Youtube Thumbnail Size & Guidelines: How to Make Yours POP! ?

You have created the greatest video and thought of the best title (and optimized it further for Youtube SEO), yet your video still isn’t getting the views it deserves?

Well, your thumbnail may be the culprit.

Often overlooked, these YouTube thumbnails are as essential as your video’s title and content.

Remember that these tiny still images are what viewers initially see when they search a video on YouTube.

A thumbnail will act as a teaser or a movie poster. It mirrors what generally your video’s content is and should lure your viewers to click-through.

It can be their deciding factor whether to click and watch your video or otherwise, scroll ahead.

Thumbnails also appear on Google’s search engines and play an important role in maximizing your impressions. Sometimes, the right thumbnail is enough to make a big difference.

Below, we’ll guide you through everything you need to learn about YouTube thumbnails, from choosing the ideal size, how to make them and other tips that will help you make a compelling image and raise your video’s click-through rate.

Read on and give it a share!

Main Purpose of a Thumbnail

The main goal of a Thumbnail is to get clicks to it!

It should attract not only your current followers, but your future ones (the ones that have yet to discover you and your content)

Regardless of the type of your content you post, whether to entertain or inform viewers, your thumbnail should magnet all those clicks for you or optimize your impressions.

The Perfect YouTube Thumbnail Size

Before we get to more fun stuff, let’s go to the basic first and determine the right Youtube thumbnail size.

As per Google’s recommendations, your thumbnail should be at 1280 pixels by 720 pixels, with 640 pixels as the minimum width. It is also best to keep its size at 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s used in YouTube players and previews.

You may be surprised why the recommended size is that big.

Well, while thumbnails may look small when appearing in searches, it usually expands to the same size of a full video when it shows as an “up next” suggestion near the end of a video.

It’s best to use a large-sized image as it will still maintain its quality when it scales up.  

You’ll never want your thumbnail to look pixelated in previews.

Also, take note that the image you upload must not exceed 2MB and the image file types should be any of the following: .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.

(Should you have problems with the file size or format, online converter tools may become handy.)

Youtube Thumbnail Size Guidelines

✍️ Here’s a list of what you need to remember:

  • 1280 × 720 resolution (with a minimum width of 640 pixels)
  • JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG image formats
  • Under 2MB
  • 16:9 aspect ratio

Creating the perfect YouTube Thumbnail

Ideally, it is best to create compelling thumbnails using Adobe Photoshop.

If you don’t have such skills yet, don’t worry as there are lots of online graphics tools that can help you get the job done.

On top of the list is FotoJet.

What makes this online graphics tool special is that it doesn’t require users to sign up for a free account to be able to create a thumbnail.

You can choose from plenty of templates that will help you customize your thumbnail and download it for free.

To start creating your YouTube thumbnail on Fotojet, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to https://www.fotojet.com/template/youtube-thumbnail/
  2. An array of templates will be displayed. Make sure to pick one that will suit your video’s subject or content.
  3. Once you have chosen a thumbnail template, you will be directed to the FotoJet editor. The image size is automatically set based on YouTube’s recommendations.
  4. Now, you can navigate on the menu on the left side. Click on ‘Text’ to edit thumbnail text. You will have the privilege to choose from different text styles. Just click any of the sample text, and you may start editing.
  5. Once done, select ‘Add Photo’ to upload your desired background photo. Should you decide to use a plain background instead, you may pick from different gradients or patterns on the “BKGround” tab on the left menu.
  6. See to it to play with different styles and designs the site offers and customize your YouTube thumbnail freely.

If you want to explore other features, there are other online graphics tools you can use in making your YouTube thumbnails:

Snappa

Snappa has a wide range of professionally designed and ready-made templates you can choose from. The tool also has a drag and drop functionality that will help you use their customizable texts, graphics, and shapes more conveniently.

Visme

Make thumbnails in minutes! This Easy-to-customize thumbnail maker lets you choose from a variety of templates, graphics, fonts, and photos to create your perfect thumbnail.

Picmaker

You can think of plenty of ways to make your thumbnails as this online graphics tool offers various stickers, borders, text, icons, backgrounds, and filters from their vast collection.

Fotor

Their theme-based templates can be a huge help in finding the one that would best suit your video’s subject matter.

How to Upload a YouTube Thumbnail (Steps)

If you don’t upload a thumbnail, YouTube will automatically select one for you by choosing a random screenshot of your video.

That seems like a bad idea as you’ll never which screenshots will be taken and it may, unfortunately, be your wackiest shot on the video. (it’s always the wackiest one)

And, since we’ve already discussed the importance of choosing the right thumbnails and how to create them, it’s better to upload your customized thumbnail instead on just a few simple clicks!

First, go to the video setting of the video you want to change the thumbnail.

You will notice a section called ‘VIDEO THUMBNAILS’ at the bottom of the settings screen.

You will see the ‘Custom thumbnail’ button.

Click it and choose the file you want to upload. Make sure to follow the thumbnail size, format and file size Google suggests to avoid any issues.

Once it is uploaded, it will appear in the ‘VIDEO THUMBNAILS’ section.

Set it as your video’s featured thumbnail by clicking on the image.

You can your change your video’s featured thumbnail anytime you want to regardless of the time it was uploaded.

Creating the Best YouTube thumbnail

Done with the technicalities, let’s now unleash your creativity.

Here are tips on how to make your Youtube thumbnail a compelling one:

Take Static Images

To get the highest quality for your thumbnail, take an actual photograph instead of getting a screenshot from the video. A video is always in motion and using it as a still image doesn’t just fit.


See xoJahtna using a still image for her thumbnail.

Thumbnail must mirror your content

You have been a victim of clickbaits for sure.

The photo shows a new mysterious bird found in a specific place only to find out that it’s a normal peacock after watching the video.

While this may result in giving you huge number of views at the moment, it will not benefit you in the long run.

People will learn your dirty tactics and will refrain from clicking your videos in the future. People might even report your content as spammy.

This will kill your opportunity to earn more subscribers.

Have your thumbnail accurately reflect what generally would they see in your video.

Use close-ups and vivid emotions

You probably see these on most YouTube videos.

Creators are including zoomed in images of their faces on their thumbnails.

This is effective in a way that it establishes an eye contact which humans have evolved to detect even virtually.

It draws in the attention of the viewer’s as we normally love making connections.

To spice it up, it is also essential to show strong emotions. Humans get triggered by emotional cues, and they can sense heightened emotion.

Someone laughing or showing disgust, for instance, will most likely catch attention than a person displaying a poker face.


Nate Garner blends close-ups and emotions in his thumbnails well.

Aim for bright backgrounds

Having bright backgrounds is preferable as it goes well with YouTube’s white backdrop. Bright colors catch the viewer’s eye, so use this to your advantage.


5-Minute Crafts, a channel using striking colors for their backgrounds.

Use Contrasting Colors

Playing with the right colors can do magic for your thumbnails even if they are on the contrasting sides.

The contrast in outlines,  graphics and text catches the eye and can make the subject of the video stand out against the background.

If your text, graphic, or photo is bright, place it on top of a dark background or vice-versa.

You can use charts of contrasting foreground and background colors to help you make the right color decisions.

This will make your thumbnail pop. With lots of other videos lining up next to yours, it is always good to catch immediate attention.

Text Usage

If you are posting a music video, don’t add any text.

If you are posting a gaming stream or a product review, add a sentence such as “iPhone 8 unboxing”.

For other entertainment, you can add a text box.

The general rule of thumb is to see what others are doing and copy that.

If you have to use text, first, make sure that it is readable.

Keep in mind that thumbnails tend to scale down when appearing on searches and that screen sizes also vary.

Browsing YouTube on a smartphone can make your thumbnail just about the size of a postage stamp.

Second, be concise. Three to four words at maximum on your thumbnail is the limit. Never repeat the title on the thumbnail or describe your video’s content.

You can give them some gist to grab their interest or awaken their curiosity.

Lastly, you may also write something that inspires viewers to click. You can use striking words that immediately creates an impact on the viewers’ minds.

Embed Logo or Branding

Using a consistent logo or watermark in your thumbnails can be essential in raking up views.

What it does is that it provides familiarity to your audience. It also helps you differentiate yourself from other competitors or creators.

When you establish your branding, viewer’s will be able to identify your videos quickly and will be most like to watch.

Check out Vice channel’s logo on the bottom-left corner of the thumbnail.

Placement of Designs

Be sure to avoid the lower right corner. In its place is a black box displaying the videos’ lengths in each thumbnail.

Also, it’s the bottom right-hand corner doesn’t get too much attention.

Most people read or looks from left to right, top to bottom making it the last part to get noticed.

The bottom-left corner of your thumbnail is a good area to place your logo or any design.

Consistency

Another way of helping viewers identify your videos is by having consistency in the design of your thumbnails.

This means that you have to be uniform in your design which includes layout, the arrangement of elements and color choices.

You may also place your logo in the same spot, use the same font styles or the same techniques in your thumbnails.


Same layout, color scheme, and fonts – Beth Roars channel exemplifying consistency.

Use Sense of Motion

Should you subject matter permits, you can also use the “sense of motion” for your thumbnails. Action shots become effective as it thrills the viewers to know to watch what’s coming ahead on the video.


Experiment channels such as PressTube commonly applies this to their thumbnails.

Make Sure to Follow YouTube Community Guidelines

As with all other platforms, YouTube has its community guidelines that you must abide. This rules applies to your videos, title, content and even your thumbnails.

Nothing too complicated, though. Just make sure that your thumbnails are family-friendly, no nudity or violence – you’ll be okay. Be mindful that if you are breaking YouTube’s guidelines consistently, you can lose the ability to upload custom thumbnails.

Thumbnail Techniques or Styles You May Use

  • Collage Effect

This technique is done by cutting out the subjects from a photo and placing them over a background to make them stand out or emphasize their importance.

  • Split Screen

This style is commonly used “before-and-after”. The thumbnails show the initial state of the subject on the left side and display the results stage on the right side. This technique entices the viewer especially when there are drastic changes. A user usually gets interested in how the transformation was made and will most likely watch.

The split screen is also used to review videos. One half of the screen shows the subject being evaluated, be it a movie/product/dance cover while on the other half is the person doing the analysis.

Do Split Test

When you start to do your custom thumbnails, do not settle for a single-style or template as of yet and make sure to experiment – the split test.

This means that you have to create different approaches on different thumbnails to see what gets the highest views and what would work well for your impressions.

You can run a particular template for a week or a month depending on your preference and measure its click returns.

Do this using other templates and compare the results. Once you get what works best, you can now apply it to all your videos and create your brand.

PewDiePie’s Success and His Thumbnails

PewDiePie is the most subscribed individual on YouTube with over 89 million subscribers as of March 2019 statistics.

Well, aside from the other cards on his deck, the way he does his thumbnails can be attributed to this success.

You can see that this digital superstar knows how to use thumbnails in his advantage.

Known as Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg in real life, this “Let’s Play Youtube’ uses very minimal text in his thumbnails.

In the photo below, he only used a single word for both videos enough to tickle the viewer’s curiosity and let them wonder what he ‘regrets’ or where he has been ‘banned.’

See how he somehow creates a tension that makes people want to know the answer.

PewDiePie’s is also known to use strong emotions in his thumbnails, to connect to his audience. The added emotion on these thumbnails makes viewer’s want to know what caused the emotion in the video.

Here you can see PewDiePie’s consistency in terms of the overall design of this thumbnails.

The chosen colors are very laid-back, and there is constant use of the collage style and close-ups.

Lastly, PewDiePie’s made sure to make his thumbnails fun andeciting. The novelty he used is unique and catchy enough to get eyes to move to his direction – a brand he created on this thumbnails.

Conclusion

We know you’ve devoted much effort to create videos, but you should not forget the importance of having a great thumbnail image.

It serves as an introduction to your content, and if people find interesting, you’ll entice more viewers.

It may take extra time to create one, but it’s time well spent.

Make your thumbnail with the tips and tricks given in this post and make sure to use the optimizations and mind hacks to your advantage.

By creating and utilizing the right custom thumbnail images, your views will most likely skyrocket, along with getting more subscribers and creating your own brand as a whole!

Drop a link to your YT channel below so I check it out!

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