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I have an image that I got from the web for personal use. It got saved as a .png file. I am trying to enlarge it in Illustrator without the individual pixels getting larger or it getting pixelated, but I can't figure out how.

Example:

enter image description here

I thought there might be a way to convert the image to a vector, or paths, but I can't find any thing. I have tried the Image Trace tool to vectorize it, but it still has pixelation.

Keep in mind that I am using Illustrator CS5.

  • Something like that would be easier to recreate by hand. The image trace tool will also trace the pixels, which is why it seems pixellated. The best thing you can really do is recreate the element by hand. – Hanna Jan 8 '16 at 18:41
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Short answer unfortunately, as ErickP mentioned, "crap in: crap out". There's no "enhance" filter in real life.

You are right to try image trace though. Depending on the type of image and its original resolution, you can sometimes get great results for upscaling.

I assume the image you're trying to enlarge isn't the image posted in your question, because the posted image should trace very well...

Other technique you can try, if the image is suitable and situation is right, is Photoshop's "Content Aware Scale". Note that this will usually alter the image quite drastically, and the results might not look natural.

Alternatively, in a design context, you can "lean in" to the lack of information, and use it to your advantage. Increase the blur slightly, or use an effect like Median, or Diffuse (Anisotropic) to make the blurriness look like an aesthetic/creative decision.

  • Content Aware Scale is grayed out. Under what circumstances can it be used? – Caleb Kleveter Jan 8 '16 at 16:50
  • @CalebKleveter that particular menu item might need you to have a rectangular selection active. You should also be able to resize with "image size...", selecting "content aware" as the filtering type (instead of bilinear, nearest neighbour etc) – aaaidan Jan 8 '16 at 22:21
  • Is the image you posted the one you're having trouble tracing in illustrator? – aaaidan Jan 8 '16 at 22:21
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Nope. As they say, "crap in, crap out". With a low resolution file, there just isn't any more information the application can use, so it's basically enlarging with very little pixel info, hence the pixelation. Now there is software like OnOne's "Perfect Resize" that uses Genuine Fractals to UpRes photos but even that can only do so much because it still has to use the information available.

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