If you’re a newbie to digital editing, there’s one task that is universally frustrating: resizing images. While making your image smaller is usually pretty straightforward, enlarging images can often result in a loss of quality and resolution, leaving the image looking blurry and pixelated. And no one wants that! This is why it’s important to understand the concept of upscaling.
With upscaling, you can resize your images without losing their quality (and photo editing apps like PicsArt can help!). In this post, we’ll be discussing what upscaling is, how it’s different from resizing, and some of the technical concepts behind it.
To best understand the challenge of resizing, you should first understand some important terminology. We’ve broken down some key terms below to get you started.
Pixels are defined as the smallest physical point in a digital image. They can be viewed as a kind of representation of some original image. The more “samples” contained in the image, the more accurate your digital rendering will be. When an image has a lower pixel count, it tends to be blurry because it contains less information about the original image. We would call an image like this low resolution or low-res.
Raster Versus Vector Imagery
There are two main different kinds of images in a digital space. One consists of raster images, which are pixel-based. These types of images are used to show complex images, usually photographs. Vector graphics, on the other hand, are based on algorithms rather than pixel sampling. These mathematical calculations are what allow vector-based images to scale up or down while retaining the same level of quality.
Resolution, or the fineness of an image, only applies to raster images, since it is determined by dividing the number of pixels contained in the photograph by the size of the image canvas. The higher the pixel count, the higher the resolution will be (and thus, the crispness and overall quality of the photo). Typically, resolution is measured in dpi (dots per inch) or ppi (pixels per inch). 300 dpi is standard for printing a photograph.
When you resize your image to be smaller, the pixel count remains proportionate to the size of your canvas. This means the resolution will not decrease, which is a good thing. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the photograph. However, making an image larger than its original size increases the canvas size without adding pixels — or if pixels are added, then they are not sampling from the original image and are less accurate. The result is an image that looks blurry or pixelated, meaning you can see the pixels, as they, too, have been enlarged and rendered visible.
To understand upscaling, you need to understand the difference between resizing and resampling. Simply resizing a picture alters its dimensions without changing pixel count. Upscaling, however, is the process of converting lower resolution media to a higher resolution, which means upping the pixel-count. Pixels from the lower resolution image are copied and repeated to fill out all the pixels of the higher resolution display. Filtering is applied to smooth the image and round out unwanted jagged edges that may become visible due to the stretching.
This is what you will want to do if you are planning your image to be printed. In this scenario, instead of resizing, you will be resampling. In resampling, when you increase the image size, you are also increasing the picture’s pixel count, which will help ensure the resolution (sharpness) of the image remains intact.
Upscaling an image, where the resolution of the image is increased alongside the size, naturally results in some level of decreased quality, unless you are working with AI technology, which uses artificial intelligence to fill in the gaps in information. To mitigate the loss of sharpness, follow these tips:
Say there’s a picture of you and a friend that just so happens to capture you in your best angle. It would make the perfect profile picture. But unfortunately, when you try to cut the photo, the image quality appears to decrease significantly. It happens to the best of us! Upscaling and sharpening your image before cutting are great ways to ensure high resolution in these instances.
Nature photography can also be a great opportunity to experiment with upsizing. Often, in nature, opportunities to photograph are quick and fleeting, and the photos we get are a result of circumstance rather than intention. Upsizing can help close in on elements, like a rare snowy owl sighting, which you may not have been able to get closer to while out in the field.
If you’re selling a handmade product online, like a wood carving or a clay sculpture, it’s essential that your clients be able to see your masterpiece up close. Upscaling can help highlight the details when photographs are too far away.
The PicsArt is a great, free app you can use to easily resize your images. Check out this quick and easy tutorial to find out how.
To get started in the PicsArt mobile app:
To get started on PicsArt Web:
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