How to Create Youtube Thumbnails

There’s a couple of key benefits of uploading a thumbnail to use for your Youtube videos:

  • More eye catching thumbnails draw in more views
  • The file name can be used to help rank for a keyword

Your Youtube channel must be “Verified” to allow custom thumbnails to be uploaded. You’ll need to log in to your Youtube dashboard and receive a free text or automated voice call to verify the channel, which only needs to be done once.

In this tutorial, we use Cooltext to design a text logo, which is a great resource for this type of thing. Cooltext has many different templates to choose from, however we’d recommend to customize the color, style and font so you’ve got a unique design others are not using and is not commonly seen online.

Some of the designs have a shadow which is great for giving your text presence in the thumbnail. The outline and the shadow can be modified using some templates in Cooltext, notably the “fun” template has a lot of flexibility.

Editing Your Downloaded Logo

Once you’ve created the logo, then downloaded it, open it up in an image editing tool. In our tutorial we give two examples, one in Microsoft Paint, and another in Paint.net, which are both free to use.

Either way, there are many recommended dimensions of the whole image you’ll find online for creating thumbnails, in this tutorial we use 640×360 which is perfect for just Youtube, however you can also use 1280×720 for a full HD image which looks great in the embedded player.

Whichever one you use, you’ll not get any weird stretching effect after it’s been uploaded.

Creating the Thumbnail in Microsoft Paint

Open the downloaded image in Microsoft Paint then adjust the dimensions in the “Properties” section using the drop-down menus at the top.

Simply select the text and move it to a suitable place for your thumbnail.

In our tutorial the logo is aligned to the center.

Using the Shapes feature, it’s easy to create a border to create the “button” effect in Youtube search results.

Creating the Thumbnail in Paint.net

Paint.net offers many more tools to create a more eye-catching thumbnail. This free software uses layers, which means we can use a background image, then layer our text logo on top of it.

First with Paint.net set the dimensions using the “image” drop down menu at the top and setting the canvas size.

Recommended Youtube Thumbnail Dimensions:

640×360 or 1280×720 

Then, if you’re wanting to use a background image, simply copy one from a royalty-free images resource like Pixabay.

Copying a displayed image, instead of saving it to your hard drive, is faster when using an image as a thumbnail background.

Paste the image into Paint.net and re-size/re-position the image if you need to. Holding the Shift key and dragging one of the corners will keep the aspect ratio without stretching it out of proportion.

If you have a background image, blur effects also work well -they make the background appear out of focus, while showcasing the main content you want to appear in the foreground.

Importing the Cooltext Logo

Add a new layer first, then go to the “layers” menu at the top of Paint.net and “Import From File”.

Find your downloaded logo created in Cooltext and import the image. It’s important to remember “select” and “move” pixels are two separate tools in Paint.net.

TIP – Using the keyboard shortcuts “S” and “M” will make moving items around the image a lot faster, so get into the habit of using them. Adjust the logo and align it where you want it.

Add a Border Using Paint.net

  • Add a new layer
  • Use “Ctrl A” to Select All
  • Go to Shapes and select Square
  • Adjust the brush width and colour

Simply save the final image as a JPEG file so it’s a relatively small file, since Youtube has an upload limit of 2MB.

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