What Makes A Good Emote? A Twitch Emotes Guide

Whether you have wandered around Twitch as a viewer or are a streamer on the platform yourself, chances are you might have felt a bit perplexed, when seeing a number of different emoji appear in chat that you do not usually encounter on conventional social media platforms like Twitter. Welcome to the first of 3 articles that will give you the complete rundown about all there is to know about Emotes!

Emotes Meaning and their Benefits 

So what exactly are Emotes you ask? Twitch’s emoji are essentially glyphs that people could insert in their chat communications during a Twitch stream. First introduced in 2015, emoticons have since become an integral part of the Twitch streaming community’s culture and identity building process for many creators on the platform. Parallel to the conventional emoji we all use in our day to day life (on WhatsApp for example), on Twitch, emotes are generally utilized to amplify a simple idea or concept. Having the diversity of emotional designs and power to add more expression, they can also be sent as standalone glyphs without any text to signify a certain moment during the stream. Last but not least, think of your emotes as a mini-ad for your channel. Every time a sub uses your emotes, it could entice another viewer into joining the community and subbing themselves.

While free Twitch emotes are available for any viewer to use on any channel, irrespective of a streamer’s status – only Twitch Affiliates and Twitch Partners are allowed to make custom emotes for their subscribers. These emotes are your branding and this is what your community will use to have fun and communicate with each other through your channel – in addition to being a great way to offer viewers who subscriber a unique and special reward.

Madskils Three Step Guide to designing Emotes

Step One: Consider Your Community

The first step in emote design is thinking about your community. Emotes help your community bond together, so it makes perfect sense to consider what they would want first. You can (and we highly recommend that you do!) even ask them what they would be interested in. By letting your community and viewers take part in the creation process can help make the emotes feel like a real group effort.

Let’s start brainstorming! Here are some questions you could ask yourself:

  • Are there any words or phrases often used during your streams?
  • What do you call your viewers? Do you have a nickname for them?
  • Consider your channel branding – what theme is it?
  • What games/genres are you most known for playing?

By answering these questions you’ll be able to come up with tons of different ideas for emotes. Many streamers tie their emotes into their branding and this can reinforce aspects of your style or personality. When narrowing down ideas think about the size of emotes. You need to pick themes which viewers can understand in a small and simple graphic. Lastly, your emotes are a reflection of you and your channel so take care to ensure they reflect yourself accurately.

Step Two: Think About Emote Situations

Once you have a couple of ideas going, we highly recommend you consider the type of situations you want emotes for. There already are many common uses for emotes available from the free emotes pack, so you should think about which situations and circumstances come up most often in your channel. Here are some handy ideas:

  • Celebrate new followers & subs – or just say hi with a welcome/hello emote!
  • A common emote in most communities is some form of a LOL/facepalm emote.
  • Express your happiness & excitement with a hype/excitement/love emote.
  • Lament you or your teammates deaths in-game with a cool RIP/Death emote!
  • When things go wrong –  and we know that they will, haha! – a Panic emote is just the right thing for the situation.
  • Remember those times when things got too much and you’re just angry? spam that ragetastic Rage emote!
  • We’ve all played those games that just hit you in the feelings and a Sad/crying emote can convey those feelings perfectly.


These situations usually cover the most common situations you may want to use emotes in your channel, but they are far from the only ideas! if you’d like to see more ideas for emotes check out the third article in our series, Gallery of Awesome Emote Ideas. And don’t worry if you have more ideas then slots available! As your community grows, you will unlock more emote slots – so once you have the basics covered you can work on making some more niche or unique emotes.

Step Three: Design Your Emotes

Once you’ve locked in what emotes you want to make, you need to start designing them. Even if you aren’t artistically talented, seeing your ideas take form – even on paper – can help you decide which ones work and which don’t. And don’t worry if you don’t think you are very good at art! Having rough sketches is still worthwhile either way, as you can always just hire a professional artist to do all the graphics for your channel – and the more details you can get down on paper, the more accurate the results will be to the ideas you have in your mind.

You have to make sure your emotes are crystal clear with a great degree of clarity. People should understand what it is straightaway and use emotes appropriately without much deliberation. Additionally your emotes should be engaging. Viewers should be delighted to use your sub emotes both in your and in other streamer channels, which gives you free promotion as your viewers spread awareness about your channel. Having engaging emotes is also very helpful in retaining current subscribers, when the latter feel they use emotes that are really fun and interesting.  Be exclusive – to stand out from other streamers, you need to provide unique emotes that would incentivize people to subscribe or even gift subscriptions to others. If you decide to take a generalized design as a basis, make sure to put your spin on it, so that it exudes excitement at the prospect of having it on the part of subscribers. 

Last but not least – you can change your emotes at any time. So feel free to mix it up and see which ones get used the most. Community feedback is great for this so let your viewers tell you what they want to express. What about things like image sizes or content requirements and adherence to Twitch guidelines you ask? Don’t worry about that! we cover all of that in the second article in our series – How To Make an Emote for Twitch.

Tips and Ideas for creating Custom Emotes

Having mediocre emotes will not cut it in the very competitive streaming industry. If you are still stuck and don’t have any ideas on what to make for your channel here are some Do’s and Don’ts when designing your channel emotes:


  • Customize your sub emotes with personal branding to give them a unique appeal among the community.
  • Create diverse emoticons that would allow viewers to convey different emotions, depending on what is happening on stream.
  • Focus on the design quality to avoid having a subpar product for people who support your channel with a paid subscription.



  • Do not copy someone else’s sub emoticon style, as it would bring down the incentive for people to obtain your emotes.
  • Do not be inclined to create designs that would be on the edge of Twitch’s rules and requirements, to avoid having the artwork not pass the approval process.
  • Do not make emotes with vague interpretation, as the users should be able to grasp the meaning quickly and apply the emoticons in the relevant situations.


Most Used Twitch Emotes 

Popular emotes are used hundreds of thousands and millions of times every day across the Twitch universe.  Not only that but some of the very popular emoticons have a whole background story attached to their actual creation. As of the writing of this article, here is a list from Stream Elements of the most popular and used emotes on Twitch: 


Kappa is a starting point for anyone trying to enter and understand Twitch culture, according to Caldwell. The emote is based on former Justin.TV employee, Josh DeSeno, who was charged with setting up the chat client. People mainly use or spam Kappa as a way of carrying out a sarcastic reply to something happening on stream.


PogChamp, one of the oldest emotes on Twitch, is based on Gootecks, a professional Street Fighter player, and is mainly used to express surprise in response to something happening on stream. PogChamp is based on this video from 2000, but was given the name PogChamp because of a Mad Catz fight stick promo released in 2011 for a tournament that Gootecks was competing in.


Based on Josh Bain, a streamer known under the name TotalBiscuit, Mr. Bain added the emote to Twitch by himself, only for it to be deleted after a DMCA takedown request from a photographer who took the photo. Mr. Bain then uploaded the emote to an extension, BetterTTV, that enables to use emoticons in chat. This allowed for LUL to exist on the platform and it is now a significant part of the free Twitch emotes to show big laughter.



TriHard is an extremely popular emote. Based on a face made by the streamer TriHex while at an anime convention in Dallas, the emote didn’t officially become “TriHard” until 2014 when TriHex was speedrunning Yoshi’s Island and noticed a Twitch staff member hanging out in chat. TriHex did everything possible to get their attention and, essentially, was trying way too hard. So he became TriHard.


4head is pretty self-explanatory when it comes to visuals. It’s an emote based on League of Legends’ streamer Cadburry’s widely grinning face. The emote started to pick up in 2015. It’s a pretty wholesome meme, that is mostly used to express a reaction to a joke being made. The reaction can either be seen as an earnest response or sarcastic.

The most important thing to remember is that the emotes you design are a reflection of you, your channel, and your community. Make sure they are unique, easy to understand and fun to use. Allow them to become a part of your channel and your branding and you won’t regret it!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different themes and ideas! You can always change them if you want or if your community doesn’t like them – just make sure not to make too many quick and drastic changes, or you risk confusing viewers. And the most important thing of all to remember – make sure you love the result – your emotes should always be something you’re proud of.








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