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Does photoshop have a tool or technique to clean up images such as this?
I just want the edges to be clean or at least a little cleaner.

dirty image

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I don't think a perfect result is possible, but maybe this will do.

  1. Resize the image. In the example below, I resized from 500x500px to 1000x1000px

  2. Add a Gaussian blur, just enough to blur out the jagged pixels. It might also be possible to leave this step out if you want.

  3. Run the Cutout filter with settings as shown below, however feel free to mess around with these until you get the desired result.

enter image description here click on image to see full szie

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  • Wow, that'll do the job perfectly! Thanks a lot for your speedy answer. – dukenemesis Oct 11 at 12:49
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If given to me..

Due to the nature of the image (hard edged, cut-out, impression) I would auto-trace this in a vector application. The result could then be moved back to a raster application at whatever resolution you need. If not kept as vector to maintain quality.

This is Adobe Illustrator CS6's trace... but most vector apps have a trace function. In addition, there are free web sites that will trace for you.

enter image description here

Since the result is vector and object-based, one could very easily then "tweak" colors as necessary. For example, the original has a very subtle background above the mountain. That's hard to pick up in a trace, but amazingly simple to adjust after the image has been traced.

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  • Thanks Scott, thats a very useful trick! – dukenemesis Oct 11 at 19:31
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The third way is to use an image enlargening program. It increases the pixel resolution - not like image resize in Photoshop, but trying to guess where should be a sharp border or a thin line.

The left half of the image is your original, the right half is enlargened with Smilla (freeware).

enter image description here

The pixel dimensions are lifted to 500% (=2500x2500) and the enlargening preset "painting" was used.

About the result: The program hasn't removed colored areas, there's no new flat colored zones at the fuzzy borders and the geometric forms of the borders look quite the same as in the original.

The only harm is that it's not Photoshop. Several commercial image enlargening programs are available as Photoshop plugins, but as said, Smilla is free.

ADD: The enlargened half of my screenshot still looks sharp although it is scaled down to the same size as the original image half. I guess a part of the usharpness was blur which is caused by something else than low resolution. That gave an idea to try sharpening.

In the next image the right half is aggressively sharpened and the left half is the original:

enter image description here

The right half has got in Photoshop 3 filterings:

  • Sharpen > Smart sharpen > Lens Blur, radius = 1 px
  • Noise > Median, radius 1 px to reduce some lifted noise
  • Smart sharpen again with the same setting as in the first time

This is in Photoshop, but the edges have clearly got something which is typical for sharpening. That didn't happen with elargening.

Krita and GIMP (freeware) can use G'MIC filter package as a free add-on. I tested its sharpening methods. Some of them fitted well into the existing blur and the best result was somewhere between Photoshop's sharpening and what's got with Smilla enlargener.

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