How To Make A YOUTUBE Video Thumbnail in 2021 (with CANVA) – DESIGN WITH ME

by Cole

In this video and blog, I break down how to design a YouTube video thumbnail for FREE in 2021 with CANVA. I use Canva for all of my YouTube Thumbnail designs. It’s just SOOO much easier + you get ideas from their templates ๐Ÿ˜‰

Try Canva Pro for FREE at my link here.

Designing a GREAT thumbnail for YouTube can be SUPER overwhelming at first. I mean, you can just take a look at some of my thumbnails from 2 years ago on the channel to see how much a thumbnail matters.

First let’s break down the sizing dimensions etc. of a YouTube thumbnail. If you’re in Canva, all you have to do is choose “Create A Design” and then Youtube Thumbnail.

  • The perfect YouTube thumbnail size is 1280 pixels by 720 pixels.
  • These YouTube thumbnail dimensions use an aspect ratio of 16:9.
  • Make sure your thumbnail size is a minimum of 640 pixels wide.
  • Thumbnail images should be under 2MB.
  • Image formats are JPG, GIF, or PNG

Before we get into the design, let’s answer this question briefly.

Why do thumbnails matter?


Simple and beautiful thumbnails can increase your engagement by 154% in women and 64% in men.

90% of the best performing video productions on YouTube have a custom thumbnail.

Outside of these stats, thumbnails are the #1 way you get someone who has never clicked on your videos to click and discover you for the first time. Think about it. There is SO MUCH content. Half the time, it’s not that your content is bad. It’s just that people don’t know about you. When given so many choices, you don’t want ANY reason for them to not click on your content.

Based on my research, it’s just the most important thing to get new peeps to click. So here we are.

Let’s start designing.

If you didn’t know, I am also a photographer. So it’s important to me (when I can) to have aesthetically pleasing photographs as thumbnails. When you mix these photos with good design, it’s impossible to ignore.

Here is the link to the video we are designing for: ๐Ÿคฏ Music Marketing Strategies in 2021 (A Breakdown for Indie Artists) w/ PATx

I knew I had to go extra hard with the thumbnail because honestly I was not super happy with the visual quality of the video. The content is great. The audio is great. But the video was rushed. The sun was setting, and we were both pretty tired ๐Ÿ˜ฉ ๐Ÿ˜…

I started this thumbnail with a photo. I took the photo with my A7III and pulled it up on Lightroom. It’s important to always EDIT your main thumbnail image whether it is a still from the video or a separate photo.

I use Lightroom presets BUT really I think it’s just good to vamp up the detail, brightness and saturation a little to make it pop as a small Youtube thumbnail.

One of my biggest tips when it comes to TEXT…

is aligning the right and left sides (if it makes sense). I explain this more in the video at the top of the page, but basically what I mean is having the “music marketing” align with the “where”. I don’t know the technical words for it, but it is aesthetically pleasing ๐Ÿ™‚

Elements is one of the main things I love about Canva.

If you got to the elements tab on the left when designing, you can choose from a huge catalog of animated or static “elements”. Depending on the video, I will add elements to spice it up. For this one, I just added some musical notes to underline the text and added some social graphics.


One of the newer Canva features is “background remover” under the effects option when you import images. It makes removing backgrounds SO EASY. Before this, you had to go into photoshop and “cut” things out of a background. Now, it is a click of a button.

Since PATx was a part of our convo on marketing, I wanted to include him on the thumbnail. So I simply screenshotted this IG image of him, imported it and removed the background. So awesome.

To accentuate this cutout, I just duplicated it, added a duotone and placed it behind the original cutout. This made PATx look like he has a blue-ish shadow behind him. Super cool.

I thought the right side was looking a little empty so I added some additional elements to really represent the marketing channels we discuss. It’s a sneak peek into the video and also looks like these clouds are floating out of the phone.

You don’t always have to fill out all the space in a thumbnail, but for this one, I did.

Much like photoshop, you can also import images into Canva.

I wanted some sort of money to be in the thumbnail because the ultimate goal is to make money through music. In this instance, the elements fell short for me. All of the money elements were animated, but I wanted it to look like legit money.

So I went to google and found a TRANSPARENT money PNG. I uploaded that image to Canva and placed it on the right side behind the clouds. Ahhh, perfect. Money. ๐Ÿค™


This is probably the biggest tip I can give. ADD dimension to your thumbnails by duplicating your focal image. I explain it in the video fully, but ultimately, I duplicated the image of me, removed the background and moved some of the texts and elements behindd the second layer.

This creates the illusion that these elements are between ME and THE WALL. It’s a pretty neat and simple little trick. ๐Ÿ™Œ

Welp that’s the final thumbnail, and I’m all out of tips in this one.

Again, I highly recommend using Canva, and if you’re interested, try Canva Pro for FREE at my linkย here.

If you still aren’t quite ready to design on your own, you can check out my 15 EDITABLE CANVA Thumbnail Templates on ETSY here. These are created to save you time so use them wisely ๐Ÿค™

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Resource: https://neilpatel.com/blog/4-quick-wins-to-increase-your-youtube-engagement/

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