We are visual creatures and we are attracted by great visuals. On youtube the visuals are all in the thumbnail design.

But it’s complicated because thumbnails are so small – and even smaller on mobile – so what kind of design truly is eye-catching?

I present to you my 7 steps to design the perfect thumbnail even if you’re not a graphic designer (I’m not) and with free tools!

Let’s get started 😉

According to YouTube 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. I dunno about you, but I would definitely like to be in that 90% rather than the 10%.

7 Elements Every Thumbnail Should Have:

  • Bright Colors
  • Use a Face (expression)
  • Contrast
  • Big Fonts
  • Quirky text (non-SEO)
  • Visual “Pop”
  • Consistent Design – playlists

7 Steps to Create the Perfect Thumbnail

Now that you know all the element you need in a great thumbnail design, let’s go over to the computer to create thumbnails:

Step 1: Take a screen capture of your video at an interesting point using Skitch or Jing
Step 2: Choose YouTube Thumbnail in Canva (auto sizes it to the correct dimensions)
Step 3: Choose a Layout (free or paid)
Step 4: Upload the raw image file to Canva
Step 5: Add Text
Step 6: Add any other visual elements for interest
Step 7: Download as PNG or JPG

Upload your custom thumbnail to YouTube and you’re done!

The best part of designing a nice BIG clickable thumbnail is that you can use it everywhere on social media!!!


Was this tutorial useful for you? I dunno. You tell me. Gimme a big ol’ thumbs UP and write in the comments below.


Thanks for watching – I’ll see you in the next video!