Youtube has two main areas where you can add photos to your Youtube channel. One is your profile image, which is used across Google properties, from Gmail profiles to Google+ pages. You set that within your attached Google+ profile (and if you try to edit it within YouTube you’ll be directed over to your Google+ profile).
Adding Channel Art
If you’re just starting up your Youtube channel, the channel art space is blank by default. You’ll have a dark gray box with a button in the middle for “Add channel art.”
Once you click on that, you’ll have a popup where you can choose which photo to add. By default, it opens to the Upload Photos tab, which is pretty self-explanatory. There are also tabs for Your Photos, which includes photos and images you’ve uploaded to your Google+ account, or Gallery, which is a set of free images you’re able to use.
Channel Art Sizes
When adding channel art, the images must be at least 2048 by 1152 pixels. Any images in the Your Photos tab that don’t meet that minimum size won’t be available to use–they’ll be grayed out when you try to select them.
Minimum Size: 2048 x 1152 pixels
Recommended Size: 2560 x 1440 pixels
Maximum File Size: 4MB
How Channel Art Looks on Different Devices
You can, of course, watch Youtube on all sorts of different devices, not just on desktop computers. And how the channel art displays is going to change according to the device. On a desktop web browser and on a mobile device it shows as a narrow horizontal panorama. But it’s not necessarily a good idea to upload a panorama, because on a web-enabled TV, for instance, the image can fill the whole screen.
When you upload a photo (or select an exiting one) you’ll then get a preview of how it will look on different devices.
Adjusting the Crop
From this panel you can also adjust the crop to change which part of the image will display.
The crop screen works a bit unusually, because it includes two areas. The clearest section, in the middle, is the horizontal panorama area that will be used on desktop and mobile devices. The larger area with the grab handles is the area used on Youtube-enabled TVs.
To move the crop, you just click and drag. If you want to resize it, use the white square handles on the corners.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to shift the panorama section relative to the larger TV crop–it’s always in the middle.
Once you’ve selected the focus area, click on the Devices Preview button at bottom left to see how the changes will look.
You can also use the Auto Enhance button at bottom right to help imrprove the image. How much effect it has–if any–depends on each individual image.
Once you’re happy with the selection, hit the Select button. You’ll then go back to your regular Channel view and you’re new Channel Art will be displayed at top.
Changing Existing Channel Art
If you decide you want to change existing channel art, log into you Youtube and go to your channel’s home page. Then move the mouse over the cover art. A small edit button will appear over the top right corner of the channel art. Once you click on that, you’ll get a popup menu that includes Change Channel Art.
Adding Logos and Text
You can add logos and text to your channel art before you upload it, but you’re going to have a very narrow band to work with. And because of the way in which Youtube’s crop tool works, precisely where on the original image it should be placed will depend on the aspect ratio of the original image. So unfortunately in many cases it’s a matter of trial and error.
But if you happen to using an original image that is 2560 x 1440 pixels, there’s a safe-zone rectangle precisely in the center that’s 1540 x 427 pixels.
It will display like this:
In practice, you end up with something like this:
You can, of course, put the logo over an image. I’ve just used a plain white background here to make it clearer for illustration purposes.