Creating pixel art is not just about nostalgia and classic video games. Nowadays, pixel art has made a comeback, and it looks like it’s here to stay. However, the problem with making pixel art is having to make the pixel art on such a small canvas and exporting a blurry image later. If this is an issue for you, here’s how to resize your pixel art without losing quality.
To resize pixel art in Photoshop, go to Image > Image Size. With the width and height value linked, type in your desired dimensions for your artwork and set the resolution to 72. Finally, check the Resample option and set it to Nearest Neighbor (Hard Edges) and click OK to resize the pixel art.
I’ll explain this process more in-depth below, along with an alternative resize method you can do upon exporting. That way you can make sure you never have to deal with poor-quality pixel art again!
The Problem With Small Pixel Art
When you create pixel art, there are a few reasons why you have to resize your pixel art without losing quality. Here’s what your pixel art may look like in Photoshop using a 50 x 50 sized canvas.
You may ask, “Why do I need to resize this? It looks fine to me.”
In Photoshop, sure, it looks fine. Here’s what it looks like when you export it without resizing it:
Now you may think, “It’s small, but it still looks great. What’s the problem?”
Here’s what it looks like when zoomed in:
If you’re making pixel art for a client, they will not be happy with this. If you’re making pixel art for a game, this will look blurry.
This is why it’s so crucial for you to resize and export your pixel art correctly.
Preparation For Perfect Pixel Art
Before exporting your pixel art, there are a few things to set up to ensure that the sharpness of your pixel art is retained.
Set Your Resolution To 72
When resizing pixel art, you want to ensure your resolution is an even number. You don’t want to make the mistake of resizing a resolution with an odd number and end up with extra pixels all over your art.
72 is a standard resolution and the baseline resolution for pixel art.
Make Sure Your Background Is Transparent
This one may be obvious, but it’s easy to forget to select it. Make sure before you make your canvas that you choose Transparent under Background Contents. This ensures you don’t export your pixel art with a white background.
Set The Image Interpolation To Nearest Neighbor
This one’s an important one. Image interpolation is used in Photoshop to smooth out pixels in an image so that even when you zoom in, your image feels smooth with no jagged edges.
With Pixel Art, the jagged edges are part of the point. To stop the pixels from smoothing out, go to Edit > Preferences > General.
In the Options Window that pops up, find Image Interpolation and select Nearest Neighbor (Preserve Hard Edges). Now, no matter how large you scale your image when you export, the edges of your pixel art remain crisp and not blurry.
How To Resize Pixel Art In Photoshop
Now that you’ve made all the necessary preparations, it’s time to guide you step by step through the process.
Option 1: Resizing Your Pixel Art Before Exporting
Step 1: Open The Image Size Window
To change the size of your finished image, go to Image > Image Size. You can also use the shortcut Alt + Control + I (Win) or Option + Command + I (Mac).
Step 2: Resize Your Image To The Size You Require
When the Image Size window pops up, you should first confirm that your Width and your Height are linked together, so if you change the size of one measurement, it adjusts the other measurement automatically.
To ensure your Width and Height are linked together, look for the Link Icon between the two. If it’s not there, click inside the area to connect them.
Now that your Width and Height are linked together, you can change the Width to your desired size, and your Height snaps to the exact size it needs to be to retain the perfect aspect ratio.
Once you input your dimensions, you’ll notice how blurry your pixel art looks in the Preview Window. To fix this, under Resample, choose Nearest Neighbor (Hard Edges) to make your pixel art sharp again.
When you’re done, click OK.
Once you click on OK, you’ll first notice that your pixel art is now huge! This is a good thing. It means that your pixel art is officially resized.
To see your entire image quickly, press Control + 0 (Win) or Command + 0 (Mac) to zoom out and view your entire canvas.
Step 3: Export To PNG
Now that your pixel art is resized and ready to export, go to File > Export > Export As to open up the Export As Window.
The first thing you may notice from here is that the background of your pixel art is a plain white background. Even after setting your background to Transparent earlier on, your background is still white and not a transparent one.
You didn’t mess up. Photoshop guessed that you wanted to export your image as a JPG. To get rid of the white background, change the Format from JPG to PNG. PNG format retains the image’s transparency, removing the white background for good.
You’ll see a black and white checkerboard pattern behind your pixel art to confirm this.
Step 4: Set Resample To Nearest Neighbor
One last thing before you export. Make sure that under the Resample Drop Down Menu, Nearest Neighbor is chosen. You chose this option earlier in the process, but it’s never a bad idea to double-check this.
Finally, click the Export Button to download your pixel art to your computer.
With your pixel art downloaded to your hard drive, you can open the file and zoom in. The edges of your pixel art remain sharp no matter how much you zoom in.
Option 2: Resizing Your Pixel Art When Exporting
The second way you can resize your pixel art without losing quality is to resize it by a percentage as you export it. This is best used when you need your pixel art to be bigger but don’t have exact dimensions.
To start this process, go to File > Export > Export as. The Export As Window pops up.
In the Export As Window, ensure that PNG is selected as the Format and that Nearest Neighbor is selected under the Resample Drop Down Menu.
Once you have all your options in order, open up the Scale Drop Down Menu and choose the percentage you wish to resize your pixel art.
When you’re ready, click Export to send your image to your computer’s hard drive.
You can now locate the file on your computer. Open your file and zoom in to ensure that your pixel art is sharp without blurring.