Waifu2x is an image noise reducer and upscaling tool for anime artwork and photos.
Waifu2x has two main use cases. You can use it to make an image larger while retaining its quality.
Alternatively, you can use it to reduce image noise in anime artwork or images. Image noise, such as variations in color, can decrease the quality of an image; Waifu2x aims to fix that by reducing noise using AI.
While originally designed for anime and still primarily used for such, it can be used for any type of image — but it won’t necessarily produce the best results when used for non-anime photos.
Since it was trained for anime, non-anime photos won’t come out looking as good.
Fortunately, there are many Waifu2x alternatives for regular pictures as well. These alternatives allow you to upscale any image, enhance it, and more.
Also, Waifu2x only allows upscaling to 2x. Many of the alternatives below, however, allow upscaling of up to 8x or even 16x.
Not all of them are free, so do keep that in mind.
Let’s Enhance, or LetsEnhance.io, is one of the best image-enhancing tools online. It works for all kinds of images, not just anime images like Waifu2x, and it produces excellent results.
Let’s Enhance uses artificial intelligence to find dark areas of a photo and color correct them, producing a balanced end result. All color and tone adjustments are done automatically, so you don’t need to fiddle around with the tool — that makes it great for people without a lot of experience or color correction/photo editing skills.
You can use Let’s Enhance for literally anything, including oil paintings! In addition to enhancing images while retaining their size, you can resize images and upscale them up to 16x without any quality loss.
Let’s Enhance is also useful for eCommerce businesses that want to provide better quality images on their product pages. You can quickly adjust the image quality of all your pictures and create higher resolution images, resized for social media and different device types.
With bulk processing, you won’t need to upload each image one at a time.
You can even print out the photos — they’ll look great. You can use them in exhibitions, trade shows, physical media ads, or anywhere else.
Like Waifu2x, Let’s Enhance uses Deep Convolutional Neural Networks to train the tool and increase size without reducing image quality.
According to Let’s Enhance, it is trained on a huge dataset of images, so it can recognize features typical in images and add quality and details when you resize an image and make it bigger.
The difference between Let’s Enhance and Waifu2x is that Waifu2x is trained only on anime images, so it won’t recognize features typical in other images, like bricks or a table.
Let’s Enhance can add quality based on features it has learned to recognize from other images with similar objects, while Waifu2x only “recognizes” anime. That’s why the results you get from uploading a standard image to Waifu2x won’t be as great.
It is best to use images that you have not yet used with any other image upscaling or processing tool. Raw photos work best.
Let’s Enhance isn’t free, but it does let you enhance up to five images on the free trial plan. After that, plans start at $9/month for 100 credits per month.
Each credit allows you to enhance one image. However, they roll over to the next month if you do not use them.
Always refer to the pricing page for updated pricing information.
The AI Image Enlarger suite is a collection of six tools that allow you to enhance images in a variety of ways. Not only does it go beyond anime images, but unlike Waifu2x, you can also use it for retouching selfies and portrait photos for social media or professional profile pictures.
So, let’s go through all the tools in the suite and see what they do.
The AI Image Enlarger allows you to enhance an image by 200 percent, 400 percent, and 800 percent. It uses a RCNN neural network and is trained with thousands of images of all kinds, so it can recognize your image and insert additional details during the upscaling, so you don’t lose any image quality.
One cool feature of AI Image Enlarger is that all uploaded images are cleared from the system in 24 hours. That means you don’t have to worry as much about privacy or images being leaked.
AI Image Enlarger can be used for your website images, for sharing on social media, or even for printing.
The second tool is AI Image Sharpener. AI Image Sharpener is for when you don’t want to enlarge or enhance an image but rather make a blurry image crispier; the tool will make the edges clearer and enhance image quality, as shown in the demo below.
The next tool in the suite is the AI Image Enhancer, which can improve the quality of any photo. It doesn’t make edges sharper; instead, it uses more advanced techniques like contrast enhancements to make your image look more professional, improve saturation, and make it look as if you took it with a better quality camera.
You can convert images to HDR quality using AI with this tool. All of these enhancements take place automatically, with no manual editing on your part.
The AI Image Denoise Tool works to remove noise from images — like Waifu2x but is trained on regular images, not just anime.
One of the coolest tools in the suite is the AI Background Remover tool. With a few clicks, you can strip the background from an image while retaining the quality of the main object in the image.
Finally, we come to the AI Face Retouch tool, which I talked about earlier. It is one of the free tools in the suite.
Unlike other image enhancer apps or tools, you don’t need to use any brushes or do manual edits to retouch your eyes, skin, and face. AI Face Retouch will make your face look better and apply digital makeup as needed automatically — just upload your image and wait for the results.
All in all, I think the AI Image Enlarger suite is a useful tool to have in your arsenal.
3. Vance AI
While a lot of the alternatives in this list have a broader focus than just anime, there are still some good alternatives to Waifu2x for anime lovers. One example is Vance AI.
Vance AI’s Anime Upscaler tool is actually based on Waifu2x. However, it allows you to upscale images by up to 16x, a lot more than what Waifu2x allows for.
Another thing that makes Vance AI superior to Waifu2x is that in addition to its Waifu2x-based anime upscaling tool, it offers several image enhancement tools for regular photos as well.
Thus, you get the full package, unlike Waifu2x — or even some Waifu2x alternatives, which may be great for regular pictures but not that great for anime.
There are so many tools, but let’s quickly go through all of them here:
- AI Image Enlarger: This tool allows you to upscale regular, non-anime images by up to 800 percent, whether for social media, eCommerce, print media, or anything else.
- AI Image Denoiser: This tool uses deep learning to remove noise and grain from pictures.
- AI Image Sharpener: If you have a blurry photo, you can make it more crisp and clear in just five seconds for free using the Vance AI Image Sharpener tool.
- AI BGremover: The AI Background Remover tool uses machine learning to handle tricky situations like hair or fur and remove backgrounds seamlessly.
- AI Colorizer: The Vance AI Colorizer tool takes black and white photos and uses artificial intelligence to color them in. You can colorize family photos, historical pictures, and even clips. In addition to colorizing the images, AI Colorizer can fix yellow tints and enhance faces in black and white pictures.
- AI Photo Restorer: The AI Photo Restorer tool is a bit different from the Colorizer tool. Instead of colorizing old pictures, it restores them by removing scratches, tears, spots, and other imperfections or damage that old pictures experience over time. You can always use the Colorizer tool afterward to color the images you restored.
- Toongineer Cartoonizer: Want to turn yourself or your pet into a cartoon? Using Vance AI Cartoonizer’s tool, you can do just that. You can also turn images of nature or anything into cartoons.
- AI Sketch Converter: Similarly, you can turn an image of yourself into a sketch or stencil picture. It takes just a few seconds.
- AI Photo Retoucher: The AI Photo Retoucher tool enhances your pictures automatically into DSLR camera quality. From brightening to contrast correction to saturation improvement, AI Photo Retoucher will do it all. It’s great for pictures you took on an old smartphone with a poor camera.
- AI Image Compressor: While Waifu2x allows you to upscale images, it isn’t a compressor tool. Vance AI allows you to compress images to save size and space while retaining quality. You can batch compress up to 20 images at once. It’s great for bloggers who want to reduce loading time while retaining image quality.
- Image Cropper: Quickly crop images using preset or custom ratios.
- Image Resizer: Resize images quickly for social media or other purposes. Keep in mind that the image resizer tool is not the same as the upscale tool — use the upscaling tool for better quality.
- Image Rotator: Quickly rotate an image online.
- Image Flipper: Flip an image on the web, quickly and easily.
Those are a lot of tools! So many tools can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s good to have them all in one app.
Pricing is very affordable too. While you only get three credits for free, plans start at just $9.99 for 200 credits (see the pricing page for updated pricing).
Bigjpg is based on Waifu2x, and it also uses neural networks to enhance images when upscaling them. It is a great alternative to Waifu2x if you’d like to upscale anime and regular images — like Waifu2x, it supports anime images, but Bigjpg has expanded to support regular images as well.
There are a few ways to use Bigjpg. There is the online tool, which requires no signup and allows you to quickly upscale and enhance an image.
If you create an account and log in, however, you can view your enlarging history.
You can use the desktop app, available for Windows and Macs. Or, you can download Bigjpg from Google Play or on iOS to enlarge images on your mobile device.
The maximum image size you can upload is 3000 x 3000 pixels and 5M. If you sign up for the premium plan, you can increase the size limit to 50 MB.
Signing up for a premium account will give you additional perks, such as:
- Enlarge up to 2,000 images per month, depending on your plan
- Enlarge up to 16x without losing quality
- Batch upload multiple images at once
If you’re looking for an app like Waifu2x to reduce image noise and restore the quality of images — but for regular images, not just anime — jpgHD is a good alternative. It’s especially effective for older photos, scratched photos, and the like.
For example, you can upload digital versions of black and white pictures and restore the color, while enhancing the quality and making them look more modern.
jpgHD also allows you to enhance anime photos. In fact, if you look at the examples of before and after pictures on its homepage, you will see mostly regular pictures but also an example of how it enhanced an anime picture as well.
While enhancing five images is free, you can enhance 50 images for just $5 or 270 images for just $18. Check the homepage and click on the “Pricing” tab to see a popup with updated pricing.
The downside of jpgHD is that it can take up to five minutes for it to process an image. However, smaller images will usually take quicker.
One thing that Waifu2x can’t do is enhance GIFs or videos. Bigmp4 is a good substitute if you’d like to do so.
Here are some of the things you can do with Bigmp4, without losing any quality:
- Reduce noise using AI
- Colorize black and white videos to make old videos look more modern
- Increase video FPS (frames per second)
- Enlarge and enhance videos to 4k or 8k
Bigmp4 also allows you to enhance GIFs, with the same features it offers for videos. For example, if you have a black and white GIF, you can make it colorful.
Icons8 is a well-known library with many free and premium icons and images you can use. What many people don’t know, however, is that it also provides an AI image upscaler tool.
Icons8 trained its tool using five million photos. What makes it unique is that the tool specializes in upscaling images with text and eyes without losing quality — although you can upscale any image, images with those will come out looking the best.
Smart Upscaler is only free for three images. After that, it will cost $0.20 per image, but you can also upscale 100 images per month for $9/month or pay $99/month for unlimited upscaling (check the Smart Upscaler page for updated pricing information).
Benvista PhotoZoom Pro allows you to resize images to a much larger size than Waifu2x and other top alternatives, up to 1 million x 1 million pixels! There are a number of presets to choose from, but you can also create your own custom presets and resize profiles.
Another cool thing about Benvista PhotoZoom Pro, which might make it more convenient for you than Waifu2x, is that it isn’t just a standalone program but also available as a plugin for popular editing tools. So, you can use it as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Corel PaintShop Pro, and more.
With batch processing, you can save time and upload multiple photos at once. It also supports split-screen previewing, which allows you to quickly compare different resize methods.
Finally, Benvista PhotoZoom Pro comes with a handy cropping tool.
StockPhotos.com, which is a tool for finding stock photos on sites like Shutterstock, provides a free image upscaler tool powered by artificial intelligence. Unlike Waifu2x, it allows you to upscale any kind of picture, and it allows for upscaling to up to 8x without ruining the image quality.
According to Stock Photos, its Upscaler tool was trained on millions of images. Using data learned from those images, Upscaler is able to add pixels and data in between existing ones to produce a beautiful, high-resolution end result.
However, on the free plan, you can only upscale three images, and only up to 2x.
There are three styles to choose from — according to Stock Photos, some styles work better for certain types of images, like portraits.
The Upscaler tool supports the following upload and export formats: JPG, PNG, WEBP, and BMP. Waifu2x (or at least this version) only supports exporting in PNG and JPG formats.
Pricing is relatively affordable, with plans starting at just $5 for 20 upscales or $15 for 100 upscales. If you have a lot of images you need to upscale and the existing plans do not fit your needs, you may be able to get a high volume discount and custom plan.
As pricing is subject to change, always look at the pricing page for updated pricing information.
Zyro is a platform you can use to create an online store or website, but it also has a free image upscaler tool, powered by Zyro AI. Although it is very useful for those who want high-quality images for their websites, Zyro’s upscaling tool can be used by anyone, for any purpose.
It’s very similar to Waifu2x, but it is simpler to use. Just upload an image or drag and drop an image file into the box, and the tool will get to work for you.
Right now, it does not have any image noise reduction capabilities, but Zyro plans to release support for that in the future.
11. Deep Image
Deep Image is an image upscaling tool that has many applications. You can use it to create awesome photos for real estate listings, upscale images for product pages, and even generate high-quality resolution photos for printing.
One of the advantages it holds over Waifu2x, for example, is that it integrates with Google Drive. This integration allows for bulk uploading and processing.
Not only that, but Deep Image integrates with Shopify, making upscaling photos for your eCommerce store really easy. There is also a public API you can use to streamline your workflow.
Another advantage Deep Image has over Waifu2x is that while Waifu2x only allows you to double your image at most, Deep Image allows you to upscale up to 4x.
Together with upscaling, Deep Image sharpens photos and reduces image noise.
Using Deep Image, you can upscale up to five images for free. After that, you can either get a subscription or pay as you go if you will be using it less frequently.
Subscription plans start at $9/month for 100 credits and go up to $69/month for 1,000 credits.
If you pay per credit, it will cost a bit more, but you might save money if you don’t use the tool very often. Packages start at just $1.99 for five credits and go up to $9.99 for 50 credits.
Deep Image also has apps for Android and IOS.
Let’s Enhance is the best alternative to Waifu2x for regular images. It upscales images with excellent quality.
For anime images and for compressing, resizing, cropping, enhancing old photos, colorizing, and more, I’d recommend the AI Image Enlarger suite or Vance AI.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.