Given a standard screenshot, would you know how to transform it into a close-up photo of laptop screen effect, in which you can see the pixels.


or even better, a more 3D image like this one.

  • perhaps one could make a pattern overlay to simulate a pixel grid and set the layer to "darken" or other suitable blend option. Probably "close enough" to impart a flavor without needing to simulate subpixels etc. The pattern would need to be specific to a particular screen size or the grid would look funny against the actually-rendered pixel boundaries.
    – Yorik
    Mar 1, 2022 at 19:20
  • It's interesting that your example doesn't show much in the way of sub-pixel effects in the white areas. If I hold a magnifier over the white space next to it, set up to give similar size pixels, I definitely do see coloured sub-pixels (on a bog-standard office Iiyama, looks like 95ppi)
    – Chris H
    Mar 2, 2022 at 10:11
  • I would zoom into Photoshop canvas and take a screen shot, then skew the perspective to imitate a photo. That would show pixels, as the OP requested. It would not of course show LCD monitor pels/artifacts, as the long procedure below imitates. But that procedure is a heck of a lot of effort for something you can quickly screenshot, or for the ultimate realism, shoot with a digital camera in 1 minute.
    – user8356
    Mar 3, 2022 at 21:05
  • @user8356 I'm not sure to understand the technique you describe, can you explain it more? Would zooming in Photoshop and take a screen shot create a "grid", similar to the one we see in close-up of a LCD monitor?
    – Basj
    Mar 3, 2022 at 22:56
  • I know a very good CRT shader for Blender: mrmotarius.itch.io/mrmocrt Not many laptops with CRTs, of course... Mar 4, 2022 at 10:10

2 Answers 2


Here's an comparison between an RGB image (left) and how it looks when photographed in extreme close-up (right):

The LCD sub-pixel pattern is apparent and we also see how the pattern is slightly blurred and that the light of the sub-pixels bleed into each other.

Let's begin by making an LCD sub-pixel pattern. The smallest one I can imagine is the following 9×9 px pattern:

Each sub-pixel is 2×7 px in respectively pure RGB red, green and blue. Vertically we have 1 px black padding between each sub-pixel and horizontally we have 2 px black padding between each pixel.

Draw the pattern in a 9×9 px document, Select All and use Edit > Define Pattern to make it into a pattern:

Let's put it to use. As example image I'll use this piece of pixel art:

© Mads Wolff

Because our pattern repeats every 9×9 px, we need to scale it up 9 times (900%) using Nearest Neighbor interpolation:

Click image to see full size.

We apply the pattern by adding a Pattern layer on top with blend mode set to Multiply:

Click image to see full size.

Now we need to get a little creative with filters and blend modes. There are infinite ways to do this. Here is something I just came up with. You can refine each step to your liking.

  • Apply Gaussian Blur filter with Radius set to 1 px to smoothen the pattern.

  • Apply Unsharp Mask filter with Amount set to 400%, Radius set to 3 px and Threshold set to 0 levels to make the sub-pixels blend together.

  • Apply Gaussian Blur filter with Radius set to 0.5 px to smoothen the pattern a bit again.

  • Apply Gaussian Blur filter with Radius set to 4 px and Blend Mode set to Screen to add some glow.

  • Add a Levels adjustment layer to lighten the image and add some contrast.

  • Add the original image on top with Blend Mode set to Hue and Opacity set to 50% to add back some of the lost saturation to the image.

I would use a Smart Object with Smart Filters to make the filters non-destructive:

Click image to see full size.

This can be seen as the "raw material" for further manipulation. For example add some perspective by using Free Transform, apply Lens Blur filter, add a slight reflection, use Camera Raw filter to correct the image like a photo, add some grain in the process:

Click image to see full size.

  • 2
    Wonderful post @Wolff! Here is what I got with your technique for this actual webpage: i.sstatic.net/LwLEf.png
    – Basj
    Mar 2, 2022 at 9:28
  • 1
    @Basj, Nice! A little bit moiré which perhaps could be avoided somehow tweaking the blurring. But then again, a real photograph could have that kind of moiré as well.
    – Wolff
    Mar 2, 2022 at 10:03
  • 1
    @Wolff if the goal is to mimic a real photo of a typical screen display, the Moire makes it. OTOH your pixel art example is (IMO) better without
    – Chris H
    Mar 2, 2022 at 10:05
  • 1
    @htmlcoderexe A screenshot + the technique described in this answer :)
    – Basj
    Mar 2, 2022 at 16:23
  • 3
    Wolff, you are a legend!!
    – Welz
    Mar 3, 2022 at 1:11

You can't do this from a screenshot, only from a photograph. An image file does not have pixels made up from three coloured dots, each image pixel is a distinct shade -

enter image description here

You need a camera with either a macro lens or a long lens, so that you can focus on a small area.

enter image description here

You can even get something approximate with a phone camera…

enter image description here

A tripod would have helped both these efforts considerably ;)

  • 2
    Of course, yes :) But maybe are there Photoshop tools to recreate this pixel "grid" + blur effects?
    – Basj
    Mar 1, 2022 at 15:07
  • @Basj Obviously just zoom into the image with nearest neigbour shift shannels etc.
    – joojaa
    Mar 1, 2022 at 15:15
  • 3
    You're also going to have to model a whole bunch of teeny circles with darker borders, smaller than each 'pixel', even in pure white areas. Then you're going to have to guesstimate some appropriate perspective & add a lens blur. Quicker to get the camera out.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 1, 2022 at 15:20

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