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Creating and Choosing Thumbnails - Tutorial

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OliverFrenchie avatar OliverFrenchie
Retired Moderator
Level 71 : Legendary Scribe


Welcome Ladies and Gentleblocks to another tutorial (my 2nd in fact). This is probably the most requested tutorial I've had since I started seriously blogging so I hope this helps all you aspiring bloggers and PMCers.


The key to every project or anything that you're ready to submit to PMC is planning. Getting a concept for something can help you develop your project and make sure that it is quality-intensive. The thumbnail to anything you create on the internet is absolutely essential to the success of the submission.
The more attractive and appealing the thumbnail is, the more likely people will click on it. Using rendering software can use up a lot of time and work but in the end, its worth it. Renders make things far more prettier and they are available to use to all members. If your computer can handle it, the Unbelievable Shaders Mod will also be very effective.

So lets say you're making a blog on Jealousy. On a website like Planet Minecraft, the best thing to have in a thumbnail is something Minecraft-related. I start by thinking about the topic of my blog, Jealousy. How can I represent this in a Minecraft way? Well diamonds are very rare and expensive, so if a character had diamonds but another didn't then the other would be jealous.

Now with a concept image I can move into a rendering software or image editing software and start making this thumbnail.


When actually creating the thumbnail, theres one of two ways you can go. One of the ways is to do Photo Manipulation. This is when you combine multiple images to create a final one. By using different elements like a picture of steve, an in-game screenshot and some lens flares you can create a pretty interesting thumbnail.
Now thats a pretty good result for a 5mn job. That will already pop out to some people because its different. If you really want your thumbnail to pop out then you have to get your hands a bit more dirty.


These can be time-consuming, hard to work and painfully slow to render at the start but once you get the hang of settings on your software (Maya, 3DS Max, Cinema 4D) then you'll be able to quickly cook up a scene to render.

A quick Google search can give you a list of Steve Rigs and Minecraft Blocks to import into the 3D program. Rigs are essentially bone-structures inside of a 3D object (in this case steve) where each part of it can be manipulated. The best ones will have eye, eyebrow and mouth manipulation options too. Below is an example of a Steve Rig (the one that I use).
There are some fantastic pieces of third-party software that allow you to convert Minecraft worlds into importable 3D files. A good example is mc2obj which is a free download. Chunky is also another one. As I previously mentioned, a quick Google search can give you free scenes to import.

Once you've imported a scene and a rig, you can set off to work with composition. Try and follow the concept you made earlier and you should be fine. The beauty of 3D Rigs is that you can express emotions far more easily. Rag is awesome.

Make the diamond-holding Steve happy but with a tint of cockiness by tilting his eyebrows. You can then make the jealous steve either look sad or angry with jealousy. Toy around until you get a good result. I also love adding little easter eggs in my thumbs, usually a creeper or an enderman.
Your scene is set. All that is left is lighting and rendering. Lighting is fairly easy, either you go for an all-lit scene, or you adventure a bit with side/low lighting. If you're experienced you can always make light rays appear using Volumetric Light.

Rendering will vary from program to program. The best way to go is by enabling Ambient Occlusion (which'll add softened shadows), Global Illumination (which'll make the lighting more realistic by adding bouncing light) and by ramping up the Anti-Aliasing you can make sure everything is crisp and perfect. If you are confused to the location of these settings, again, a quick Google search can't hurt.

Once everything is rendered out (.png is the best file type for highest quality) all you need to do is head over to the 'Images & Video' section of your submission and upload the thumbnail.

'Et voila!' as my French companions would say. Your final image is now uploaded to your post and is ready to kick some serious thumbnail ass, right in the noggin'. Don't forget to add some text with that corresponds to your title, keep it short and simple.

The Final Image:

I hope you've all enjoyed this (hopefully) detailed tutorial on thumbnails. This took me a lot of time (planning included). In the region of 5 hours of work. If you found this useful then a Diamond is really really appreciated.


This blog was brought to you by the Tutorial Association.

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05/23/2013 1:28 pm
Level 5 : Apprentice Crafter
th3ee3picmstr avatar
the sub-title's are xtra large and the text is small at start anyway what program did you use??
11/17/2012 10:30 am
Level 44 : Master Electrician
Bob_In_Soup avatar
So, what program are you using to make the final picture, with all the lines to move his body, I don't know what to use.
10/11/2012 3:50 pm
Level 47 : Master Egyptian
wolfgang798 avatar
Awesome blog
09/29/2012 1:05 pm
Level 40 : Master Blockhead
leCocoRain avatar
Well, i cant get a hold of this stuff. So I cba any more >.>
09/28/2012 6:39 pm
Level 57 : Grandmaster Imposter
shinadafan2012 avatar
Hey Oliver, what font do you use for your thumbnails? I really want it!
09/21/2012 6:08 am
Level 8 : Apprentice Engineer
Dimentioze avatar
Great tutorial, Oliver. I'm definitely saving this for when I feel like actually doing some artwork. Thank you.
09/20/2012 1:54 pm
Level 36 : Artisan Dragonborn
eij1298 avatar
those pictures are actually the reason why I subbed you
09/20/2012 2:05 pm
Level 71 : Legendary Scribe
OliverFrenchie avatar
lol thanks :)
09/20/2012 12:34 pm
Level 12 : Journeyman Warrior
dawid20031 avatar
09/20/2012 12:13 pm
Level 8 : Apprentice Hunter
Dougyyy avatar
How many times have you been on the reel ;o Well deserved though :)
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