If you're trying to get your YouTube channel off the ground, you want to make it look as appealing and high-quality as possible. The biggest part of this (literally!) is your YouTube "channel art," sometimes referred to as a banner photo. Your channel art is the perfect place to set the tone for your profile, engage your audience with visual content, and attract viewers to your linked social media pages and websites.
For channel art, YouTube recommends an image that is 2560 x 1440 pixels in size. In this article, I'll show you how to make YouTube channel art from scratch, edit a photo you took yourself, or repurpose a picture you found on the web for your header image. Use this free YouTube channel art template to resize an existing image to the correct dimensions or get started with a blank canvas.
Note that YouTube's sizing restrictions require images that are at least 2048x1152 pixels in size. If you have a smaller image like a logo or design, you'll need to increase its size or overlay it on a larger background.
The YouTube banner area also changes aspect ratios depending on the viewer's aspect ratio. The channel art may be stretched for someone looking at your channel on an extra-wide screen or squished for someone on an extra-small screen. The various aspect ratios for phones, desktops, tablets, and TVs make it difficult to compose a photo that works in all situations.
To make YouTube channel art, you need to follow these 4 steps:
- Choose a picture to start with
- Resize & edit in the Kapwing Studio
- Process & download
- Upload to your YouTube channel
Step 1: Choose a Picture to Start With
Before you start editing your YouTube channel art, you'll need to find a starting point. But not all pictures are good options for your banner photo: you should choose something fairly large, like a photo you would use for your computer's desktop photo. It should also have a horizontal aspect ratio, since it will only be visible with a 16:9 aspect ratio or wider.
You can find your photos anywhere on the Internet (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Images, Google Drive, etc.) since Kapwing lets you easily import pictures from almost any site. All you need to do is copy the link to the photo or its webpage. And if you’ve saved your pictures onto your device, just make sure you know where they’re located. If you're uploading photos from a computer, it's a good idea to have your file browser open, so you can click & drag your content into the Kapwing Studio.
Step 2: Resize & Edit in the Kapwing Studio
YouTube provides a fairly detailed guide on creating and editing your channel art at this page, but its support for the most necessary step in the process is pretty vague. YouTube's support page indicates that you can use Preview or Microsoft Photos to resize your image, but neither of these tools can perform more than the most basic resize functions. Neither program allows you to add padding or change your aspect ratio without stretching your photo, and they don't give you any way to accommodate the several different safe areas and size restrictions for your channel art.
To resize your photo so it looks just right on any device, head over to Kapwing.com and click "Start Editing" to go to the Studio. To upload your photo, you can either use the "Click to Upload" button to find a photo that you've saved to your computer, or paste the link to the photo you found online.
Once your picture is uploaded to the Studio, you can start making any edits you want. For example, I wanted to give the Kapwing channel art a wintry update for the holidays, so I started by making my picture smaller and positioning it in the middle of the canvas. Then, I clicked "Images," searched for Snowflake PNGs for the background, and added a Santa hat png to complete the picture.
You can also add custom text boxes, other images, background colors, and customizable shapes. Added text can be a great way to promote a video series, show off your channel's theme, or ask your viewers to subscribe.
One thing you'll need to do is resize your image to fit YouTube's particular specifications for channel art. The most difficult requirement is the minimum size: channel art photos must be at least 2048x1152 pixels, which is much larger than most photos you'll ever post on social media.
YouTube's recommended size for your channel art is 2560 x 1440. To resize your picture using Kapwing, click on "Custom Size" under your resizing options on the right-hand side of the Studio window. Enter 2560 in the "Width" field and 1440 for "Height."
The aspect ratio is 16:9, which is the widescreen standard. Your YouTube channel art can't be any taller than 16:9; otherwise, it will be cutoff on smaller screens. The full height only displays on TVs.
The other vital thing to consider when editing and resizing your image is the area that will be visible on most platforms. YouTube requires that your image is viewable on TVs, but most users are using their computers or phones to look at your channel. This means that the large majority of your channel art will be cropped for nearly all users.
Thankfully, Google has published a guideline for what areas of the channel art are always visible. The center area - at 1546 x 432 - will always display in view, regardless of the viewer's screen size. Keep your most important words and images directly in the center of your design, or use this YouTube channel art template to make sure your photo is in bounds.
On Kapwing, reposition the image and text layers inside the mobile and desktop "safe areas." To make the channel art more attractive, add a custom background color, pattern, or texture behind your design for padding. In my example (above), I used the Images tool to search for snowflake stickers and added wintery snowflakes in the background of my YouTube channel art.
Step 3: Publish & Download
Once you've edited your picture to perfection and resized it to fit YouTube's specifications, click "Publish" in the upper right-hand corner. Kapwing will automatically begin processing your YouTube channel art, and it will be ready to download in under a second.
When your picture is finished processing, click “Download” from the right side of the screen. You can also click "Edit" to make changes to the picture or click the icons to share the image directly to social media.
If your picture has a Kapwing watermark on it, just sign in and save the watermark-free image to your Workspace. It's free to remove the watermark from your channel art design.
Step 4: Upload to Your YouTube Channel
Now that you downloaded your photo, your channel art is ready to upload to YouTube. Just go to YouTube in your browser and click your profile icon in the upper right corner of the window. From the drop-down list, choose "Your Channel." If you only want to change your channel art, click on the camera icon in the upper right corner of the channel art banner. If you're adding channel art for the first time, or would like to add social media or website links to your header, you'll need to click "Customize Channel," then the pencil icon in the upper right corner of your channel art banner.
In the channel art uploader, click the button that says "Select a photo from your computer" and find the photo you downloaded from Kapwing in your file browser. If you're using a browser that keeps your downloads at the bottom of your window, you can also drag & drop your file directly into the uploader. YouTube will show you 3 different ways your channel art will look on different devices, and you can click "Adjust the crop" at the bottom left if you'd like to zoom in on a part of the picture, rather than showing the whole thing. Just click "Select," and your YouTube channel art is all ready to go!
Thanks for reading! We hope that this article and resource makes it easier for creators to design on-brand, compelling YouTube channel art. Kapwing is designed for speed and ease, so you don't need any specific expertise to get started.
For an extra subscriber, remember to mention @KapwingApp on YouTube or link to Kapwing in the description – we love to endorse and give exposure to our users. And be sure to subscribe to the Kapwing Resources page – we’re constantly writing new tutorial and features to help you make the most out of Kapwing.