Put your face in your thumbnails! – Freedom! Tech Tips

YouTube Thumbnails

Before your viewers click onto your YouTube videos the first thing they see is your thumbnail. Thumbnails are so, so important due to it being the first thing people lay their eyes on and determine whether or not this is a video worth clicking on. Thumbnails are not always easy to make and I myself have some problems sometimes with making sure that I am making something that clearly represents what my video’s are about.

Now if you watch a bunch of YouTubers or are in fact a YouTuber yourself, you will by no doubt see people upload videos with pictures of their faces in them in some shape or form. You tend to find that the YouTubers who don’t put their faces inside their thumbnails are the same YouTubers who also don’t have their faces in their videos at all. Some people don’t like their faces being on the internet and that is fine, however, the ones that don’t mind will usually have their face in their YouTube banner, profile picture, or in most cases, their thumbnails.

In this Freedom! Tech Tips article I am going to be showing you step by step how to take your face out from a picture you have taken, and then placing that into your Thumbnail. I have my own personal YouTube channel called ‘Brad Hahn’ and I do put my face inside my thumbnails as my face is in every video that I upload, and I also have my template that I use to make thumbnails already saved. This is a template I made a while ago, making it easy for me to open up Photoshop and get my thumbnail created. Lets get started.

Step 1

Go ahead and open up Photoshop, if don’t have a template for your thumbnail and would still like to learn this then it is no problem. This technique will work for much more than just YouTube thumbnail designs. Find the picture of yourself that you would like to cut out and drag it over to Photoshop. Once your picture is in, you will notice a little thumbnail of it appear in your layers to the right of your screen. Use my screenshot as reference to see what this looks like.

Double click on the thumbnail of your picture and it will open it in another tab in Photoshop, this allows you to directly edit your picture without interfering with your thumbnail template.

Step 2

If you look to the left side of your screen you will see a paint brush with a circle next to it made from small little dots, this is your selection tool, and this is what we are going to be using to cut the face out from the picture. After selecting the tool, brush around the outside layer of your face and you will see lines starting to form around you. You want to make sure these lines are completely flush to the outline of your face, if it isn’t then go back over it until it is.

Sometimes you might make a mistake whereby you accidently brush over your face and there are two options to remedy this. You can either press Ctrl + Z which which will undo your previous action, or alternatively you can select the ‘-‘ option at the top of your screen. This changes your brush to subtract any selection you have made and I recommend using this option for two reason. One, it gets you use to using this tool as you’ll be flicking between it quite regularly, and two, every time you correct something with the selection tool, Photoshop learns from this and prevents the mistake from happening again.

After selecting the area around your face, whilst having the selection tool still equipped, right click in the background and select ‘inverse’. This will invert your selection meaning that the only thing that should be selected at this point is your face. This happens because all you have done is select the background (everything but your face), keeping the outline flush. inverting it will force the selection you have made to wrap itself around what ever you haven’t selected i.e. your face.

Step 3

After you have inverted your selection, click and drag your face up to the first tab you made, which was your Thumbnail template tab. Dragging and dropping your selection into your thumbnail will place it over the top of your original image and increasing itself in size. Delete the original image as we don’t need it anymore.

Pressing Ctrl + T whilst having your face selected allows you to resize the image. Go ahead and resize your face and place it in the spot you would like it to be in your thumbnail, once you have found your spot, press enter on your keyboard. Whilst still having your image selected, there will be an ‘Adjustments’ option in the bottom right-hand corner of your Photoshop window. It is here that you will be able to correct any colours and make any adjustments to your brightness, contract and saturation etc.

Step 4

Your face in your thumbnail is now in place, and now it’s time to smooth off those rough edges making everything sit nice and flush with your background. To do this, head on over to the Eraser tool which is located on your tools bar on the left side of Photoshop. Clicking onto the Eraser tool opens up some new options on the top bar. You should see a drop-down arrow, and when clicking it will give you some options on how to fine tweak your eraser.

The options that I have set mine to is; Size: 15 px, and Hardness: 20%. Adjusting the size will increase or decrease the size of your eraser, covering a larger or smaller distance. Increasing or Decreasing the hardness determines how soft the edges are when erasing your image and because we want out image to be soft and flush with the background, 20% is a real good trick for that.

Once your settings are adjusted, slowly brush around the edges of your image and you’ll see how the rough edges are now turning into soft and faded edges that are blending in with your background image. After going around all of the edges in your picture, right click back onto your image thumbnail in the layers tab and select ‘blending options’. This will open up a separate window and at the bottom you will see ‘Outer Glow’ and ‘Drop Shadow’. Obviously you can play around with the other options that are there but I mainly use these two options just to make my image pop out more without being too harsh. It adds a really nice, clean finish to your thumbnail.

I really hope this helps and teaches you something new with Photoshop. I am by no means an expert with Photoshop and my knowledge is very basic, I’m sure there are many pro’s out there that will find some flaws in my way of cutting out faces and placing them into thumbnails however this works for me, it’s clean and looks professional enough for YouTube. If you wish to see me do all of these steps in a video then click on the video at the very top of this article.

Thank you!


Video producerBrad Hahn
Blog writerBrad Hahn
ProgramFreedom! Scholarship

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