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OBS: Understand the canvas setup

You have decided to try out livestreaming and after a little research you ended up downloading OBS. Now you are trying to figure out how to get everything on to the canvas looking great before starting your first livestream or recording.

In this article you learn about the basic functionality and how to use it to your advantage. We will create a simple layout to show the basic things like you monitor, gameplay, webcam and maybe a basic graphical overlay such as a webcam frame/border.

If you do not know what the different Sources section, check out the ending part of the previous article: OBS: How to get started

The layers

First thing to understand is that all sources are layered as put on the list, starting from the bottom. The things on top are in front of the thing below it on the list, which allows you to make dynamic layers. The best way to take advantage of this layering is to have a prepared view depending on different sources ability to load content.

A good arrangement for your layout is something along the lines of this. 1st is on top and higher numbers are behind layers.

  1. Alerts
  2. Overlays
  3. Webcam
  4. Gameplay, Monitor or Window Capture
  5. Background

Now that we have arranged our layers it is time to put content on the canvas. In this example, we use a free graphics packet found on Twitch Overlay Free Downloads. All it requires is that you write a small tweet about them and they unlock the download link to you. We have chosen the Fortnite Storm Call packet.

The setup

As we have shared the tweet, downloaded their packet and unpacked it into usable files. We need to open OBS to put things on the canvas to show.

As we do not want our viewers to see a black screen and maybe confuse it with being offline. Our very first task is to have a background image as the very bottom layer. Head over to Sources, click the "+" (Add) in the bottom and select Image and name it. Browse for the background and then click OK.

If the image does not fit, you can either drag in the corner or Right-click -> Transform -> "Edit transform" and then edit the "Size" boxes to fit your canvas resolution. As our canvas in this guide is 1920x1080, we put in 1920 in the left box (width) and 1080 in the right (hight).

OBS Canvas Background

Perfect! Now we want to put in the gameplay, which can be done in multiple ways. We are in this scenario going to use the simplest solution. We click to add another Source, but this time we select "Game Capture" and name it "Gameplay *". The reason we name it with a star is that this will be set to detect any active game and show it. Once it's been named we get a pop-up with various options. To keep it simple, the Mode will be "Capture any fullscreen application". Next, we select "Allow transparency", "Capture cursor" and "Use anti-cheat compatibility hook".

If you play a game with transparent layers, go back to these settings and deselect "Allow Transparency" to show these layers ingame. Once the source is put in, open any random full-screen game to make it show in the preview. Once OBS loads the game in the preview, you tab out of the game. Now you Right-click on the gameplay source and select Transform -> "Edit Transform..". Now you do not care about the "Size" parameters, as those should be the size of your ingame resolution.

Instead you change "Bounding Box Type" to "Scale to inner bounds". This resizes your game to fit within the size specified in "Bounding Box Size" and it no longer matters what resolution or aspect ratio your game has. OBS will fit it into this box. Now you want the Bounding box size to fit the canvas size as shown below. If you fill in the bounding box values before opening the game, it will default to 0x0 and therefore not show the game unless you manually go into Edit transform and edit Size to the game resolution manually once.

OBS Canvas Gameplay Fullscreen

Once the game settings are properly configured, you can close the game and move on to the next source.

Now you have to decide if you want to have a webcam on there, but stats are in favor of having one. People love seeing the livestreamer, their reactions and who they are as a person. If you decide not to show yourself, be ready to have an answer for those to come by and ask why.

This step is fairly easy. You add a new source and this time you select "Video Capture Device" which can be used to show any plugged in feeds to your computer. This will show webcams, capture cards and more. As we are adding a webcam, we simply name it Webcam and click OK. Now you get a pop-up with a lot of options to configure.

The most important options right now it to change "Resolution/FPS Type" to "Custom" and allow us to manually choose our webcam settings. Then you go down to "Resolution" and select the best available quality in the aspect ratio you want. 16:9 will be 1920x1080px or 1280x720px and 4:3 will be 800x600px or 640x480px. If your webcam is too bright, dark or out of focus then click "Configure Video" to open your webcam settings.

The quick and easy setup is to deselect all but "White balance" and "Auto-focus" depending on how well the webcam focuses on you. All the other options you should try and slide over to see what they do and then find a spot you like. Keep in mind your brightness and light sources can vary how great the image quality is with the chosen settings and may need adjustment from time to time.

Now we quickly add another source, another image. This time we need to find the webcam border/frame, so we know what size our webcam need to have. Once that border is added, we locate it on the canvas and afterward make the webcam fit into the box. As the webcam is behind the frame you do not need it to match perfectly as long it is not larger than the frame.

OBS Canvas Webcam With Frame

Now you have all the basic things on your canvas for a startup livestream. If you want to have alerts when people follow you, check out Streamlabs or StreamElements, the most commonly used alert services.

If you want a more in-depth walkthrough of setting up alerts and more, make sure to read the following articles about OBS!

Released on November 24th, 2018
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