6 Tips For Creating Awesome YouTube Thumbnails

YouTube thumbnails are small images representing YouTube videos that play a major role in gaining views and increasing engagement. They appear both on the video page before viewers click to watch and within YouTube’s search results when searching for related topics. In fact, on average, thumbnails that feature stills from the video or images get 1.7 million views.

This makes thumbnails an essential tool in marketing your YouTube content. Statistics show that well-crafted thumbnails can have a huge impact on video viewership, so learning how to make captivating custom thumbnails is key for any successful YouTuber.

YouTube video thumbnails are images that preview your video within the platform’s search engine or app interface. Think of it as your main promotional asset. It helps draw attention to your video content when someone is scrolling through their newsfeed or boasts what kind of content you’re offering potential viewers if they do choose to click play.

On the one hand, the better-looking the thumbnail is compared to the surrounding videos’, the more enticing it may be. But ensure you’re following all accepted guidelines when choosing one from outside sources like stock photos or design tools.

Having effective thumbnails for every video uploaded onto YouTube plays several important roles: giving viewers a preview of what to expect, creating a professional thumbnail image for the channel or account, and can be very helpful in attracting views.

Carefully crafted thumbnails increase click-through rates significantly and should not be overlooked when trying to grow a YouTube presence. In this post, we’ll go over the best tips for creating YouTube thumbnails that will increase your video views.

Carefully crafted thumbnails

Tip #1: Use High-Quality Images

The first and most important tip in creating YouTube thumbnails is to use high-quality images. Thumbnails are the first thing a potential viewer will see in your video, so having an eye-catching image makes it more likely that someone will click on your video. High-resolution images give viewers a clear view of the content they’ll be viewing and help make your thumbnail stand out from the competition.

When searching for royalty-free images or creating custom graphics, try combing through stock photography sites such as Shutterstock or Pexels. These websites have plenty of good-quality photographs you can use for free. If you decide to create custom graphics using design apps like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, take some time to experiment with thumbnail size, color palettes, fonts, icons, and shapes until you get something that looks professional and stands out in searches.

Finally, consider using thumbnail templates of well-designed thumbnails with high-quality images from some of the top YouTubers as inspiration – even if their videos are not related to yours.

Tip #2: Keep it Simple and Uncluttered

Now, it’s not all about the visuals. Equally important is that your thumbnail contains a clear and concise message to viewers. So stick to simple visuals with minimal elements for maximum impact.

When writing text, make sure you use hooks. Hooks are essential if you want to draw viewers’ attention right away and get their curiosity piqued. Incorporate keywords, phrases, or elements like symbols and allusions in your thumbnails to intrigue your target audience and make them click. Some phrases like: “You are doing it wrong,” “What others are missing,” or “Amaze your friends” are sure to get heads turning in no time.

Make sure your design does not crowd the picture with unnecessary details. Too many elements or excessive information can be overwhelming and distracting – so keep things simple but effective. You can check out my channel for some examples of simple, uncluttered thumbnails.

Tip #3: Use Eye-Catching Colors and Contrast

Colors alone can influence up to 90% of an initial impression, so it’s important to choose the right ones for your thumbnail design. They should harmonize with the composition you’ve created and tie into the core message of your video. With a combination of vibrant colors and bold contrasts, you can captivate viewers and establish a strong connection with them.

Use Eye-Catching Colors and Contrast

So, what are some tips for incorporating color scheme psychology into your thumbnail?

  • Choose Colors That Stand Out and Evoke Emotions. Bright and eye-catching colors tend to attract more attention than dull ones do, so aim for bold oranges, reds, and blues if you want to grab people’s eyeballs first — but remember, balance is key! Too much of one color can be overwhelming or even cause eye strain. Additionally, choose colors that give off positive vibes rather than negative feelings like fear or despair. These won’t encourage views.
  • Consider Contrast Effectively. Contrasting hues bring key elements on the page into focus while de-emphasizing others. Think of a dark background to make bright text stand out! Don’t limit yourself to shades of a single color, either; using more than one will help create a vibrant look without making things too busy. And don’t forget, white space between colorful parts gives your eyes a momentary respite from all the visuals.
  • Be Strategic with Color Combinations. Use complimentary colors for a contrasting look or analogous colors to help build to an exciting climax within your thumbnail — especially if you’re trying to reveal something in the design that needs the extra power of color. Whichever palette suits your style best, use subtle transitions into other hues or shades so they all modestly blend together without creating dull sections.

Tip #4: Add Engaging and Relevant Text

We’ve briefly discussed this earlier in tip #2, but it’s worth noting again how important the text included in your thumbnails can be. Here, you’ll find tips and tricks for choosing the right fonts and text styles to create an eye-catching thumbnail that continues to represent your video content perfectly.

Let’s first talk about the importance of hooks again. Hooks are like sales pitch headlines that draw the viewer in and make them want to watch. They should be strong yet reflect the video content. Here are some of the best hooks that you can use:

  1. Things I don’t do to [insert result] and what I do instead
  2. You might not want to hear this, but you need to stop doing
  3. X things I wish I could tell myself before I started
  4. Little-known strategies for [insert result]
  5. Here’s why nobody else is doing [insert action/result]

Now, for formatting, choose a font that looks professional, like Open Sans. This popular and legible font offers many weights ranging from thin to bold, so you can experiment and create an eye-catching look. Other easy-to-read fonts are Montserrat, Arial Rounded MT Bold, Futura PT Condensed Bold, and Proxima Nova Alternates ExtraBold.

When it comes to colors, they should complement the overall design on your thumbnail without clashing with each other or obscuring text visibility. Consider using complementary colors like blue and orange for high-contrast images or analogous colors such as violet, purple, and magenta if you prefer more subtle shades instead of wild neon hues or too much pastel in one visual frame.

Finally, take a look at examples of effective and engaging thumbnails; explore the types of hooks used as well as the fonts selected before making decisions for your own ideas! Taking inspiration from others can be valuable when it comes to creating captivating visuals.

Tip #5: Focus on Branding and Consistency

One of the best tips for creating YouTube thumbnails is to focus on branding and consistency. It’s important to maintain a recognizable look and feel in your thumbnails so viewers know they belong to you.

A great example is Mr. Beast’s YouTube channel. His thumbnails are easily recognizable due to their consistent colors, typography, and layout design.

Include branding elements like logos, business names, website links, or taglines in your thumbnails for an extra boost in recognition. Doing this helps create a unified look that viewers become accustomed to; they can easily identify it as one of your videos. Finally, think about creating a signature style; something recognizable as ‘yours’ — so even when the content varies across videos, viewers won’t be confused by its origin.

Tip #6: Test and Analyze Thumbnail Performance

Test and Analyze Thumbnail Performance

Last but not least, if you really want your YouTube thumbnails to stand out and make an impact, A/B test different variations of the thumbnail and track their performance. You can use various tools and methods to analyze the click-through rate (CTR) among viewers engaging with them as well as other metrics like watch time, average view duration, etc.

Analyzing these numbers properly over a period of time will give you clear insights into how different thumbnails have been performing so you can further refine your thumbnail creation strategy. Test often and optimize constantly.


Creating compelling YouTube thumbnails is not just an artistic endeavor; it’s a strategic move that can significantly boost your video views and engagement. By following the six essential tips outlined here, you can transform your thumbnails from mere images to powerful marketing tools.

Remember, high-quality images are the foundation of an effective thumbnail. They capture attention and convey professionalism, making viewers more likely to click. Simplicity is key; a clear, uncluttered design with engaging hooks can draw viewers in quickly. Eye-catching colors and contrast are essential for creating a visual impact. Strategic use of vibrant hues and well-placed contrast can make your thumbnail stand out in a sea of content.

Additionally, incorporating engaging and relevant text adds depth to your thumbnail. Thoughtfully chosen fonts, colors, and hooks can make a significant difference. Branding and consistency create a visual identity for your channel, making your content easily recognizable. By maintaining a cohesive style across thumbnails, you build viewer trust and loyalty.

Lastly, testing and analyzing thumbnail performance is crucial. Utilize A/B testing and analytics tools to refine your approach continually. Every click and view provides valuable data that can guide your future thumbnail strategies.

If mastering these thumbnail techniques feels overwhelming, remember you don’t have to do it alone. Partner with Raffiti, your dedicated YouTube team. We go beyond editing and thumbnail design; we help you scale your business with a personalized YouTube strategy and comprehensive editing and management services. Let us handle the hard work while you focus on creating outstanding content.

Don’t just grow on YouTube — thrive with Raffiti by your side!

6 Tips For Creating Awesome YouTube Thumbnails