How to Make a YouTube Thumbnail

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 how to style and size your YouTube thumbnail, or read at your own speed below.

How to make a YouTube thumbnail

  1. Head to

  2. Open a YouTube thumbnail template.

  3. Or, open a Youtube thumbnail blank canvas to start from scratch.

  4. Customize your template or blank canvas by adding text and graphics.

  5. Export directly to YouTube from the Share menu, or download to your computer.

Now that you’ve gotten the gist of it, let’s dive deeper and get into the juicy details.

Size your YouTube thumbnail image correctly

If you’re using our blank canvas or a template, your image is already perfectly sized at 1280 x 720 pixels. You can also resize or crop one of your own images to these dimensions. If you started with a blank canvas, go ahead and choose a color for it by clicking Background Color in the Edits tab.

Add a graphic to your YouTube thumbnail

PicMonkey’s graphics are vector-based (except for a rare few), which means they stay perfect and crisp no matter how big or small you resize them. You can change up the color, add a drop shadow, or erase parts of them using the controls in the Graphics palette; it appears when you add a graphic and when you click any graphic in your design. Click Effects, at the top of the palette, to get drop shadow controls.

If you’re really going crazy with a lot of graphics, you’ll want to manipulate them using the Layers palette—click the icon that looks like a stack of square pancakes in the bottom toolbar. The Layers palette shows all your design elements, and has up and down arrows for controlling the stacking order. Click a layer, then click the three vertical dots to the right of it, and you can duplicate, straighten, or delete it.

To add your own graphic (or photo), click Add at the top of the Graphics menu.

Make your YouTube thumbnail text pop

Adding text to your designs is easy — click the Text tab, on the left, then choose your font and from the Text palette. Click Add Text in the left panel and start typing in the text box that appears over your design. Or you can click one of the text layouts in the left panel and simply replace the text with your own.

Here are some quick tips for making your text stand out:

  • If you’re putting text over a busy background or photo, apply a solid-colored graphic (a rectangle or a label). Click the Layers palette, then click the down arrow to make it appear behind your text.

  • Use Outline under the Effects tab in the Text palette to make your text pop.

  • Apply light-colored text to dark-colored backgrounds and vice versa.

  • Be bold. Remember that your thumbnail appears in a grid full of skillions of other thumbnails, so make your text size large. Flashy display fonts with curlicues and distressed aesthetic won’t be legible, so stick to clean, sans-serif choices.

  • You can give your words some punch by adding a drop shadow. Click Effects at the top of the Text palette. To make the palette appear, click the text in your design.

Make a YouTube thumbnail with a template

If you’re pressed for time, don’t despair. PicMonkey’s got a library of beautiful YouTube thumbnail templates that make it quick and easy to make your own custom youtube thumbnail. Open Templates and scroll to choose any template you like, or type what you’re looking for into the search bar. Ba-bam! Once your pre-made design is in the editor, you can change it up with your own text, graphics, textures—everything!

How to make a YouTube thumbnail on the PicMonkey mobile app

Mobile video enthusiasts, your time has come! We’ve got a quick and easy tutorial for creating a YouTube thumbnail on the free PicMonkey mobile app. Scroll down to get the steps, or play the video below to see it all in action.

How to make a YouTube thumbnail in PicMonkey’s app

  1. Start by opening either a blank canvas or editing a photo.

  2. Crop your photo or change your canvas size to thumbnail size.

  3. Personalize by adding text, stickers, and your own branded colors.

  4. Save your design and upload it to YouTube.

1. Start your design

To get started with a design on mobile, choose either Blank canvas or Edit a photo on the PicMonkey app’s home screen.

2. Set your canvas size to Thumbnail

If you’re starting with a blank canvas, scroll through the social sizes and find Thumbnail under the red YouTube logo. Tap the check mark in the top right corner of the app to lock in that size.

If you’re starting with a photo, tap Edit, then tap Crop and scroll through the options til you find Thumbnail. Position the crop where you like it and tap the checkmark to apply.

3. Customize your thumbnail

Add text to your image by tapping the Text tool and add your own graphics by tapping Stickers. If you started with a photo, feel free to add effects and make adjustments.

4. Save your design and upload it to YouTube

When you’re all done, tap Save in the top right corner and save your image to Hub or to your camera roll. Next, upload it to YouTube and you’re all set!

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This article was written by PicMonkey Staff, a multicellular organism of hive-minded sub-parts who just wanna get you the ideas and information you crave, so you can make powerful images that level up your business.