In this guide, we’ll show you how to download free editing software and use it to create the most attractive YouTube thumbnails. This guide will help you draw attention to your thumbnails in order to increase your CTR and drive more views to your channel.
Hopefully by the time we finish this tutorial, you will know everything there is to know about creating YouTube thumbnails.
Free image editing program for thumbnails
To get started, you need to download free image editing software. We suggest using GIMP, the GNU image processing program. This is a free and open source application and our guide will be based on using the GIMP, so you can follow its directions. Download the GIMP here.
Once you’ve downloaded GIMP, open the installer and walk through the installation process. Once installed, open GIMP and you should see something similar to the image shown above.
- Click File.
- Click New.
- A a new window will open.
- Enter 1920 in Width
- Enter 1080 in Height
- Click OK.
You will now have a blank canvas to work with. This will be the beginning of your YouTube thumbnail. Now it’s time to add some text. If you watch YouTube, you know that copy is one of the most important parts to attract interested viewers. In YouTube’s most successful thumbnails, most of the image is devoted to text.
The key here is to use words that will engage your users or intrigue them. It depends on the topic itself, but if you can come up with a good headline, you can just include the beginning.
To do this, first click on the text tool in the upper left corner. Then, on a blank canvas, click to start printing. You can use the floating toolbar to adjust the size of the text and the margin on the left to change the font.
There are many default fonts to choose from, but Ebrima Bold is a good starting point. He is clear, attractive, but not too prone to being over-the-top or too restrained and boring.
We suggest typing the first line of text. Later, if necessary, you can repeat the following steps with a new line of text. Now that you have your text, it’s time to add details to it to make it stand out.
However, before doing that, we need to choose a background color or an image that complements the text. Usually a nice background with muted colors will work.
To do this, we’ll just grab a mountain background by searching for an image of a mountain on a free image site like Pexels or Pixabay. For an image, try something related to video.
- Right-click on the image found on Google and select Copy Image.
- Return to GIMP and press Shift + Ctrl + N to create a new layer.
- Leave the default settings and click OK.
- Then press Ctrl + V to paste the image onto the newly created layer in GIMP.
- On the top tab, click Layer, then click New Layer.
- After that, pay attention to the panel in the lower right corner. This is the layers panel.
- Click and drag the image layer down to the right, just above the “background”.
After that, you should have an image layer just below the text layer as shown above. We don’t want this background to distract viewers from the text, so select the blur tool in the box in the upper left corner.
Once you have the blur tool, increase its size to about 400, then start clicking and dragging the background image. This will blur the image and not be too distracting.
If the background still distracts too much attention from the text, you can adjust the opacity slightly in the layer box in the bottom right corner. Double click the number on the Opacity scale and change it to 2-5%.
Once that is done, your background image is ready, and now it’s time to focus on the text.
Optionally, you can customize the text color and other attributes by clicking on the Text tool, selecting previously written text and using the tools that appear on the left side of the screen.
If you don’t want to overdo it, white is a great choice.
Now it’s time to add a background to your text. This helps the text stand out even more. To do this, first click on the text tool in the upper left corner again, then double-click your text to select it. After that, right-click and select “Path From Text”.
After that, click Select in the toolbar at the top, and then click From Path.
When you do, your text will have an outline to indicate that it has been selected. Then click Layer at the top and click New Layer. After that, click “Select” again in the toolbar at the top and click “Zoom in”.
A new window will appear. Select 20 pixels in the “Increase Selection By” section. Finally, grab the bucket tool in the box in the upper left corner and pick a color. Black is often a good choice. Click to fill the selected area.
You should end up with something like this. After completing these steps, you can bring the black background layer under the text layer by dragging it into the layer box in the lower right corner.
You have now completed the steps required to select the text. You can repeat these steps for a new line of text.
By doing this with a new line of text, this is what we have created. However, something else is missing. To complete it with the final touch, we suggest adding an interesting object to the lower right corner of the thumbnail.
If you have the opportunity, a good image of your face will be perfect, but if it’s not suitable for a video, you can take a good shot of any product or subject that you might be discussing in your video.
Or even just grabbing a stock image might work. In this example, we went to Pexels and found an ecstatic person, then right-clicked him, copied and pasted to a new layer in GIMP, just like we did with the mountain.
After that, you may need to cut out the background, so follow the instructions below.
Click the Free Lasso Selection tool in the toolbar in the upper left corner. Click to create points around the outline of the area you want to keep. If you need to be more precise, zoom in and out with ctrl + mouse wheel up / down.
This process may take a while, but be patient. You will learn this after a while. Make sure the start point connects to the end point by clicking.
When you’re done, go to the Select option in the top toolbar and click By Color. After that press “Select” again and press “Invert”. Finally, press Ctrl + X.
This is what you should see in the finished image. With a few tweaks, you can make the text grab the attention of those interested in your video and choose a background and supporting image that more closely matches the content of the video.
I hope you found this tutorial on creating YouTube icons useful. If you need more advice, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you when I can.