How to Make a Thumbnail for YouTube [A Complete Guide]

make youtube thumbnail

A thumbnail is a display picture of a YouTube video that appears as a video’s icon. It has a significant value when it comes to YouTube video making and vlogging. It’s true that a YouTube video’s title is directly proportionate to the storyline of the video but if the thumbnail is inappropriate, it could immensely spoil the results that could have been achieved otherwise.

In this blog post, I’m going to tell you that how you can make amazing thumbnails for your YouTube videos and vlogs. Not only this, but I’ll also share that why you need to put your effort into making great YouTube thumbnails.

So, if you’re interested…

Then keep reading…

Before I dig deeper, I would like to tell you three important elements of making a thumbnail that stands out and performs well on YouTube:

1) – Clarity of Message

The clarity of message refers to the connection with the video storyline and theme. If you’re going to tell some YouTube secrets in a video and showing your lawn’s image without any sign/logo/image of YouTube, then people would find it a little unprofessional and it would directly impact your CTR. You may end up getting low clicks on that video.

2) – Sharp and Bright Colors

Adding sharp and bright images in YouTube thumbnails helps in making them attractive. It automatically increases the click-through rate on the video and therefore you get more eyeballs to watch the video and it ultimately drives more thumbs up and comments.

3) – A Surprise Factor

It’s been seen that when YouTubers add a surprising face or strange sign along with their pictures in thumbnails, the videos get more traction than the other videos with regular thumbnails. It’s all about storytelling and engaging people to watch your video. If you’re using a fantastically designed thumbnail but your video isn’t worth it, it means you’ve wasted your viewers time and it could backfire pretty badly on your video.

Let’s move to the step-by-step process of making a YouTube thumbnail:

Step #1: Choosing the Graphic Builder

Let’s be realistic here. Buying the expensive softwares like Adobe Photoshop or Corel Draw isn’t the best option if you’re not a professional graphic designer and just looking for something to create your YouTube thumbnails.

So, keeping that in mind, I recommend using the online graphic tools to create your thumbnails. They are free or cost-effective and you’ll get this done pretty quickly. Take a look what we have got here:

  • Canva – This is the best option to get started with YouTube thumbnails designing.
  • PicMonkey – It is one of the popular online graphic designing tools. You can certainly pick this one as well.
  • Snappa – I didn’t hear much about Snappa but it seems quite okay.
  • InkScape – It got my attention lately. It’s a free and open source software for graphic designing.

It’s true that designing the perfect thumbnails begins with choosing the right platform. It’s not about choosing the paid option but rather a suitable one. Try out different options and get used to of the best one. Because if you’re pursuing the YouTube journey, you better be ready with the tools that you will need along the way.

Step #2: Make Screenshots or take Pictures

Once you’ve figured out your graphic tool, the next up is the pictures you want to choose in your screenshots. It’s been noticed that top YouTubers and vloggers use their pictures in thumbnails to attract the subscribers as well as other audience. One of the reasons I understood is that it engages the audience because people want to know what they (YouTubers) were up to.

top youtubers thumbnails

YouTubers like Joe Thatcher, PointlessBlogVlogs, and Logan Paul are really good when it comes to making attractive and engaging thumbnails.

You can take pictures for your vlogs/videos. However, you can also create screenshots through your video editing software. Almost every video editing software allows that. For instance, Filmora has this option to create thumbnails from any scene being edited in the software:

best video editing software

Step #3: Select the Size and Layout

At step 3, you need to determine the size and layout of the thumbnail. Once you’re done with the graphic tool selection, you better know that you can only upload a thumbnail up to 2 Mb in size. In fact, the dimensions matter as well. I personally use 475px x 275px for my YouTube thumbnails. You can test out a different dimension. Make sure it doesn’t exceed 2 Mb in size.


The next part comes in this regard is the layout of the platform. Canva does an amazing thing when it comes to layout selection. You may not find this option in other tools but you can certainly try them out. The layout feature provides different formats to choose from. You can, later on, put the pictures into them and finish up the thumbnail with multiple pictures or icons or images in it.

Step #4: Add Customizations and Effects

In the end, you can add up some effects to customize the thumbnail. For instance, changing the brightness, contrast, saturation, and stuff like that. The purpose of customization is to make sure that your thumbnail starts to stand out, which would help you achieve the clickability on your videos. You can add such customizations using your favorite graphic tool. Once your image is ready, export it, and you’re good to go with your YouTube upload.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Comment down below and let us know how you make your thumbnails for YouTube!

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