Smooth Edges on Non-Vector Icons in Photoshop


In today’s comprehensive guide, we dive into a frequent yet vexing issue many encounter in Adobe Photoshop: the degradation of image quality when enlarging icons.

This problem, often faced by graphic designers and digital artists, manifests as fuzzy, blurry, or pixelated edges, which can significantly detract from the overall quality of your work. We’ll explore a practical solution to this common dilemma.

Understanding The Issue: Pixelation And Blurring

When you’re working in Photoshop and attempt to enlarge a non-vector icon, you’re likely to encounter a range of issues with the icon’s edges.

These can include fuzziness, blurriness, pixelation, or even curved edges, which render the icon unsuitable for professional use. This problem arises because non-vector images (like JPEGs and PNGs) are made up of pixels, which become more apparent and distorted when these images are scaled up.

The Ideal Solution: Using Vector Icons

Vector icons, in contrast to their raster (pixel-based) counterparts, are made using paths and shapes instead of pixels. This difference allows them to be scaled up or down without any loss in quality. However, there are instances when you might not have access to a vector version of the icon you need. In such cases, you’ll need an effective workaround.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Improving Your Enlarged Icon

Preparing Your Icon

  1. Open the Logo: Begin by opening the logo or icon you intend to improve in Photoshop. For example, let’s consider the Wikipedia logo.
  2. Inspect and Enlarge: Notice if your icon is a smart object or not. Enlarge it by pressing CTRL + T and observe the issues with the edges.

The Quick Fix: Blurring and Sharpening

Apply Gaussian Blur:

  • Navigate to Filter in the menu.
  • Select Blur, then Gaussian Blur.
  • In the Gaussian Blur window, adjust the radius to blur the edges enough so that the pixelation is no longer visible.

Sharpen the Edges:

  • Add an Adjustment Layer by clicking on the corresponding icon.
  • Choose Curves.
  • In the Curves window, you’ll see two points. Adjust them along the centerline to sharpen the logo.

While this process enhances the logo by sharpening it and mitigating pixelation, it’s important to note that it can sometimes round off angular edges. If your logo has specific corners that need to remain sharp, you might need to manually adjust them after applying the sharpening.


This tutorial offers a straightforward method to address the problem of pixelated edges when enlarging small icons or logos in Photoshop. While not a perfect solution, it provides a viable alternative when vector versions of the required icons are unavailable.