How to Pixelate an Image in Photoshop

By Tata Rossi 15 days ago, Photoshop Tips

Need to pixelate an image in Photoshop quickly? In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to apply this effect to the entire photo, as well as only specific areas. You’ll be able to use these techniques to make someone anonymous or unrecognizable, remove logos, conceal backgrounds or some sensitive information in a photograph.

You can also use it in an artistic way; to emphasize the subject of your photo, by rendering other parts of it less comprehensible to the eye.

Method 1. Pixelating an Entire Picture

While there are several ways to do it, in most cases, the Mosaic filter renders the best and quickest results. Follow the tutorial below to learn how to pixelate an entire photo.

1. Create a Background Copy

Launch Photoshop. Upload the photo of your choice. First, we’ll create a copy of your original layer to ensure that our changes are non-destructive.

how to pixelate an image photoshop duplicate layer

You can either name the layer or leave it as it is and click “OK.” If you prefer streamlining your workflow by using Photoshop keyboard shortcuts, try Ctrl+J/Cmd+J hotkey.

how to pixelate an image photoshop background copy

2. Apply the Mosaic Filter

Now, we’ll be working with the copy of your layer. Go to the Filter tab at the top of the screen, scroll down to Pixelate, and then navigate to Mosaic from the fly-out menu that appears. This brings up the Mosaic window.

how to pixelate an image photoshop mosaic

3. Enter the Cell Size

Make sure the Preview check box is selected so you can see how the image will be affected. Next, enter the desired Cell Size. Alternatively, drag the slider bar below the Preview box, which directly affects detail visibility.

Dragging to the right makes the details more visible while dragging to the left makes them blurrier. I’m going to be using a 10-square size. However, this is in no way an indicator of what you should be using.

The number you enter depends on the intensity of the effect you are looking for. Every photo will have a different outcome, so experiment to see what works for you.

how to pixelate an image photoshop mosaic cell size

4. Done!

how to pixelate an image photoshop before after

Your image is now completely pixelated. If you like the result, finish editing the photo by merging layers in Photoshop.

Method 2. Pixelating Part of a Picture

Sometimes you don’t want to apply this effect to an entire image, only to a small area, or background mostly for ethical and privacy reasons. This tutorial uses the same method as the one above but with minor adjustments. It is perfect for hiding faces, license plates, or credit card numbers.

1. Create a Background Copy

To make sure our photo is preserved in its original state, create a copy of the background, just like we did in the method before. To do this, right-click the layer and select “Duplicate Layer.”

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially duplicate layer

Click “OK” right after naming the new layer.

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially background copy

2. Grab the Elliptical Marquee Tool

The next step of learning how to pixelate a picture in Photoshop is grabbing a selection tool. I’ll be using the Elliptical Marquee Tool since I want to make an oval selection. Feel free to use your favorite selection technique to specify the areas you want to affect.

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially with elliptical marquee tool

3. Select the Desired Area

Click and drag to specify the area. I’ll select the areas, that I don’t want pixelated and then reverse my selection.

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially selecting the area

4. Inverse the Selection

Next, we’ll inverse the selection. This will ensure that the changes only affect the background and not the dog. Go up to the Select tab, and go down to “Inverse.” You can also use the Shift+Ctrl+I/Shift+Cmd+I key combination.

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially inverse selection

5. Apply the Mosaic Filter

Once the area is specified, go to the top navigation bar and click “Filters,” then “Pixelate,” then “Mosaic.”

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially mosaic filter

6. Enter the Cell Size

Again, make sure the Preview check box is selected, so you can see that the changes that you apply in real-time. In the Mosaic window, enter the Cell Size manually, or use the slider to adjust it.

Try to strike a perfect balance of blurriness and detail visibility. Mind, the pixel size is directly related to the picture size: the larger the photo, the larger the size you need to enter. I’ll be using a 15-square size. When you’re satisfied with how your image looks in the preview box, click OK

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially mosaic sell size

7. Deselect

Finally, we’ll have to deactivate the active selection. Go up to the Select tab and navigate to Deselect. Alternatively, use the Ctrl+D/Cmd+D shortcut.

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially deselect

8. Done!

how to pixelate an image photoshop partially before after

Now, your background is completely pixelated. Learn how to blur edges in Photoshop or how to add a border in Photoshop to achieve similar results.

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