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When and how to upsize an image

Scops and Eagle Owls sitting together on a branch
© Darrin Jenkins / Alamy

Sometimes you might find the perfect image for your project but the file size is just a little bit too small. So, what do you do? Here’s a quick guide to upsizing the image (this is also known as ‘interpolation’).

When to upsize an image:

  •  If the maximum image size is not big enough for your project

Tips on upsizing your image:

  • Check your image at it’s full size (100%) before and after resizing so you know what you’re working with
  • Don’t try and upsize the image beyond its capabilities, each image will have different capabilities based on a variety of things including the camera used, its file size and any post production work that’s been done. (There’s more info on how to spot if you’ve gone too far a bit later)
  • We recommend using Photoshop to upsize your image, although there are other tools out there

How to upsize in Photoshop:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop and check it at 100% so you can understand the quality of the image before upsizing
  2. Select image from the top menu and choose image size from the dropdown
  3. Make sure the ‘resample’ box is ticked and bicubic is selected
  4. Change the size of the image to the pixel dimensions (final size) you need
  5. Check the image at 100% to check quality hasn’t been compromised

You’ll be able to see if you’ve upsized an image too much because you’ll see the image quality change, you might start to see interpolation artefacts in the image, like squares or ‘jaggies’ where the pixels have been stretched. You can see some examples of what we mean here.

Sometimes you’ll find that upsizing your image isn’t possible and you’ll have to find an alternative. Here are some tips for finding larger files on Alamy:

  • Use the minimum file size filter to the left of the page in search results
  • If you’re looking for more of an illustration style, search using the vectors filter, as they are infinitely scalable (you can make them as big as you need them without altering the quality)

Useful links:

Catch up with the basics of image sizing on Adobe TV, we recommend this short video about resizing and resampling.

Read our other blogs about file sizes: The one thing every designer needs to know about buying images and Choosing the right file size for your image.

  • Oxford Pictures

    Upsizing is a dangerous game and you make it seem too foolproof. As you know, quality gets lost very easily and your tips are a bit simplistic. If using Photoshop, I was once told that to go up in increments of 10% is best until you get the size you want. I would never, ever just go up in one jump, unless it’s a small one, in which case you might not need to upsize the pic anyway if it’s being used in a page layout. I always use Perfect Resize (was Genuine Fractals), which is dedicated interpolation software. It was recommended by your good selves several years ago. You can go up several times the size of a good quality, high res file without loss of quality. No idea how it does it, but then I don’t need to know!

    • AlamyAdmin

      Hi there! The 10% increments thing is a bit of a myth, you certainly don’t need to do that and we’ve never recommended that way of doing things following all the tests we’ve done in this area. Genuine Fractals used to be the best way to upsize for Alamy and we used to recommend that but the built in tools within Photoshop now are so good, Genuine Fractals is no longer needed unless you needed something HUUUGE. Certainly, unless you are using an ancient version of Photoshop (earlier than CS) then you can just use the “image size” tool.

  • It would be nice if Alamy would offer contributors an avenue for selling really, really big *un*interpolated photos. Some of us either stitch dozens of photos together or shoot large format film and scan with a drumscanner.

    I expect there must be a niche market to offer such huge files that can be enlarged to cover whole walls or that sort of thing that still look good when viewed close up. As I type this I’m finishing up a 1 gigabyte uninterpolated stitched cityscape. Such files don’t lend themselves well to Alamy’s workflow- due to maximum file sizes, ambiguities about whether or not stitching constitutes “digitally altered” and so on.

    As an example, the file I’ve got open in the background could be enlarged to ca. 10×40 feet at 72ppi without upresing (pardon the Imperial measures, I’m American and struggle with metric ;-).

    Just an idea……

  • Kevin Youngblood

    When should you use export to a file instead of file save

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