Monday, November 27, 2023

Colorado Plays

Playing in Colorado in all forms.


Streamlabs Prime: Setting Up a YouTube Thumbnail

One of the perks to using Streamlabs Prime is access to the YouTube thumbnail library. Since titles and thumbnails play a massive role in getting viewers on YouTube, creating something appealing is virtually a requirement.

And today, I’m creating one that I’ll use for a game series on the YouTube channel.

Finding the Right Thumbnail

Choosing a YouTube Thumbnail

Personally, I like color-coordinating thumbnails with the game I plan to play. For instance, Subnautica would have more of a blue hue as it pertains to underwater adventure.

But, then I’m left with the predicament of should I create a new thumbnail for every game, or just pick something to use on all videos? There’s something to be said about visual symmetry, especially if you’re trying to keep an audience engaged.

You don’t want too much of a difference in the thumbnails. Otherwise, viewers may not think the videos are from the same person. It’s all about delivering a uniform layout.

Editing the Thumbnail

I’ve decided to use a single design for the series of videos. In this case, I’m doing gameplay of Subnautica. This means I want something that fits the overall feel of the game.

I decided on HyperScape because it was close to what I wanted overall for the YouTube Thumbnail.

Customizing YouTube Thumbnail

Select Background

Since I use images directly from the game in the thumbnail, I’ll have to play and take a screenshot before I can set it as a background image.

In this instance, I have a screenshot saved from the game. So, now, I will upload the image from the Select Background option.

Adding Background

As the screenshot is a bit off-center from where I want, I’ll have to enable the Edit Background option. This lets me move the image about as well as resize.

So, I can move it around a bit to get a view I am happy with. Though, I’m half-tempted to bring the screenshot into Photoshop and remove the target reticle. 


From what I can tell, all of the YouTube thumbnails in Streamlabs has a very select color effect. Each is different according to the image. In this case, I chose HyperScape because it has a blue effect.

After clicking the “+” next to Effect, I can select one of the colors to use as the theme for the thumbnail.

In other words, you’re quite limited in what you can do according to the developer of the image. If he or she just created two variants, that’s all you’ll have access to.

Add Elements

Changing Fonts
Changing the font of the thumbnail

The Add Elements section is where you make text edits as well as add icons, emojis, or upload your own image. If you choose to use your own image, you can upload a new one or a graphic you already have stored in Streamlabs.

I suppose if you want to make the thumbnail more unique, you could add your own images. In this case, I’m going to add our logo.

I bet if I thought about it a bit, I could probably come up with some ideas to accentuate the image even further. But for now, I want to see how much of a role the thumbnail plays in click-through rates.

When it comes to text, you have quite a few options available. Not only can you change the color, but you can also adjust the font weight and family. This gives you a lot of options for finding the best font to fit your needs.

Problems with Using Streamlabs Prime Thumbnails

First of all, a unique thumbnail is worth more than gold. Especially if it’s one that drives people to click the video. The inherent problem with using templates from Streamlabs is that you run the risk of “copying” another creator.

Limited Customization Options

And given how the customization options for the YouTube thumbnail is quite limited, it would be easy to confuse viewers with the same layout as someone else.

This is why I will also add my own touchups and elements in Photoshop after downloading the image. But if you don’t have Photoshop, the Photopea app is also great for making adjustments.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of nice-looking thumbnails in the library. But if I think a certain design is nice, so will a lot of other YouTubers who use Streamlabs Prime.

For the most part, I’ll probably wind up using the library of images to simply get ideas about what to create on my own. But, we’ll see how this case study goes with using one I design in Streamlabs Prime.

Need to Use Streamlabs with Templates?

I also don’t like the idea that you have to use Streamlabs Prime as your editing platform for thumbnails. Instead of being able to save one with a transparent background as a template, the whole image needs to be created in Streamlabs.

This can be a bit tedious if you plan on making a lot of videos in a short amount of time.

Unable to Save Customizations

Lastly, Streamlabs Prime doesn’t save the template. When you make font and color changes, add logos, and otherwise fine-tune the thumbnail, you’ll have to make all those adjustments again.

This is incredibly inconvenient as now I have to save the hexadecimal codes, fonts, weights, and more if I want to run a series of similar videos.

Setting Up the Outro

I know this isn’t necessarily part of Streamlabs Prime, but I am going to set up a new outro as well. And to do this for free, I’ll use Canva.

Canva has a ton of free outros available for YouTube. And customizing one to fit the channel isn’t really all that difficult. In fact, Canva is a much easier system to use than Streamlabs Prime.

I might do a tutorial on using Canva to create a YouTube thumbnail in the future.

In any case, if you need a free outro, you should start with Canva.

The Experiment

I’m going to try various thumbnails for different games. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money nor the interest to play some of the latest and greatest games out there.

So, I guess I’ll just see if the thumbnails help with what I already have.


As I have a few videos already on the channel regarding Subnautica, I’m keeping track of their CTR versus the videos with the new thumbnails. This means jotting down visitor stats before and after the new thumbnails.

Since I only have a few videos for Subnautica, it shouldn’t take me long to create and upload new versions on the older videos.

I know that Subnautica is a bit older of a game. This means it probably won’t gain a lot of visibility on the channel to begin with. I’ll have to see if there is a newer game I play that people are willing to watch.

Does it Really Make a Difference?

At the moment, I don’t know if a new YouTube thumbnail is going to make all that much of an impact. Then again, that’s what a case study is for.

If there is a significant difference, I’ll be sure to record the findings.

Overall, it’s not an incredibly difficult process to make these images in Streamlabs. Although there are several inconveniences, the creation process is quite straight forward and easy to manage.

If Streamlabs would add a save feature for customizing thumbnail templates, that would be great.

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop, to name a few.