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Resizing Images in Photoshop and Canvas Tutorial

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Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures

“Resizing Images in Photoshop and Canvas Tutorial” is part of my Photoshop book “Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures”, which is more revised and covers more concepts than the online tutorials, feel free to check out the book by visiting my Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures Book Page.

Important Note For Photoshop CC Users:- At some parts of it. This tutorial explain Resizing Images in Photoshop using pictures of some old dialogs that has changed in Photoshop CC. But you can still follow this tutorial without any problem. I wrote a dedicated explanation for both Photoshop CC & Photoshop CS6 and older for more than one place. To ensure that no matter what version you use, you will be able to benefit from the tutorial.

This lesson is part of the Learn Photoshop The Sweetest Way. To go to the main post of the series, either to start out from the beginning or to pick up a lesson to work on. Click here~

Quickly Jump To:-

Why resizing images?

Besides cropping images, resizing them is another common feature found in probably all the graphics applications. Including MS Paint. In case resizing images don’t make sense to you. Doing so has many benefits and uses. Some of these are:-

  • It allows you to send them faster over the Internet. Specially if the image is too big or your Internet connection is not that fast.
  • For web site owners. Resizing the images to the size they will be displayed at on the site makes the site pages load faster. Which is the case for many of the pictures used in this series (though in many of them, I kept them at their original size so you could click on them to see the larger version of)
  • If you made a forum avatar. Just like we did in the cropping tutorial. You must resize the image before uploading it to the forum server. As forum software pose restrictions on the size & dimensions of the uploaded pictures.

The basic steps for resizing images in Photoshop?

Suppose we have the following sleeping cat picture (isn’t she cute? :3). Whose dimensions are are 2000 X 1333 Pixels:-

Click on the picture to view it in full size. Or to save it on your computer and try the tutorial yourself.

A cat image we are going to resize

Let’s say I want to resize it so that its width is 1000 pixel instead of 2000. To do that. All you have to do is to select Image -> Image Size from the main menu. And the Image Resize dialog will appear

Image-Resize          Adorable-Cat-Resizing-Image-2

The 2000 and the 1333 in the Width & Height fields represents the dimensions of the image in pixels. We already know that the width of the picture is 2000 pixel and its size is 1333. But that would be very nice to know if we did not~ ;D


Simply typing 1000 in the Width field will be enough to specify the new size we want. Notice how Photoshop keeps changing the height field as you type the new width. It does that to preserve the Aspect Ratio of the picture.


If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Aspect Ratio. Consider reading my cropping tutorial “Cropping Images using the Crop Tool And Rectangle Marquee Tool Photoshop Tutorial, and An Introduction to aspect ratio”. Which contains an in-depth explanation about cropping images and the concept of the Aspect Ratio.

Now you specified the new width of the picture. Click ok and Photoshop will resize the image for you. Here is the new image after it was resized.

Click on the picture to view it in full size


Resizing the canvas of the picture (instead of the picture itself)

In additional to resizing the picture. Photoshop allows you to change the size of the canvas. The difference between the two is that resizing the picture add or subtract pixels. Which results in creating a bigger or smaller version of it. While changing the canvas size merely adds(or remove) new empty pixels for you to paint on. While keeping the size of the original picture intact.

To demonstrate how that works. Suppose I want to create an Internet meme from the adorable cat picture I just resized. To do that. I need to surround the picture with black pixels. With more black pixels on the bottom to write the text on using the text Tool(which will be explained in the future in this series). Here is how to do that:-

  • Select Image -> Canvas Size from the main menu


  • The Canvas Size Dialog appears


  • If you are using Photoshop CC. The dialog will look like this(It can be black as well, depending on your settings). Other than the difference in the look. There is no difference in the functionality between the two dialogs.


  • Enter the new width or height in the corresponding field. You can choose to add pixels horizontally by entering a bigger width pixel. Or vertically by entering a bigger height. Since we want both here. I am going to enter a bigger values for both.  Here the dialog with the values I chose (I go these values by experimenting):-


From the canvas extension colour option. Choose black. This will cause the new added pixels to be black (instead of white or any other colour).


Now press ok, and Photoshop will resize the canvas of the picture with newly added black pixels. Here is how the cat picture looked like for me:-



Note:- Checking the Relative checkbox from the Canvas Resize dialog allows you to type how many pixels or centimetres you want to add instead of typing thew new width or height if it


Resizing the image canvas in a certain direction

Now we have resized the canvas of the sleeping cat picture. You may have noticed that at the bottom of the picture. There is not enough space/pixels at the bottom of the picture to insert the meme text in it. That’s fine. We can add additional pixels to the bottom of the page using the Canvas dialog.

  • Choose Image -> Canvas Resize from the main menu. The canvas resize dialog appears

 Canvas-Resize  Creating-A-Cat-Meme-2

  • In the anchor option. Change the direction in which Photoshop will add pixels. So that it won’t add pixels to the top of the image (Just click where it is indicated on the picture)


  • After changing the direction to add pixels. My dialog looks exactly like this:-


  • Type 35.52 in the height field, I had to experiment a little bit to get this value. In the previous step. We specified that Photoshop won’t add any pixels to the top of the picture. So it has no option but to add them at the bottom of it, so the height of the picture become 35.52 CM. Select OK to see the result.
  • Here is how the picture looks like for me:-


Adding the meme text on the picture

While this tutorial is mainly about resizing images in Photoshop. I didn’t think it would be nice to start making a meme without adding text to it. So we will take a little detour to add it. Adding text to images will have its own tutorial in the future~

  • Select the Horizontal Text Tool Horizontal-Text-Tool from the tools panel.
  • Let’s change the text colour to white. From the tool options, click on little coloured square~


  • The colour picker appears:-


  • Select white from the colour picket, at is located at the upper-left corner of the colour picker.


  • Click ok to close the dialogue.
  • From the text size menu, choose the text size 72, I picked this one because it is the most suitable one for my picture. I know this because I kept experiencing with different sizes.


  • Click where you want your text to start then start typing the meme text. From what I know. Internet memes tend to have a big title and a smaller line of text below it. But for the sake of simplicity. I will ignore that.
  • Here is how my meme looks like(I centred the text to make it look better by the way):-


More about resizing images in Photoshop

Like always. The tutorial is officially done. And in the rest of the tutorials will focus on giving tips and explaining the options of the dialog we encountered so far. Because the concept of resizing pictures is so obvious, there won’t be an examples section in this tutorial~

A more detailed look on the Image Resize Dialog

Resizing images in Photoshop CS6 & older

The Resize Image dialog may look a little bit intimidating at first, but the options in it are fairly simple and straight word. I was able to explain all of the one picture:-

Feel free to click on the picture to view it in full size.


Don’t worry if you didn’t understand everything in the picture. I will reexplain all these options in more details right away~

The pixel dimensions section

  • The width & height fields:- These two fields allow you to enter the new size of the picture, entering a bigger size will make Photoshop enlarge the picture. And entering a smaller values will make it scale it down. By default. Changing one of the two fields automatically change the other, this is so the picture will retain its Aspect Value(Which is explained in detail in my cropping tutorial)
  • The unit drop-down menus(besides the Width & Height fields):- This option allows you to choose whatever you enter the new image size by pixel or by percent of the current size. The percent unit makes it easier to resize an image to be double or half its size.

The Document Size Section

This section is very similar to the pixels dimensions one, except that it allows you to specify the picture size in real-life units instead of pixels or percent. This is very useful if you want to print the picture.

  • As with the pixel dimension, you can enter the new Width or Height of the picture in their correspondent field. And as you do that, the new pixels values above of them will change.
  • You can choose the unit of the width & height from the drop down menus beside the Width & Height Fields. The following units are available for you to choose from:-
    • Percent
    • Inches
    • CM
    • MM
    • Points
    • Pica
    • Column
  • The constrains Proportions checkbox ensure that the picture will retain its aspect value, meaning that you you enter a new Width or Heigh value in the dialog. Photoshop will automatically change the other one so the Aspect Ratio stays the same. Unchecking this option allows you to create squashed images, like this:-


  • The resample Image checkbox allows you to change the number of pixels in the picture. By unchecking this option. The Width & Height fields on the top of the dialog won’t be editable. But you can change the real-life dimensions of the document. But that won’t change the number of the pixels in the image. To be honest, I always used the Image Dialog with this option checked, so I can’t say anything else about it.
  • The drop-down menu below the “Resample Image” checkbox allows you to choose the way (or algorithm, in technical terms) Photoshop use to resize your image. Talking about them in detail is out of the scope of this tutorial. But you can refer to this article if you want to know about their mathematical details.

Click here jump to Some guidelines about choosing the resizing option.

Resizing images in Photoshop CC and later.

The Image Resize dialog has been overhauled in Photoshop CC. As compared to how it was in Photoshop CS6 and the older version. Some Photoshop users didn’t like how the Image Resize. Which dates back to very old versions of the program(I know it has been there in Photoshop 5) got changed the way it got. While there are some obvious enhancements in the new dialog. I personally feel a bit skeptical about the new dialog. But only time will tell if this is good for us or now~

Image-Resize-Photoshop CC
The Image Resize Dialog in Photoshop CC

Click on the image below to view it in full size:-


Some guidelines about choosing the resizing way (Or algorithm):-

  • The Nearest Neighbour option  preserves the hard edges in the resized image. notice how the small square below retained its hard edge after it was resized 4 times it dimensions using that option compared resizing it using Bicubic. which is the default way of resizing, which produced a blurred edges of the same square:-

Click on the image to view it on full size


  • Bicubic Smoother is better for increasing the size of images.
  • Bicubic Sharper is better for reducing the size of images

More about resizing the canvas

Deciding the direction Photoshop add pixels to the canvas

The Anchor option in the Resize Canvas dialog, which consist of nine squares with an arrow on most of them. Allows you to choose the direction into which Photoshop will add the new pixels. By default, Photoshop will add pixels in all directions. Meaning that if you increased the width by 2 pixels. and the height by 2 pixels as well. Then Photoshop will add 1 pixel in all the directions around the canvas. (The same works for the other units, like centimetre. but I am using pixels here for simplification purpose).

The other squares allows you to exclude one or two directions from gaining any new pixels. For example, if you restricted the pixels from being added to the top of the canvas, and you added 2 pixels to the height of the pixels. Photoshop will add 2 pixels to the button of the canvas. Here is how the anchor option visually works:-

Click on the image to view it in full size


The relative option in the canvas size dialog


The relative option of the canvas dialog allows you to enter how many pixels to add to the canvas. Instead of specifying the absolute width or height of of the canvas. If you have a canvas that is 1000 X 1000 pixels. And you entered 100 pixel in both the width and height field while the Relative option is checked. You will end up with a canvas that is 1100 X 1100 pixels. Similarly you will get the same results by typing 1100 pixels into the width & height fields while the Relative option is unchecked.

Word about resizing images in Photoshop.

Trying to enlarge a picture will create a larger picture indeed, but the quality of the picture will deteriorate. As Photoshop image resizing only resize images by inserting new pixels, the colors of these new pixels are guessed based on the current pixels.

On the other hand, resizing an image to create a smaller one is plausibly possible. To do that. Photoshop eliminates some of the pixels from the pictures

Take a look at the following cat picture. See how all clear the details in the pictures are, and how it contains no blur or anything of that sort.


Now look at how it became after it was greatly resized, a lot of details can’t be seen in the picture now now it is smaller. But it still looked good, since reducing the size of images doesn’t have that much bad effect on them.


Let’s resize the small image back to the original size. While Photoshop did a relatively good job at producing the new image from the very little data it has. It still doesn’t look as good as the original image.


Here is a comparison between the original picture and the resized one:-

Resizing images in Photoshop can greatly distorts their details

The example I gave here is a bit of an extreme case. But that’s to give you a good idea on how image resizing actually works.


  • Resizing images in photoshop and other programs is useful for uploading images online and to save space.
  • Resizing images in Photoshop is done using the Image Resize Dialog.
  • By default, Photoshop retain the Aspect Ratio of the images it resizes, but you can resize images however you want.
  • Resizing the is a good way to add more drawing space to the picture. Which you could use to draw new things or to add pictures from other Photoshop files.
  • It is not hard to add Text to pictures. Though there are much more details to that than I explained here.
  • The Image resize in all the versions of Photoshop gives you a great variety of options for resizing images. Including selecting the unit of the resizing and the way (Or the algorithm, if you want to be technical) the resizing is done.
  • You can adjust various things in the Resize Canvas dialog. Including the direction into which Photoshop will add the new pixels.

Would you like to learn Photoshop?

Check my Photoshop book Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures which contains a full course on how to use Photoshop in the simplest way possible.

See Also

I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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