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    Photoshop Reference: Resample Methods Back to blog

    When you resize a layer or image in Photoshop, you have the opportunity to choose a resample method, from the following list (from helpx.adobe.com):

    • Automatic: Photoshop chooses the resampling method based on the document type and whether the document is scaling up or down.
    • Preserve Details (enlargement): When this method is chosen, a noise reduction slider becomes available for smoothing out noise as you upscale the image.
    • Bicubic Smoother (enlargement): A good method for enlarging images based on Bicubic interpolation but designed to produce smoother results.
    • Bicubic Sharper (reduction): A good method for reducing the size of an image based on Bicubic interpolation with enhanced sharpening. This method maintains the detail in a resampled image. If Bicubic Sharper oversharpens some areas of an image, try using Bicubic.
    • Bicubic (smoother gradients): A slower but more precise method based on an examination of the values of surrounding pixels. Using more complex calculations, Bicubic produces smoother tonal gradations than Nearest Neighbor or Bilinear.
    • Nearest Neighbor (hard edges): A fast but less precise method that replicates the pixels in an image. This method preserves hard edges and produces a smaller file in illustrations containing edges that are not anti-aliased. However, this method can produce jagged effects, which become apparent when you distort or scale an image or perform multiple manipulations on a selection.
    • Bilinear: A method that adds pixels by averaging the color values of surrounding pixels. It produces medium-quality results.

    These explanations have never permeated my brain though, so to help choose the best I made some reference images to visually display the differences. I find seeing > reading, in everything.

    All comparisons in one:

    AllGifs

    Reduction

    50% reduction on a sharp foreground
    50ReductFore

    50% reduction on a blurry background
    50ReductBack

    There are pretty sizeable differences with reduction on sharp detail, but almost none on blurry regions.

    Enlargement

    200% enlargement on a sharp foreground
    200EnlargeFore

    200% enlargement on a blurry background
    200EnlargeBack

    On both blurry regions and sharp detail, I like the results of Preserve Detail, but I can see use cases for some of the other methods.

    Pixel Art

    500% enlargement on a blurry background
    500EnlargePixel

    200% enlargement on a blurry background
    200EnlargePixel

    Pixel art really shows off the differences between all the methods. Obviously Nearest Neighbor wins out for preserving pixel art cleanly, but the other methods show their quirks at this level of details. As a side note: Only enlarge pixel art at multiples of 100%. To show why, compare the below image to the above 200% enlarged image: 231% means Photoshop has to magically invent pixels, and it looks terrible.

    231EnlargePixel

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    By
    Steven Robinson
    Media Director

    Designer, in love with the digital space. I blend an artistic background into functional, beautiful, and easy-to-use projects. Pixel artist in my free time, UI/UX/PM guy at work.

    By
    Steven Robinson
    Media Director

    Designer, in love with the digital space. I blend an artistic background into functional, beautiful, and easy-to-use projects. Pixel artist in my free time, UI/UX/PM guy at work.