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Sharpening images

From: Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training

Video: Sharpening images

Even if a photo looks sharp to you, almost every digital photo will look better with some sharpening. Sharpening just before outputting is most important; some people also do capture sharpening at the beginning of their editing workflow and some creative sharpening during their workflow too. When you're doing output sharpening, you want to resize your photo or a copy of your photo to the size at which you plan to output it, either to print or to screen, and then sharpen the resized copy, since the amount of sharpening that a photo needs depends on its size.

Sharpening images

Even if a photo looks sharp to you, almost every digital photo will look better with some sharpening. Sharpening just before outputting is most important; some people also do capture sharpening at the beginning of their editing workflow and some creative sharpening during their workflow too. When you're doing output sharpening, you want to resize your photo or a copy of your photo to the size at which you plan to output it, either to print or to screen, and then sharpen the resized copy, since the amount of sharpening that a photo needs depends on its size.

To accurately preview sharpening, make sure that you're viewing your photo at 100%. If you're not, double-clicking the Zoom tool as a shortcut for bringing the photo to a 100% in the Document window. To sharpen this photo, go up to the Enhance menu. From here, I can choose either Unsharp Mask or Adjust Sharpness. I'll go with Unsharp Mask to start. In the Unsharp Mast dialog box, there is another preview of the image that's set to 100% zoom by default. If I want to see a different part of the bird to check whether that is sharp, I can click and hold in this Preview box and drag to another area.

And when I click and press down, I can see the image with no sharpening, when I release my mouse, I see how it looks with whatever settings I have down in these sliders. Right now I've just got the default settings. I am going to drag the bird back so we can see his head and eye in this Preview box, since that's the focal point of the image. If my monitor is big enough that I can see the image out here in the Document window too, I like to leave the Preview checkbox on so that I can see a live preview out here in the Document window too as I adjust these sliders.

Understanding how sharpening works will help you to adjust the sliders. Sharpening looks for an edge between light and dark pixels, like this edge at the top of the bird's head. When it finds an edge like that, it makes the light pixels on one side of the edge lighter and the dark pixels on the other side darker, and that increase in contrast creates the appearance of sharpness. The Amount slider in this dialog box determines how dark and how light the pixels of those edges will become. So watch what happens if I drag the slider way over to the right which is more than I normally would, you can see that the edge at the top of the bird's head in this preview and over here has become whiter on one side and it's also become darker on the other side.

The Amount slider works in conjunction with the next slider, the Radius slider because the Radius slider determines how wide that area of sharpening is going to be. That area is sometimes called the sharpening halo. So if I drag the Radius slider over to the right, you'll see the sharpening halos get wider. I usually don't take radius any higher than about 2 pixels or you can get this sort of crispy critter effect in an image. So I am going to drag that back to the left. In this particular image, I am going to take this even lower, maybe about there.

And then after I get the Radius set, I'll take the Amount slider and I'll fine tune that. I'll move it until the image looks just sharp enough to me and I don't see the halos at the sharpening edges. Exactly where these sliders go and how sharpen image should be is a subjective decision. There are no magic numbers here. One thing to keep in mind is that if you're preparing an image for print, you might want to sharpen it so that it looks a little too sharp on your screen since the very process of printing makes an image look less sharp in print.

There's one more slider here and that's the Threshold slider. The Threshold slider determines what gets sharpen in the image by telling Elements what to consider a sharpenable edge. When this slider is at 0, every part of the image is getting sharpened. As I drag the Threshold slider to the right, fewer parts of the image will be sharpened. So that's probably too far in this case. I'll drag back to the left. This is insurance against sharpening things you don't want sharp, like this blurry area in the background, or maybe grain in a bright sky.

After I've set my sliders, I'll usually check things by moving the image around here, unchecking and rechecking Preview and if I need to, I can reset all of the settings back to their defaults by holding the Alt key, that's the Option key on a Mac, and clicking Reset. This time I'm going to click Cancel because I want to show you the alternative Adjust dialog box for adjust sharpness. I'll go to the Enhance menu and this time I'll choose Adjust Sharpness. In the Adjust Sharpness dialog box, you'll see some of the same features that we saw in the Unsharp Mask dialog box.

A 100% preview, a Preview checkbox for previewing the image in the Document window, a Cancel/Reset button, and an Amount and Radius slider that work the same way as the Amount and Radius sliders in the Unsharp Mask dialog box. There is no Threshold slider here, but here's something that we didn't see in Unsharp Mask, the Remove menu. From here, I can choose the type of blur that Adjust Sharpness is going to try to remove. Gaussian Blur is the same kind of blur that Unsharp Mask deals with.

Lens Blur can sometimes correct a little bit of a blur due to shallow depth of field, and Motion Blur can sometimes correct a little blur that's due to camera shake or subject movement. I usually just try out each one of these and go with the one that I think looks best. In this case, I like Lens Blur. I usually leave this checkbox, More Refined checked, because this gives me the most accurate preview of the image with the settings that I choose in this dialog box. If I like the settings that I have, I'll click OK and that closes the box and applies those sharpness settings.

There's one more sharpening feature I want to show you and that is the Sharpen tool. That's located over here in the toolbar in the flyout menu that I can access by clicking and holding on the Blur tool. I'll select the Sharpen tool, and then I'll move into the image and say, I want to sharpen this bird's eye. I am going to click and drag over the eye. The problem with the tool is that it can very quickly make things too sharp like that. So I'm going to undo by pressing Ctrl+Z, that's Command+Z on a Mac, and I'm going to come up to the options for this tool and reduce the strength a little bit, and then I'll come back in and now when I move this tool over the eye, it sharpens but it doesn't do as extreme of job.

So remember that the purpose of sharpening is to bring back the inherent softness that's caused by digitizing an image. Sharpening isn't designed to make a really blurry image look sharp, but it can make almost any good digital photo look even better.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training

140 video lessons · 9277 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 23m 48s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Getting around Elements
      6m 9s
    3. Exploring the differences in Mac versions of Elements
      5m 41s
    4. Working with Organizer catalogs
      6m 16s
    5. Using the exercise files
      4m 44s
  2. 21m 39s
    1. Touring the Organizer
      5m 35s
    2. Importing photos from a camera
      4m 44s
    3. Importing photos from a computer
      3m 1s
    4. Importing photos from an iPhoto library
      5m 27s
    5. Importing photos from external drives
      2m 52s
  3. 31m 24s
    1. Working in Thumbnail view
      4m 10s
    2. Working in Folder Location view
      4m 33s
    3. Reviewing photos in Full Screen view
      4m 55s
    4. Editing and organizing in Full Screen view
      7m 20s
    5. Comparing photos in Side by Side view
      4m 10s
    6. Displaying photos in Date view
      2m 40s
    7. Viewing photo information
      3m 36s
  4. 47m 47s
    1. Using keyword tags to categorize photos
      6m 42s
    2. Organizing keyword tags
      4m 25s
    3. Finding photos by keyword tag
      3m 39s
    4. Automatically tagging people
      8m 21s
    5. Using automatic smart tagging
      5m 36s
    6. Assigning ratings to photos
      4m 9s
    7. Creating albums to organize photos
      5m 7s
    8. Creating smart albums
      5m 52s
    9. Stacking photos to reduce thumbnail clutter
      3m 56s
  5. 24m 35s
    1. Finding photos that are visually similar to each other
      4m 3s
    2. Searching for an object in a photo
      3m 45s
    3. Finding duplicate photos
      4m 50s
    4. Searching by text
      5m 59s
    5. Exploring the Find menu
      4m 27s
    6. Finding photos in the Timeline
      1m 31s
  6. 22m 41s
    1. Deleting photos
      4m 30s
    2. Renaming photos
      2m 24s
    3. Moving photos
      3m 58s
    4. Reconnecting missing files
      4m 37s
    5. Changing photo dates
      4m 29s
    6. Backing up
      2m 43s
  7. 16m 14s
    1. Choosing an editing workspace
      4m 37s
    2. Autocorrecting with the Organizer's Photo Fix options
      3m 47s
    3. Photo finishing with the Organizer's Photo Fix options
      4m 2s
    4. Changing a Photo Fix adjustment
      3m 48s
  8. 22m 10s
    1. Editing with assistance: the Guided Edit workspace
      6m 27s
    2. Retouching a photo the step-by-step way
      7m 55s
    3. Creating a dreamlike Orton effect
      1m 8s
    4. Simulating shallow depth of field
      4m 11s
    5. Creating a collage using Picture Stack
      2m 29s
  9. 29m 26s
    1. Quick improvements: introducing the Quick Edit workspace
      3m 28s
    2. Applying Quick Edit corrections
      4m 8s
    3. Adjusting lighting
      4m 0s
    4. Correcting color
      4m 20s
    5. Fixing red-eye, improving skies, and touching up photos
      6m 28s
    6. Sharpening images
      3m 10s
    7. Saving in Quick Edit
      3m 52s
  10. 41m 16s
    1. Full control: introducing the Full Edit workspace
      5m 19s
    2. Tips for using the editing tools
      3m 50s
    3. Customizing panels
      5m 10s
    4. Undoing your work
      6m 22s
    5. Zooming and navigating
      4m 41s
    6. Saving images and examining file formats
      4m 50s
    7. Working with multiple documents
      4m 0s
    8. Creating a file from scratch
      2m 57s
    9. Customizing Editor preferences
      4m 7s
  11. 25m 42s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 3s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      7m 19s
    3. Tips for working with layers
      4m 25s
    4. Understanding layer masks
      6m 55s
  12. 29m 59s
    1. Understanding selections
      6m 49s
    2. Using manual selection tools
      4m 42s
    3. Modifying selections
      4m 20s
    4. Using the automatic selection tools
      7m 11s
    5. Refining selections
      4m 50s
    6. Saving selections
      2m 7s
  13. 23m 52s
    1. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush tool
      2m 50s
    2. Retouching skin with the Healing Brush tool
      6m 7s
    3. Retouching with the Clone Stamp tool
      1m 58s
    4. Using the Content-Aware option in the Spot Healing Brush to remove content
      3m 13s
    5. Touching up photos with the Smart Brush tools
      7m 22s
    6. Using the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools
      2m 22s
  14. 1h 0m
    1. Understanding color management
      7m 23s
    2. Understanding adjustment layers
      6m 49s
    3. Adjusting part of a photo
      6m 16s
    4. Correcting contrast and brightness using Levels controls
      5m 6s
    5. Enhancing color with Hue/Saturation
      4m 32s
    6. Improving shadow and highlights using Shadow/Highlight
      2m 36s
    7. Adjusting lighting and color using Color Curves
      3m 53s
    8. Removing a color cast
      2m 11s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      3m 15s
    10. Reducing noise
      3m 53s
    11. Sharpening images
      6m 43s
    12. Processing multiple photos
      8m 19s
  15. 23m 6s
    1. Resizing and changing photo resolution
      7m 1s
    2. Cropping photos
      5m 35s
    3. Straightening photos
      2m 35s
    4. Adding canvas around photos
      2m 43s
    5. Changing a photos orientation using the Recompose tool
      5m 12s
  16. 23m 50s
    1. Combining photos using the Place command
      5m 21s
    2. Using a layer mask to hide a background
      6m 26s
    3. Blending images using a gradient
      8m 18s
    4. Blending images using Blend modes
      3m 45s
  17. 24m 2s
    1. Creating text
      6m 22s
    2. Editing text
      3m 49s
    3. Creating text on a selection
      6m 1s
    4. Creating text around a shape
      3m 51s
    5. Creating text on a custom path
      3m 59s
  18. 22m 43s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 24s
    2. Adding effects
      2m 6s
    3. Adding layer styles
      7m 38s
    4. Making shapes
      5m 17s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 18s
  19. 42m 14s
    1. Understanding Camera Raw
      3m 35s
    2. The Camera Raw interface
      5m 16s
    3. Adjusting color using the white balance controls
      4m 41s
    4. Controlling lighting and contrast
      6m 26s
    5. Enhancing photos with the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation controls
      2m 39s
    6. Cropping and straightening
      2m 12s
    7. Reducing Noise
      2m 24s
    8. Sharpening
      6m 46s
    9. Outputting from Camera Raw
      4m 43s
    10. Processing multiple photos in Camera Raw
      3m 32s
  20. 56m 43s
    1. Creating a photo book
      6m 50s
    2. Completing the photo book
      10m 5s
    3. Creating a photo calendar
      8m 19s
    4. Creating a photo greeting card
      5m 17s
    5. Making other photo creations in the Create workspace
      2m 8s
    6. Outputting photo creations from the Create workspace
      2m 50s
    7. Creating a photo slideshow in Windows
      8m 45s
    8. Completing the photo slideshow
      3m 31s
    9. Making a scrapbook page from scratch in Full Edit
      8m 58s
  21. 41m 34s
    1. Printing photos
      8m 30s
    2. Printing contact sheets and picture packages in Windows
      5m 23s
    3. Printing contact sheets and picture packages on a Mac
      8m 33s
    4. Ordering prints from the Organizer
      4m 22s
    5. Sharing photos by email from the Organizer
      3m 46s
    6. Sharing photos with Photo Mail in Windows
      5m 3s
    7. Sharing photos on Facebook from the Organizer
      3m 42s
    8. Sharing photos on Flickr from the Organizer
      2m 15s
  22. 7m 34s
    1. Signing up for an Adobe ID
      2m 20s
    2. Sharing online albums from the Organizer to Photoshop.com
      5m 14s
  23. 40s
    1. Goodbye
      40s

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