It also means new monetization options and the end of mobile chat limitations. Exciting, isn’t it?
But while you can choose from the thousands of animation/art styles that exist, there are a few boxes your animated emotes must tick.
- Animated emotes must be uploaded as GIFs.
- Just like standard emotes, animated emotes are square images. That means your GIF dimensions must have identical pixel height and width — for a 1:1 aspect ratio.
- The upload process for animated emotes is nearly identical to static (i.e. standard) emotes. You’ll have two different upload options: auto-resize mode or manual mode.
- The new auto-resize mode will be selected by default, but it can be toggled off. In this easier, streamlined option, you upload a single file, and Twitch automatically converts it into all required sizes. If you plan on using auto-resize, your GIF’s resolution must lie between 112x112px and 4096x4096px – although we wouldn’t suggest going much bigger than 112x112px.
- If you opt for manual mode, you’ll need to upload your GIF in the three traditional emote sizes: 28x28px, 56x56px, and 112x112px.
- The maximum file size allowed for auto-resize mode is 1MB and 512 KB for manual mode. Note: these are very small file sizes, which is why we suggest keeping your GIF dimensions as small as possible. This is especially true since GIF files usually have notoriously large file sizes.
- No GIF images can exceed 60 frames. This is an important one! And easy to overlook.
So far, Twitch Partners have been assigned five animated emote slots at launch. You should also note that—for now—these emotes will only be available as benefits for your Tier 1 subscribers. Not your Tier 2 or 3 subs.
Affiliates may have to wait till the end of 2021 to get their hands on animated emotes.
For a more detailed account of how to upload your custom animated emotes, check out the official guidelines here.
Wait A Minute…Aren’t Animated Emotes and Cheermotes the Same Thing?
If you’re a little confused about the new animated emotes and cheermotes—first introduced in 2016—you’re not alone. After all, they both move. They both light up. They can both be customized and they are so much better to look at than regular text. But are they one and the same?
In truth, they aren’t.
For one thing, cheermotes can only be used with bit donations. They are only triggered when a viewer intentionally uses their bits to cheer you on. On the other hand, animated emotes don’t need bits or any form of virtual currency. At least not directly.
As long as you are subscribed (Tier 1) to a channel, they are “free”. That means having natural conversations is much easier with animated emotes than with cheermotes.
Another difference is that cheermotes are restricted to their channels of origin. While you don’t have to follow or subscribe to a channel to use them, custom cheermotes can only be used within the channel they are hosted. The reverse is the case with custom animated emotes – which can be used in any channel across Twitch.
How to Get Animated Twitch Emotes
If you’re a Twitch partner looking to gear up with animated emotes, you have three main options.
The first is a quick, unrefined but free way to upgrade your existing emotes.
The second option provides personalized, unique designs — but you’ll have to put up with long wait times and steeper price tags.
The third option offers a middle ground, giving you professional animations, fast and at a fraction of the cost — even if the same designs may be used by other streamers simultaneously.
The choice will depend on your particular channel, goals and community.
Option #1: Twitch Easy Animate Tool
Creating custom animated emotes can take a while. Not to mention, be a little pricey. Twitch realizes that few streamers have the time or money to commission artists. And that even fewer have the technical skills to create their own emotes. Some may not have a spare $15 for premade designs.
Luckily, Twitch took all these into account. With the new Easy Animate tool, you’ll be able to create animations from already-existing 2D emotes in the blink of an eye. That means you can bring your favorite channel emotes to life — all for free.
How does it work? Choose from one of six pre-built animation templates: shake, rave, roll, spin, slide in and slide out. Plug in your emote and Twitch will animate it for you.
All you’ll need are:
- Static .png images with resolutions of 112x112px to 4096x4096px (If you’re using your own emote, it will likely already be 112x112px)
- Images must be square-shaped (i.e. 1:1, the standard aspect ratio for emotes) and have a max file size of 1MB (your emotes will likely already be well below this).
Despite its options being severely limited, Easy Animate makes for a great short-term solution. And while the tool is not yet live, it’s just around the corner. Twitch has also hinted that they will be expanding beyond the original six animation templates post-launch.
Option #2: Custom Emote Animation
As mentioned earlier, custom design—especially custom motion design—is your most time-intensive and costliest option. If you’re considering a custom commission, here’s what to expect:
- Your project could take weeks, if not months to complete. More experienced artists will typically take longer, and many will have waiting lists.
- Price could easily go into the hundreds of dollars, depending on the number of emotes you’re animating — and the complexity of your request.
- Finding a professional artist who gets your style…well, it’s not so easy. Many streamers will burn through multiple artists before finding the right fit.
If you’re willing to put up with the challenges, the rewards may well be worth it. A set of personalized, professionally animated emotes can supercharge a Twitch community. When done right, they’ll bring your chat to life and incentivize more donations and subs.
But where can you find a designer? Well, you could start by tapping into artist communities on social media. Our favorites are Twitter, Instagram, Dribble and Pinterest. Just be prepared to look through a lot of portfolios until you find the right fit.
For most streamers, the easiest, most reliable option is to work with a team—like ours at Visuals by Impulse. You may pay a bit more but you’ll save yourself a ton of time and hassle. Plus, you’ll wind up with a design you’re guaranteed to love.
Option #3: Download Animated Emote Packs
The quickest way to get professionally animated emotes is to find premade emotes. These come in a huge variety of themes, usually with at least six designs per pack. Downloads are instant and a typical pack costs around $15.
The downside is that premade emotes are usually not one-of-a-kind — anybody can upload them to their channel. However, going premade is much cheaper (and faster) than custom design — not to mention higher quality than anything a free tool can generate.. For these reasons, premade animated emotes are almost always the best option for new and growing streamers.
We’ve already begun combing through the VBI emote store and animating our best-sellers. Here are a few that are available, with lots more coming soon:
Paws up! This furry bundle contains 36 chat emotes, plus a matching set of sub badges! Choose from brown bears, panda bears and polar bears — or pick your favorites and mix & match.
Your favorite set of spuds, now in motion! Get 12 iconic emote poses in a funny potato theme. The perfect pixel bundle for fry-lovers and proud Irish. Try them out.
Dark wings. 12 animated chat emotes in an adorable raven theme. Designed for comedy bards and bird-lovers. Surprise your chat and give them wings!
A Note on Discord
If you’re like many other streamers, you may be considering adding your animated emotes to Discord. Why not?! Adding custom emotes to your channel’s Discord server is a great way to inject your branding and boost activity. It’s also a great way to get more bang for your buck.
However, a word of caution. While Twitch accepts designs at 112x112px, Discord will shrink your emotes down to 56x56px — and often as small as 32x32px! More importantly, the maximum file size for Discord emotes is 256KB, much smaller than Twitch’s 512KB limit.
So if you plan on using your animated emotes on both Twitch and Discord, make sure your files are properly formatted for both platforms. Alternatively, you could save yourself the headache of shrinking and resizing emotes and use our emotes. They are all optimized for both platforms so you never have to worry about being stranded.
Animated emotes aren’t all that Twitch announced on its 10-year anniversary. On one hand, follower emotes—another new emote type—will begin rolling out to partners and affiliates this June. On another, the Creator Dashboard is gearing up for an overhaul, with the addition of an emote library for storing all your designs
Twitch is clearly putting a renewed emphasis on emotes and your channel will need to do the same. How will you introduce animated emotes to your chat? What designs are you considering? Will you start from scratch, or animate one of your existing emotes? These are questions every streamer keen on growing their community must answer in the coming weeks..
Let us know your answers on Twitter @VBI. Or, watch us on Twitch as we animate emotes—live—for some of your favorite creators, like AvaGG, Ramee, SypherPK and Shotz!