If you think about watching the news on TV or many Youtube videos, you’ll know just what an overlay is used for– it’s a transparent slide that overlays the screen image with a small digital graphic (aka a digital on-screen graphic, digitally origination graphic (DOG), bug, network bug), usually a logo in the corner of the screen that is used to identify the broadcaster or creator. It looks something like this.
To make a digital on-screen graphic overlay, you create a slide the same size as your screen which has your logo in the corner and a transparent background so the image will show through. This is a convenient way to identify your brand to your viewers.
You can make an overlay using a variety of tools. Here are a few of them.
But before starting with any of these tools, make sure you know the size of your screen so you can make the correct-sized slide. Most apps default to 1280 x 720, but make sure this is the size of your screen before continuing.
Option 1 – Use a Graphics App
The easiest way to make a graphic with a transparent background using a graphics app. Some free and low cost options include:
- Adobe Photoshop Elements
- Windows 10 Paint 3D. Here’s a Tutorial
- Gimp – GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows and more operating systems available for free
- Inkscape is professional quality vector graphics software which runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows desktop computers availalbe for free
Option 2 – How to make an overlay using Powerpoint
Using Powerpoint to make an overlay has the advantage that many people already have Powerpoint and know how to use it. It has the disadvantage of being a bit of a complicated process.
Powerpoint won’t make a slide with a transparent background, so you have to do this in two steps. First you make a slide with a background and then you remove the background from the slide.
Think of yourself as a special effects guy in the movies. They shoot a scene with two actors in a rowboat in front of a green screen. Then in post-processing, you remove the green background and then put in a different background. Only in this case, you’ll skip putting in a different background.
Step 1 Make the Overlay Slide in Powerpoint
- In Powerpoint, make a slide with a solid background in a color that’s not in your logo. (Like a Green Screen.)
- Add the logo where you want it.
- Export to PNG.
Step 2 Make the Overlay Slide Transparent
For the next step, make a copy of the PNG you just made and work on it. That way you still have the original PNG in case you need to start again.
Using Preview (Only available on Mac)
- Open the PNG in Preview (only available on Mac).
- From the Image Toolbar, select the Magic Wand. Run it on the image to select all the Green.
- Press “Delete”.
- Close the file.
Using an online tool
If you don’t have a Mac, there are a number of online tools you can use to do this step. Here are two.
- For the next step, make a copy of the PNG you just made and work on it. That way you still have the original PNG in case you need to start again.
- Go to https://transparent.imageonline.co
https://www.adobe.com/express/feature/image/transparent-background (free sign-in required)
- From your computer, select the PNG or drag it onto the web page.
- Follow the instructions.
- Download the finished PNG to your computer.
Option 3 – How to make an overlay using Keynote
Although Powerpoint won’t make a slide with a transparent background, Keynote will.
- In Keynote, make a slide with a solid background in a non-overlay color. (Like a Green Screen.)
- Add the overlay where you want it.
- Export to PNG, making sure you click the “Export with Transparent Backgrounds” tick box.
For more information on Digital on-screen graphic, refer to