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Add Neon Border to YouTube Thumbnail

Richard Bennett
Richard Bennett
Originally published Nov 07, 21, updated Feb 04, 24

Your YouTube video, or any other clip published on any forum, gets a larger number of hits if it has an attractive thumbnail. And, the fact is, a thumbnail becomes 10x more attractive when the main character that the image has have a neon border around it.

With that said, in the following sections, you will learn a couple of methods on how to add a YouTube thumbnail border around the main characters and/or objects that are significant to the clip.

Part 1: How to Add Neon Border to YouTube Thumbnail for Free with Filmora

Being one of the most versatile and intuitive post-production tools available in the market today, Wondershare Filmora X allows you to add a neon border to a YouTube thumbnail quite conveniently. You can learn how to get this done on Windows or Mac by following the steps given below.

Try It Free

For Win 7 or later (64-bit)

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For macOS 10.12 or later

Step 1: Define Project Settings and Add Image to the Timeline

Launch Wondershare Filmora X on your PC (a MacBook Pro M1 is used here), ensure that the project aspect ratio is set to 16:9 (Widescreen) on the splash screen, and click New Project. On the main interface, click the Preview quality and display settings icon from the upper-right area of the Timeline, click Change Project Aspect Ratio, click to select 1280 x 720 (HD) from the Resolution menu of the Project Settings box, and click OK to save the custom project settings.

Filmora Mac start interface

Then select My Media from the menu bar if not already selected, click Project Media from the navigation pane, and click Import from the Media box to select and import the image of the main character or object that you want to use in the thumbnail.

Import videos to Filmora

Now, drag the image from the Media box to the Timeline at the bottom.

add youtube thumbnail photo to Filmora

Step 2: Clear Image Background, Add Border, and Add Custom Background

Go to Effects from the menu bar, click to select the Default tab and then AI Portrait from the navigation pane, and click and drag the Human Segmentation preset from the right box, and place it over the image track in the Timeline.

add human segmentation effect to youtube thumbnail

Double-click the image layer, scroll down the upper-left box to the Video Effects section, and use the Edge Thickness and Edge Feather sliders to adjust the character’s edges to make them as realistic as possible. Click OK when done.

adjust thumbnail border settings

Next, click and drag the Human Border preset over the image track in the Timeline, and follow the same procedure to customize the border. This will give the character a neon border effect.

adjust thumbnail border settings

Now, use the method explained earlier to import a custom image for the background, and drag and place it under the previous track in the Timeline.

adjust border to photo

If you are running the latest version of Filmora, you will find there are some neon light effects available under AI Portrait as well.

add neon effects to thumbnail photo

Step 3: Add Titles to Thumbnail

Go to Titles from the menu bar, click to select the Default tab and then Lower 3rds from the navigation pane, and click and drag your preferred lower-third preset from the right window to a separate layer in the Timeline. Double-click the lower-third layer, and use the available options in the upper-left window to change the text, its color, etc., and drag the textbox to place it to your preferred position on the image as well. Click OK to save the changes.

Next, click to select Titles from the navigation pane, and drag your preferred title from the right window to the upper-most track in the Timeline. Now use the method explained earlier to edit the text, its color, position, etc. to make it look professional.

add title to thumbnail with border

For more tips and tricks for creating YouTube thumbnail, you can check this YouTube thumbnail creating guide.

Step 4: Get the Neon Border Thumbnail

Click the Snapshot (Camera) icon from the upper-right area of the Timeline, go to My Media from the menu bar, right-click the thumbnail of the screenshot you captured, and click Reveal in Finder (on Mac) or Reveal in Explorer (on Windows) to get to the folder the YouTube thumbnail border is saved in.

take snapshot in Filmora

Part 2: How to Add a Glowing Neon Border in Your YouTube Thumbnail with Canva

Canva is another intuitive editing program that works on the web interface rather than having you download and install an app on your PC. You can add a neon border for YouTube thumbnails using Canva by following the instructions given below:

Step 1: Define Project Settings and Add a Background

After signing in to your Canva account, click Create a design from the top-right corner of the page, click Custom size from the bottom, define 1280 and 720 in the Width and Height fields on the box that appears respectively, and click Create new design.

add neon border to thumbnail in Canva

Now, click to select Background from the navigation bar on the left (if the Background tool is not visible, click More and then choose Background from the expanded list), and click to select a background from the images available in the center pane.

 choose background in Canva

Step 2: Upload an Image and Add Effects

Click Uploads from the navigation bar, click the More icon from the right of the Upload media button present at the top of the center pane, choose your preferred method to upload the image (with the transparent background) that you want to use, upload the image, and drag it from the center pane to the Canvas.

Note: You can use any of the tools available online to remove the background from your image for free.

upload thumbnail in Canva

To add a YouTube thumbnail border, make sure that the image that you added to the Canvas is selected, click the Duplicate icon from the upper-right area, and use the scaling handles of the copy of the image to increase its size a bit. Reposition the image back to its original location as well.

Then, click Edit image from the upper-left corner of the Canvas, click Duotone from the Edit image pane at the center, if need be, click See all, choose your preferred duotone effect to apply on the image, choose your preferred highlight and shadow colors from the box that appears next, and click Back from the top of the pane.

Canva edit image

Next, click See all next to the Adjust section from the center pane, and drag the Blur slider to the right to increase the blur effect on the image.

blur thumbnail image in Canva

Step 3: Position the Layers

While keeping the duplicate image selected, click the Position button from the upper-right area of the Canvas, and click Background to send the second image behind the first one to get the neon border effect for the photo.

add border to  thumbnail image in Canva

Part 3: How to Outline a Person in a YouTube Thumbnail with Photoshop

Because YouTube thumbnails are nothing but static images, creating YouTube thumbnail border with Adobe Photoshop is comparatively easier. The process of doing this is given below:

Step 1: Define Document Preferences and Import an Image

Launch Adobe Photoshop on your PC, click Create new, and on the New Document customization box, define the width and height values to 1280 and 720 pixels respectively. Select Transparent from the Background Contents menu as well if not already selected. Click Create from the bottom to create a new Photoshop document with the specified document settings. Next, open the folder that contains the source image, drag the photo to Photoshop, and press Enter to place the photo.

import thumbnail image to ps

Step 2: Remove Background from the Image

Make sure that the image layer is selected in the Layers panel on the right, go to Select from the menu bar at the top, and click Subject. From the bottom of the Layers panel, click the Add a mask icon to get rid of the background, leaving only the human on the Canvas.

remove thumbnail background in ps

Step 3: Add a Custom Background and an Outline Around the Subject

Use the method explained earlier to import a background image of your choice to Photoshop. Drag the background image layer to the bottom in the Layers panel. Double-click the masked layer, click to select Stroke from the left pane of the Layer Style box, and use the options available on the right to manage the size, color, position, etc. of the stroke that has been added around the human subject. Click OK when done, and then export the image normally to use it as a YouTube thumbnail border.

outline thumbnail border in ps


It is important to know that the default resolution of a YouTube thumbnail is 1280 x 720 pixels that is usually written and referred to as 720p. While adding a YouTube thumbnail border, it is also imperative to have a good sense of color combination and fonts. Furthermore, a decent tool like Wondershare Filmora X must be used to add an appealing neon border around the main subject in the thumbnail image easily and quickly.

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