How to Create Beautiful Custom YouTube Thumbnails without Photoshop

Are you a budding YouTube content creator? A new designer without much experience with YouTube? If you’re looking to increase your views and grab a user’s attention, you might need to think about your video thumbnails. YouTube video thumbnails serve as sort of a book cover for videos. If a thumbnail appears to be high-quality, there’s a high chance the video is going to be good. Of course, you have to create high-quality video content to go along with a great thumbnail.

No thumbnails or even bad custom thumbnails can have a detrimental effect on users. Low-quality thumbnails do not inspire confidence. It can be well worth your while to create high-quality thumbnails. But how do you make these high-quality thumbnails, without a lot of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator know-how?

In this article we’ll be taking a look at the different online tools available that let users create beautiful custom YouTube thumbnails easily.


Canva is an online graphics design tool that makes the job of regular internet users a lot easier. Instead of learning Photoshop, you can just use one of Canva’s thousands of free templates to create any type of digital graphics.

For YouTube thumbnails, Canva offers hundreds of different designs to choose from. What’s more, Canva is extremely intuitive and easy to use, and you’ll be creating great-looking designs in no time at all.

To create a YouTube thumbnail using Canva, simply follow these steps:

  1. If you haven’t already, head on to and sign up for an account. It’s totally free.
  1. Once you have created and activated your Canva account, it’s time to create some graphics.
  2. Navigate to this link and click on ‘Start Designing a YouTube Thumbnail’ to get started.

4. You will be taken to the Canva editor and presented with a library of YouTube Thumbnails. You’ll notice that the library is divided into categories such as ‘Music YouTube Thumbnail’, ‘Food YouTube Thumbnail’ and so on.

5. Choose an appropriate thumbnail template to get started. For this example, we’ll be using a template from the travel category.

6. Each template is different, but they follow some basics. For example if you want to change the text on this template, simply click on the text and it will become editable.

7. Similarly, it’s easy to change other aspects of the thumbnail such as the background, elements and pictures.

8. Once you’re content with your custom thumbnail design, it’s time to download it. For this, simply click on the ‘Download’ button located in the top-right corner of the editor.


Snappa is another online graphics tool which makes it easy to create professional posters, thumbnails, Facebook covers and more. The tool is free to use, but there are some pricing options for those who’re looking for the premium design options.

However, you can definitely get away with using the free templates on offer. Each template is designed well and can be used to create great YouTube thumbnails.

To create YouTube thumbnails using Snappa, simply follow these steps:

  1. Visit and create an account, it’s free.
  2. Once you have made an account, go to this link to get started with Snappa’s YouTube thumbnail creator.
  3. Select the ‘YouTube Thumbnail’ option.

4. Snappa has many different thumbnail templates for you to choose from. Unlike Canva, they have not been sorted into categories so it may take a longer time to pick one that is right for your needs. For this example, we’ll go with this template:

5. In the editor, you’ll notice that the interface is different compared to Canva. However, the basics still apply. To change an element, simply double-click on it and you’ll be presented with some options.

6. For this example, we’ll change the main text of the thumbnail. Simply double-click to make the text editable, and then change it.

7. That’s it! You can tinker around with the other options to customize the thumbnail even further. We recommend going through all the options.

YouTube Thumbnail Basics

As mentioned earlier, YouTube thumbnails are like book covers for videos. The more attractive they are, the more likely people are going to watch the content. You have to be careful about the basics as well. Setting the right YouTube thumbnail size, text and background can make the difference between an eye-catching thumbnail and an eye-sore.

Try to use thumbnail graphics that are relevant to the content of your video. For example, if your video is about the ‘Siberian Cat’, but your thumbnail shows a random animal, it will lead to a disconnect between the thumbnail and the content. As a result, people will start to doubt the authenticity and quality of your content.

A popular practice for generating more views is ‘clickbait’ thumbnails. Basically, content creators will put something controversial or cheesy in the thumbnails to get the attention of the viewer. When in reality there will be nothing of the sort in the video. This practice is effective but is frowned upon by most people. It’s going to make YouTube users dislike your video, which can result in lesser views in the future.

About the author:

Vlad Mkrtumyan is a serial entrepreneur, SEO enthusiast and a passionate networker. He started his journey creating apps for the Google Play store during high school. In his early 20s, he developed a software product for real estate brokerages across the US. These days he focuses his efforts on learning and dispensing knowledge about search engine optimization, digital marketing and e-commerce.  

The post How to Create Beautiful Custom YouTube Thumbnails without Photoshop appeared first on SpyreStudios.

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