Why Are My Images Blurry

Published: 02/02/2015

When I create a design for a client, I often ask them to provide me with assets. For the majority of our clients, this usually means staff photos, office photos, and images for their before and after galleries. Sometimes we get a response, "Can't you just pull that from my existing website?" The answer is "yes," but depending on how long ago your website was made, your web developers may have shrunk down the dimension of the images to save file space. If they have, your pictures won't be high enough resolution for the new website.

With modern websites' high-definition retina displays and the like, image quality is key. Some people think computers can do anything when it comes to modifying images; however, there are limitations to what can be done. Anyone who has played in a graphics editing program has probably noticed that you can shrink down the physical dimensions of an image and keep image quality, but when you try to increase the dimensions of the image, the picture starts to look blurry, or more accurately, pixilated.

This phenomenon is what is called interpolation. In simpler terms, imagine if you will an image that is one hundred pixels high by one hundred pixels wide. This is a finite amount of data. If you wanted to double the size of the image, no new data actually exists to fill the missing pixels. The computer must create this information out of nothing. To simplify it further, imagine a red pixel next to a blue pixel. The computer would move the two pixels one pixel apart from each other and place a purple pixel in the middle to fill this gap in information (this is extremely oversimplified, but you get the basic idea).

When I use the client's own images from their previous website, if the images were shrunk down to save file size, the resolution of these images more often than not is not great enough for a modern website.

So what resolution should your pictures be? The bigger the better, but we will discuss that next month.


Author: Marc Steffensen
Position: Creative Director
Marc Steffensen is the Creative Director at Business Promotion and has been with the company since 2009. He has been a professional graphic designer since 2005 and a graphic artist since the mid '90s. Marc's interests are eclectic within all things "nerd" culture, from music and movies to games and collectables. He is an amateur barbeque chef and likes to "fire up" his smoker, even in the middle of winter.

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