The complete guide to YouTube channel art

Youtube channel art featured image

As the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube is no longer just a place to watch music clips and kill time on your nights in. From videos of people eating and playing board games to vlogs about cats and travel, we are consuming over 1 billion hours of YouTube video content daily. But apart from the quality content, YouTube is also a place for you to promote your brand. To do this, you need to have high quality, relevant YouTubse channel art for your channel.

youtube website

In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about creating YouTube channel art for your personal, business, or brand channel.

Read on to find out:

  • The basics of designing your YouTube channel
  • How to create YouTube channel art
  • Everything you need to know about sizing your YouTube channel art
  • How to add and edit your YouTube channel artwork

The basics of designing your YouTube channel

The purpose and target audience of your YouTube channel

Every audience is different—they each have their own priorities, goals, and specific problems they’re trying to solve. Remember, if you try to reach everyone you won't reach anyone.
The aim is to reach the viewers that will make your channel their companion over breakfast, on the train, in their lunch break, and before bed.

Woman smiling in front of laptop

In order to make your channel your viewers’ bread and butter, it's important that you consider what the goals of your channel are. Are you trying to educate your audience on something? Are you trying to sell them something? Are you building exposure? Are you promoting something or someone?

Next, ask yourself who your target audience is—who is your channel for? Is it for new mums? Is it for teenage boys? Is it for gym junkies? Or camera geeks?

Then you need to ask yourself what value is it that you are going to deliver them. Finally, you can ask yourself how you can best deliver value to this audience with your content style and strategy. Is your channel something a little less serious with short, sharp snappy, funny content? Or does your channel deliver content that is a bit more serious with content that is perhaps more verbose, technical, and educational?

Vogue YT channel

Vogue's YouTube channel

Setting up your channel

Now that you’ve done all the thinking, it’s time to set up your channel. Getting a new YouTube channel set up and running is a simple process—remember, if you just want to watch, share, or comment on YouTube content you can do this easily with a Google account and no channel. However, Google accounts don’t automatically create YouTube channels.

Creating a YouTube channel with your Google account 

  1. Go to YouTube.com
  2. Click ‘Sign in’
  3. Log in using the Google account you want to associate your channel with
  4. Click on your profile icon and then the ‘Settings’ icon in the top right corner of the screen
  5. Under ‘Settings’, click on the ‘Create a channel’ link
  6. Next, choose whether you want to create a personal channel or a channel using a business
  7. Time to select a category for your channel. Some of the categories you’ll find are:

Congrats—your YouTube channel is now up and running!

If you don’t have a Google account 

To put it simply, it isn't possible to create a YouTube channel without a Google account. In order to get started with a YouTube channel, you must already have a Google account set up.
Follow these easy steps to do this:

  1. Go to YouTube.com
  2. Click ‘Sign in’
  3. Click on the option to create a Google account
  4. Follow their steps to create a Google account

Done. Now all you have to do is follow the steps below to create your YouTube channel art.

How to create YouTube channel art

If your YouTube audience is going to be interacting with your content on a daily basis, it’s important to keep your YouTube channel art looking good. Similar to Facebook cover photos, YouTube channel art sits at the top of your channel like a banner. This means its essential for your YouTube channel art to be customized not only to your channel and your audience but that it conveys the message of your brand.

This is where Canva can help. With Canva’s simple drag-and-drop tool, creating YouTube channel art is easy as pie—no graphic design experience or gigantic marketing budget necessary.
Want to go the extra mile in creating a strong, cohesive YouTube brand? Then it's time to figure out your channel's fonts, color scheme, and logo.

Choosing fonts for your YouTube channel art

The font you choose can say a lot about your brand and helps convey your message so that it will have maximum impact on your audience. Whether its serious, casual, neutral, elegant, exotic, or graphic, every font has a mood or personality. It’s important to think about your message and choose a font that fits this message. You want to make sure your font choice matches the mood you are setting through the concept and tone of your YouTube channel.

Fonts found on Canva

Examples of Serif and sans serif fonts found on Canva

When designing online content, we find that Sans Serif fonts work the best. Their clean, clear, modern format makes them easy for your audiences to read when they are scrolling through masses of thumbnails and don't have time to stop and really appreciate a cursive or serif font.

Here's some inspiration for you to get started choosing a font for your YouTube channel art:

School of life thumbnails

School of life thumbnails

InVision YouTube thumbnails

InVision YouTube thumbnails

Choosing colors for your YouTube channel art

As with fonts, colors play a massive role in how your audience understands your message. Colors attract attention to your channel, they can set a mood, and influence the emotions or perceptions of your audience. Colors help your audience recognizes you, your message, and your YouTube channel. Play with colors to help support the message of your design.

A logo or banner’s color can say a lot about your brand. Colors are linked intrinsically to your brand’s identity—think of the Coca-Cola red, Starbuck’s famous white and green, McDonalds’s yellow arches.

Logo Color Wheel

The logo color choices of top companies

But to choose a color for your brand, logo, or YouTube channel you first need to have a brief understanding of what different color represents.

Color Psychology

Color Psychology illustration from verywell mind

Creating logos and banners for your YouTube channel

Now that you’ve had the chance to think about your brand—what it represents, what your message is, who your audience is, what kind of colors and fonts will work best to communicate your message—it’s time to put it all together and create a logo and a banner for your YouTube channel.

A good logo is an instantly recognizable shorthand for your brand or business and will help you get recognized instantly. Think of iconic brands such as Apple, Facebook, or even YouTube itself.

Social media logos

Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, YouTube

Your logo sits in various places across your YouTube channel while your banner (similar to a Facebook cover photo) sits at the top of your channel and helps your fans recognize your brand.

With Canva's professionally made logo and banner templates and intuitive editing tools, you can customize and design your own.

Here’s how:

  1. Browse the layouts
  2. Choose your color palette
  3. Choose your font
  4. Add additional graphics and styling elements
  5. Finish, save, publish.

Here are some examples of logos and banners we love:

Craft Beer Channel

Craft Beer Channel

Tasty Channel

Tasty Channel

Dude Perfect Youtube Channel Art

Dude Perfect Channel

Creating thumbnails for your YouTube videos

You’ve done the hard yards, well almost. Engaging your audiences doesn’t end at filming an epic cat video and editing it with skill. It’s all about the thumbnail. An epic video thumbnail will make it impossible for your audience to scroll past your video without having a click and a look—and at the end of the day that's what we all want, viewers.

You want your thumbnail to be something that not only expresses your brand—remember, the fonts and colors you choose here will have an impact on your audience—but also something that will capture the full length of your video in one image and boost its clickability.

If you aren't happy with one of three thumbnail options YouTube automatically generates, you can always upload your own.

Invoke curiosity by creating a clean cut thumbnail design for your videos, vlogs, and playlists by using Canva’s free YouTube thumbnail template designs. With hundreds of different designs to choose from, it’s easy for you to find something that will suit your brand. Or if not, you can always design from scratch!

Here are some YouTube thumbnail templates we love that you can try:

Sizing your YouTube channel art

While with Canva’s template library your YouTube logos, banners, and thumbnails are all set to an Optimizing your image size so that it works across multiple devices. For the best results, YouTube recommends uploading a single 2560 x 1440 pixel image.

Here’s an example of how banner images look across various platforms:

How banner images look across different platforms

Channel icon

Your YouTube channel icon is a circular image similar to a profile photo. A round image that best displays at 800 x 800 pixels. Set either your own picture or logo as your icon so followers can easily recognize your channel.

Channel art 

As mentioned earlier, your YouTube channel art is similar to a header or cover image such as those on Facebook where you can add images to represent your brand. Because it’s possible to watch YouTube videos from a variety of devices—computers, mobile gadgets and TV—your channel art will look different depending on the device. For the best results, YouTube recommends using a 2560 x 1440 pixels image. The minimum dimensions are 2048 x 1152 pixels.

Video thumbnail 

Thumbnails give your audience a quick glimpse of your video content. Thumbnails are a great way to attract watchers while they are browsing YouTube. Once you have uploaded a video, you have the option to choose from three automatically generated thumbnails or to upload your own thumbnail. Make sure your thumbnail is as large as possible it will also be used as the preview image for embedded YouTube links. The recommended size is 1280 x 720 pixels and up to 2MB.

Here’s a table from our Design Sizes wiki to make things a little easier for you:

Design Sizes Wiki

Adding artwork to your YouTube channel

Adding YouTube channel art for the first time

If you’re setting up your YouTube channel for the first time you’ll see that the channel art space is blank to start with.
To update your YouTube channel art for the first time:

  1. Click ‘Add channel art’ at the top of your screen.
  2. A popup window will give you the option to upload your own YouTube channel art.
  3. Upload your customized Canva templates your computer.

Adding and editing your YouTube channel icon

Every YouTube channel provides you with space for your brand logo or channel icon. This sits under your banner image. The channel icon also will also show beside videos on your channel.

To update your channel icon:

  1. Go to your channel homepage and hover your mouse over the channel icon until an edit icon appears.
  2. Click on the icon and then easily upload your Canva designed logo.

Editing your YouTube channel banner image

If you already have YouTube channel artwork in place and want to update it to your snazzy your new Canva design follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to your channel homepage and hover your mouse over your cover art until an edit icon appears in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the icon and then easily upload your Canva designed banner image.

Editing a YouTube video thumbnail

Once you have uploaded your video, you can either choose a thumbnail from the three options YouTube automatically generates for you from your video, or your can create your own custom video thumbnail.

Adding or editing an autogenerated video thumbnail

  1. Sign in to ‘YouTube Studio’
  2. In the left menu click ‘Videos’
  3. Choose a video you want to edit the thumbnail of by clicking on the title or current thumbnail
  4. In the ‘Thumbnail’ tab, select an autogenerated thumbnail, then ‘Save’

Adding or editing custom YouTube thumbnail

Once you have uploaded your video follow the steps below to upload your own custom video thumbnail.

  1. Sign in to ‘YouTube Studio’
  2. In the left menu click ‘Videos’
  3. Choose a video by clicking on its title or thumbnail
  4. Open the ‘Thumbnail’ tab
  5. Either click ‘Select image file’ or drag and drop your thumbnail image file into grey area under the ‘Custom thumbnail’ section
  6. Click ‘Save’

To edit your custom template, click the ‘Delete’ option and start over with the steps above.

So now you have all the tools under your belt. What are you waiting for? Start channeling your creativity.