The idea of using artificial intelligence for image upscaling emerged 20 years ago. Of course, AI tools have been around for a long time. The point is, until recent years, we simply lacked the computational power to do something truly grandiose. However, in the 2000s, industrial AI tools were used for processing low-resolution images, such as photos obtained from scanners or digital cameras with very low resolutions at that time. However, the AI tools of that time were limited in their capabilities because they were not technologically advanced enough to process large volumes of data.
Today, image processing AI and deep learning tools have become more efficient, and processor resources have become significantly cheaper. It has reached the times where it is quite realistic to find a AI tool that will process your photos, upscale them, and do it all for free.
Free AI online tools for image upscaling
There are few things in the world that are free, even in the IT-technology and AI tool saturated world. But let me explain how it works and why the existence of free AI tools for online photo upscaling is possible. It won’t take long, as there are only two options.
The first option for being free represents a AI tool exists as a project of enthusiasts. A great example of this is waifu2x from my list. And it does not mean that the product of programmers working on the AI tool without payment functions poorly. It could simply be an open-source project from a world-renowned university like MIT, Harvard, or Berkeley. That’s exactly how the MP3 format came into existence. I’m sure you know about it.
The second option, and there are probably more of these AI tools, implies that there is still payment for image upscaling. However! Only for those who want to use all the features to the maximum. For example, increasing the size of photos online using a AI tool by 10 times instead of three, or processing a whole archive of hundreds of images at once. For individual home use, these options are quite suitable. Moreover, nothing prevents you from clearing cookies in your browser and using even paid AI tools an unlimited number of times.
List of AI tools for image upscaling
Below, I have compiled a list of ten best AI image processing tools for upscaling photos online:
waifu2x — Japanese precision in photo upscaling
The image AI tool clearly hints at some anime motifs since «waifu» means «wife» in Japanese. By the way, the neural net supports many languages by default, and the creators of the AI tool are not Japanese at all. But the project turned out to be stable, one of the oldest, and initially free. Image upscaling is possible up to four times, and the neural net interface is as simple as possible. The resulting photos are not blurry, just don’t go overboard with the settings. I would also recommend reducing the file size initially, especially if you are using the AI tool from your phone. The Snapseed app (for example) can help you to reduce the size of a photo.
Lets Enhance — online photo enhancement
It handles human photos well, with the neural AI engine, this tool even enlarging the image up to eight times. Of course, it greatly depends on the quality of the source image. Try not to submit photos taken just now with your smartphone; instead, try reducing their size a bit beforehand. The neural AI tool will handle the upscaling, but whether your phone can read the resulting outcome is a question.
Real-esrgan — diving into online upscaling
A neural AI tool that works simply and without unnecessary settings. Photo upscaling is free. The project was created by mathematics students and launched on Replicate servers; it still performs well. It’s one of my favorite options for image upscaling. It’s one of those cases where you marvel at how a free website can exist successfully even without intrusive advertising.
Icon8 — no settings and no registration
Icon8 is a neural AI tool for image enlargement that is part of an online combiner. The company has been well-known for a long time and has been working with graphics since the seventh version of Photoshop. The advantage is that it doesn’t require registration. You visit the website, upload a photo, and receive an enlarged version of the image. There are no settings, making it an excellent option for those who value simplicity. The neural AI tool enhances the quality of 10 images for free. However, you can clean your cookies afterward and use it again.
Neural Love — a well-known neural AI tool for photos
I filmed a video about these guys a couple of years ago when they processed a portrait of Pushkin using their neural AI tool. It turned out to be amusing. But you don’t have to be a great poet. After each registration, the free image processing, including upscaling using the neural AI tool, is available to every user. After the trial period, the creators do want money from you. However, when has that ever stopped us? The algorithm is genuinely good, so I’m willing to use the neural AI tool even with all its quirks.
Image Restoration Swin — online JPEG upscaling
The word «swin» is some clever abbreviation, and the neural AI tool upscales images online using the same Replicate resources. It deserves separate attention because it allows you to save the result directly as a JPEG with a choice of compression percentage, all while being a free neural AI tool. You can also adjust the «film gain,» a feature familiar to people acquainted with Adobe Lightroom. This function activates a noise algorithm, but it’s very subtle. This way, the neural AI tool can make the upscaled photos appear more natural.
Upscayl — photo enlargement through AI tools directly on your PC/Mac
This multi-platform AI tool option for image enlargement works completely free of charge and enlarges photos up to 4 times using the computational capabilities of your computer. It should be understood that this is not just an ordinary enlarger like in Adobe Photoshop (even if it’s bilinear). It is truly a next-generation product, with its fully open-source code available on GitHub. In general, hosting source code on this service is a standard practice of openness and security. The code for the popular messenger Telegram, for example, is also accessible, and anyone can verify it. Honestly, I’m genuinely concerned that such a powerful tool for increasing photo resolution may not remain free for long. Let’s enjoy its availability while it lasts!
Topaz — AI tool for professionals
Did you notice that I left the most of well-known «pro-software companies» at the end of the list of AI tools? Perhaps because only those truly interested in the topic will read this far. Topaz has been a major player in the image processing market for the past 20 years. Those who have been using Adobe Photoshop for a long time are familiar with this brand. Who knows better than them how to enlarge images using artificial intelligence tools? The results are truly impressive, and the AI tool upscales photos in various modes. It works well with online portrait photo enlargement. Unfortunately, frequent use of the AI tool is not free, and after 10 photos, Topaz will ask you for money.
Bonus! AI tool for anime style photos
Surely you’ve seen a huge number of avatars with photos processed in an anime style. This is done manually, of course, or with the help of this image AI tool. It not only improves the image quality but also adds the charm of Japanese animated films to your photo.
Have you chosen the perfect AI image tool?
I hope you have!
Feel free to write me to the comments below. I’ll be happy to help you or add something interesting to the list.
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