How to Enlarge a Picture

January 01

7 min. to read

Enlarging your image may look simple, but you need to keep in mind all technical aspects.

Imagine capturing a great photo from your smartphone but you now feel like printing it out – like, a really BIG print. To make that happen, you would need to enlarge the image.

Although it’s very easy to enlarge any image using a variety of photo-editing software, it’s very hard to make those changes without sacrificing quality. However, in this article, we’ll explain how you can easily enlarge an image without quality taking a hit.

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Before we get to the good stuff, you should know why images lose quality after being enlarged.

The Reason behind the Loss of Image Quality

Image editing software programs transform pixels to enlarge or shrink an image. These pixels are the building blocks of bitmap images (JPEGs, PNG etc.) that are commonly seen on the internet. You can see these tiny little squares (pixels) by zooming in on any bitmap image. These images are called bitmap images because the pixels are mapped to a fixed location on the image, giving it life, colors and much more.

Shrinking the images doesn’t take a toll on the quality because what you’re really doing is making the pixels smaller – so the pixels would be less visible, and in fact, might make the image look sharper as a result. However, when you enlarge an image, you’re actually enlarging the pixels – making the whole image appear blurry and pixelated. Here is a perfect example:

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Pixelated Image VS. Original Image

This is mainly why you will see image quality sinking after it is enlarged. If you want to learn more about this, check out this guide here, which discusses image interpolation in detail – the reason why images get pixelated.

With that said, let’s talk about enlarging an image without losing image quality. 

Enlarging the Picture the Right Way

Apply these techniques and you can enlarge images without experiencing loss of quality: 

The 10% Resampling Technique

We suggest you to use Luminar, the perfect photo-editor for Mac users. For now, we’ll focus on Photoshop in this article since it’s available both on Mac and Windows.

The 10% resample technique is among the most common techniques to enlarge an image without sacrificing quality. Here is how you do it, step by step:

Note: The screenshots below are from Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. 

1. Open the Image with Adobe Photoshop First

To do this, click on the file menu and select open. Now select the image you want to enlarge and move on to the next step. You can also press Ctrl+O (Command+O for Mac) to open the image. Here is a screenshot to help you:

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2. Select the Image Size Option

Next, click on the image menu and select the image size option. You can also press Alt+Ctrl+I (Option+Command+I for Mac) to open it up. This is where the real magic happens. Here is how it’s done:

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3. Change the Image Size Options

Now it’s time to do apply the 10% resampling technique. Here is what you have to do:

First off, click on the inches (it would reveal a dropdown menu) and change the inches to percent, which is shown in the screenshot below:

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Now, change the percentage from 100 to 110 – increasing both width and height by 10%. This is how the technique’s name emerged. Here is a screenshot:

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Once you have done that, it’s time to play around with resampling. Can you see the resample option right above the OK button? That’s right – the one with a tick mark on the left. Click on Automatic (which will open a dropdown menu) and select Bicubic Smoother option. This will help in retaining image quality as much as possible and is recommended when you want to enlarge an image. Here’s how you do it:

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Once that’s taken care of, it’s time to click on the OK button and see what happens. What if you want to increase the image by 50% through the 10% resampling technique? For that, we recommend trying out the Action option in Photoshop. It’s quite easy.

Let us demonstrate:

Click on the Action button found on the right panel of Photoshop, just besides the color panel. Click on the Create new action button and it would open up the action menu. This is where you can click on Record which would record every action you make on Photoshop. Remember to stop recording once you are done making an action preset.

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For example, if you have performed the 10% resampling technique and you want to redo it without going through every step, all you need to do is save an action preset for it. From thereon, just click on the Action button and the software will apply the changes itself.

If you liked this article then leave a thumbs up and do share it so others might also take benefit from it. We always love to know your thoughts so don’t forget to leave your comments below. Now go and enlarge that image.