How to Fix a Pixelated Image

Adventures in Alice Programming Workshop at Duke University
July 24, 2008

Dealing with pixelated images can be tough—they’re not always easy to fix, they look bad, and they’re just plain annoying. So, how can you make a pixelated image clear? There are a few ways actually, and we’ll go over each one.

1) Prevent an Image From Getting Pixelated in the First Place

Sometimes an image getting pixelated is the result of being stretched in a strange direction or enlarged too much without paying attention to the original size. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and this hold true for pixelated images.

When you’re resizing an image in Photoshop, you can convert it to a smart object if you want to make sure that it stays unpixellated, otherwise, you can also just limit the size that you enlarge it to. Any image only has a given amount of pixels, and if you enlarge it too much, it’ll become

2) Use Software Like Photoshop to Apply a Blur

There are a few ways that a blur can be applied to clean up a pixelated photo, but one of the easiest ways is to apply a gaussian blur to the entire photo in order to smooth the pixels. Essentially, what this does is average the colors between the neighboring pixels to make it smoother overall.

Another way to apply a blur is on demand using the blur brush. You can set its level of intensity and then go over the photo like you would with any other brush until you’re happy with the level of smoothing.

3) Try Sharpening the Image

In software like Photoshop, there are always tools that you can use to sharpen an image. For example, in Photoshop this is located in the filter menu, then choose sharpen. In new versions of Photoshop, you can even choose smart sharpen, which gives you more control over how the image is sharpened, typically leading to better results.

4) Edit the Photo with a Sharpening Program

There are some dedicated photo sharpening programs out there such as Nik Sharpener Pro, Focus Magic, and other similar tools. While they aren’t perfect, they are reasonably good options to try if you’re looking to sharpen a photo automatically.

5) Get the Help of a Professional

Sometimes, you have to know when to call in a professional, and if you’ve tried the steps above and haven’t been able to unpixelate your photo, then it may be time to send it off to a professional photo processor to have it fixed. Even professionals can’t work miracles, but often times they can do a pretty good job. There are even cheap ways of doing this like finding a good photo editing gig on a site like Fiverr and paying someone to clean up your pixelated photo.

Tips

  • Make sure that you save a backup of your original image, otherwise you may not be able to reverse any edits that you’ve done
  • If you do decide to hire someone to clean up your pixelated picture, make sure your instructions are clear so they know just what to do with it

Comments are closed.