by Eleana Overett, Founder

Aren’t polls useful? We recently conducted one in LSY to see what kind of software people use to create their YouTube video thumbnails. The results were interesting because it introduced us to software and online apps that some of us had never even heard of before!

So if you are wanting to create really cool thumbnails (arguably one of the most important factors in attracting people to click on your video) then check out our list below:


Our runaway winner with the most users of our group was Photoshop – though we weren’t exactly surprised.

Photoshop is an excellent tool for creating thumbnails, videos overlays, channel art and more. It may take a while to get the hang of if you’ve never experienced anything like it, but then you’ll be amazed by the range of things you can accomplish.

You can get this software by paying monthly. At the moment the price starts at £20.22/mo for individuals, but students can get is for £16.44/mo.


The next favourite was Picmonkey, a mostly free online photo editing site which is super easy to use a provides a range of effects, fonts, overlays and more. There are additional Royale/Premium effects and features if you want to spend a little extra – but most of us get away with creating fantastic thumbnails using the free version without needing to spend any money.

If you do want to up the ante and get the Premium version, you can pay monthly at £9.00/mo or pay a year up front at £54.00/y ( which equates to 4.50/mo).


Canva is another site like Picmonkey which provides you with a huge variety of templates to choose from so that you don’t need to create them from scratch like you would in Photoshop. It’s a little less intuitive than Picmonkey but also gives you the opportunity to create thumbnails that look a little more professional (in my opinion).

Again, there are a mixture of free and Premium options. With Canva you top yourself up with Credit and then pay as you go to license the effects you want, which removes the watermarks.


This is a free and open source image editor known as the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). You download it to your desktop and it works a little bit like Photoshop and Pixlr giving you the ability to create some really cool effects. There are lots of online How To’s on YouTube as well to help you expand your skills.


This online website gives you two options: Pixlr Editor and Pixlr Express. Express is a little like Picmonkey where you can make quick fixes or add templates and general effects, overlays and borders. Editor is like a free version of Photoshop if you consider that being the Premium paid for version which unlocks more features. You can do a lot with it and it’s actually a great first step if you don’t know whether you want to pay for Photoshop yet.


Like GIMP, you download Inkscape directly to your desktop and it operates a lot like Adobe Illustrator. This is a great free software for amateur artists who want a little more freedom than the pre-programmed templates Picmonkey provides by creating vector graphics, but also don’t always want to create everything from scratch. There is a lot of flexibility, and Inkscape also provides different kinds of overlays and patterns and shapes, so could be worth downloading and using in conjunction with another programme.


Some people prefer to make their thumbnails on the go, or may not have access to a computer. In which case, you could always use Picsart, a downloadable app for your mobile phone. With lots of effects, stickers, collages, and drawing tools you can actually make some really fun and engaging thumbnails by tapping away at your phone rather than spending hours of time on a laptop. Available on iOS and Android.


If you like the idea of making your thumbnails on your phone, another great option to use is Englight. This cool app has a massive variety of filters, decals, special effects and more. It’s a fantastic option to add to your photo editing repertoire, but unfortunately is only available to iPhone users at the moment.


Do you edit your photos on one of our suggestions above? Or do you edit using something else? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @LondonSmallYT.

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