Improving 3DS Screenshot Quality

Icon_0007_Pitfall Update: 26/06/2018 Icon_0007_Pitfall
Given that the Miiverse service has now been discontinued (thanks Nintendo), I’ve decided to edit this guide since it’s still gaining relatively good traction. As always, let me know if you have any questions either here (in the comments) or on my Tumblr!

So, the 3DS is a great handheld – it’s lightweight, portable and has a fantastic range of exclusive titles *looks at the New Leaf cartridge sitting comfortably in my 3DS*, but one thing Nintendo has left to be desired (as always) is the internal resolution. With the 3D effect turned on, any pixelation is barely noticeable, but particularly in screenshots, there is a clear lack of definition.

Let’s fix that! Well, kind of… I mean, your screenshots will look pretty at least!

So, there’s two paths you can take at this point (choose wisely young explorer):

  • The easy way: Using the online tool: Waifu2x.
    Despite the questionable name, Waifu2x is a powerful online tool that can both upscale and intelligently reduce noise in any photo or illustration. This technique is simple, all online and doesn’t require Photoshop.
  • The hard way: Photoshop.
    If you’re feeling more adventurous, feel free to take the process into your own hands. While not really challenging, this method does take a lot longer than simply throwing your picture at Waifu2x and taking whatever it spits back at you.


Using Waifu2x to improve your screenshots really is self explanatory. Simply click here to access the site and upload your image.

You’re going to want to choose “artwork” as your style, and be sure to scale the image up for the best results (I tend to do 2x). As for the level of noise reduction, that depends on the image in question so be sure to experiment. It can be tempting to go straight for the highest level of noise reduction but, be warned, this can often make your colours look muddy and cause a loss of definition in your screenshots.

When you’re happy with your settings, hit ‘Result’ to view your final image. Looking silky smooth? Great! Go ahead and download your sparkly, new screenshot! Not quite the result you expected? Change your settings, rinse and repeat.


Step 1 – Take your screenshot and transfer it to your computer

For the best results, use Miiverse for capturing your moment and download the image from there. For the purpose of this tutorial, I visited a dream of Citàlune, the beautiful town of my friend Amy! Here’s the original, unedited picture:

1 - Miiverse Copy

Step 2 – Create a new Photoshop document

Simply open Photoshop, go to File > New… and create a new document. Feel free to use whatever dimensions you like but I’ve provided some below in case you’re at a loss!

2 - Menu - New

Copy and paste your screenshot into your new document.

Step 3 – Resize to fit

The next step is to scale your image up to fit your workspace. I find noise reduction is more effective on larger images. To resize, simply right click your pasted screenshot and click ‘Free Transform‘ like so:

3 - Free Transform
From here you can simply resize the image by dragging on its corners until they’re in line with the corners of your canvas. Be sure to hold shift to maintain the original aspect ratio. When your size seems good, hit the enter key to apply the transformation.

Step 4 – Applying the filter!

We’re almost there, just one last step! Go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise and take a look at the dialogue that pops up:

4 - Dropdown   5 - Dialogue

The above settings are what worked best for this picture although I encourage you to mess around with each of the sliders until you find the perfect balance for your screenshot! When you play with the settings, you’ll notice both the picture in the dialogue box and your screenshot (in the background) will change. Unchecking the ‘preview’ button is an easy way to switch between your edit and the original image without having to leave the Reduce Noise window. When you’re happy with your work click the ‘OK‘ button.

Step 5 – Save and pat yourself on the back!

That’s it, you’re done! Head to File > Save As… and save your new silky-smooth image in your desired format (e.g. png, jpeg…).

6 - Final

Thanks again to Amy for, um, having a really, really pretty town! Icon_0028_Jacobs-ladder


3 thoughts on “Improving 3DS Screenshot Quality

  1. Hello, I really love this tutorial and appreciate it. One question, however. What photoshop do you use? I’ve seen so many apps, and I really want to make sure I’m using the right one. Thanks!

    • I have no idea how this comment went under my radar for so long, if you’re reading this I’m so sorry!

      In case anyone else is curious, Any version of Photoshop should work fine for the purpose of noise reduction. This includes both CS and CC versions.

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