Introduction: How to Pixellate Images - Easily

This quick one is a technique for using pixel censorship to preserve anonymity, dignity etc on digital images.
You only need a simple image editor such as MS Paint, I use MS Paint.

For an alternative, see this Instructable

Step 1: The Shrink

Open the image with Paint which is usually in Programs > Accessories > on the Windows Start menu.

Use the rectangular Select tool to select the area you wish to pixellate.

Look to the lower right of the Paint window, the dimensions of the area will be shown as you drag the mouse. Select an area that is a whole multiple of 10 (see step 3 for more on this).

From this point onwards don't touch the image or the right hand toolbar with your cursor - only use the menus.

From the Image menu, choose Stretch/Skew... (CTRL-W)

Reduce the size of the area both horizontally and vertically. Here I am making the area 10 x smaller by selecting 10%.
In doing this shrink there will be 100 times fewer pixels in the selection.

Step 2: The Stretch

From the Image menu, choose Stretch/Skew... (CTRL-W) again.

Paint can't stretch selections more than 500% (5 x) so to increase the selection back to it's original size I need to stretch by 500%, then repeat the stretch at 200%.

If the finished result isn't what you wanted, note what isn't right about it, hit CTRL-Z or From the Edit menu choose Undo and start again.

Step 3: Fine Tuning

These should be self-evident:

If the pixels are too large, you have shrunk the selection too far. If you think they should be half the size, only shrink half as much.

If the pixels are too small and they don't obscure the image enough, the selection needs shrinking more. As above if you think the pixels should be twice as big, shrink the selection twice as much.

This is more subtle:

You'll notice that in this series of images the guy on the right loses an eye. The original selection was 71 x 72 pixels reduced to 8 x 8 pixels - Paint has rounded 7.1 x 7.2 pixels up. When this was stretched back the selection ended up as 80 x 80, a little over the original size.
This is why the dimensions of the selected area are important. Look to the lower right of the Paint window as in step 1, and select 'round' dimensions which will scale back easily.
All this being said, the effect still worked.

Comments

author
bhankes (author)2017-04-05

Genius

author
gmjhowe (author)2009-02-13

Nice, and simple. Personally, if i want to hide something, i go with drawing a black or white circle clean over the top. No reconstruction program is getting past that!!

author
lemonie (author)gmjhowe2009-02-13

The old fashioned 'letterbox' has a certain style to it I admit. But no reconstruction program can get back all the 5K pixels worth of data from these 64 - too much data has been lost. I should have referenced Kiteman's Unique Pixellation Indication Device, I'll go and do that now. L

lugslett.JPG
author
gmjhowe (author)lemonie2009-02-13

I was thinking more like this...

FFQ46VWFR1234M9.SMALL.jpg
author
lemonie (author)gmjhowe2009-02-13

Looks like something out of Who?

L

But you've used something more advanced than Paint for that.

author
Goodhart (author)lemonie2009-02-13

Hmm, there was an old Star Trek episode where an alien with powers did that to a young woman (how she could breath until they got him to fix her, days later, I don't know....

author
beado4ever (author)Goodhart2009-02-15

Charlie X I think you'll find. Personally I try and avoid photos of my fisog appearing on a family site for fear of frightening easily offended people!!!

author
astroboy907 (author)beado4ever2012-12-09

Ugh, Charlie X. I hated that episode, and still do. Freaked me out the first time I saw it (still does). Of course, it was the second episode of Star Trek I had ever seen (I quickly learned that star trek got much, much worse in some other episodes....)
:D

author
gmjhowe (author)lemonie2009-02-13

I used photoshop (as that is what i had open at work) But the same idea can be carried out on paint using the ellipse tool. Indeed it looks just like out of who! (i am a big fan)

author
Kiteman (author)lemonie2009-02-13

I forgot to say, thanks for the credit.

author
lemonie (author)Kiteman2009-02-13

Well, that's where I got the idea from, all that time ago... L

author
mrmath (author)lemonie2009-02-13

I got my avatar from that instructable!

author
Downe1986 (author)2012-12-09

That's exactly what i was looking for, i have some photos where some people just need to be pixelated!!

author
monsterlego (author)2012-12-06

Takes a few times to do it with a high resolution pic

1354811740m_SPLASH.jpg
author
lemonie (author)monsterlego2012-12-07

I don't know who that is!
Indiana Jones?

L

author
Lectric Wizard (author)2012-12-06

There is a free viewer called Irfanview that has quite a few special effects including pixalization. Its just select & click to do this. I use it all the time & it can do some amazing things. Cheers!

author
emdarcher (author)2012-12-06

time to make some pixelated versions of my photos to put in my personal texture pack for minecraft. :)

author
homestuck (author)2010-11-14

Who are the three guys?

author
lemonie (author)homestuck2010-11-15

I do not know, just random guys...
I know at least half of these people though.

L

author
Teensy Doodles (author)2010-04-07

This is excellent!  5 stars!  Usually I have to use paint.NET everytime, but this is wonderful!  Thanks!

author
oscarthompson (author)2009-11-14

This is a good idea!

,,I post a picture of my self but pixalate my face (standing next to a water rocket). The big question is should I reveal my age!!

author
lemonie (author)oscarthompson2009-11-14

Age doesn't really matter, do it anyway.

L

author
bassclarinet23 (author)2009-10-25

Thanks! This is very helpful.

author
DJ Radio (author)2009-02-13

Good one, I will definitely use this. 5*, and faved!

author
Goodhart (author)2009-02-13

Nice, that was easy...even I could do it right the first time around :-)

author
lemonie (author)Goodhart2009-02-13

Well it might come in useful somewhere, It was something I'd meant to do a long time ago. Incidentally, with the exception the Swedish rap-artist called Marcus (left), I've no idea who those guys are/were. L

author
Goodhart (author)lemonie2009-02-13

Yes, I have already tried it once and it turned out perfect :-) Thanks again. It was very timely ;-)

author
mrmath (author)2009-02-13

Do you guys remember the case of the really nasty guy that pixellated his face with a swirl pattern, and passed around really bad pictures of himself? The undid the swirl and caught him. I wonder if people who can unswirl a swirl to get a face can unpixellate a picture like this.

author
Kiteman (author)mrmath2009-02-13

In the swirl, the pixels have been moved, but they were all there - it just took some math to shuffle them back, like a huge version of those sliding-tile puzzles.

Lemonie's process deletes 90% of the information required to reconstruct the face, instead of just rearranging it.

author
Kiteman (author)Kiteman2009-02-13

Backtrack a moment there - Lemonie's method removes 99% of the data, not 90%.

author
hammerhead (author)mrmath2009-02-13

That one was different. The "Swirl guy"-photo was merely distorted, making it easy to reverse the process since most, if not all, of the information was kept in the image. Pixelization however incorporates removal of information from the image which cannot be recovered later on.

About This Instructable

52,497views

38favorites

License:

Bio: I'm an experimentalist, a scientist and I have a tendency to do things just for the sake of doing them, or to find out ... More »
More by lemonie:Multiple-secret book-boxHow to make fake cat-foodSkull Candy Headphone Modification
Add instructable to: