How to Create Custom YouTube Thumbnails With Canva

youtube thumbnails on canva

Looking for a quick and easy way to increase views on your YouTube videos? If so, custom thumbnails are for you. With Canva you can create a thumbnail for YouTube videos that is guaranteed to catch the eye when your video appears in search results or is embedded on a website. Here’s what you need to know.

YouTube recommends that your image be 1280 x 720 pixels, that it is less than 2mb, and is either a JPEG, PNG, GIF or BMP file. Thankfully, this is easy to replicate in Canva using either the web interface or the iPad app. Simply select Use custom dimensions, enter the pixel measurements above and hit the Design button.

use custom dimensions canva

From here, pick the tools that will give you the look and feel that you want for a video thumbnail. Take advantage of the text elements that are provided, or get creative with your own. Think about bold, clear text or icons that can will catch the eye and be easily read at a glance. Be sure to leave a small margin at the top and bottom of your image because this is often covered with the the YouTube player when your video is embedded on a website. If your video is part of a series of videos, or you want to create an identity to match your school colors or brand, you can easily incorporate that into your thumbnails in the same way that districts like CCSD59 in Illinois do with their videos.

create custom thumbnails

Once you are done, save your image by clicking in the Download button in the top right-hand corner of the screen and saving your image as a PNG file. This is the image that you will use to upload to YouTube as a thumbnail for your video.

Next, navigate to and go to your Video Manager to find the video you want to add a custom thumbnail to. Click the Edit button next to the video you want, and then click the Custom Thumbnail button. Browse for the image you just created in Canva and upload it to YouTube. Click Save Changes in the top right-hand corner to store your changes.

If your video is not already on YouTube, upload it as you normally would and look for the Custom Thumbnail button after your video has finished processing. Then proceed as above.

youtube custom thumbnail

Of course, you don’t have to use Canva. Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Pixlr, Pixelmator and others are all very capable of doing the same thing, but for speed and efficiency, it is hard to beat the simplicity of Canva, especially if you have not had much experience with a desktop graphics editor before.

If you are new to Canva, there are a bunch of great lesson plans for how to teach students how to design with Canva. These high-quality lessons have been developed by educators for educators, and are a great way to learn how to incorporate design language into your curriculum at all levels.

8 thoughts on “How to Create Custom YouTube Thumbnails With Canva”

    1. It depends. Is this a video you have already uploaded, or one you were working on while uploading the original video? During the upload process you need to wait for the video to finish processing before it appears. Maybe try going back to your video manager and selecting Edit once the video is live to see if the Custom Thumbnail option appears now. The only other thing I can think of is that the account is not verified. This is common with new accounts that have not been used much before. More info here: or here

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