The above video released in June 2019 and contains some outdated information.
This post was updated in November 2021.
The info in here will be applicable to any artist, but here are my deets:
Hardware: iPad Pro 12.9" with Apple Pencil
Software: Clip Studio Paint
This guide also includes shortcuts/instructions for Photoshop.
What size do you draw emotes?
This is ultimately up to you and how you prefer to draw. Since the automatic resizing update, I work on a 200x200px canvas.
It's close enough to the standard 112px emote size that I don't get distracted adding useless details, which would be lost when the emote is shrunk down. Working so small also makes the drawing process super fast for me.
I increased my canvas size from 112px, because 200px gives me just a bit more wiggle room for certain details, and looks way less pixelated (so it's just easier on my eyes).
It's absolutely possible to draw them larger, and I know emote artists who work up to 3000px. As long as you're following basic art fundamentals to focus on the clarity of the emote (negative space, contrast, colour and saturation), you should be able to scale anything down to look nice at 112px.
Sizes for merchandising?
If a client says they want to make stickers of their emote, I'll draw them at 600px (300dpi). This size seems to work great for pretty much all types of merchandise, like stickers and badges.
To keep the art consistent with my other emotes, I first sketch the emote on my usual 200px canvas. Then I enlarge the sketch onto a 600px canvas, and use a larger brush to match the size of the line art.
Reminder about DPI
Here's your friendly reminder that DPI doesn't matter for anything web based. DPI only affects your art if you're getting it printed. And guess what? If you draw something at a low DPI for web, and want to print it off later, you can always increase the DPI of your image without it affecting how the file looks.
In Clip Studio: Image > Change Image Resolution > Check the box "Don't change number of pixels" and simply increase the DPI.
In Photoshop: Image > Image Resolution > Uncheck the box "Resample" and simply increase the DPI.
Preview your emote constantly!
No matter how large your canvas is, you should use some kind of preview window to see how your art looks at an emote scale. It's important to keep track of the detail while you're drawing, so you don't have to test and redraw anything later.
Two excellent ways to preview your emote is to use your art program's "Navigator", which is a toolbar/window that shows a tiny preview of your entire canvas. If you shrink the window down to the smallest possible size, it can be a great emote preview.
Alternatively, most art programs let you open up a second window of you canvas, which you can zoom out, and keep off to the side.
In Clip Studio: Window > Canvas > New Window.
In Photoshop: Window > Arrange > New Window for [file name]
Saving and File sizes
Now the big secret: Don't use Save As or you'll be endlessly frustrated with file sizes. Always "export" your artwork to get a clean, compressed file.
In Photoshop: File > Quick Export > Export as PNG.
In Clip Studio: File > Export (Single Layer) > PNG.
If your program doesn't have any kind of Export option outside of the typical "save as", or if you're still over the size limit after exporting, you can use compression websites to optimise your file sizes for Twitch.
When using the Auto-resize option, emotes must be square images between 112px and 4096px, under 1MB in size.
When using the manual upload method, you need to supply the 28px, 36px and 112px images, under 100KB in size.
If you need all three manual sizes, there are plenty of free websites and apps that can handle the resizing for you, so you don't need to manually export all your emotes three times.
Why does my 28px file look terrible?
If you're still using the 28/36/112 method, you may notice how awful the files look.
It's all good. Seriously. It doesn't look like that once Twitch uploads it. There's nothing you need to fix.
I used to always worry when I'd look at my files and the 28px looked super janked up, but it's all lies:
If something doesn't make sense, or I missed something crucial, let me know in a comment below, or tweet me @bilvyy! If you have a specific problem with your files, send me a screenshot and I'll try to troubleshoot with you.