How to Create Stunning Featured Images with Canva and ChatGPT

By Chris Huntley 

Published on  December 6, 2023

Creating engaging featured images for your blog posts or YouTube thumbnails is an essential skill for any content creator.  In fact, perfected visual content can increase traffic to your website by up to 400%

With the help of only two tools Canva and ChatGPT, you can streamline this process and produce high-quality visuals without needing a design team.

Here’s a video guide to walk you through the process.

Step 1: Use ChatGPT for Background Images

  1. Open ChatGPT: Ensure you have the pro version of ChatGPT to access the image creation feature.  You can also do this directly in Dall-E.
  2. Craft Your Prompt: Consider what your content is about and describe it visually. For example, if your post is about capturing emails, you might prompt with “a big net capturing emails.”
  3. Specify the Image Size: A good size for versatility across platforms is 1200×675 pixels. This works well for blog features and YouTube thumbnails.
  4. Input Your Request: In ChatGPT, enter your prompt like so:
    • “Create a 1200 x 675 px background image for a blog post titled [Your Title Here]. The image should illustrate [Your Descriptive Prompt Here].”
    • Generate and Adjust: If you don’t get the desired image on the first try, don’t hesitate to ask for modifications or provide additional details.

Note that if ChatGPT returns an error, you may need to request for it to regenerate or start a new chat and try again.  It can be a bit fickle at times.  Even so, it’s such a massive time saver, that I’m willing to deal with it.

Step 2: Transition to Canva for Final Touches

  1. Open Canva: Navigate to your Canva account and open your image template.  It’s not essential to use the paid/pro account but I recommend it as you get access to a lot more professional elements to use in your images.
  2. Create a 1200 x 675 px Image: You’ll have to choose the “custom size” option to create this.  Or do like I do and once you’ve created one featured image at this size and have created a template of sorts, I like to just duplicate it and replace the background image.
  3. Import the Background Image: Download your ChatGPT-generated image and upload it to Canva.
  4. Adjust the Layout: Ensure that key elements of the image are positioned correctly. You might need to shift the image to accommodate text or other design elements.
  5. Utilize Canva’s Tools: If necessary, use Canva’s ‘Magic Expand’ feature to extend the background while keeping the focus of the image intact.  For example, in the video above, I used ‘Magic Expand” to push the focal area of my image to the right so it wouldn’t get covered up by a black box element on the left side of the image.
  6. Send Image to Back: To layer text over the image, ensure your imported background is positioned behind text elements.  I like a black or white box element over a part of my image so I can write on it.  I usually place this on the right or left side, or at the bottom.

Step 3: Customize Text and Branding

  1. Update Text: Edit the text on your Canva template to match the title and content of your article or video.
  2. Maintain Brand Consistency: Use fonts and colors that align with your brand’s style guide.
  3. Add Transparent Elements: For readability, place a semi-transparent shape behind text areas.
  4. Incorporate Logos and Icons: Enhance your image with branded elements like logos or specific icons that represent your content.

Step 4: Export and Use

  1. Download Your Image: Once satisfied, download the image from Canva. Consider using the compressed option for embedding in web content to ensure quick loading times.  For example, the featured image in this post was compressed and is only 375 kb.
  2. Implement Across Platforms: Use your new featured image for your blog, YouTube thumbnail, or social media post.

Tips for Success

  • Be Patient with ChatGPT: Sometimes you may encounter errors. Try restarting the conversation or rephrasing your prompt.
  • Avoid Text in Images: DALL·E currently struggles with text in images, so request visuals without text or be ready to make adjustments.
  • Trial and Error: Don’t be afraid to iterate. Ask for several versions to choose from.
  • Stay on Brand: Consistency is key. Make sure your images resonate with your brand’s visual identity.

By integrating Canva with the AI-powered ChatGPT, you can significantly reduce the time and cost associated with creating featured images for your digital content. With a little practice, this method can become a staple in your content creation toolkit.


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