How To Create High Quality Thumbnails For YouTube

Thumbnails are an extremely important part of growing on YouTube. They are one of the first things that people see when they find your channel, and usually make a big impression as to whether someone watches your video or not. Thus, making high quality, eye-capturing thumbnails is something that every YouTuber needs to master. For example, look at the image below. Which video would you click on?

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The answer is obvious to me – the first one with a professional thumbnail. Some may say I’m biased because that is my video, but I beg to differ considering the videos were just posted 1 month apart yet mine has over 48,000 more views than his at the time of posting this. Thumbnails make a HUGE difference when it comes to which videos people will click, so how do you make them?

Luckily, there are a few different types of thumbnails that do well on YouTube, and I’ll be covering them all here.

  1. Professional Thumbnails
  2. Cartoony Thumbnails
  3. In Video Screenshots

1) Professional Thumbnails

Professional thumbnails are those used most frequently by the tech community. These are thumbnails with flat text over them. Usually a thinner font such as Helvetica or Avenir, and a very simple/plain background. There could also be a still image from the video in the background or a really high resolution photo of the product that was unboxed, reviewed, etc.

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Key Features of Professional Thumbnails

  • Flat font such as Helvetica or Avenir
  • Calmer colors – no bright greens or reds or yellows
  • Plan background of either a solid color or a screenshot from the video
  • Mostly used in the tech and music communities – some vloggers, gamers, etc. do use these thumbnails

2) Cartoony Thumbnails

Cartoony style thumbs are most common in the gaming/toys review communities. They usually incorporate bright colors such as reds, yellows, oranges, and greens. Bold fonts are usually a characteristic of these thumbnails, and they truly do grab your attention when you see them. Lastly, these thumbnails commonly feature bright backgrounds or still screenshots from the videos themselves. If your channel is targeting gamers or kids, this is probably a thumbnails style you should really consider as it works very well for that demographic.

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Key Features of Cartoony Thumbnails

  • Bold/BIGGER fonts such as Bebas Neue or Hemi Head
  • Brighter colors – yellows, greens, bright blues, etc.
  • Bright backgrounds or screenshots from the video
  • Most commonly used in the gaming/kid focused communities

3) In Video Screenshots

In video screenshots are thumbnails that, well, feature in video screenshots. This type of thumbnail has EXPLODED across all kinds of genres on YouTube in the past year and half and is quickly becoming the winning thumbnail for many channels. The main key here though is that the screenshots are VERY carefully picked. They are in focus, and sometimes specifically taken pictures for the video. In addition, they are usually color corrected in some aspect to make them brighter and more vibrant.

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Key Features of Screenshot Thumbnails

  • Very carefully picked – in focus and hand selected
  • Color corrected to bring out brighter colors and make the images look more appealing
  • Sometimes taken as a still photo specifically to be used as the video’s thumbnail

Which is the best?

So, now you know what the most popular and main types of thumbnails are on YouTube, but which is the best. Well, sadly there is no definitive answer. All three are amazing, and depending on your channel type, one could be better than the other. The truth is, however, use whichever kind of thumbnails you feel best represent your channel and videos. I would recommend sticking to one type as not doing so can cause some confusion, but overall, as long as you do one or a combination of the above, you’ll be good to go!

Nic King Written by:

Nic is a serial internet entrepreneur, and you have happened upon his blog. Here, you'll find his ramblings about everything from YouTube, to mindset, to business, to life in general.