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.

For channel art, YouTube recommends an image that is 2560 x 1440 pixels in size, and it has to be at least 2048x1152. That's a large image. 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.

To make YouTube channel art, you need to follow these 4 steps:

  1. Choose a picture to start with
  2. Resize & edit in the Kapwing Studio
  3. Process & download
  4. Upload to your YouTube channel

TL;DR: Use this free YouTube channel art template to resize an existing image to the correct dimensions or get started with a blank canvas.

Step 1: Choose a Picture to Start With

Before you start editing your YouTube channel art, you'll need to find a starting point. 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.

A screenshot showing how to download images from Google Drive.
Grab a link or find a photo that you have saved on your computer. 

You can find your photos anywhere on the Internet (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Drive, etc.) since Kapwing lets you easily import pictures from almost any site. All you need to do is its link. 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 – not nearly enough for well-formatted channel art.

A screenshot of the Kapwing resize tool.
The most important thing is your picture's size: anything too small can't be used as 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.

A screenshot of the Kapwing Studio, pointing out image editing options.
In the Studio, you can resize and add all types of flair to your channel art picture. 

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: 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.

A screenshot of Kapwing's YouTube channel art template.
YouTube channel art looks different on every type of device. 

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.

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.

A screenshot of the Kapwing download page.
All it takes is a couple clicks to get the perfect channel art image. 

When your picture is finished processing, click “Download” from the right side of the screen. If you're not signed into a Kapwing account, sign in or sign up using your Google or Facebook account – once you've signed into a Kapwing account, the watermark in the lower right corner will be removed from your final image.

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.

A screenshot showing how to customize you channel art in YouTube.
Go to "Your Channel" on YouTube to add custom channel art to your profile. 

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. YouTube will show you 3 different ways your channel art will look on different devices: click Select, and your YouTube channel art is all ready to go!

A screenshot of YouTube's channel art preview screen.
YouTube gives you a sneak peak at what your channel art will look like on different devices. 

Thanks for reading! We hope that this article and resource makes it easier for creators to design on-brand, compelling YouTube channel art. If you're interested in more tips and tutorials on digital content in 2021, check out our YouTube channel Kapwing App. And in the meantime, look through some of our related articles on creating content for YouTube:

How to Record and Edit a Reaction Video in Your Browser
How to Balance Audio Layers in YouTube
How to Download Part of a YouTube Video
How to Post Switch Videos on YouTube Without a Capture Card