In Photoshop, go from big to small

Small to bigPhotoshop is, without question, one of the most powerful applications in the world of graphic design. And yet, this behemoth of image manipulation can’t perform miracles. One of those magical feats of digital wonder that is out of Photoshop’s reach is accurately increasing the size of an image.

What does that mean?

Take an image. Any image. And ask Photoshop to increase the image’s size by say, 200%. This is what you’ll get:


As you can see, after the image was increased to 200% of its original size it became jagged, blurry, and uncomfortable to look at for any length of time. (And yet, there are millions of websites on the Internet that use such images!)

How could our beloved Photoshop do this to us?

Photoshop must “fill in the gaps”

In order for Photoshop to increase the size of an image it must add extra pixels to fill in the gaps. Now, if you are only increasing the size of your image to about 120% of the original, then a little bit of sharpening will (in most cases) produce an acceptable image. But anything larger than that and no amount of sharpening can make a passable and eye-pleasing result.

Go from big to small

In a perfect world, you would always have at your fingertips an image of the exact size you need. But as experience has taught me, the world isn’t perfect — you’ll have to re-size your images 99.9999% of the time. Since this is the case, it’s much, much better if you can find images that are LARGER than what you need and then decrease their size. Take a gander at this example:


To shrink an image’s size, Photoshop must take away pixels to make the change. This creates a much better result. The only thing you need to be careful of is shrinking an image too much — which will result in an image that lacks quality and contrast.

What to remember:
If you can’t find an image that is the exact size you need for your design, then try to find an image that is a little larger than what you need. You’ll be pleased with the results (and so will the visitors to your website!)

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3 Responses:

  1. Jon

    Pretty obvious here, but good for total noobs.

  2. Henry

    That’s why I like this blog. It’s full of tips that newbies like me can learn from. Thanks David!

  3. Bruce

    I agree, thanks David! :)

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