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Review the scanning techniques graphics professionals and photographers use, while delving into workflow considerations and the advanced image-quality controls available in most scanning software. Author Taz Tally explains the core concepts, such as how resolution and interpolation affect scans; introduces the industry-standard SilverFast scanning software; and shares the settings to achieve the best results from a scan. The course also covers keeping your scanner and its parts clean and free of dust, and includes a variety of start-to-finish scanning tasks.
Here we're going to address the whole topic of sharpening, and in fact in the next two movies this one and the next one on de-screening, and they're closely related. I'll recommend that you actually view and study both of them. We're going to start with sharpening. In our previous discussions of sharpening we talked about establishing your workflows to where you're going to do your sharpening. Honestly I typically don't do my sharpening during the scan. I wait until much later in my workflow process, because the scan is very rarely the last thing I am going to do to my image even with a program like SilverFast which provide me so many controls. There's still a lot of composition work and editing and masking and so forth that I tend to do to my images might get them in the Photoshop.
If I'm going to be applying a lot of editing I don't want to do more sharpening until I'm all done with my editing, because remember that sharpening is an edge contrast enhancement tool and it actually removes grayscale values from your image. However, there are some images that you want to just scan, sharpen, and print and let's say that I didn't want to do anything to this image of my buddy Zip, my constant companion, you know I've hiked over 1000 miles together. He is a wonderful Cardigan Welsh Corgi, so sweet. And let's say I just wanted to scan and print, I'm ready to go. So I've decided I'm going to apply Sharpening during the actual scan process, because I don't want to have anymore work to do when I get into Photoshop and I'm happy with the results that I'm getting here.
First thing I'm going to do of course is set my other scan parameters, I'm going to go 16 to 8-bit, set my frame, and my red frame appear at 7.9, I want an 8x8 image, so I've set that here, I've assigned my Output Resolution of 240 pixels per inch, because I've got a Q-Factor of 1 because I'm going to be printing this on my high quality inkjet printer. And notice when I hold down my Ctrl key it shows me it's actually going to scan at 266, because I'm going up from 7.9 to 8.0. So I've established all that and I've set my highlights and shadow points, my critical highlights in the fur and critical shadow in the fur using my Highlight and Shadow tool holding down that Shift key and we just talked about to set the highlights and shadow points.
And then I've set my highlight values at the high 230s, low 240s, because I've got a lot of darks in here and a lot of dark fur. I've set my shadow at about 20, little bit higher than I do want some other images, because I know when I print this I'm going to print it in black and white. It's actually going to be a multi-tonal image, so I'm using a lot of ink, so I know my shadows tend to fill up. Instead of around 95% I'm up to 85 to 90% for my shadows and I just know this from long experience of printing with my printer where I want that shadow value. And you can do experiments with your own printers and figure out where you like your shadow values in certain types of images.
And I use my Histogram tool along with my Pipette to set my highlights and shadows and then I came in on this particular image. Notice I've got a reverse S curve here when I took my Contrast tool and I backed it off all the way to about -20. Look at the difference on the image on screen, see how you get that nice softness in the fur when you back off on that contrast. A lot of images you really want to reduce contrast and not increase it, so on this particular image I took it to about -20 to retain all that softness in the fur and then click OK. And now I'm ready to sharpen my image, but all of this has to occur first before we go and apply our sharpening, because the look and feel of the fur for instance is going to be different depending upon how I set my highlights and shadows and particularly my contrast, and when we set our sharpening we want to have all of that done so we can see what the sharpening is going to add to what we've already set in our image.
Notice that there's all sorts of autos in here, Auto Sharpen, Auto Sharpen More, and then even more, and then less and even less, same thing with the Descreening, here's Automatic Descreening and then Automatic Descreening (intensive), in text and then just straight Descreening. What we're going to be doing here in these two movies is talking about Sharpening and Descreening I'm going to show how to use both of the dialog boxes, so you can retain control. Hey, I would encourage you to experiment with these other ones, no doubt about it. I want to show you what you can do with manual control as you get more-and-more comfortable setting some of these values you're going to want to retain more-and-more control.
Okay, the regular Unsharp Mask dialog box looks like this. So let's start there and then we'll move into the Expert Mode, and I'll talk to you a little bit about that. First thing you want to do is choose a critical area inside your image, maybe a couple of them, when you click on Prescan and nothing happens in your Prescan it gives you this rectangular box which you then go over and click on the portion of the image that you would like to see. For instance, let's click on the whisker and fur area right over here, and what it does is it does another Prescan, but applies the controls that you have here.
Now with the basic controls you get an Intensity and a Threshold control, as well as a Matrix and then you can save Presets like you can all over SilverFast, which is really nice. So notice this is a Monochrome image so work in Monochrome Mode. Intensity, the way this works is sharpening works on percentage of increasing contrast is that when a Sharpening Filter looks at an image like this it finds high contrast edges and then makes the lighter, lighter and the darker, darker when you compare this is sharpened and this is unsharpened. And then Threshold determines where or which grayscale values in this image will actually be sharpened.
A Threshold value of 0 means every single pixel in the image is going to be sharpened. And the reason why I clicked here is I wanted to show you this background. One of the things you have to be careful of is if you just pay attention to these high contrast areas like this you can really end up over-sharpening your image. Notice the whiskers look nice, but look at how the pattern has been created in the background. Notice if I raise my Threshold here and you can go Intense and if I come up here and I raise the Threshold to 2 or 3% notice how the softening of the background occurs. We're not getting quite as much intensity of the sharpening on the background.
I typically set my Threshold to 2 or 3 %, what that means is there needs to be a 2 to 3% difference in grayscale value before the sharpening will be applied to the image. Then the Matrix is called Radius, in Photoshop if you're familiar with Radius and it basically you're determining the width over which the sharpening will be applied, and typically if you're scanning at 100% you'll want a 3x3 pixel radius or Matrix, if you're enlarging images say up over 300% you may want to go to a 5x5 and you are up over 600% then you may want to go to a 7x7, and you can experiment and it's different with various kinds of images.
For most of the images you'll be scanning unless you're really going about 300% or 3x3 radius of a Matrix is just fine. So this is the basic controls for controlling Unsharp Mask. In Intensity, an increase in sharpness of 50% is typically a good place to start. In SilverFast, you can experiment with various kinds of images. Let me introduce you to the expert version of this software a little bit because there are some things that you can really help to fine-tune your sharpening. For instance this over-sharpening is set at 100%, I'd like to use this along with my Threshold to control the softening of the background, as we see right here.
Notice if I push all the way down to 0 there is almost no sharpening occurring here and there's very little sharpening occurring there. But if we raise this to about 20% we're still going to get some decent sharpening here but the background is going to be softened quite a bit. So I'll use the combination of Threshold Intensity and Oversharpen, and sometimes I'll start with 50% and then I may go up to like 75% on the sharpen after I've done a little bit of Oversharpen adjustment, so I get more sharpening on the high contrast edges and the over-sharpening is helping me to protect my soft background.
And this Sharpening up to is a real important setting. I will typically with an image like this, because I've got lots of dark areas and I want them sharpen but I don't want sharpening to go all the way into the complete dark area because what sharpening does in solid black or really dark areas like maybe on Zip's nose here is it starts to add a pattern to it. So I may sharpen up to maybe 90%, 85 or 90 %, and on some images I only go up to 80%. So on this one I'm going to go up to about 85%, 85 or 90% somewhere in there. Then there's no sharpening after that and then I don't have any problem with creating patterns in my dark areas of my image.
At any point you can click on Prescan and go into a different portion of your image. And notice we're getting some sharpening here in the eye, but we're not getting any patterns in the black area, so that's good. Now this light Contour and dark Contour typically, for an image like this that has an equal amount of both black and white in it. I'm going to leave it at 50%, but if I want to get more sharpening in the light area then I may raise the percentage in the light Contour or raise percentage in the dark Contour. I'll raise the dark Contour percentage for instance if I've got text in an image and I want to get more sharpening in the dark area.
And one thing I almost always turn on is soft shadows, and what this does is smooth the shadow area of the image. Your eye doesn't see a lot of sharpening in the shadow area anyway, so I'm all about protecting the dark area of the image, and particularly within image like this where I have lots of dark areas with some fine details of the fur and I don't want to create patterns in there. So these would be some good settings, at least good starting settings on this image. I know there is a lot of information here, maybe you want to just start by experimenting with some of the automatic tools and then come with the basic Unsharp Mask tool and then you can experiment with these other values as I've explained them.
And let's go ahead and just complete the scan then applying this Unsharp Mask and notice I'm indicating this as SH, that's my indication for, hey, I've already sharpened this image, so be careful about sharpening it anymore, just my kind of shorthand to myself, and there we go. And let's take this all the way up to 100% and looking at 100% is where you really get the best idea about what the image is actually going to look like when it print. You'll notice you get some really nice sharpening detail along the edges, but there's no modeling in the black areas, the nose looks very natural, beautiful, hi Zip! So cute! All right, but there we go, there is the beginnings, intermediate, and export portions of applying Unsharp Mask.
By the way all sharpening tools are slightly different, but all the concepts are basically the same so everything that you've learned here and you can apply it and use in other sharpening tools even if the names of the values are slightly different.
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