I'm taking some photos I've took and I'm attempting to pixel art-ify them.

Before, I have used Illustrator for this, but I found using a box->split into grid->live paint group to be cumbersome, memory-intensive, and a roundabout way of doing things. However, it let me lay the photo underneath the live paint group and trace it. Which is how I come to my current situation;

I'm making these pixel graphics 150x150.

In Illustrator, I could trace it out where each pixel in my graphic equated multiple pixels in the image (i.e., the image below may be 500x500, but the pixel grid live paint group was 150x150).

In Photoshop, if I try to resize the image down to 150x150, it gets super blurry and hard to make out the details.

TLDR; Is there a way to make an image appear "smaller" in photoshop without actually modifying it/reducing the pixel count, or; is there a way to draw larger pixels?

Edit it seems there is some confusion. I'm not trying to take a picture and turn it into pixel art, I'm trying to use it as a guide when creating my own image from scratch.

  • No but its possible in illustrator, indesign, inkscape, sketch etc. Photoshop has one field of pixels that's kind of the point of the software.
    – joojaa
    Mar 22, 2017 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


If you scale using ImageImage Size and Nearest Neighbour resampling, you’ll get a blocky result, rather than a blurry one. This can help when trying to convert an image into pixel art (it’s not a nice way to normally scale images though).

Scaling types in Photoshop

Left = original, middle = scaled using “automatic”, right = scaled using nearest neighbour.

You can see that the rightmost image above is well on its way to becoming pixel art.

  • You can set the resampling method on normal transform tools too
    – Cai
    Mar 22, 2017 at 18:39
  • Right, but that's the problem I'm currently having. I don't intend on using the image itself as the pixel art, but rather as a guide. I resize an image that way, and I lose critical details. Yes, the resultant image I create may look somewhat similar, but without being able to see the details, I can't do the shading, etc., properly.
    – Jack
    Mar 22, 2017 at 19:39
  • @jack Yep, that would just be a guide, and you’d trace over the top. If you’re after multiple resolutions in the same document, that’s a lot harder. You can lower the resolution of something by making it a smart object, then using the mosaic filter, but that doesn’t work for layers you want to edit in place. Mar 22, 2017 at 22:46

If you want to maintain the integrity of the image in photoshop, convert the layer into a smart object. For pixel art, you might be able to get away with using the mosaic filter(filter/pixelate/mosaic) and adjusting the cell size in the filter settings once you resize it to get the look you want at a smaller size.

  • I thought about the smart object approach. My experience in photoshop is admittedly limited, but when I resize a smart object, should it not leave it alone until I rasterize it? That's not currently the effect I get; it looks the same if I convert to smart object and resize, as if I go image->resize.
    – Jack
    Mar 22, 2017 at 19:40
  • It will leave the original alone if it's linked externally. You can do that by using file/place linked. Mar 23, 2017 at 14:27

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