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How can I enhance the quality of a small image?


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#1
Wiwi

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I have a very small image file (10.6KB) that I can't really see clear when I open it with Window Photo Gallery, so I try to enlarge it using my mouse, but the bigger it gets, the more blur(all I seen are the pixels) it became, it doesn't work. I wonder if there's a special prgram out there that I can use to enhance the quality of a small image even when it gets large? Any advices are appreciated!

Edited by Wiwi, 14 June 2008 - 05:36 PM.

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#2
jeti

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Assuming I'm understanding what you're saying... no, there's not really any program that does that. The ability to resize without a loss in quality depends on the image itself.

To put it simply, there are basically two types of 2D computer graphics--raster images and vector images. Wikipedia has a decent enough example on how enlarging looks between the two formats.

Pretty much all the images you'd ever see on the internet or create in a painting program are raster images, composed completely out of pixels. Because the image is essentially a static grid, the more you try to englarge it the more you'd be able to see the larger and larger pixels, blurring the image (as you've already discovered).

On the other hand, vector images are based on geometry--curves, lines, &c.--so if you had a vector image, you could resize it as much as you want and experience no loss in quality/the appearance of pixels. (For example, because flash animation is vector based, if you right click on a flash animation and select "Zoom In" all lines will continue to be smooth no matter how far you zoom in. You can try it out on something from homestarrunner.com or another site with flash animation).

So, if you want to have an image that you can make larger and still have it look clear, it would have to be a vector image. You can try to use a free Vector graphics program like Inkscape to vectorize a raster image, but that tends to not work so well. e_e
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#3
Wiwi

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Hi, jeti. Thank you for your detailed explaination!

So, if you want to have an image that you can make larger and still have it look clear, it would have to be a vector image

The problem is that the image I want to vetorize is NOT a vector image, it's in .bmp format (picture taken from a camera). How can I convert it to a vector image so I can vetorize it using Inkscape?(or any other photo viewer since it's already a Vector Image) Any more help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Edited by Wiwi, 17 June 2008 - 04:33 PM.

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#4
BlackHalo

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Hi Wiwi. Well to answer your last question: to convert something to vector, you're either going to have to trace it by hand in a vector program such as Freehand or Illustrator OR (thanks to the people at Adobe) you can use Illustrator CS3's wonderful 'live trace' tool. You'll have to accept that the quality won't be exactly the same as a jpeg or bmp photo, but at least you'll be able to make out what's going on (hopefully).

Just keep in mind that if the picture is so small that it pixelates at a size where you should be able to see what's going on, the odds of vecotrising effectively are slim.

Alternatively you can use step-resizing in photoshop. I have to add that this is NOT always effective!!!. This literally only works sometimes with some images, it all depends on size and detail of the original image. To do this you load your image into photoshop. Go to your actions pallette (on the right, the little 'play' button) and click on 'create new action'. Now go to image>image size (ctrl+alt+i) and change the top bars from pixels to percent and type in 110% in both the height and width bars. Now go back to your actions pallette and click the stop button. Now you just keep pressing the 'play' button and your image will enlarge only 10% at a time, leaving photoshop more room for compensating for the loss in quality. Again, this all depends on the size and quality of the original image, i tried it on an image that was 4000x6000px and it worked perfectly, but failed when i tried it on a 350x500px image.
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#5
Wiwi

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Hi, BlackHalo, Thanks for the advices. The small image I want to enhace is 47x46, I guess it won't do any goods no matter what programs I use.

The ability to resize without a loss in quality depends on the image itself.

This is really true. The greater dimension a image has, the better quality it is (Even when it's enlarge).

Edited by Wiwi, 21 June 2008 - 10:57 PM.

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#6
happyrock

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I have a follow on question for BlackHalo and jeti...
is there any way besides shooting pics in RAW to enlarge them WITHOUT it getting grainier...
and thank you both for your clear explanations previously.. :)
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#7
BlackHalo

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Happyrck:

The method I mentioned there worked pretty well when we edited SHQ photo's for a client. We resized that pic to about 160% it's original size and came out with little or no grain. Otherwise, again, it all depends on the image size. If you're shooting with a Nikon D3 for example, you can afford stretching your pics a bit, whereas if you're shooting with a Kodak Easyshare 3mp, you can forget about it! Otherwise i would try interpolation resizing.

I haven't tried this before, but you could MAYBE try the interpolation resizing, but with each resizing apply a very slight gaussian blur? As in 0.1 px. Image will come out blurrier I'm sure, but not as grainy. As I said, i haven't tried it, just a thought...

Wiwi:

47x46 is way too small to do anyhting with, I'm sure. You can't resize it in photoshop to a decent size and vectorising will probably just give you a blob of colour which you can then stretch to huge proportions. Not sure if there are any other programs out there which are able to do this, but the options we've given you thusfar I think won't be any good.

Edited by BlackHalo, 24 June 2008 - 02:48 AM.

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#8
BlackHalo

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O, I forgot to mention: when setting up the action for the interpolated resize (see above), be sure to tick: 'Resample Image' and select Bicubic Smoother (best for enlargement). This is pretty crucial, can't believe I forgot it!
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#9
jsef120

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if only you posted you image here hehe maybe i can gave you idea ^^

guys im using photoshop for sometime now and i did not pay attention on other save format anf im still trying to understand this vector thing ^^

can anyone give me some example or images that involve using vector

i also have idea on small images if you want to make it larger, what I do is edit it in photoshop making a lot of layers and using blur option but i only tried this on logo image or other simple images
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#10
BlackHalo

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Hi Jsef120,

Well, if you want a quick view of vector images, just open Microsoft word and type something. Most fonts consist (essentially) of vectors because they can be resized to any size without any loss of quality. Files created in Illustrator, Freehand, Corel Draw, etc are generally vector images. It is (in the plainest terms) a flat shape that can be resized to any size without any loss of quality. More often than not, logo's are created using vectors. (Note: These days 'flat shape' doesn't mean flat, solid colour. Vector images can be very detailed and almost life-like if done professionally.)

For deeper (and more thorough) explanation, please read this:
http://en.wikipedia....i/Vector_images
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