I would have never dreamed, playing Super Mario Bros. on my NES, that video game graphics would look as complex and lifelike as they do today. But here we are: from HDR to real-time ray tracing, 3D graphics are more mind-blowing than ever. But if you ever wished your game looked a little sharper, a little brighter, or a little more colorful, you now have the tools to customize your game’s graphics to your liking, thanks to a tool called Nvidia Freestyle.


What Is Nvidia Freestyle?

Freestyle is built into Nvidia’s GeForce Experience, and it allows you to inject post-processing filters that alter how the graphics look on your screen. Think of it kind of like Instagram filters for your games: some are useful, some add a little pizazz to the image, and some are downright silly. Here are a few examples from all over that range:

  • Brightness/Contrast: This lets you adjust the brightness and contrast, which can be useful if you’re playing a particularly dark game that doesn’t offer enough adjustments in its graphics settings.
  • Color: Don’t like the grim color palette of a game? Adjust its tint, temperature, or color vibrancy with this filter.
  • Colorblind: Adjust the image for colorblind users, making it easier to differentiate between certain shades.
  • Details: This contains a number of filters that bring out the detail of your game’s graphics, including sharpening to enhance blurry edges, bloom to give it that mid-2000s vibe, and HDR toning for a pseudo-HDR effect. (There’s also a separate Sharpening filter that offers a bit more control as well.)
  • Depth of Field: This allows you to blur the background for a slightly more cinematic look, with adjustments on how deep you want it to go.
  • Letterbox: Add black bars to the top and bottom or sides of the image, also for a more cinematic image.
  • Painterly: Lower the detail of the image to create an almost cartoony style.
  • Stickers: Stick giant emoji over the game window. I’m not sure why you’d want this, but it’s there.

There are plenty more, from filters that make your game look like an old movie to one experimental filter that removes the HUD from your screen.

Since these are post-processing filters, you should be able to apply them without a huge hit to performance, though it does take a bit of computational power. The more filters you add, the more resources Freestyle will require, but unless you’re toeing the line of playability already, it probably won’t be super noticeable.

Freestyle may sound like more of a fun novelty than anything, but some of these can be incredibly useful. The Sharpening filter in particular is great for modern games that overuse blurry anti-aliasing techniques, and some of the lighting filters can help you see better in dark areas. Spend a few minutes searching the web, and you’ll find dozens of threads from players showcasing their in-game filters for gaining the best advantage. 

It doesn’t have quite as many useful tools as ReShade, a third-party tool we’ve mentioned before, but Freestyle is built into the driver, so you don’t need to install anything extra. Plus, you can add your own ReShade filters to Freestyle for even further customization. Give it a try and tinker around with third-party filters to see what you can create.


How to Enable Nvidia Freestyle

freestyle overlay

To use Nvidia Freestyle, you’ll need an Nvidia graphics card and GeForce Experience installed on your system. Make sure you’re running the latest version of GeForce Experience with up-to-date drivers. Then launch your favorite game, and press Alt+F3 to bring up the Game Filter sidebar. (You can also press Alt+Z to bring up the GeForce Experience overlay, then click Game Filter.) 

If the options don’t appear, you may have disabled the GeForce Experience overlay in the past—you can re-enable it by opening the GeForce Experience app, clicking the Settings cog, and toggling In-Game Overlay back on. In addition, not all games are supported, so try another title to see if it’s a game-specific issue.

In the Game Filter sidebar, look under Styles—by default, this should be set to Off. You can click the numbers 1, 2, or 3 to start creating a filter preset. Then, select a filter from the drop-down menu that appears, like Sharpening. You should see it appear in the box below, and you can click on it to reveal more settings for that particular filter.

To add more filters, just click the Plus sign, or you can select a filter and press the trash can button to remove it. Remember, the order of your filters matters, so use the arrows to re-prioritize them in the list to adjust how your final image looks.

When you’re finished, click Done, and enjoy your game (hopefully without too much of a performance hit). You can use this to give new flavor to old games, shine a light on detail in dark scenes, or craft the perfect screenshot for sharing on social media. It’s free and built right in, so you have nothing to lose by trying it out.

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