Why do low resolution images have washed out colors?

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I notice this a lot when drawing digital images and watching videos on Youtube. How come lower resolutions cause colors to appear less vibrant?

In: 3

Less color depth and saturation with lower resolution as a part of compression to keep the data streaming amount as low as possible

The lower saturation is due to the process services like youtube take to reducing the resolution of a picture before transmitting it to you.

Disclaimer: this explanation isn’t the full picture, but it is sufficient for a 5 year old.

All images, once presented on your screen, are encoded as a series of pixels, which are tiny dots on your screen that are some variation of colour (red, green, blue, black, white, grey etc)

Imagine you have a picture that consists of 4×4 pixels (high resolution) and you need to compress it into a picture that is just 1×1 pixel, you’ll end up needing to average out the colour of all pixels and then selecting one colour that best represents all of those colours. You will get a much less saturated image because there are literally less colours in the image.

The same process applies with 1024×800 pixel images when downsized to 600×400. We need to try and produce an accurate representation but with less pixels, the method we use (not necessarily as simple as averaging, there are various approaches) will typically reduce saturation because there is less colour data we can share.