HELLO EVERYONE THAT HAS EVER MADE A CUSTOM YOUTUBE THUMBNAIL!
You are probably aware that it can be pretty frustrating to try and make your thumbnail fit with all the ways that YouTube will slice, dice, crop, and overlay your image.
But as of Apirl 29th 2013, I think I’ve found all of the possible things that can happen to your thumbnail, and the above guide will help you design for ALL of those cases. Note, YouTube is always adding new ways to dice up your images, so never think you’ve got the perfect thumbnail.
You can scale this image up to 1920 pixels wide if you want to go full HD with it.
Also above is an annotated version showing examples of the different crops and overlays for thumbnails, so it’s clear what I’m talking about.
The only thing that might need explaining is the 1280x960 “full bleed.” There is only one case where YouTube uses that full bleed at the moment (in sidebar displays of playlists.) That display might be going away soon, but they do frequently change how they use these images, so I’m going to keep designing for the full bleed just in case.
Finally, while writing this, I have tried really hard not to gripe but WTF IS UP WITH THE YOUTUBE APP! A CENTERED, FLOATING 475 x 1175??!!! WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT!?