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After Effects Quick Tip: Minimizing Pixelation and Artifacts

Aaron Williams

Here are three quick ways to minimize pixelation and artifacts in low-res pictures!

No mater how much you try to avoid it, eventually you’re going to have to use some images in a project that are just too small. There are some creative motion-graphics solutions for getting around scaling the images up to a point where you see any pixelation, but here are three quick ways to minimize pixelation when you really need to scale them up to full-fame or larger in After Effects.

Here’s the low-res picture we’ll be using at it’s original size in a 1080p comp.

Yes, that’s me. I was an awkward teenager. Can we ignore that please! 🙂

Original Size

I’ve had to scale it up to 450%, so you can see the artifacting below:

Original Scaled

1. Detail-Preserving Upscale

The Detail-Preserving Upscale effect is a relatively new feature in After Effects, and it’s pretty simple to use. Leave the layer’s scale at 100%, then increase the layer scale in the effect itself. It does a pretty great job, though sometimes the images come out looking just a bit over-sharpened.

Detail Filter

Detail Results

2. Find Edges and Camera Blur

For this method, duplicate the image and precomp it, telling it to “Leave all attributes” in the original comp. Open the precomp and apply a Find Edges effect. You’ll use this as a matte to blur out any pixelated edges.


Find Edges Effect

Find Edges

Go back to the main comp, turn off the precomp, and apply the Camera Blur effect to the original picture. Set the Blur Map to the precomp and set the Blur Radius to 1.

Camera Blur Effect

Camera Blur

This kind-of has the opposite effect of the Detail-Preserving Upscale. You lose a bit of detail/definition, but it’s not a total blur of the whole image.

3. Add Film Grain

My personal favorite, and in my opinion, the easiest of all. If you don’t mind a bit of a vintage look, film grain is a great way to cover pixelation. I pulled in a “16mm” clip from my personal Cinegrain package (any equivalent film grain will do), set it to overlay.

I then selected “Freeze Frame” (an optional step). Right away, you can see that almost all traces of the pixelation/artifacting are hidden by the grain. The heavier the grain, the more pixelation/artifacting it covers up!

Grain Effect

Freeze rame


I hope these three methods help when you’re stuck using tiny assets! If you’ve got any of your own recipes for minimizing grain in After Effects let us know in the comments below!