How to Transfer your Alola Photo Club Pictures and Improve Their Quality

Be advised, this section pertains to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon and a feature introduced therein. No other spoilers are present.

A fantastic thing about US/UM is that you can now take photos of your Pokemon, and even save them for sharing! Due to the limitations of the 3DS, however, these pictures are full of JPEG artifacts and loss of quality due to their compression, but you can indeed circumvent this depending on the tools and effort you have at your disposal.

Acquiring your photos

The photos you take are saved to your 3DS's SD card, and can be imported via two main methods. If you have a New 3DS system you can use microSD Management, which is handily detailed on this page of the Nintendo website. All you require for this method is a Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 PC, and a wireless connection.

You also can remove your SD card temporarily to import photos, via SD slots on your phone or PC. The method unfortunately varies depending on which exact system you own (with New Nintendo 3DSs requiring you to unscrew the back cover to access the SD card), but thankfully Nintendo has a comprehensive guide for all versions of 3DS and 2DS, linked here.

Most devices will try to import your photos automatically, or prompt you to do so. If you want to go in your SD card's folders manually, your photos should be located in the DCIM folder - be sure not to touch anything else to avoid corrupting your save data or downloaded content. Do things with caution and care!

[Pictured: A shiny Luxray with a starry background, at the 3DS' native resolution for photos taken. It is quite pixelly and has JPEG artifacts.]

After that, just put the SD card back in your 3DS so it can use it again, and proceed onto the editing process.

Removing JPEG artifacts

There are two different methods for this depending on whether you have access to Photoshop. Photoshop CS2 is free to download from Adobe's website at the time of writing, but I would definitely recommend that you Google and research that yourself for the best possible results.

With Photoshop

With your photo in hand, go to your Filter menu, and then Blur > Surface Blur.

[Pictured: The Surface Blur dialog box, featuring my Luxray.]

As pictured above, set your Radius to 1 pixel and your Threshold to 23 pixels, and this should eliminate most (if not all) of your JPEG artifacts. I've found this works very well as a base setting for these Pokémon photos, and you're of course free to adjust it as needed.

Before:

[Pictured: My Luxray, at 3x zoom and full of JPEG artifacts.]

After:

[Pictured: My Luxray, at 3x zoom and no longer full of JPEG artifacts.]

And, before and after at their original resolution:

[Pictured: The original photo at its original size.]

[Pictured: The same photo, minus JPEG artifacts after the process above.]

With that, my photo is free of those dreaded JPEG clusters! An untrained eye may not see the difference, but as you can see in the zoomed-in comparisons above, it does actually make a huge improvement.

Without Photoshop

A free, cross-compatible alternative to Photoshop is GIMP, which is less advanced in places but definitely capable of removing JPEG artifacts. Its interface can be very daunting upon opening it for the first time, but for this we only need to do a filter.

In GIMP, click on the Filters menu, and then Blur > Selective Gaussian Blur.

[Pictured: The Selective Gaussian Blur interface in GIMP.]

A Blur radius of 5.00 with a Max. delta of 25 should be very effective, but again, feel free to adjust it to your liking.

[Pictured: Luxray, after the aforementioned filter in GIMP.]

Whether you use Photoshop or GIMP, you may still want to zoom in and comb your photos for further imperfections if you're very picky, as automatic filters can only do so much. With any luck, though, these methods should be a huge and quick help!

Enlarging your photo

[Pictured: Luxray, after the JPEG artifact removal and at 2x size, with no further filtering.]

A very popular style on Tumblr at the time of writing is having very smooth, photoshopped Pokémon photos for display, with almost no pixellation. This section of the guide is optional, but will teach you a quick method to do just that, should you want that kind of style.

With your photos free of JPEG artifacts from the previous section of the guide, you proceed as follows:

[Pictured: Photoshop's Reduce Noise prompt, featuring the same Luxray photo.]

In Photoshop, go to your Filter menu and then Noise > Reduce Noise, inputting the values as seen above - Strength at 10, Sharpen Details at 50%, and everything else at 0. You should not need to click the Remove JPEG Artifact box after the previous section of this guide, and it can affect your edited picture in ways you may not quite want.

Do note that for photos with small details (such as ones featuring your player character) you will need to fiddle with the sliders to not lose said small details. In those cases, try adjusting the Strength to lower levels, and moving the Sharpen Details slider to different amounts. There isn't a fully set way on how to do this, so don't be afraid to experiment until it looks right to you!

[Pictured: The Luxray photo, still at the same size but smoother.]

Now that you have your smoother base picture, it's time to enlargen it. Upload your filtered photo to one of the following websites, and select at least 2x:

[Pictured: The Luxray photo, now embiggened!]

And with those few steps, we have a big and smooth picture! Any further levels adjustments or edits you make to your own photos are all down to you - use your powers wisely.

When you don't have Photoshop

Unfortunately, due to the small size of Pokémon photos and the less-advanced nature of GIMP, I haven't found a filter that automatically smooths out your photo without also losing important details (such as Luxray's mouth).

Whilst your options may be more limited, it's not a total loss, I promise! The photo-enlarging websites above still do well with your otherwise-unaltered, JPEG-free Pokémon photos, and in the end it comes down to how picky you are about quality and smoothness. It's unfortunate, but the 3D models in US/UM will always be a little bumpy, particularly with regards to markings and textures. You might even prefer how it looks with harder edges, honestly!

[Pictured: An embiggened yet bumpy Luxray photo.]

Additionally, you can just upscale your picture without the aid of smoothing, leaving them gloriously pixelly. It's all down to preference, and what you do with your own photos is all down to you.

[Pictured: Luxray, after the JPEG artifact removal and at 2x size, with no further filtering.]

Do your best, and take some fantastic Pokémon photos!

Page last updated on 27th April 2018 at 10:53 GMT.