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How to Enlarge Images in Photoshop and PSE

Full page photos are a popular design technique in digital scrapbooking. After all, if you have a picture you love, why not maximize the impact by using the image to fill the canvas? The problem comes when the photo isn't of sufficiently high resolution to span a 12x12 inch page. When this happens, you will need to upscale the image to fit the page.

There are several ways to do this.
Start by opening the image in Photoshop and choose Image > Image Size from the Menu bar. Or you can press Alt Ctrl I (Mac: Opt Cmd I) on your keyboard. In PSE, choose Image > Resize > Image Size.
In the Image Size dialog box, you'll make some choices about the image.

  • Begin by ensuring that "Resample" is ticked.
  • Check to make sure that there is a bracket with a lock between height/width to "lock" the image proportions. This is usually already locked by default. If you don't see a bracket, click the lock icon to the left to constrain the proportions. In older versions and PSE, tick the Constrain Proportions checkbox at the bottom of the choices in the dialog box.
  • Now change the shortest side (height or width) to 12 inches. (Note: Some Photoshop users advocate upsampling the image 10% at a time over and over until the desired size is reached. There is some debate about this technique as many experts feel that this method actually adds unwanted artifacts to the image as it is upsized. My personal recommendation is to resize to the desired size all at once. I get great results using two of the resampling options which I'll explain.)
  • Next, change the resolution to 300 pixels per inch.
  • Finally, make a choice in the Resample drop-down menu.

Photoshop CC has a new feature in the Image Size dialog that vastly improves the results but you don't have to take my word for it. Preview the image after choosing Bicubic Smoother then preview after choosing Preserve Details. The difference is pretty significant. Additionally, using Preserve Details gives you a Reduce Noise slider to improve the enlargement even more! With the slider all the way to the left, you'll see all of the digital noise. All the way to the right gives you a very soft image. Try sliding from left to right until the noise is gone, but the image is still sharp. (The preview pane is new in CC as well! It's a wonderful upgrade!)

In older versions of Photoshop and all versions of PSE, use Bicubic Smoother or Bicubic Sharper. I realize Adobe lists Bicubic Sharper for reduction, but experts Vincent Versace and Scott Kelby recommend the use of the sharpener for best results. Try duplicating your image and trying the Smoother on one copy and Sharper on the other so that you can compare results for yourself. I’ve never know Scott Kelby to steer me wrong, so I trust his advice.

  • After you've made your Resample choice, click OK and wait for Photoshop to work its magic as it resizes the image.

In Photoshop CC, you can further enhance your enlarged image by choosing Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen. Adjust the sliders to sharpen the image and reduce digital noise. Preview the results as you work to make sure you are getting the results you desire.

Using these upsampling methods, your photos can live large on your pages.
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