How to Make a YouTube Thumbnail

How to Make a YouTube Thumbnail
February 8, 2018 Fabiola Landa

YouTube thumbnails are the first thing your viewers see when they’re exploring your YouTube channel. They’re a lil’ glimpse of what your video will be like, and a big factor in determining whether viewers watch it or not, so you wanna make it eye-catching.

The good news is: if you can imagine it, you can create it with PicMonkey. Watch the video to learn the deets on how to style and size your YouTube thumbnail,  or skip ahead and skim the highlights below.

How to make a YouTube thumbnail

  1. Use the ideal YouTube thumbnail size (1280 pixels x 720 pixels)
  2. Create a YouTube background with overlays
  3. Duplicate overlays to make your thumbnail unique
  4. Make your YouTube text pop

Use the ideal YouTube thumbnail size

There’s nothing like a perfectly sized YouTube thumbnail. You wanna make sure you have your canvas dimensions down before you begin your design. In the YouTube thumbnail world, 1280 x 720 is a wonderful place to start. Then, go bananas and monkey on.

Create a YouTube background with overlays

Unless you have a particular funky background in mind, overlays can help guide you in the right direction. An overlay is a graphic that you can use as a sticker, to create a background, or for whatever other creative purpose you come up with. PicMonkey provides a plethora of overlays, but the Add your own button allows you to import any graphic or photo on your computer. Overlap them, resize them, fade them, color them, erase them—the sky’s the limit.

Duplicate overlays to create a unique thumbnail

Overlays are delightful things, and they’re extra delightful when you right-click on them because your design process becomes much easier.

Want to keep the same color/size/effect on your overlay? Easy. Just right-click and select Duplicate overlay. Eureka! An identical twin appears. (You can do this with your text too!)

Overlapping text and overlays is great—but make sure you get familiar with your right-click options so you can Send to back, Bring to front, and more.

Make your YouTube thumbnail’s text pop

Adding text to your designs is easy, and making them stand out is even easier. Here are some quick text guidelines:

  • Add Text to solid backgrounds and/or apply a geometric overlay and Send to back of text.
  • Apply light-colored text to dark-colored backgrounds and vice versa.
  • Be bold. Make your text size large and legible. Use CAPS and simple fonts to invite the viewer into your vid.
  • Give your words some extra pizzazz by adding a text effect.

For pre-made designs, try templates

If you’re feeling a little lazy, don’t despair! PicMonkey’s got a library of beautiful YouTube thumbnail templates that are quick and easy to customize. Use them for business or your personal vlog.


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Fabiola Landa
Fabiola Landa is a social media marketer here at PicMonkey. When she's not creating wonders on, she's probably traveling, at the beach, or taking pictures somewhere.