Thursday, 13 May 2021

How I make my YouTube Thumbnails. For free.

I absolutely want the easiest way to make YouTube thumbnails. Because as we all know, they're probably more important to YouTube than the videos themselves.  I use a free app built into mac called KEYNOTE which is absolutely fantastic for making 16:9 thumbnails for my YouTube videos!

If you hate making thumbnails and want to find an easy quick way to make them, I thought I'd share my whole process step by step all the way to how to upload my YouTube thumbnail.

CANVA (for mac and PC) is here:

How I make my YouTube Thumbnails. For free.

0:00 How I make my YouTube Thumbnails for free
0:50 How to make YouTube thumbnails for free on a PC: Canva
1:20 How to make thumbnails for YouTube on a Macbook Pro for free using Keynote app
1:55 How to make a thumbnail for YouTube
2:39 How to pose for YouTube thumbnails
3:40 How to improve photo images on Keynote
5:45 How to arrange images on a Keynote slide
10:40 How to export images from Keynote as jpeg or png
10:55 How to upload a thumbnail to YouTube video



Hello, welcome back to the Happy Hut. 
This is going to be a bit of a strange video.
Well, it's strange for me because I'm going to share my process for making a thumbnail in real-time from scratch. 
I don't think I'm very good at making thumbnails, look here's how my YouTube channel is looking at the moment.
I think I'm getting better and I'm really much more proud of my thumbnails now, than I was, say, well even six months ago. 
So I don't actually know why I'm doing this.
But I thought if I at least share my process, I might get better over time and you might have better suggestions that you could leave in the comments and it might help you to make your thumbnails different from what you're trying at the moment.
This is my desktop. It's MacBook Pro.
Don't hate me. 
It's a computer that my sister got me, but whenever I mention the Mac I always get a load of hate in the comments.
And I completely understand because I think deep down, I'm a... I'm a PC person myself.
I certainly have PC pockets but if I were doing this on a PC I would probably screen grab by using shift and print screen, and pasting that into Microsoft Paint and then uploading those screengrabs to somewhere like Canva.
So I'll leave a... I'll leave a link to Canva down below cos I think that's the best place that I made thumbnails before the Mac.
But I've got the Mac now and I use an app called Keynote. 
This is how it looks and you can probably tell that Keynote is used for PowerPoint presentations.
But the great thing with Keynote is that it's really easy to paste images in and out and it exports images at 16:9 which is the exact dimensions that YouTube needs for my thumbnails!
And I think this is a really difficult thumbnail for me that I'm making today because it's about me talking over screen recording.
A bit like this video!
I don't know how this thumbnail will come out, but the video is called: how to find out how many subscribers you've lost on YouTube. 
So it's basically me talking over a screen recording of statistics. 
So I have no idea where I'm going to start with a thumbnail that intrigues and creates tension. 
I've grabbed some screenshots just in case there are any elements that I can use. 
So the first thing I'll do is to create a new slide, and put that at the top.
And then I'll delete out everything that's there.
And then I'll go to my special folder where I save all of my thumbnails and all of my thumbnail elements, you can see here, I have a folder for every single YouTube video that I've made a thumbnail for.
And I've already grabbed some thumbnails, look.
I'm already cringing now. Look at this. 
So these are the thumbnail poses that I made while I was recording the video. 
You know knowing that I'd be stuck.
Ahh, I'm not sure I like any of them.
That one looks happy I guess...
Which is the least obnoxious screengrab. I don't like that. That's okay? 
I like this one because I haven't got my thumbs up.
Just to get started... is I'll drag that into Keynote. And you can see, you can resize it here. I can drag a corner and make it bigger so that I'm bigger in shot. 
And the great thing with Keynote is actually, on the left hand side, can you see these tiny thumbnails for the slides? 
This is a really good way of seeing how your thumbnail is going to look on a small mobile device. 
I find it a lot easier to look at that side of the screen to judge whether or not I want to go a particular way with a thumbnail.
Something I do with all my thumbnails is to improve the picture, so if I click on image and I'll whack up the exposure and you can see again, if you look at the left, that's too much, but if you look at the left hand side, this is how it starts. 
And if I put a bit of exposure up, you can see how the picture starts to pop a bit more clearly. 
Let's have a look at the saturation and that sort of makes me look a bit too pink. 
I'll just give it a little bit... and my face is quite indistinct so I might... well, which is you know, what I'm born with! But I mean, in the thumbnail. 
You can't really see my expression, so I'll go bigger.
I went through the video and I took some screenshots so I'll flick through them here so you can see.
I've got some kind of arrows... things that look like statistics. 
I kind of like the coloured lines... that kind of makes it look statistic-ky. 
Statistic -ky? Is there such a word? 
There is now! 
And I like this screenshot because, let me show you, if I zoom in... 
it's got an incredible figure, look: "subscribers lost 749". 
I was thinking that might be a useful element for a thumbnail on a video about losing subscribers.
And the first shot I'll import is probably that one, even though it's the dullest.
Make it huge and then I'll crop the photo and use these handles to drag down a crop. 
And now, if I zoom in, I could make that bigger by just grabbing the corners and I can see how that looks on the left-hand side. 
It doesn't look that good! 
It does sort of look like it's in the official YouTube font. 
I want to get the number closer to the words "subscribers lost". 
If I just make it as tight as possible and then I'll select that image and hit command C to copy it and then command V to paste.
So now I have two of them which means that I can turn this one into just the figure. 
And then I could put that figure closer to "subscribers lost". 
Yeah. Something like that. Well that looks a bit weird, doesn't it? 
I could put it here, so I'll crop this to just have subscribers lost. 
There's a feature I love on Keynote.
Up here on the top right hand side, if I hit arrange.
I can select the number, and press the backward button.
And it will push it back behind, so now it's gone behind everything - let's bring it forward.
You can see it's gone behind this word image, for the "subscribers lost".
It's still not very compelling though, is it?
It's a black-and-white figure. 
It's also looking a bit fuzzy. 
I think I need to grab this again so that I have a higher definition picture. 
So I'll go back into Chrome where I grabbed it from. 
And if I zoom in here, the resolution will be as high as possible. 
And then go back into Keynote and we'll do the whole thing all over again. 
I don't want to hit my head, so what I'll probably do is shrink it a little bit and then I'll make this number really super big. 
Yeah, I kind of, I kind of like that and now I've got that in place, I might make my face more bigger. 
So I'll drag the corner to make the whole image bigger. 
But I found that the bigger my face is on the thumbnail the... the better. 
I would prefer it not to be the case, obviously! 
And I think this is the biggest thing that stops us from making thumbnails, isn't it? 
It's just this, UGGGH... having to see your big face... all over a picture. 
These are my old thumbnails here. 
And what I've done over time is build up, a little library of useful assets. 
So, I've got this YouTube logo. 
I hit command C to copy. If I hit command V for paste. 
You can see, I've got a YouTube logo with a background. 
I want a bigger white background and that's really easy to do in Keynote - to go up to shape and I'll select basic square, which can be dragged in to be a rectangle and I'll put that behind the YouTube logo. 
Under arrange, I'll click backward, and I've kept it blue just so I can see what I'm doing. 
I'll go back to 'style' up here, and I'll choose white, so it will change from blue to white.
It's looking very white, isn't it?
I like a bit more colour.
Trouble is the more things I put in now, the more I'll lose the sense that I'm shooting this outside. 
I could try putting in something that's a bit graphy. 
I'm not sure it adds anything, I'll take it out for now.
The last thing I would do is to take my favourite Arrow. 
If you've seen any of my videos, you might have seen these before and I'll paste that into the thumbnail. 
I'm hoping - I'm not sure - so tell me what you think in the comments but I'm hoping that showing "subscribers lost 749" might make someone think: "Wow. What did you do to lose 749 subscribers?!"
I think this is the best that I can do for now, but it's very black and white.
It's not very colourful. 
I'll do a couple of other things to jeuje things up. 
So I'll select the image with my face. 
And I'll click on IMAGE. 
And I like to bring up sharpness. 
I don't know why, I think because they are screen grabs, the pictures tend to be a little soft. 
So I'll grab the sharpness slider, and I'll drag it up. 
Just to give it a slightly more defined picture. 
I might also try that with the subscribers lost. 
Tell you what, if I move the slider closer to the words and you can see the effect that I am having on the phrase "Subscribers lost".
If I put it up to 100, there, it's gone black! Which actually is more impactful.
Usually, I put text on myself. 
And I thought, for this one, I would put text on. 
I'll show you how I would do that. 
If I copy this image, paste it into a new slide and then I go to another slide....
I really don't like this thumbnail. 
Grab the words. And I grab a colour bar. Put them in like this. So I put a colour bar here. 
I really don't like duplicating the words in the thumbnail with the title, and I know the title is going to be something really dull like "how to find out how many subscribers you've lost on YouTube" 
That for me, is too many words. 
If I were going down this route, I would probably move these out. 
I'd probably put a YouTube logo on as well. 
So those are the two options that I would go for. 
I always tend to have, like an option A or B. 
Sometimes I have about like, four or five versions. 
Look at all these: that was for my teleprompter video. 
These were my options for "how to put up an Ikea shelf"
You can see I am really indecisive!
It always feels good to have one or two options, and you can see instantly which one you would go for. 
So my question to you is of these two thumbnails, we've got one with the colourful words and one with a... what looks like an official screengrab... which thumbnail would you choose? 
I think I'm going to go for the 749 version because I think that encourages a bit of tension.
A bit of "what's going on there?"
Why... what's 749? How did that happen? 
So I'm going to go for that version.
Now to export it, I'll hit file - export to - images. 
It's slide number three. So we want from slide 3 to 3.
The next step is to go into YouTube Studio.
These are the thumbnails that YouTube selected from the video. 
But I'm going to hit "upload thumbnail". 
That's okay! 
So look, you can see it being updated here. 
If I hit save - ping, there it is. 
And if I go back to my list of videos... that doesn't look too shabby, does it?
What do you think? 
Which one would you choose? 
If you want to see more about how I make videos here on YouTube? Here's another video. I think you'll like this one!

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