If your goal is to become the next YouTube superstar, you know that taking advantage of all of the features of YouTube is vital — and creating a channel art banner is the most vital detail of them all. Even if your goal is more modest than total world domination, you should still make custom art for your YouTube channel.
To make it easy for you to create compelling YouTube banner art, we’ve created this handy Pixlr YouTube Banner Template. It’s designed to be used with our free Pixlr Editor online web app, which has full layer support and lots of graphic design options. Creating a banner is as easy as copying and pasting an image into this template and saving it out as a JPG. In fact, we’ve used this exact same template to create art for our own YouTube channel. The template is designed so you can preview how your banner will look on multiple devices. Simply turn down the opacity of your main image and move your art into place so that it looks great on any device. We chose to put the focus on the eyes and use the very horizontal space YouTube offers.
How to create your own custom YouTube banner art
- Download the Pixlr YouTube Banner Template.
- Open up Pixlr Editor, our online graphic design editing program. Open the .pxd template you just downloaded.
- Open up a second image that you want to use for the actual art. Copy (Edit > Copy) the image and then paste (Edit > Paste) the image into the .pxd template.
- Want to resize this new layer you just pasted in? Choose the Free Transform option (Edit > Free transform), and you’ll see a bounding box appear around the layer. You can drag the corners of this box to resize. Hold down the Shift key when dragging from a corner to have your image retain it’s proportion as you resize (i.e., to not stretch the image).
- Once you’ve positioned the image so that it looks good on every device, hide any layers you don’t need by un-checking the boxes next to those layers in the Layers window.
Save your image as a JPG at the highest quality you can achieve. Note that YouTube has a 4MB file size limit, so just make sure you stay under 4MB in size.
That’s it. Once you’ve created you art you can start working on more important things — like creating great YouTube videos.
A few things to consider
- Up-to-date template: YouTube has changed their sizing over time, and they’ll surely change it again someday. But as of this writing — in August 2015 — this is the official recommended sizing for YouTube banners.
- Go big or go blurry: Stretching your image to fit the template could make it blurry, so you’ll want to start with the largest image you can. Don’t get caught up thinking about print-related details like dots per inch. You really only care about the pixel dimensions of the image. Pixlr Editor will automatically output your image as a JPG at 72 dpi, which is the standard for web images.
- Simple might be better: It may be tempting to add text or calls to action in your banner, but the best banners are often simply great images. Don’t labor too long over making the absolute best banner art ever. You might very well decide you want to change it in 3 months. That said, if you’ve previously created your own professional looking logo, you should definitely use it.
- Patterns, images, illustrations: If you can afford it, get your images from stock art sites. We’re admittedly biased against Autodesk’s own Creative Market for photos because they don’t charge more for larger images. It’s a flat fee per image. If you simply can’t purchase stock art, there are free resources out there that provide large images like Unsplash. HD desktop wallpaper sites like InterfaceLift are a great place to look for large images and patterns. Colourlovers also offers great patterns at multiple sizes (up to the size of your own screen’s resolution).
- Respect the creators: Of course, no matter what art you find you should check the license restrictions on the images you use and provide credit where necessary.
- Don’t be intimidated: If you’ve never used a layers-based editor like this, it may at first seem intimidating. We have some simple and straightforward tutorials that will show you how to work with layers. It’s not hard at all once you learn the basics.
Once you’re done, don’t forget that there are other options like adding links and a site URL that YouTube will place over your banner. Once you have your YouTube page all tricked out, it will be very easy to update later when you have a new design idea.