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The Ultimate Guide to Effective YouTube Banners

Oct 20, 2020• Proven solutions

The following is a complete guide to YouTube banners, including instructions, tips, and free resources. 

Channel art isn't hard. Making video viewers enjoy enough that they click on your channel page - that's hard. Channel art is just about reinforcing the positive feelings viewers have come away from your videos. Anyone who's looking at your channel art is already thinking about subscribing to you. Your banner should make viewers feel happy with the choice they've already half-made. 

  1. YouTube Banner Size and Other Basics
  2. Free YouTube Banner Templates and Other Resources
  3. Free Channel Art Makers
  4. How to Make Good Channel Art
  5. Channel Art Inspiration

YouTube Banner Size and Other Basics

YouTube channel art should be 2560 x 1440px.

As long as you upload an image or background that is that size, viewers looking at your channel on any device will be able to see that you've taken the time to personalize your channel page.

If you want to make a bit more of an impression, you can start thinking about banner dimensions. Depending on what type of screen (laptop, mobile, television) a viewer is visiting your channel on, they will see a different crop of that 2560 x 1440px channel art. That cropped image is your banner.

Television will display the entire image, but it is significantly smaller on other devices.

Desktop or laptop computers can show a view as large as 2560 x 423px, or as small as 1546 x 423px.

Tablets show an area that’s 1855 x 423px.

Mobile phones show an area that's 1546 x 423px. This size is also the smallest possible desktop/laptop view, and it is considered the 'safe area.' Any important text or graphics in your banner should fit within this section, or they could be awkwardly cut off in some views.

Here's a visual guide to channel art dimensions:

channel-art-cheat-sheet

Another important detail to consider is the size of your file. YouTube will allow your channel art to have a file size of up to 6MB, but no larger.

Free YouTube Banner Templates and Other Resources

There are a lot of free resources online, which can make the process of designing your channel art simple, including templates, stock images, backgrounds, and fonts.

Free YouTube Banner Templates

The easiest way to get great channel art might be to find something pre-built you can personalize. There are a few places online you can find something free that will suit both your style and the types of videos you make:

filmora.wondershare.com

Here on filmora.io, we have a selection of 50 free channel art templates you can download. The banners are divided into 10 categories representing both different types of YouTube channels (i.e., gaming and beauty) and different popular styles (i.e., minimalist and galaxy), so there's something for everybody. When you download the free templates, you can choose between PSD files, so you can customize your banner in Photoshop and PNG files you can use with a free online program like Canva (or even Paint on your computer).

Visme

On Visme, you'll find another 50 free YouTube banners with themes like 'Rock Star,' 'Makeup Tutorial,' and 'Cooking Lessons.' The banners all make use of beautiful high-quality photographs (no patterned backgrounds). You can add your own channel name right on Visme and customize your font/color.  

YourTube

There is a massive amount of resources available on YourTube, which you can download for free. The category labeled templates only has 14 options, but there are really hundreds of options for YouTube channel art. 'Templates' just means downloads, which include PSD files where you can edit text. Under 'All YouTube Channel Art,' there are over 500 options. Some are patterned backgrounds, some are pictures, but all of them were designed to be channel art. It's easy to look and imagine where your channel's name will go.

There are also a lot of Channel Art Makers, which include templates!

Free Stock Images, Backgrounds, and Fonts

Sometimes all you need to do is add some text to a really great photo or background pattern. You can find awesome-looking and free options for all three of these things and piece together your own unique channel art.

Free Stock Photos for YouTube Channel Art

Unlike templates, stock photos will not already be the exact right size for uploading to YouTube. You'll have to adjust them, but you don't need expensive software to do this. You can use a banner maker, or just do some trimming in Paint. While you are making adjustments, keep the dimensions from the first part of this article in mind, so important details aren't partially cut off on some devices.

There are a lot of beautiful photographs available online, and sites like Stocksy are great if you have the budget available to purchase images. If you need free options, then there are lots of those too, but you do sometimes need to be careful that the way you want to use an image is allowed within the license provided by the site or photographer.

We recommend these two sites for anybody who finds copyright rules confusing because both of these sites allow you to use their photos for free, for any purpose (commercial or personal), without attribution (although they do appreciate attribution).

free-youtube-banner-unsplash

Unsplash: This site has a huge selection, and more photos are being added all the time. Finding what you want is as easy as typing a keyword (i.e., 'sunset') into the search bar on the home page.

free-youtube-banner-pexels

Pexels: you can find a wide variety of images on Pexels just by using the search bar on the main page, much like Unsplash. There is actually some overlap in the images available on the two sites, but they also each have photos the other doesn't, so it's worth looking at both.

Free Background Patterns for YouTube Banners

Photographs just don't suit every type of channel. If you don't think photos of scenery match the style of your channel, you might want to consider a background pattern. Because patterns repeat, you don't need to worry much about things being cut off when you upload a pattern as channel art (although you'll still need to make sure any text you add is in the safe area).

One thing you should watch for when using a background pattern is that text can sometimes be hard to read if it's sitting on top of a busy pattern. You might want to put a box of solid color between your channel name and the pattern.

The patterns on the following two sites are free to use.

free-youtube-banner-the-pattern-library

The Pattern Library: this truly is a library, and all the patterns were submitted by real graphic designers. When you first arrive on the site, all you'll see is a randomly selected pattern filling your entire screen. Hovering over the designer's name in the top left will allow you to download it for free.

Often, the download will not be as large as the image you see on the site. It will only be a few tiles (or just one tile), and you will need to copy/paste it a few times to create a background large enough to use as channel art.

You can use the navigation tools in the top right of the screen to see more patterns. Clicking the icon that looks like a bunch of squares will allow you to see multiple patterns at once.

free-youtube-banner-hero-pattern

Hero Patterns: the patterns on this site are editable before you download. You choose a foreground color, a background color, and the opacity of the design in the foreground. This means that you can make the pattern as subtle or vibrant as you want, which is a great thing to have control over when you're creating channel art.

When you choose your custom colors and opacity, every pattern preview on the page will update. You can put in the colors you like for your channel first, and then find a pattern that looks good with them.

The only downside to Hero Patterns is that downloading your pattern is hard. You actually can't just download it. Instead, the site generates a code you can embed on a website.

If you don't have a website, the easiest thing is probably to use the Snipping Tool (included on all PCs since Vista) to save the preview and then just copy/paste it as a tile in a program like Paint or Photoshop.

Free Fonts for YouTube Channel Art

Whatever program you use to build your channel art will already have a selection of fonts. Finding the perfect font to use across your channel art, thumbnails, and for any text, you include in your videos isn't something you need to think about until your channel is large enough that you're thinking about your 'brand'. If you feel like you're at that stage, or want to get a jump start on it, here are a couple of sites where you can find free fonts and install them on your computer.

DaFont: there are categories on this site like fancy, gothic, and script, and there are even sub-categories like sci-fi and calligraphy. Licensing limits (whether the font is free and whether it is available for commercial use) will be clearly displayed next to every font. When browsing, you can even type your channel name in where it says 'Preview' and see what it will look like in all the different fonts.

Font Squirrel: the nice thing about this site is that everything is guaranteed to be free and available for commercial use. If you scroll down a bit on the main page, you'll see a toolbar to the right of the screen, which will allow you to narrow down the fonts being displayed by selecting tags like grunge, headings, and casual.

Once you've got an image or images, and maybe even a font you want to use in your banner, you can create your channel art in either a software like Photoshop or a free banner maker (anchor) like the ones below.

Free Channel Art Makers

You don't need an expensive program like Adobe Photoshop to make great channel art. There is a lot of photo editing and graphic design programs available for free online, and most of them are a lot easier to use.

All three of these sites will allow you to build your banner just by dragging images and text to where you want them, and they even provide premade templates (although those might not be free in some cases).

Canva

Canva is probably the most popular site for creating YouTube banners for free, for a good reason. It's extremely intuitive for beginners who are making their first graphics, and it's also a capable enough program to satisfy more intermediate-level users. Canva has stock images, banner templates, and other graphics available, but some of them cost $1 to use. You can also upload your own media instead of relying on Canva's resources.

To build channel art in Canva, find 'YouTube Channel Art' as one of the options, and you'll be working with a canvas that's already the right size. You can also choose from a lot of different layout options, which will divide your canvas into different drop zones for images (pictures will be auto-sized to fit the zone).

One major benefit of Canva is the huge library of stock images, and one drawback is that you can't have multiple images stretched to the end of your canvas.

Design Wizard

This is another easy to use image editor with templates and stock images, like Canva. You just select YouTube Cover from the options in the Social Media menu (there are also options for YouTube Thumbnails and Profile Pics).

In Canva, images you drag into your layout will automatically shift to fit the area you put them into. This doesn't happen in Design Wizard, which can either slow down or speed up your process, depending on which you prefer.

One major benefit of Design Wizard is that it provides you with a 'safe zone box' so you can see the smallest view of your channel art while you work. One drawback is that the photos in Design Wizard aren't free, so you'll either have to buy them or use your own.

Tip: the safe zone box costs $1, so the price of your download will always look like $1 until you delete it when you're finished designing. Then your price will drop to $0 if you haven't used any other paid elements.

Fotor

Fotor works similarly to the other two programs on this list. Just look for 'YouTube Channel Art' in the Header & Cover section and click on it to start designing. It does not have layouts like Canva, but it is also a drag-and-drop program, and it is better than Canva if you like to edit with layers.

Fotor has more free templates than Canva or Design Wizard, although it does also have some premium options. Creating a paid account will allow you to access premium resources and get rid of ads (costs $39.99 for the year), but if all you want it for is to create channel art, a paid account probably isn't worth it.

You can upload your own images to use in Fotor as well.

A major benefit of Fotor is that it has a lot of genuinely free channel art templates you can customize, and one drawback is that it doesn't have as many stock photos.

How to Make Good Channel Art

Finding an image, cutting it to the right size, and uploading it to YouTube is easy, but how many of your favorite YouTubers use just an image for their channel art? Usually, there's at least a little text stating the name of the channel.

In this section, we'll give you a quick checklist of things to include in your banner (anchor), and some tips on making excellent channel art.

Channel Art Checklist

Here are some things you might want to include in your YouTube banner. Not all of these are right for every type of channel.

  1. Channel name
  2. What kinds of videos you make
  3. Your posting schedule
  4. Social media handles
  5. Your face
  6. A tagline

 

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Top 5 Tips for Making Great YouTube Banners

Besides looking good, your channel art can help convince more of your viewers to become subscribers. Here are our top 5 tips for making channel art that looks impressive and supports the growth of your channel.

  1. Solid Background Behind Text
  2. Keep Text to a Minimum
  3. Use Images and Colors That Suit Your Channel
  4. Include Your Face
  5. Give Viewers a Reason To Subscribe

Solid Background Behind Text

When viewers look at your channel page, you want your name and any other information your banner conveys to jump out at them. It is hard for text to jump out at anybody when it's competing with a busy background, especially if some of the colors in the background are similar to the color of the text.

If possible, you can place your text on the part of your background pattern or image where there isn't much happening behind it. When that isn't possible, it doesn't mean you need to find a new background. Instead, insert a solid-colored shape between the text and your background image. Your text will look great, and you won't have to compromise on a background you like.

Keep Text to a Minimum

There is a lot you might want to say in your banner. You'll want to tell viewers the name of the channel, what kinds of videos you make, when you upload those different kinds of videos, and maybe even the general philosophy driving your channel (i.e., 'to spread positivity'). That's all great, but try to say it fast.

Realistically, viewers probably won't read more than one line of text. Writing more than that could also force you to use smaller text that viewers will have trouble reading. Ideally, a viewer should absorb all the information in your banner at a glance without having to make the decision to read it.

Keep your text to your channel name and one additional line underneath, if you can. Make sure your additional line of text is smaller than your channel name, so they aren't competing.

Use Images and Colors that Suit Your Channel

If you have an upbeat, positive, channel then a black and red banner with skulls on it might not be the best choice to convey that. Similarly, if you have a gaming channel, then a minimalist banner that includes an Instagram-worthy picture of you wearing the latest seasonal styles might send the wrong message. It will make the viewer that sees it think you have a lifestyle channel, and they may click away thinking the Let's Play they just watched was a one-off.

Look at the kinds of colors and images other YouTubers in your niche are using for inspiration for what you should do, but also consider the unique message of your channel. If you consider yourself bold, use bolder colors. If your videos have a more relaxed vibe, something softer might make sense.

Here's a guide to what people tend to associate with different colors:

color-implication

Include Your Face

This isn't essential for every type of channel. If you mostly post gaming content or screencast tutorials and you don't appear much in your actual videos, there's no need to appear in your banner.

However, if your channel is primarily about you as a personality, then including your face in your channel art can have a lot of benefits. People are automatically drawn in by eye contact and feel more connected when they can see a face. Besides just looking good, including your face in your banner can help build a relationship with new viewers and make them feel more comfortable subscribing. They'll know they're subscribing to a person, not just a channel.

Give Viewers a Reason to Subscribe

Someone who has chosen to check out your channel page is already thinking about subscribing, but they didn't do it from the video page because they want to know a bit more about you. The things they are probably hoping to find out are:

  1. Do you have more videos like that one they just watched? Will you make more?
  2. Are you ever going to post again?

There are a lot of YouTubers that just give up at some point, or who have started a channel but don't have time to post very often. That you might never post a new video again, or might not post one for so long that the new subscriber forgets who you are, is a real hesitation viewer can have about subscribing.

Viewers also want to know that when you do post again, the video you post will be something they like. If they liked the video, they found you through because it was funny, but there's nothing on your channel page that suggests you do comedy videos regularly, then that can make someone think twice. If you subscribe because of a makeup tutorial, but then the creator only posts personal vlogs from then on, it can be disappointing.

By clearly stating what kinds of videos you make and when you post them in your banner, you are giving viewers a reason to subscribe.

Here are some examples:

"Vlogs & Comedy! New videos every Tuesday."

"Two videos every week! Makeup Mondays and Fashion Fridays"

If you can create channel art that has a layout that makes sense and sends a clear message even at a glance, then that will help you look like a more experienced YouTuber.

Channel Art Inspiration

Sometimes your niche on YouTube will determine what kinds of channel art you should use. For example, it makes sense for gamers to include game-related graphics in their banners and for travel vloggers to use photos from the destinations they've visited.

However, for lots of YouTube niches, the channel art you make will be built around your personality. How do you know what fits your personality? Here's some inspiration based on popular trends.

Minimalism

text-and-logo-minimalism

This is an example of a minimalist YouTube banner. This style typically uses only 2 or 3 colors and features clean lines, simple backgrounds, and not a lot of noise. If you want to project a calm, tidy, balanced vibe on your channel, then you should consider going in a minimalist direction with your banner.

This example is light and airy, but you can also create a minimalist look using brighter or darker colors. It just depends on your personality. 

Galaxy Themed

text-and-logo-galaxy-themed

Galaxy banners are exactly what they sound like: channel art featuring space scenes or photographs of the night sky. At first glance, you might think they belong with channels that talk about science or sci-fi, and they are great for that, but they're also a fun choice for comedy, vlogging, or gaming.

The great thing about the galaxy style is that it's cool and different, but it doesn't take over and distract from your message. There is a lot of room for a space scene to be very personalized. The example above is bold and purple. You can find galaxy photos in just about any color, and they can be either bright like this one or quite dark.

Funky

text-and-logo-Funky

There isn't really one 'funky' style. A funky banner is anything that's just a little off-beat but still makes sense while you're looking at it. They tend to be bright and cheerful and are perfect for anyone who considers themselves a bit quirky.

If you're looking for inspiration for a custom funky banner, go to your closet and find your favorite funny, cute, or ironic t-shirt. There's probably something in its design you can bring into your channel art.

Comic

/text-and-logo-comic

A banner featuring an actual comic book character probably belongs to a channel that discusses comics, but the style itself is great for just about anyone. It's bold and communicates confidence. If your attitude towards YouTube is that you want to be fearless, why not go for something worthy of a superhuman?

Do you have any of your own tips to share about YouTube banners?

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Shanoon Cox
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.