Make a Custom Thumbnail for Your YouTube Videos Using Photoshop CC : Building a Photoshop Template

In the previous article I discussed the general requirements to start making a custom thumbnail for a YouTube video. In this article I will cover the building of a template in Photoshop that will allow you to keep a consistent look and feel throughout the various thumbnails that you create.

Make a Sub Folder in Your Pictures Library to Hold the Graphics for this Project


Find Custom Fonts that Match Your Brand

You will want at least two fonts that match each other : one for your handle and one for the video title. Try not to make it too stylish as the goal is to make it readable in a thumbnail.

custom fonts


In this example I found great fonts at 1001 Free Fonts. They have a great preview feature and give you good information about the license for each font. Make sure that you use one that is free for personal and/or business use. Down the font and then install to Windows by right clicking on the font and then clicking install. It is important that is step occurs before opening Photoshop CC 2014 so that the font is available. If it is installed while Photoshop is open then you will not see it in the font menu in later steps. Some fonts are True Type (TT) and some are Open Type (OT). Open Type is more modern and is preferable for printing, but either type will work fine for this application.

install font

Grab A Placeholder Screen Shot of YouTube Video

Go to your YouTube Video Manager

YouTube Video Manager


Select A Video from the Menu Above

Set it the highest quality available using the gear menu and then set to full screen. Find a good looking frame, and then, using a screen capture tool like Microsoft One Note, grab a full screen frame making sure to avoid blank space on the sides or any video controls.This will be a placeholder for future background graphics and will provide the proper image size. The screen grab automatically is placed on the clipboard. Next, open Microsoft Paint and Control V to paste the image. Save the file as a PNG and save in the location created above.


Paint Screenshot

Find Logo of Related Content if Applicable

Use Google Images to find logos other artifacts that you can use to show the users.

In this example I used a logo for the game Dying Light.

google images

Click through to the image and save it to the location as designated above. Then drag it from an explorer window into Photoshop, and make sure it is the bottom most layer. The larger the image the better as it will have the most pixels. It can be resized after adding it to Photoshop.

photoshop background add


Add the Logo to the Photoshop project


Photoshop Logo Add

After dragging it in to the window you can move it wherever you want. You must right click on the logo and click ‘Place’ to move forward. If you make a mistake you can just delete the layer and start again. Experiment with placement and opacity (I like 80 percent). Depending on the tone of the background picture you may need a lighter or darker logo for you thumbnail.

Add Your Handle

Photoshop Add Handle


After placing and sizing your handle text, click on the FX button at the bottom of the layer menu and click stroke. This will add a nice outline to the text.

Photoshop Stroke Handle


You Can Also Add a Gradient or other overlay to spice things up :

Constant Corpse Text Effect

Add the Title of the Video

Photoshop Add Video Title

This is the same procedure as above, but here we are going to use a very readable font at about 200pts. Repeat the stroke and gradient effect here. Save the item as a copy and use the PNG format.

Sample Custom Thumbnail

Also save the file as a full Photoshop project. In the future you can now just replace the background layer and then change the title when necessary. All you have to do is drag in a new background, stretch if neccesary, delete the old layer, and change the text in the title layer.

Previous Article : Make a Custom Thumbnail for Your YouTube Video : Getting Started

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