If you’ve ever watched Top Chef or Chopped, you know what the judges look at before ever tasting contestants’ food: presentation. Believe it or not, this same sort of thinking applies to your YouTube channel. Just replace food with digital content. It’s still all about presentation: Do people want to watch your video?
A great way to generate views is by designing a stellar YouTube thumbnail image. YouTube recommends an image that’s 1280 x 720 pixels. At the very least, your image should have a width of 640 pixels. If all this “specs” talk makes you anxious, don’t worry. We’ve created a simple how-to on designing perfectly sized YouTube thumbnails with PicMonkey. Afterward, we’ll show ya a couple of examples, along with some Dos and Don'ts of thumbnail design.
Create a YouTube thumbnail with a pre-sized blank canvas
Not sure where to start? Take advantage of our pre-sized blank canvases and guarantee perfection from the get-go. Once you’re in the editor, click Create new > Blank Canvas > YouTube Thumbnail. With a pre-sized canvas, you’re free to focus all of your attention on the design! Get going by adding text, graphics, and photos to your blank canvas.
Crop an image to the right YouTube thumbnail size
Know what image you want to use in your design? Fantastic! With our Crop tool, you can resize your image no matter its current proportions. Simply upload your image (high-resolution is a must), select Crop Canvas, and set your Aspect Ratio to YouTube Thumbnail. Then, just position the crop frame where you want it and click Apply. If your image already has the right aspect ratio but is simply too small or too large, just use our Resize tool. Click Edits > Resize.
Make a YouTube thumbnail with a design template
Browse our YouTube thumbnail templates. Once you’ve found one you like, all you have to do is click Customize this template and you'll be sent to the Editor. And if you’re already on the PicMonkey hompeage, just click Create new > Templates and search for YouTube Thumbnails. (Pssst...YouTube thumbnail templates are available on the PicMonkey mobile app, too.)
Using Smart Resize to output your image to other sizes
When you’re a PicMonkey Pro Subscriber, you have access to our Smart Resize tool, which lets you resize your design into as many formats as you want. YouTube thumbnail, Facebook advertisement, and Twitter post? Sure thing.
Just click Smart Resize on the top toolbar and select the appropriate sizes. Then hit Copy & Resize. Your newly sized images (along with your OG image) will all appear in Hub, PicMonkey's cloud storage.
More YouTube image sizes (2022)
|Social media image type||Dimensions in Pixels|
|YouTube Banners / Covers / Channel Art||2560 x 1440|
|YouTube Thumbnail||1280 x 720|
|YouTube Channel icon||800 x 800|
|YouTube Intros / Outros||1920 x 1080|
|YouTube Display Ad||300 x 250|
|YouTube Display Ad Long||300 x 60|
|YouTube Overlay Ad||480 x 70|
Six dos and don’ts of great YouTube thumbnails
Alright, you’ve mastered thumbnail sizes, so now it’s time to lay down a few Dos and Don’ts when creating subscriber-worthy YouTube thumbnails. We’ll also pepper in a few thumbnail examples (including one from our own channel!).
1. Don’t let YouTube choose your thumbnail
When you upload your video, you must click Custom thumbnail in order to also upload your design. If you don’t do this (or you don’t have a design), YouTube will pull something from your video to use as a thumbnail. We don’t recommend this. It’s always better to have control over what your viewers see first.
Treat your YouTube thumbnail like a lead magnet. It’s an entry point for people to click on your video and, hopefully, subscribe to your channel.
2. Do design your own thumbnail
In our PicMonkey mobile app series, we use bright, brand-centric colors. Our image choice stems from the video content. We’ve tried to make our copy as concise and actionable as possible so that viewers understand exactly what they’ll garner from the content.
3. Don’t overcrowd your image
More doesn’t necessarily mean better. Refer back to your brand. You want something that resonates and shows people who you are. There’s no need to pull out all the stops for a single design. What you’ll end up with is something that’s completely lost in translation.
4. Do tell your story
Your story’s whatever your YouTube video has to offer. Using an uninspiring or irrelevant image won’t help tell this story. Including too much text or text that’s so small it’s impossible to read won’t provide viewers with a sense of who you are and why they should click.
Google does well with this tip. Its thumbnail is split in half, pairing recognizable imagery with a central question. The story is clear: watching this video will help us understand what web spam is and how Google protects us from it.
5. Don’t use dull colors
There’s that longstanding myth about red cars getting pulled over more than others. Who knows if this is true? What we do know, though, is that the reason this myth even exists is because people think a bright red car stands out more than, say, a charcoal gray model. So, if the red car’s driver is speeding, a police officer will notice it.
Illegitimacy of this myth aside, it does at least suggest something — bright colors pop. And if your design’s ripe with dull colors, it’s going to rot fast. Need to get your color learning on? Check out our comprehensive post on color theory.
6. Do add vibrancy to your design
Color choice really does make a difference. Think about how your colors contrast with one another. Also, our editing platform offers a ton of different effects that you can use to elevate the vibrancy of your design and make it jump off the page as YouTubers scroll through videos. The simple truth is that YouTube’s overall aesthetic is L-O-U-D. Consider experimenting with brassy designs.
MLB’s thumbnail definitely shouts out its content. It’s effective; a relatively simple design that benefits from using images of players who baseball fans will recognize, along with striking colors. Each player’s uniform works well against the blue background, allowing for the neon green thumbnail to POP. Again, we know exactly what we’re getting from this video. The colors are attractive, and the recognizable faces are sure to generate clicks.