In the forth addition to the series we will be looking at ways you can get your YouTube channel looking the part! Channel visuals are extremely important, this is what someone see’s the second they find your channel. Video thumbnails are what attracts a suspecting viewer to click on your video over the hundreds and thousands of others uploaded doing the same or a similar thing.
In order to create some snazzy branding for your channel you are going to need some form of photo editor to craft thumbnails, banners and even an icon if you wish. Photoshop is a popular one as it features many useful tools that help to make text, images and backgrounds stand out. In this tutorial I will be taking you through some of the main features of Photoshop that I use on a daily basis to make my channel art. There are some free options as always, PicMonkey is a really good one. I used this when I was starting out and it features some elements that Photoshop doesn’t. Such as free to use fonts (no need to go looking for them), decorative overlays, frames and so much more! I still use this site now and then and I totally recommend it to anyone who is starting out or doesn’t want to pay the price for Photoshop.
Gimp or Paint.net are other good free alternatives, they are more on par with Photoshop in terms of editing capabilities and features, almost identical in fact and make for excellent tools for creating channel art! (The following images have been watermarked to avoid theft, they do not feature on my actual thumbnails, it is only a precaution)
STRUCTURING A BASIC VIDEO THUMBNAIL
Step 1: After opening the program, click file, new and then a little window like this will pop up. It is ESSENTIAL that it is 1280×720 pixels as these are the dimensions YouTube uses. Any other size will not be accepted by the site. When this is done you will have your blank canvas to get started. Now the fun part! The thumbnail will need a fitting background, I always look through Google images for something that fits the theme of the actual video or sim. In this instance I am creating a thumbnail for a Rocker DJ Create A Sim video. So I searched terms like ‘Grunge background’, ‘Rock background’ ‘punk rocker background’ etc. Once you have selected your chosen background you can now start to think about how you would like the layout to look. Before starting my thumbnail I made sure to take some screenshots in game just after creating my sim. Taking Some close up shots and some further away gives you a good selection to chose from when arranging the items on the canvas. Using pose mods on your sims for thumbnail shots also really help to make your thumbnails distinctive and unique!
Step 2: Once you’ve picked out your chosen images and removed the background etc. You can now start adding all kinds effects to make them stand out more. By right clicking on the layer you want to edit and selecting blending options you will find a little window that has lots of options to edit your image! One of my favourite ones to use is the one titled ‘stroke’ by doing this you can add an outline to your images, helping them to stand out against strong backgrounds. I also like to use the ‘drop shadow’ option to lift my image off the page, this adds great dimension to your thumbnail! Here’s what the two look like when I use them together:
Step 3: Typography! When placing your images make sure to leave room for text, you don’t necessarily need to include The Sims 4 logo in every thumbnail you make, as long as its in the title of the video. However do not leave so much space that there is more background than anything else. Thumbnails appear very small on the YouTube interface so make sure your sims look big and clear to see, same goes for the text, use your space wisely! Fonts like Ariel, Times New Roman or Comic Sans are the biggest NO when it comes to making thumbnails. It looks so uncreative, bland and well… just boring! You want to grab potential viewers attention, that is what thumbnails are for! Dafont is a great place to download and install thousands of fonts for every occasion. For my thumbnail I will be using a font called “bloody”. Take the same steps you did for your images to open the blending options and the same rules apply! Experiment with the different effects to get the look you want. On this occasion I once again used a stroke, this time black and a drop shadow to add dimension. For the colouring I decided to use a gradient using two shades of green to enhance the 3D emboss effect. Now, I cant stress enough about colour coordination. Some colours just do not go together and furthermore too much of the same colour can be overbearing. Pick one or two shades of a colour and stick to it. BUT ensure the text colour is not too similar to the background or it will not stand out enough. I chose green for this thumbnail because there are a lot of grey and black tones, something bright not only stands out but also adds to the whole neon, nightlife theme as she is a DJ sim! Here is how it came out:
If you have any empty space like I do (under the text) instead of filling it with icons or more unnecessary text. Enhance the background to fill the space! One way I like to do this is to find a pattern background, most often I use stripes or a sun burst. Place the layer on top of the background layer and using the little drop list next to the opacity option, I experiment with overlay, screen and lighten to get a slightly faded effect. Sometimes simply lowering the opacity does the trick too if the image is black and white. This leaves us with the finished product!
That’s all for today’s article! I hope this helps some of you when creating your own channel art, the same methods and rules apply for banners and icons. Just experiment and be creative! Next time I will be giving advice to you guys who have already embarked on your YouTube journey and are perhaps considering partnership? I will be exploring the biggest gaming networks out there and what to do when you receive those pesky emails offering you all kinds of nonsense! Dag dag!