Making Your Perfect Wallpaper

So, you’ve found a beautiful image that you’d like for your wallpaper. It most probably is small. The nicer images on the web generally are. Here’s why: Many pictures don’t look very good when viewed at their actual size. When down-sized, they do. On sites where users rate these images, they consider the small version first. As a result beautiful images generally come in small sizes. This is not a good thing if searching for wallpapers though.

Describing the problem

If there just was a way to increase the size of these images and not lose quality. But wait a moment, you could say. It’s not just that, I would also need to crop some part of my favourite images and then resize them to fit my screen as best as they can.

Let’s see, what were the requirements again?

  1. Resize the desired image without losing quality to fit at least one dimension of the screen
  2. Allow for enlargement of at least 150% with no noticeable degradation in image quality
  3. Possibility to crop these images and maintain the aspect ratio of my screen if possible

Solution: Automatically enlarge the images

First, use Photoshop of course:

  1. It has resizing
  2. Has sharpening
  3. Cropping

Well, cropping works nice, a little bit of overhead always opening Photoshop every time you want to try another image, but hey, it works. The only problem here is the resizing part. Photoshop really blurs the whole image even for upsizing to 120% times the size of the original image. That’s very poor quality enlarging. This means that if you find a 800×600 image (an average size for the good quality images on deviantart) it would be too blurry to fit on a standard 1024×768 screen. This looks really bad. Photoshop is the best thing out there, many people could argue, and it couldn’t do that? How so?

Sharpen it

Here’s where the Photoshop expert comes in. But don’t just upsize it, sharpen it too. It will certainly look better, you’ll see. And he’s right, for this very small enlargement, sharpening can do the trick for some images. Not all, but it’s ok. Still, there is no satisfying solution when it comes to resizing images to 130% times their original size, and there are a lot like that.

To make things short, you could try every possible sharpening/upsizing solution for Photoshop and it wouldn’t get much better but for very few images that aren’t even that good looking in the first place.

Specialized upsizing programs

There are some specialized commercial programs out there, most boast to make perfect enlargement at 1000% times the original. It looks just like some marketing hype, and actually, it really is. Sad, but true. Even so, they are better than what you can do in Photoshop. They simply fail to keep their promise when it comes to just 200% times enlargement. Why’s that? It’s because they were targeted for upsizing images for print.

This is still awful. Images that are so small in the original that they would need 1000% enlargement certainly wouldn’t have enough detail to satisfy my wallpapering desires.

Reshading

That’s where reshade.com comes in. It pretty much solves the upsizing problems I mentioned. The algorithm offered here for free makes even a 200% non-degrading enlarging possible. There’s also a crop feature and the possibility to “quick add” an image for resizing (like for pages on del.icio.us).

So, there you have it, your perfect wallpaper, reshaded and maybe touched-up a little in photoshop.