How to Stop Quality Loss When Resizing in Procreate


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We’ve all had that experience with Procreate of resizing an object, or an entire canvas, and noticing quality loss. It can be a big problem, especially after working so hard on our art. Luckily, there’s usually a straightforward reason for quality issues in Procreate, which can be easily fixed.

When resizing objects in Procreate, avoid quality loss by making sure the Interpolation setting is set to Bilinear or Bicubic. When resizing a canvas in Procreate, avoid quality loss by working with larger canvases than you think you need, and making sure your canvas is at least 300 DPI.

It can be really frustrating to experience Procreate quality loss when resizing your images or canvases. I completely understand. Let’s talk about the tips and tricks you can use so that you never have to experience that quality loss ever again.

First, let’s dive into quality loss when resizing individual objects within your Procreate piece.

Preventing Quality Loss When Resizing Objects in Procreate

When resizing objects in Procreate with the Transform tool, make sure that the Interpolation setting is not set to Nearest Neighbor. Instead, it should be set to Bilinear or Bicubic. This will prevent your object from losing quality and becoming pixelated when you resize it.

Here’s how to find the Interpolation settings you need.

1. Click on the Transform tool in the top menu (the arrow icon).

2. Decide whether you want to resize your object with Freeform, Uniform, Distort, or Warp.

3. Underneath those settings, click on the checkered circle located second to last on the right hand side.

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4. Choose either Bilinear or Bicubic.

This will fix your problem, but what actually happened? What do these settings do?

Technically, to interpolate is to insert something into something else (source). Many definitions refer to inserting something foreign into the middle of something else. You’ll also see interpolation pop up a lot in relation to mathematics.

In the Procreate world, interpolation is a method for adjusting pixels as an image is resized (source). Basically, as you resize your Procreate elements, interpolation allows for the pixels to follow suit and rearrange themselves as needed to accommodate the new size of your object. 

Not only do they rearrange themselves, but Procreate also determines if any pixels need to be added or removed. It’s then a process to determine where those new pixels should be placed, or where the extra pixels should be removed from.

Of course, the way that your pixels rearrange themselves is going to impact how your resized object looks. 

Important note: interpolation happens every single time you resize an object. Everytime you resize it, you will lose a little bit of quality, so it’s good to limit the amount of times you resize your objects, if possible. This quality loss is a natural part of interpolation, but there are ways to minimize it.

That’s where the different interpolation settings come in. Let’s dive into each of them.

Nearest Neighbor

When you use Nearest Neighbor, it will determine your final result by only considering 1 pixel on each side of your edge. This is the simplest and fastest interpolation method, but it can leave you with a pixelated effect.

That’s why Nearest Neighbor is NOT ideal and you might experience pixelation or quality loss when resizing your objects with it on.

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Bilinear

When you use Bilinear, it will look at a 2×2 area (4 total) of pixels around the edge, and take an average of them when determining what your final result will look like.

If you use the Bilinear setting when resizing your object, you’ll have smoother edges than you would with Nearest Neighbor.

Bicubic

When you use Bicubic, it will look at 16 pixels around your edge to determine what your final result will look like.

Given how many pixels this interpolation method uses, it will give you the cleanest result with the least amount of pixelation.

Important note: Nearest Neighbor takes the least amount of processing time, Bilinear is a bit more, and Bicubic is the most. Just keep that in mind as you work.

If you want the least amount of quality loss as you resize your objects in Procreate, use the Bicubic setting. Bilinear is a happy medium if you don’t want to use as much processing power as Bicubic does.

Again, remember that quality loss is a natural part of interpolation so, no matter what setting you use, try not to resize your objects too often.

Alright, now let’s talk about how to prevent quality loss when resizing your entire canvas with Procreate.

Preventing Quality Loss When Resizing Your Canvas in Procreate

To prevent quality loss when resizing your canvas in Procreate, it’s important to create larger canvases that are at least 300 DPI from the get-go. It will always be easier to scale your canvas down than up, so it’s good to get into the habit of making them larger than you need.

Procreate is a raster-based program, not a vector-based program like Illustrator. With vectors, you can scale artwork up and down without it ever becoming pixelated. That’s not the case with raster-based art. 

Raster-based art is formed out of pixels, while vector-based art is formed out of paths. As you scale vector art, it simply recalculates the paths that make up your object. As you scale pixel art larger and larger, those pixels become further and further apart, leaving you with a pixelated image.

Whomp whomp.

So, how can you get around that?

Ideally, every single one of our designs would be the right size every single time with no need to ever resize them. That’s not real life though. There are SO many times when we need to resize our art.

With raster-based art, it’s always better to scale down instead of up. This means that, from the get-go, you want to design your canvas larger than you would ever need it to be.

That way, you can scale your art down to the size you need without worrying too much about losing quality. 

It’s also a good idea to set your DPI to 300. This is EXTREMELY important if you plan to print your work. When you use Procreate’s default canvases that appear in the dropdown when creating a new canvas, it will be at 132. 

To create a canvas at 300 DPI, click on the square icon with the little plus inside of it.

From there, enter your desired dimensions and DPI.

By establishing a larger canvas with a high DPI, you’ll protect yourself from quality loss as you resize your canvas. Of course, pixelation or quality loss is still possible depending on the sizes you’re working with, but this will start you off on the best foot.

Important note: the bigger you make your canvas dimensions and DPI, the fewer amount of layers you’ll be able to add. When creating your custom canvas, you’ll be able to see how many layers you’ll get down at the bottom. If a huge canvas won’t afford you enough layers, play around with it until you find a happy medium.

It can be really frustrating to resize your Procreate work and find that it’s declined in quality. When you work so hard on something, you want that to show! With these tips, hopefully you’ll be equipped with the tools and tricks you need to have high quality art every single time, even when resizing.

Diana Fitts

Diana has been an artist for over 25 years and has training in drawing, painting, digital drawing and graphic design. Diana's latest obsession is digitally drawing with Procreate and creating t-shirt designs with Canva. Diana has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.

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