In the world of YouTube, clicks and views are the metrics that matter in order to get your channel recognized. YouTube saturates viewers with thumbnail images - you can find these on the home page, they appear after you’ve finished watching a video, and a selection of them are always docked on the right side of the screen.
When you think about your own experience navigating YouTube, a video’s thumbnail is often the first interaction you have with a channel and a very important part of brand recognition. These thumbnail images help viewers catch a glimpse of a channel’s video before they ever click on it and are one of the most popular gateways to your channel. And since your videos are always surrounded by other thumbnails, it is important to make yours stand out from the rest.
Making custom YouTube thumbnails is an art of its own. Not only do YouTubers spend ample amounts of time working on their thumbnails, some even pay hefty prices to other creators to design them and make them look appealing enough for clicks. But the good news is, you don’t have to hire anyone to create standout custom YouTube thumbnails! BeFunky’s Designer can help you create the perfect template that will make it quick to create cohesive YouTube thumbnails for all of your videos. That way you can focus on the video content that your subscribers know and love.
What Makes A Great YouTube Thumbnail
Remember how we talked about your YouTube thumbnail being a summary of what the video is all about? That means in order to really draw viewers in, you’ll need a great background image to showcase the content, as well as eye-catching text with your chosen brand colors and logo (if you’ve got one!). Above all design decisions, consistency is key when you’re creating YouTube thumbnails. As long as each thumbnail you create looks like it belongs to your channel, you’re on your way to better brand recognition. With all of that in mind, here are some best practices for creating YouTube thumbnails:
Use Relevant Imagery
Since your YouTube thumbnail is a first impression of what your video is about, it’s best to use a background image that thoughtfully summarizes what viewers can expect for the content. There are a couple ways to create a background image: either use a screenshot of a portion or your video as an action or process shot, or take a thoughtful photo the same day you shot the video.
Just make sure that whatever approach you take for your background image, you are mindful to leave enough space around the outside of your frame for when it gets cropped into a thumbnail format. The size for YouTube thumbnails is 1280 x 720 pixels, or an aspect ratio of 16:2.
Use A Branded Color Scheme
When adding in design elements like graphics and text, it’s a great opportunity to incorporate your brand color palette. Your color scheme should already be decided and reflected in your YouTube Channel Art, and for consistency, should be carried over to your YouTube thumbnail designs. This helps create an experience for your viewers that is more memorable.
To make sure your color scheme is on point, be sure to grab the Color HEX Code (the six digit code that is assigned to each color in all existence) so you can be precise when coloring text, icons, graphics, and more!
Use Bold (And Legible) Text
If you’re adding the title text to your YouTube Thumbnail, make sure to use fonts and sizes that are easily legible when shrunken down to thumbnail size. This means avoiding script and decorative fonts, and instead opting for serifs and sans serifs.
Establishing the font you’ll be using throughout your Channel Art and thumbnail design from the get-go is key to remaining consistent.
Use Your Logo
Logos help your videos become easily recognizable and are usually a better option for well-established brands. We talked about creating a YouTube icon to go with your Channel Art in this post, and creating a version of that icon with a transparent background can really come in handy for placing on your YouTube thumbnails. If you choose to add a logo, make sure to always position your logo in the same place on your thumbnail. We can’t stress it enough - consistency is key here.
Now that you have some guidance on what looks best when designing YouTube thumbnails, it’s time to put it all into practice. BeFunky’s Designer doubles as a YouTube Thumbnail Maker, helping you to create the perfect layout for easy customization as your thumbnail needs arise.
How To Make Custom YouTube Thumbnails With BeFunky
To start using your YouTube Thumbnail Maker, head to BeFunky’s Designer and select the Templates tab from the menu on the left. Once there, select the green Custom Template button at the top of the tab.
When the Custom Thumbnail menu appears, type in your YouTube thumbnail dimensions (1280 x 720) into the Width and Height fields, then press the Create button to load your template. It’ll be blank at first, but perfectly sized for your YouTube thumbnail design.
To add a background image to your YouTube thumbnail template, select the Image Manager tab (the top icon) from the menu on the left. Here, you can upload a screenshot from your video or photo you’ve taken by selecting the green Computer button. Alternatively, you can drag and drop your image file directly onto your template. Once your image is on the template, click and drag the blue circles around it to resize and reposition it. Feel free to fill up as much of the template as you’d like with imagery.
Once you have your background image in place, you’re ready to add some design elements. For this thumbnail, we are going to add in a PNG file of one of our logos (aka a version with a transparent background). To do this, head back to the Image Manager tab and upload your logo or drag and drop your file right onto your template. You can then use the blue circles around it to resize it, then click and drag to reposition it wherever you’d like it on your template.
Always create logo variations with transparent backgrounds. We recommend doing a white version, a black version, and a couple color variations. These are so useful to throw onto any printed or digital material. To learn how to make a logo with a transparent background, check out this post.
Next, it’s time to add text to your YouTube thumbnail by heading to the Text tab (the A icon) in the menu on the left. Click the Add Text button to add a textbox, then click it to type the title of your YouTube video. Once you’ve typed out your title, you can use the Text Properties menu that appears whenever your textbox is selected to change the font, size, color, and much more. Experiment with the different menu options to find a font and style you’d like to replicate in future videos.
Once you’ve got your YouTube Thumbnail layout looking perfect, it’s time to save your work. Click the Save button at the top of the Designer to save your YouTube thumbnail as a .JPG or .PNG for uploading as a custom thumbnail to your YouTube content.
Next, we recommend saving your YouTube thumbnail template in editable format, so you can reload the project and change the title and background image for future thumbnails. To do this, click the Save button at the top of the Designer and select Save As Project from the dropdown menu. Give the project a title and either save it to your BeFunky account or Computer (as a .BFD file) to reload in the future.
To access your project in the future, if you’ve selected the BeFunky account option, you can click the Open tab at the top of the Designer and select BeFunky to access all the projects stored in your Project Manager.
Click on the project to reload and update it. If you’ve saved to your Computer as a .BFD file, just drag and drop the file into the interface to reload it and update it.
Making custom YouTube thumbnails that are cohesively designed is an effective way to draw traffic to your channel. By doing this, you can make your channel look cohesive and create a strong brand that others can expect and enjoy. Be mindful the next time you are flipping through YouTube to see what other YouTubers are doing with their Channel Art and thumbnail designs, then try to create your own look based on your brand and what you feel works for you and your subscribers. You might even be surprised at an increase in traffic with your branded look!
To create your very own YouTube thumbnail template and eye-catching YouTube Channel Art, click the link below and find everything you need!