How to Create an Engaging Thumbnail in DaVinci Resolve 18.5

If you need a thumbnail for a YouTube video or another type of video project, DaVinci Resolve has the perfect tools to do it. Not only can the editing software save still images from a video, but any effect you add to the thumbnail will stay attached to it as well. We’ll show you how to create a thumbnail with DaVinci Resolve and what kind of cool effects you can add to it.



1. Adjust Your Timeline Settings

Start with a blank timeline. Before adding your still or video to the timeline, you’ll need to adjust the settings.

Many thumbnails, like YouTube, need to be sized at 1280 x 720 pixels, so it’s wise to start the project with the correct dimensions. In your Media Pool, right-click on the timeline clip, then go to Timelines > Timeline Settings.

timeline options on DaVinci Resolve

Uncheck Use Project Settings, change the Timeline Resolution to 1280 x 720 HD 720P, and click OK.

Changing timeline settings on DaVinci Resolve

Next, place your still or video on the timeline and start adding any effects to make it more engaging. If you’re working with a video, remember to drag the playhead to the frame you want to use for your thumbnail.

Don’t worry about creating an image from a video at this point. Since DaVinci Resolve 18.5 came out of beta, the effects now remain attached when a still is exported.

2. Add Cool Effects to Your Thumbnail

There are several ways you can make your thumbnail stand out using different effects.

Using Pitch and Yaw

Adding a bit of pitch and yaw (tilting an image from left to right or up and down) will give your image more dimension, especially if you are adding other elements to it.

Image of stairs with Yaw and Pitch effects on DaVinci Resolve

Click on the clip and open the Inspector tab. Under Video, you will find Pitch and Yaw near the top. Adjust the angles until you are happy with how the image looks.

Blurring an Object

To add some mystery to your thumbnail, you can blur an object. Doing this for a thumbnail is less complicated than blurring and tracking a moving object in DaVinci Resolve.

Portable toilet being outlined for blur on DaVinci Resolve

All you need to do is select the clip and open the Color page. Click on the Window icon in the toolbar under the preview window. Select the Curve tool and trace the object you want to blur—make sure the beginning and end dots connect.

Portable toilet with mosaic blur on DaVinci Resolve

From there, open the Blur feature on the toolbar and drag the Radius option as high as you want it to go. If you’d rather have a mosaic blur, open the Effects tab and drag-and-drop the Mosaic Blur feature over the clip’s node.

Placing a Title Behind an Object

With your intended thumbnail ready in the timeline, go ahead and copy and paste the clip so there are two copies side by side. From there, click on the first clip and open the Color tab.

Duplicate clips sitting on timeline in DaVinci Resolve

Make sure the Nodes tab is open on the Color page. Click on the node, select the Window icon on the toolbar, and select the Curve tool.

Window feature open on color page on DaVinci Resolve with girl hiking in clip

Zoom in on the clip and use the Curve tool to trace the object you want your text to go behind. You will have to do this manually if you are working with the free version of DaVinci Resolve. Make sure you connect the mask all the way around.

Background missing on clip of girl hiking on DaVinci Resolve

When you’re done, click on the Highlight icon—it looks like a black and white circle in a rectangular box—to make sure the mask took effect. Click the Highlight icon again to turn it off.

Adding Alpha Output on clip on DaVinci Resolve

In the Node tab, right-click the empty node box and select Add Alpha Output. Drag the blue box from the clip’s node to the blue Alpha Output node. You will see the background disappear.

Title begin girl hiking on DaVinci Resolve

Go back to the Edit tab and make sure your newly edited clip is on track three. Place the copy of the original clip on track one right underneath. Your title effect will go on track two.

3. Export Your Thumbnail From DaVinci Resolve

After you’ve finished adding effects to your thumbnail, it’s time to export it.

Make sure your playhead is located over the exact frame you want to save, go to the uppermost toolbar, and select File > Export > Current Frame as Still.

Exporting still from DaVinci Resolve

The still should automatically be set to save as a JPEG but make sure just in case. You can also save it as a PNG if that’s the file type you would rather work with. Click Export once you have the specifications to your liking.

Make the Perfect Video Thumbnail Using DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve is perfect if you’re looking to trim videos, use color correction, or even create a thumbnail with cool effects. Best of all, you don’t need to download separate software to achieve it all—everything you need to make an engaging thumbnail can be found in this video editor.

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