If you’re a YouTuber, you might want to customize your channel by creating a banner, or channel art as YouTube calls it.
YouTube channel art images appear at the top of your YouTube page, in the header area next to your avatar, and above the content of your channel.
This is a tutorial on how to make YouTube channel art using the free graphics editor GIMP. You can download GIMP from here.
Project Files: Example_Graphics.zip (backgrounds, overlays, social media icons)
Template: How It Works
First off, let’s look at a channel art template provided by YouTube which will show you roughly where you should put your graphics. You can download this from the article linked in the video description.
Basically the recommended size for your channel art is 2560 x 1440 pixels. However your actual banner will only appear in the middle area of the image on most platforms. Except for smart TV’s which will utilize the entire image. So if you’re not too worried about smart TV’s, then you can basically leave the rest of the image blank. Only focus on the middle area where your graphics, text and logos will appear.
Graphics: Where to Find Graphics
You can find various background patterns and wallpapers using Google image search. Just search for example ”dark background 1080p”. Find a cool background and then just go to that image and save it to your computer. Then later import it into your graphics editing software. You can also search for other backgrounds using keywords such as “wallpaper”. For example ”cyberpunk wallpaper 1080p” and you’ll find a lot of cool stuff.
Then there’s also graphics packs. Just go to the main Google search, and type in ”youtube graphics pack”. You’ll get a bunch of videos with download links in the description for files containing collections of various graphics. You can use these for your channel art, or other social media images like your Twitter header, or Twitch for example.
These packs tend to also contain social media icons and overlays that you can use to enhance your channel art. I have made my own graphics file for GIMP which contains a number of popular social media icons in black and white colors and different sizes. Theres a link for it on the top of the article.
Editing: Template & Background
To start off we are going to open the channel art template that I mentioned earlier.
Once you’ve opened the template image, then open a background image by using the Open As Layers option, which will add the background as a layer to your current image project.
Next we are going to scale the background to cover the entire image, although this is not necessary if you only plan on using the central area for your banner. But to resize your background, use the scale tool from the left toolbar or press SHIFT-T. Then make sure you have the background layer selected and left click anywhere on the image. Then click, hold and drag one of the corners untill the image is expanded and repeat that on the other corner and the background should cover the entire image.
Next you want to make sure the template layer is visible, click the template layer, hold and drag it above the background layer. Above that where it says opacity, click somewhere on the dark grey area, hold and drag your mouse to the left to reduce the opacity of the template layer to around 35 or 40 percent.
Now you can better see where the stuff you are adding to the image will appear on the header area of your channel. You can also disable the layer entirely by clicking on the eye icon on the left of the layer menu.
Aligning With Guides
But we still want a bit more help to make sure everything is aligned and centered, so we are going to add some guides. First go to the View menu, and make sure that the options ”Show Guides” and ”Snap to Guides” are enabled. Then head over to the Image menu, and go down to Guides, and select ”New Guide (by Percent)”. Make sure the percentage is 50, and you want to add both horizontal and vertical guides, but you can only do one at a time, so pick horizontal and then click on OK. Now go back and repeat this process for the vertical guide.
After this, we’re going to add some text, so click on the text tool icon on the left toolbar or press the T key. Then left click, hold and drag to create a text area on the image near the center. Type in your text, even if you can’t see what you are typing because the default font is so small. Then you want to press CTRL-A to select all the text, and change the font to Calibri Bold. Next change the text size to 150 pixels and finally click the black icon on the lower right of the text editor toolbar, which is actually the color selector. You can choose your color here manually or enter a HTML code, or use a previously used color.
Next click somewhere on the empty text area to unhighlight the text, then click on the lower right box of the text area, hold and drag to reduce the size of the text area. After this click on the move tool on the left toolbar and position the text at the center of the vertical guide and on top of the horizontal guide.
Do the same for a secondary title, or subtitle.
Align and Merge Text
Once that’s done, you want to go to the View menu and disable the ”Snap to Guide” option so that you can more freely position the secondary title to align it with the main title. The secondary title is a bit too long, so we are going to resize it with the Scale tool.
After that we are going to merge both of the text layers into one layer. Go to the layer menu, right click on the text layer thats highest on the list, and choose the ”Merge down” option. Now you can go to the View menu again and re-enable the ”Snape to Guide” option. Then choose the Move tool and center the text layer at the absolute middle of the image.
This is basically where my current header graphic would be finished. I just need to disable the template layer and proceed to export the image as a PNG file for the best quality.
But if needed you can still do further editing, for example by adding social media icons and handles, or overlays to bling out your banner.
Watch the video to find out how to do that, and more!
Here’s the result.