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Top Tools for Upscaling Images Without Sacrificing Quality


If you’re working on a design-led project such as a report or presentation, you might find yourself needing to upscale an image. Or maybe you’re creating a piece of art or upscaling an old photograph to hang up on your wall. Whatever your reason for upscaling images is, you’ve probably noticed that image quality often goes down as image size increases. 

This article gets straight to the point and gives you 3 practical solutions for upscaling images without losing quality. It also provides fundamental metrics and rules to keep in mind when working with digital images.

3 high-quality tools for upscaling images

There are several tools available for editing images. Some tools, such as Photoshop, are software packages designed as all-in-one solutions for picture editing, while others, such as Image Upscaler, are designed specifically for enlarging images. 

Each of the three tools highlighted in this article has its comparative pros & cons. Ultimately, your choice of tool will come down to your specific needs: are you looking for an all-in-one solution that will take some time to master, or are you looking for a tightly focussed, easy-to-use one? 

1. Image Upscaler

Image Upscaler is a free, AI-powered tool that allows you to upscale images online without losing quality. Image Upscaler by Depositphotos uses an ever-expanding neural network to recognize objects within an image before enlarging and enhancing objects. As a result, resolution can be increased several times, while image size can be doubled without any decay in overall image quality.

Although it sounds technical, Image Upscaler is exceptionally user-friendly and easy to use. It’s completely free to use and operates in the browser, meaning there’s no need to download any software or worry about paying license agreements. All that’s required of the user is to drag or upload an image (in the correct file format) to the tool before the automated system does the rest. 

2. Reshade

Reshade is another free tool, however, it’s software that must be downloaded. Aside from upscaling images, Reshade also allows you to enhance and crop pictures by using a built-in post-processing tool. 

Although this image enhancing service is free and offers some useful additional features such as batch enhancements, Reshade is only available for Windows PCs. 

3. Adobe Photoshop

The most popular image-editing software amongst professional photographers and businesses is Adobe Photoshop. The software is an all-in-one solution that offers much more than image enlargement with an extensive feature set for applying a wide range of edits. 

The extensive feature set does mean that Photoshop is quite complex, and it certainly takes some dedicated effort when learning how to use it. For most people, especially those just looking to enlarge and enhance images, Photoshop is probably unnecessary. Besides, powerful features don’t come cheap, and Adobe Photoshop’s software license starts at $20.99 per month. 

Working with digital images: fundamentals and key metrics

Working with digital images helps you understand the fundamentals of pixelation and key metrics—resolution, file & image sizes. 

Digital images consist of pixels—individual square blocks of color—that are combined to form a displayed image. When an image is enlarged, each pixel is stretched and, when pushed too far, the square shape of the pixels becomes apparent. This can result in pixelation when an image appears jagged and blurry, especially where there are contrasts in color or objects with smooth edges. 

The 3 key metrics to be aware of when upscaling digital images are resolution, file size, and image size. Each of these metrics is represented by a number. Keep in mind that the higher the number, the easier it is to upscale an image.

  1. Resolution—refers to the number of pixels per inch.
  2. File Size—indicates the amount of information that an image file contains. Small file sizes in kB (kilobytes) can’t be enlarged as much as larger file sizes in MB (megabytes) or GB (gigabytes). 
  3. Image Size—shows the dimensions of the image (width and height) in pixels, for example, 780×520.

Remember that the more prominent these numbers are (don’t forget differences in file size kB/MB/GB), the easier it is to enlarge or upscale an image before pixelation affects the quality.  

Problems with enlarging images using generic applications

Although it’s tempting to try enlarging images using widely available software such as MS word or paint, you’re more than likely to end up with a pixelated image. This is because generic software doesn’t apply algorithms designed for maintaining quality while enlarging images. 

Using generic applications to enlarge images usually results in problems, like reduced image quality due to pixelation. The eye is drawn to images before text, meaning that poor-quality pictures can lead to viewers negatively judging something based on the visual imagery. Pixelated images appear to viewers as unprofessional and can easily be avoided by using specifically designed image-editing tools. 

The benefit of using an AI-powered image upscaler

An AI-powered image upscaler does all the work to enlarge and enhance digital images. Aside from the high-quality enhancement that sharpens your photos, a significant benefit of using an AI-powered image upscaler is simplicity

When using an image-editing software or online tool, a little bit of experimentation to discover what produces the best results will be required. However, the difference between a tool like Photoshop and an AI-powered tool such as Image Upscaler lies in their ease of use. Image Upscaler is incredibly intuitive and quick. Unlike learning Photoshop, there’s no need to read or watch endless tutorials to learn various processes. 

Enlarging images with Image Upscaler only requires you to upload it into the upscaler and then automatically enlarge the image to twice its original size, all whilst enhancing overall quality. Your photo is then available for immediate download. It’s a quick and simple process that can be repeated many times over. 

Top tips to keep in mind for upscaling images

Before you even begin using an image-editing tool there are a few other tips to ensure you get good results when upscaling images.  

Shoot in RAW format

If you’re taking photographs, make sure you’re shooting in the highest quality possible, i.e., getting the most out of your camera by capturing an image with a bigger file size; one that has more stored digital information.

This is known as RAW format on cameras, which means your image quality can be improved later to upscale your image from a raw image and edit it in different available formats.

Use vectors for your design projects

Vector images are a class of graphical formats based on mathematical principles from Cartesian coordinates rather than pixels. This means that vectors can be enlarged indefinitely without losing quality. 

The issue with vectors is that not all images can be converted into the format. In addition, images with heavy detail, such as photographs or symmetrical images, are difficult to represent mathematically. Therefore, it’s usually best to use simple images such as logos when creating vector images. To start, carefully learn what vector graphics are, and then study and practice every step of the creation process.

Final thoughts… 

Several tools are available to upscale images online. They all help to enlarge image size and enhance or maintain image quality; from paid software applications such as Adobe Photoshop which requires manual inputs, to free, online, and automatic tools such as the AI-powered Image Upscaler. Start by experimenting with the free online tool before trialing paid software!