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Q. How can I enlarge images without losing quality?

Did you ever try to enlarge a picture, only to have it print out looking "digitized," with jagged edges or blurry details? This is caused by the formatting of the original picture - not your computer or software. If the image has a high pixel count and a high "embedded resolution," (like 300dpi), you can make it bigger using your photo/graphics software without losing quality.

But, quality becomes a problem when the original image has a low "embedded resolution." When software changes the size of an image but keeps the same number of pixels, it is called resizing. Resizing a low resolution image to a larger size will cause jagged outlines, because every pixel is being replicated to make larger blocks of color.

Software that increases the image size by analyzing the existing pixels and then creating new pixels with "best guess" approximations of the proper shading is said to be resampling. Enlarging requires the software to “invent” pixels (called interpolation) based on the existing pixels, and the result is generally a blurring of detail.

Your image editing software may offer alternative resampling methods, such as Bicubic, Bilinear or Nearest Neighbor. Bicubic is probably the most satisfying, but you can experiment and compare.


What to do when you have to blow up a low resolution image, and it gets blurry? Call it art! Many graphics and photo programs have “enhancement” tools that change images with watercolor or chalk techniques, brush strokes, black & white or sepia coloring, etc. Run your blurry image through some of those and you may find a version you like even better.

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