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I want to convert a fuzzy pixel art image into a crisp actually-pixel-art pixel art image.

An example of this is taking a still from say a youtube clip of a pixel-art animation, and recreating the image, given there are no known raw images available of the original artwork.

Disregarding any copyright issues (this is for personal use only), what's the easiest way to convert this fuzzy pixel art back into something that could resemble the source image?

I've attempted a manual conversion, but I'm having issues with trying to workout what scale I'm working in, and the original colour of each pixel.

e.g., given this:

fuzzy

how can I programatically convert it back to this:

enter image description here

Edit edit: as per comments below: I want to take samples from this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXIzyquw-kc Preferably the raft and beach panning shot, to be able to recreate that (hopefully) as a woolen tapestry. I've tried contacting the video producer to no avail, in the hope of sourcing original stills.

aih

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Kind of confusing :| please Post image –  Jack Mar 1 '11 at 6:22
    
Sorry, I want a sure fire way of doing this in the future. Nutshell: Take pixel-art animation that has been bastardised by youtube, and convert back into the nice pixel stills, thus removing jpeg artifaction, blowing up of image, taking it from say 5-to-1 ratio to 1-to-1 ratio for pixels. –  glasnt Mar 1 '11 at 7:12
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The only real solution is to pick the pencil tool and get to redrawing/touching-up by hand. Alas, there's no magic filter for this. JPG/MPG is lossy compression. By definition you've lost image data that you're not going to get back. –  DA01 Mar 1 '11 at 7:28
    
Does the original artwork use a fixed palette of say 16 colours? I think that would make things a lot easier. –  e100 Mar 1 '11 at 12:30
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JPG/MPG is lossy compression, but that doesn't mean it can't be reversed; you might still need to touch up by hand, but an automated process might save significant time. I think this scenario is a good candidate for this and I could imagine an algorithm averaging pixel colour values over several frames in order to derive a best guess of the underlying palette. –  e100 Mar 1 '11 at 17:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Per Philip's request, I'll turn this into an answer:

The only real solution is to pick the pencil tool and get to redrawing/touching-up by hand. Alas, there's no magic filter for this. JPG/MPG is lossy compression. By definition you've lost image data that you're not going to get back.

Others have suggested some automated ways that could help, for sure, but they are hardly programmatic. Whether it's the pencil tool or playing with curves, or posterizing, it's all going to need to be done by hand to ensure it's doing what you want it to do.

That said, if this is an animation, and you get get one frame looking fairly well in PhotoShop, then record the actions in PhotoShop and then you could batch process the rest of the frames.

I still think you'll have to go in frame-by-frame though to get it the way you want.

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You haven't been very clear about your exact goal. I think you want to do two things: clean up the compression artifacts, then downscale the image while maintaining crispness.

For the compression artifacts, there are lots of JPEG recovery utilities that produce pretty good results, though not perfect, and I don't know how well they work with pixel art.

If those don't work for you, you'll need to touch up your images by hand with something like an eraser tool.

After you've fixed the JPEG compression, just downscale your image the way felixthehat described.

I'm having issues with trying to workout what scale I'm working in

To figure that one out, zoom your image about 800% in Photoshop. At that point, a grid appears. By looking at that grid, you can figure out the size of every upscaled square pixel. And that tells you the scale factor.

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I'm not sure if this answers your question, but have you tried scaling it in photoshop using Image Size with Nearest Neighbour (preserve hard edges) selected in the Resampling dropdown? That gives you a lossless size increase... enter image description here

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2  
Useful information to be sure, but not really what the OP asked for. –  Kramp Mar 1 '11 at 11:22
    
+1 to counter the downvote. OP's example pics show he wants downscaling, not just JPEG recovery. –  Stefan Monov Mar 1 '11 at 12:38
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yes, but this answer is about upscaling. –  e100 Mar 1 '11 at 13:35
    
Its actually about downscaling. at least the images in the question are clearly NOT upscaling. –  horatio Mar 1 '11 at 16:43
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It's downscaling in the question and its image; it's upscaling in your answer and its image. –  e100 Mar 1 '11 at 17:24

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