Veronica With Four Eyes

How To Create High Resolution Images For Low Vision

High resolution images are my favorite images- and as a person with low vision, they are the only types of images I can see. High resolution images can be used with screen magnification tools, displayed on multiple devices and screen sizes, or enlarged on a projector or similar magnification tools, and are a valuable tool for users with low vision. Here are my tips for how to create high resolution images for low vision, and how to locate high resolution images online.

Definition of a high resolution image

A high resolution image is defined as having at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) and can be scaled across multiple sizes for web and print materials, as well as enlarged without any visible pixelation or blurriness.

High resolution images typically are saved as Portable Network Graphics (PNG), though JPEG and GIF images can also meet the criteria for high resolution images. I prefer to use PNG files whenever possible, as they have a wide range of colors and compression options, and can be enlarged without sacrificing quality.

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Color images vs black and white

There’s a common misconception that black and white graphics are the best option for high resolution images for users with low vision, since they have a limited color palette. However, color images are also great candidates for creating high resolution images, especially rich and saturated colors. I actually prefer to use color images myself, because I have normal color vision and can use color to convey or get a quick glance at information.

One option for making colored text easier to read is to add a black or white border around each character so that it “pops” against the background.

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Creating high contrast images

High contrast images often use a simplified color palette and are designed with high visibility in mind.

Examples of images with high contrast include:

  • Two-color schemes like canary yellow and black, black and white, canary yellow and cobalt blue, bright red and yellow, or cherry red and black
  • Images with bold text, or black text with white outlines that is visible on any background color
  • Solid colored background or limited images on the screen
  • Images that are taken with clear lighting with easy to identify objects and text
  • Objects against a solid black background, such as those created for Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI)

Examples of image with low contrast include:

  • Gray pencil lead on white paper, or pencils in general
  • Images that consist of only light colors or only dark colors, which can be hard to identify- one example I use is videos that are filmed by candlelight
  • Images that have been copied multiple times and distorted, i.e “deep fried memes”
  • Content that has a lot of artifacts or floaters that distract from text

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Creating high resolution images using technology

Some of my favorite ways to create high-resolution images with mainstream technology include:

  • Adding shapes/lines and drawing with a stylus, mouse, or finger in the Paint application, which comes pre-installed on Windows computers
  • Create designs in PowerPoint and save slides as PNG files
  • Draw on a blank canvas in the PicsArt app for iOS and Android
  • Use a digital whiteboard application like Apple Freeform or Microsoft Whiteboard and take a screenshot
  • In iOS 15 and later, long press over the subject of a photo in the Photos app to remove the background and copy the image to the clipboard, or save the image with a transparent background and add it to another project
  • Create designs with Canva using their free web or mobile applications- this is how I create all of the graphics for my website, with the exception of my logo

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Drawing images by hand for high resolution scans

A few tips for drawing diagrams and pictures that can be converted to high resolution images:

  • High contrast tools like markers, Sharpie pens, high contrast pens, and similar writing tools work best
  • If using a dry erase board, make sure the board has been wiped clean and there are no shadows, and use bold ink colors that are not faded
  • Use cardstock or other thick paper to avoid having ink bleed through or reflections/artifacting on the scanned images
  • For uniform shapes, use tools like rulers, protractors, compasses, and similar
  • Avoid wrinkled paper or paper that has been crumbled

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Tips for scanning high resolution images

  • Use the highest resolution available for scanners and printers
  • Position pages flat on a table, and use a different colored background- avoid scanning white paper on top of a white desk when possible
  • If using a mobile scanner, make sure that there is no shadow cast over the image
  • For mobile scanning, I love the Microsoft Office Lens application for Android and iOS- I’ve linked an entire post about Microsoft Office Lens below

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Searching for high resolution images

Several search engines have filters for finding HD or high resolution images, along with options to search for images with a minimum resolution. This can be done by selecting the Filter option on Bing or Tools on Google, and choosing a size from the drop-down menu.

Some examples of websites that have a large amount of high resolution images include:

  • Wikimedia Commons
  • US Government websites
  • Museum archives
  • University libraries/.edu websites
  • Pexels

Reverse search for high resolution images

Already have an image and looking to see if it’s available in a higher resolution? Run a reverse search for an image to see if there are other image dimensions available on other websites. A few options for doing this include:

  • Right clicking or long-pressing on an image on any website and selecting Search For This Image
  • Selecting an image in the image search results page and selecting Search for This Image or Additional Sizes
  • Upload the image to
  • Select the Visual Search icon on Pinterest to search for an image on Pinterest

Improving the resolution of existing images

There are a few tools online and that are available with photo editing applications for increasing the resolution of images and improving the clarity of existing images, including:

  • PicsArt AI photo enhancements and the ability to resize images
  • Free websites for increasing photo resolution- Fotor is one example
  • Adobe Express Image Enhancer, a free tool from Adobe that I’ve used in an internship

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More tips on how to create high resolution images for low vision

  • When working on classwork, I like to open images in a new tab to magnify them, as this is easier than trying to zoom in on the page.
  • Other materials such as tape or stickers can be added to paper to create high resolution images- this is helpful for creating solid lines
  • Want to learn more about making images accessible? Check out How To Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions for the Visually Impaired

Here are my favorite tips for how to create high resolution images for low vision users- a must have for students with visual impairments!