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How to Design Custom Thumbnails for Instagram Reels

By Vanessa Poulson | Designer Tutorials

Instagram Reels are quickly becoming an important part of any social media marketing strategy. Since Reels were introduced as a feature on the Instagram app, more users than ever are sharing their own videos, from tutorials to OOTDS, the Reels feature is incredibly versatile and expected to become even more popular in 2021.

Design custom Instagram Reels covers

If you want to take your Instagram Reels to the next level and draw additional attention to them, we’ve got a tutorial for you! Now you can design your own Instagram Reels covers to help your video content stand out!

Best Practices for Instagram Reels Covers

While Instagram Reels Covers are an excellent opportunity to be creative, there are also a couple of essential things to keep in mind as you’re putting your designs together. Here are a couple of important things you should consider:

Keep the Safe Area in Mind

Instagram Reels appear in two sizes depending on where they appear. The first is a 1:1 thumbnail view if the Reel is posted to your feed. The other is the 16:9 view, which is the traditional Instagram Story size. This is used if the reel is discovered on your profile or within the Explore tab. Make sure when you are designing your cover,  the design you create at 16:9 doesn’t get lost in the 1:1 thumbnail view. Your design should be versatile enough to fit both. The edges get cropped for some views, so be aware of the safe area. 

Instagram Reels size

Simple Designs are Often Better

While you may think that creating an Instagram Reel cover using lots of bright colors and bold fonts to catch the attention of your audience, it is often better to create covers that are easy to read with minimal colors. That way, people that come across your video can quickly discern what the video is about.

Simple Instagram Reel templates BeFunky

Use Legible Fonts

Nothing is worse than coming across a text post on Instagram that requires you to squint in order to read it. Make it easy for your audience to read what you’re talking about by sticking to simple, clean fonts. 

Legible font ideas Instagram Reels

Make Sure the Imagery Matches the Content 

This one is pretty straight forward! If your Reel video is about traveling, don’t put a baking thumbnail on the cover! Making sure you have high quality supporting images on your Reels cover instills professionalism and authenticity with your audience.

Instagram Reel imagery ideas BeFunky

How to Design a Custom Instagram Reel Thumbnail

To create your own custom Instagram Reel thumbnail, start by opening Designer and clicking on Search Templates. You can also create a Reels sized template by using a Blank Template and sizing it at 1920 x 1080. 

Make custom Instagram Reels covers

Once you have a template that you like, click Use This Template.

Instagram Reels templates

Next, you can start to customize the template to your liking! Add your own image by clicking Replace under the Image Properties menu. You can upload an image from your computer tio replace the one from the template.

Custom images in Instagram Reels template

Click on the template text to open the Text Properties menu. Here, you can edit the text on the template. You can change the color, size, and font in this menu. We also move the text down closer to the center of the image to comply with those safe areas we talked about before.

Customize Instagram Reel template text

Want to change the background color? Navigate to the Customize menu and change the background color using the menu on the left. 

Customize background color Instagram Reel templates

Finally, we’re gonna add some fun graphics to the design! Navigate to the Graphics tab and then click Search Graphics. Our expansive library has plenty of options for every Reels theme possible. 

Add graphics to your Instagram Reels cover

Select the graphics you want to add to your design and then close the menu. They will appear in the Your Graphics menu, where you can drag and drop them onto your design. Make sure to keep that safe area reminder in mind as your place the graphics on your design!

Add graphics to your Reels cover in BeFunky

Finally, navigate to the Save menu to save your design to your computer.

Save your final Instagram Reels cover

Final Image

Final Instagram Reel Cover in BeFunky

There you have it! Your own custom Instagram Reel Cover. Are you ready to get started on making your own? Get started with the Designer below!

Graphic Design, Simplified.

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