How to Digitally Enlarge a Picture Without Losing Quality
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With today’s cameras boasting more megapixels, you’re more likely to scale a photo down than enlarge it. But there are times when increasing the size of an image can really come in handy. Unfortunately, it can be tough to enlarge a picture without losing quality.

There are several ways to tackle this problem, and in this article we’ll describe two of the best ways to enlarge a picture without losing quality.

Something to Keep in Mind When Enlarging an Image

How to Digitally Increase the Size of a Picture

When you increase image size, you’re asking your computer to add information. Put succinctly, you’re telling it to blow up an image with losing detail, and to do this by “guessing” what a larger image would look like.

This means that you’re never going to get a perfect recreation of your photo at a larger size, because it’s a matter of format and software: some apps will be better at it than others, and some pictures will resize better than others. But they all have to make a guess.

The amount of guessing your computer does will vary on how much you want to increase the size of your image. The more you enlarge a picture, the more likely you are to see a degradation of quality. Understanding that upfront is important, and will help you pick the best pictures to modify. If you’ve used upscaling with home entertainment equipment What Is Upscaling? How Does It Work? Is It Worth It? What Is Upscaling? How Does It Work? Is It Worth It? What is upscaling? How does it work? Is it all it's cracked up to be? Here's everything you need to know. Read More , you’ll have a good idea of what we mean.

How to Resample an Image With a 10 Percent Increase

Find the Right Photo to Enlarge in Photoshop

This is a commonly recommended method for seeing how much upscaling you can get away with when enlarging an image without losing quality. It works best if you’re not trying to scale your image to a specific size, but trying to blow up an image as large as you can without making it look bad. We’ll use this picture of magazines on a coffee table as an example.

This picture is currently 670 pixels wide. If you lean towards your monitor and squint, you can probably make out all of the text. Right now everything is pretty smooth and the image looks nice.

To enlarge the image, we’re going to take advantage of Resampling, which is the “guessing” part we were telling you about earlier. And we’re going to use Adobe Photoshop to do it. Here’s what happens when we scale up the image to a whopping 2000 pixels wide (just to show you what the program can do):

Picture Enlarged in Photoshop

How to Resize an Image Using Photoshop

To resize this image in Photoshop, click on the top menu in the app and click Image > Image Size. Then adjust the height and width in the Image Size dialog box. Also, make sure to have Resampling turned on, with Bicubic Smoother as your preset.

As you can see, Photoshop does an amazing job smoothing out this image from 670 pixels to 2000 pixels. Photoshop CC has really improved in leaps and bounds over the years, and while this image is definitely blurry around the edges and the text is not as sharp, you can still make out most of it with ease.

However, it’s easy to imagine some details in a different image becoming indistinguishable. So instead of making the jump all the way to 2000 pixels, we’ll just add 10 percent to the original image size.

To resample to 10 percent larger in Photoshop, go to Image > Image Size. Then—instead of adjusting the width and height by pixels—choose Percent. Type 110% and make sure Resampling: Bicubic Smoother is still turned on.

Photoshop Image Size Dialog Box

Here’s what the image looks like when you increase it by 10 percent:

Increase Image Size by 10 Percent

As you can see, it still looks pretty clear. To experiment with this, keep on bumping up your image in Photoshop by 10 percent at a time until you start to see some graininess. As we’re trying to make small steps up to enlarge a picture as much as possible while still maintaining quality of the image itself, seeing graininess is your cue to stop.

If you’re going to use this method, it’s very important to make sure that Resample is enabled in your photo-editing app. Here’s what that looks like in the Image Size dialog box in Photoshop:

Photoshop Image Size Dialog Box Resample

You can also use an app like Pixelmator or GIMP to resample an image. Both are good and will offer a similar option. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to choose the interpolation algorithm (that is, the computer’s “guessing” method) for the scaling. When you’re scaling up, the Bicubic Smoother option is a good one.

How to Use a Dedicated App to Enlarge a Picture

Enlarge a Photo Online Photoshop VS Waifu

Because so many people find themselves in need of larger photos, there are actually a number of apps designed to specifically enlarge an image without losing quality.

A Sharper Scaling, for example, is a free Windows app that promises better upscaling than Photoshop. The results posted on its website are quite impressive. This app does one thing and one thing only—and that’s increasing image size—but it’s free, so it’s definitely worth downloading.

Free equivalents for macOS are less plentiful, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Waifu2x is a solid online option. Waifu has shown some very impressive results with zooming in on an anime picture and making it clear, although it can be slightly unpredictable with photos.

At the end of the day, you may just have to try out a few of these options to see which app works best to enlarge your picture. Above is an example of what Waifu can do for our image, compared with Photoshop side-by-side.

Even without zooming in on the picture to make it clear, you can probably see that the image from Waifu is very comparable to the latest version of Photoshop. The site’s use of deep convolutional neural networks (what are neural networks?) makes it very adept in the “guessing” that we mentioned earlier, and the result is significantly cleaner upscaled photos.

If Waifu isn’t working well for you, though, you can try Online Image Enlarger, Simple Image Resizer, or Rsizr.

Now You Can Enlarge a Picture Without Losing Quality

These two methods of increasing image size are probably your best bets when you want to enlarge a picture without losing quality. Neither is perfect, but because of the constraints of technology they’re about the best we can do.

Fortunately, most phones and cameras now take very high-resolution photos, so you shouldn’t have to deal with this too often. You can also save high-resolution images in Photoshop How To Save High-Quality Images in Photoshop, Explained How To Save High-Quality Images in Photoshop, Explained How difficult can saving an image be? Turns out, it's not so intuitive. Photoshop allows for a slew of file formats and parameters, each with their own benefits. Read More . Just remember to always work from the largest original image that you can.

Image Credit: fractal-an/Shutterstock

Explore more about: Image Editing Tips, Image Editor, Photography, Photoshop Tutorial.

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  1. Michael Steppenwolf
    August 27, 2017 at 5:52 am

    I've tried a lot of plugins (Pshp) and standalone. IMHO the best are Blow-Up or OnOne Resize.
    Blow Up has a simpler interface and works fine. Miracles you can find in a Bible, but if you want to print a 72-96 ppi photo to a 50-70 E.R. plus, you can obtain a decent result. These problems are due to the proliferation of phone cameras set to 72 dpi, instead of better resolution. More resolution like 5MP (240 dpi) brings more pixels to spare (correction means loose of pixel).

  2. Meg Anderson desperate need
    August 26, 2017 at 4:07 am

    Is there someone who can help me?.. K basically I found this picture on FB and need part of it to be zoomed in and clearer. I've tried everything but I'm not the best at this kind of stuff... The details I'm looking to see are very small but I'm hoping there's someone out there who can Atleast try help me?? Please.

  3. Sedrik
    October 22, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Nice way, but i used the prog ronyasoft poster designer, as for me also good way!
    My regards!

    • Saikat Basu
      October 27, 2016 at 4:28 am

      Thanks for the mention. Checking it out.

  4. Caglar Candan
    December 7, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I have one image is 300 dpi and 115 cm X 35 cm. But I need this image for print on a wall 2,5 meters high. So I need to make this 35 cm to 250 cm. What I need to do. We will print on a booth for fair. Can you hlep me about it. If I make it with Bicubic smoother (best for enlargement) on Photoshop and I f I make some Surface blur it's okay. But I wonder there is another way or what I need to do!

  5. mansoor
    August 23, 2009 at 4:38 am

    hello dears!
    i am mansoor
    how can i make my pctures eaisaly
    what is the easy way
    hope u replay me in my email

  6. Saikat
    August 10, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Although, I could be wrong...I think the small increment and checking it after each, helps more because you can stop it at the point visual quality starts to degrade. That's a thought,and yes the sensible multiple advice is well made and taken.

  7. Dave
    August 10, 2009 at 3:55 am

    I have to disagree with the 'small increments' bit - a little quality is lost with every resize, so several best to do it in one go.

    My other tip would be to get a calculator, and try to make sure that your new size is a sensible multiple of the old one, ie if your new image is 1.5x as big as the old one, the quality will be better than one that is 1.27639x as big, as this makes the maths much more straightforward.

  8. venkat
    August 8, 2009 at 12:59 am

    I use Windowslivewriter(WLW) as blog editor and I am disappointed as no reply from this article's author yet.

    • Saikat
      August 8, 2009 at 2:53 am

      Hi Venkat,
      A picture uploaded directly from the Blogger Post Editor is most probably compressed. That's done to prevent people from uploading inordinately large sized photos which slows down the rendering of the photos and the page. Plus takes up server space. So upload the picture from an external photo hosting account like Picassa or Photobucket.

      P.S: Angelina hinted at the right approach. Thanks Angelina.

  9. Aaron
    August 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Genuine Fractals 5.0 is the best thing I've used. It's not free, but it does an amazing job.

    • Saikat
      August 8, 2009 at 2:55 am

      Yes, paid solutions are there (3 or 4 I think). Probably, Genuine Fractals is the best. The two mentioned are the 'quick and dirty' techniques.

  10. honey
    August 7, 2009 at 11:21 am

    that's good.H really love it!!!

  11. Angelina
    August 7, 2009 at 10:40 am

    hm... It might also help to run the resized image through a sharpen filter, but once again, at small increments (to make sure you don't overdo it).

  12. venkat
    August 7, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I am not getting quality pic by increasing picture size nor resizing picture ,I use sngait to edit images though images not appear that much clearly in blogger blog the same image looks clearly in wordpress blog,in my blogger blog the reader has to open the image in seperate window to see what's the difference, what I had to do make mages look clear in blogger blog .

    • Angelina
      August 7, 2009 at 10:41 am

      Do you use Bogger's image uploader, or do you host it externally and then use html to embed the image into your blog post?