This is how to create engaging YouTube thumbnails in Canva *CANVA TUTORIAL*

YouTube thumbnails are really important part of your YouTube adventure, and kinda doors, an entrance to your content. They should give a hint to what to expect from your video and your job is to make them look inviting, intriguing and irresistible.

That said, the thumbnails that are now in, the ones with screaming faces, and clickbait information: are really the worst thing ever. My God, just go to the trending page and every second thumbnail has folks in it with their mouth wide open, crazy eyes and the stupidest tagline meant to get you thinking – wtf is happening behind this insane little picture – and – oh, wow, I’m really interested in what happens next – even though I guess half of these are actually clickbaits and you won’t get anything out of clicking that video. Except making these guys insanely rich.

It’s psychology. And it’s insane.


So, how to create engaging YouTube thumbnails, you ask. Here’s my example:

or here’s another one, really similar to this first one, just so you can see how much changed with switching the background or person in it:

As you can see, in just a couple of changes, the feel of the thumbnail can instantly switch from travel-related to astrology one, especially with putting the girl in the focus of the second one – kinda creates mysterious feeling that really fits the audience searching for that type of content.


Anyways, Canva is, and I said it in my previous tutorial, all about layering. This means you have to add lots of elements inside of your project to get professional looking results.

And to create an engaging thumbnail, you really need only 3 things:

  1. Person with some kind of reaction – and this doesn’t have to look crazy and fake. Include a cut-out photo of your genuine reaction.
  2. A tagline. Make them interesting and not clickbait-y. If you really got lost (lol), then use that one, for example.
  3. Additional elements that are related to your story. In my example, I used a compass, a stamp, a traffic sign and our planet.

How to:

Cut-out person from a photo in Canva:

So, if you want to do it in Canva, you have to pay a Canva PRO fee (or you can try it for free for the first 30 days)… or you can use some free tools such as remove.bg (note that for HQ removal you have to pay, but the lower quality ones you get for free). Anyways, if you want to do this in Canva:

Import an image that you want remove background of, go to Effects and then Background Remover.


Put a white borderline around the object or person

This one will be maybe more complicated to explain. Ok, let’s take a look at this OVER HERE, NO THIS WAY sign. Click on it and make a copy of it. You’ll make changes to the one that is in the backround:

Click on the copied object that is in the background, and then go to Adjust and then just mimic the settings changes I made on the left  – put Brightness to 100, Contrast to 100 and Blur to 27 (depending on an object you’re putting a borderline to, you don’t have to follow precisely these values, but make them work for you).

Once you finished that, just drag the sign you haven’t made any edits to – on top of the white one.


Make text pops-up 

This one basically puts an effect to your text. Click on your text and then:

…go to Effects and then choose the effects you’d like to add. In my example, and even though doesn’t look much happened (trust me, it did), I used Lift.


And that’s it for this one. Stay tuned, new tutorials coming up soon!