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Applying brush-based selective sharpening

From: Photoshop Insider Training: Enhancing Photos

Video: Applying brush-based selective sharpening

In the previous videos, we talked about sharpening as a global operation, something that we did to the entire image. But a lot of the time, you just want to sharpen a little piece of the image. And I want to show you a few of the different ways to do that and some things to be aware of. So let's start in Camera RAW here. A lot of people ask, couldn't I just use the Adjustment brush in Camera RAW to do some localized sharpening? And there is an Adjustment brush and I'll get all sorts of controls here and one of them is sharpening. But not only is this not the most powerful way to do it, the way that the brush engine works in Camera RAW and Lightroom, is no one near as powerful as it is in Photoshop.

Applying brush-based selective sharpening

In the previous videos, we talked about sharpening as a global operation, something that we did to the entire image. But a lot of the time, you just want to sharpen a little piece of the image. And I want to show you a few of the different ways to do that and some things to be aware of. So let's start in Camera RAW here. A lot of people ask, couldn't I just use the Adjustment brush in Camera RAW to do some localized sharpening? And there is an Adjustment brush and I'll get all sorts of controls here and one of them is sharpening. But not only is this not the most powerful way to do it, the way that the brush engine works in Camera RAW and Lightroom, is no one near as powerful as it is in Photoshop.

I don't have the ability to soften the edges, I don't have that same powerful brush engine, I can't change tips, I just don't have that same fidelity, and the sharpening algorithm is based on unsharp mask and it's just not as powerful as it could be. But there is a pretty good way to do it in here, and it's kind of an unknown trick. Again, the first thing I'm going to do is double-click on my Zoom tool to pop-in to 100% here and then let's just come up to an area that's sharp and I am going to come over to my Sharpening tab and aggressively sharpen this and you notice that aggressive sharpening in Camera RAW really isn't that aggressive.

And this really cool trick is that I hold down the Option or Alt key and I pull the Masking slider, and I get this great preview. White means everything is sharpened, black means it's not sharpened. And as I pull this to the side, you see that I'm creating this sharpening mask on-the-fly and so it's only going to apply sharpening to the areas that are white. I actually get all sorts of cool controls when I hold Option or Alt. If I apply that to Radius, I'm going to get a ghost of the affected area.

So if you're doing minimal sharpening and you only want to affect a particular area of the image, this is a great way to do it, and it's a great way to visualize where the sharpening will be. But the best place to do Selective Sharpening is over in Photoshop. So, let's take a look over there. We're just going to open this image and what I want to do here is show you the way that most people do Selective Sharpening, and I'll do it using Smart Filters, so that it's editable and it's powerful, and it's a workflow that's similar to what a lot of people use today.

So, here's our image in Photoshop, again we're going to double-click, come into 100%. I'm going to use that H key to preview our image and pop into the area we want to look at. Come up here and convert that to a Smart Filter, and now let's step down to Smart Sharpen, and we're going to make this really obvious what we're sharpening. So I am going to make it look kind of crazy. Click OK, and so, what we're going to do to have Selective Sharpening is we're going to take a mask, and we're just going to paint out the areas that we don't want, leaving just the areas that we do want.

So, here we have our aggressively sharpened image here in Photoshop and I'm going to back up, and from a distance, it doesn't look as bad although even from this distance you can see it's haloed. And the way that the workflow is for masking this is I go ahead and just select Smart Sharpen, I double-click on that and it launches my Masks panel and I can see that's the mask for the filtered area. So I would just grab a Paintbrush, I'd make sure it's on black, and if I wanted to selectively sharpen this, I'd come through and just sort of paint out all the areas that I don't want to be sharpened, leaving those other areas.

And I'd see a preview over there that I've masked that area. This is a cumbersome process, it takes a long time, it's not easy to do, and I did it really generally from afar, but in order for it to really look good, you need to zoom in there and you need to paint in all the areas that you want, and then you're really just removing them. So, what you tend to want is a way to brush in sharpening as of sharpening everything and then brushing it out. So, let me revert this file, and I'll show you that we've actually had functionality like that in Photoshop for quite awhile.

Okay, so as before, I want to make sure that I double-click on my Zoom tool, hit that H key to find the area that I want. Let's go over to our tools, where we have a Sharpening tool. It's right in the middle here, and first, let's look at the way that this used to work. So, the Sharpening tool has been in Photoshop for a very long time, probably since the beginning. And the way that the Sharpening tool has worked in the past -- let's turn this up a little -- is that if I sharpen, I have the benefits of a brush, but you see I get a lot of artifacts.

This is a really basic sharpening algorithm, and one of the things it does is it introduces a lot of artifacts. So by default, as of CS5, we've got what's called Protect Detail. This allows me to come in and sharpen and I can sharpen pretty aggressively. I'm not introducing any artifacts at all. So I have the benefits of that Selective Sharpening that I did before, but without having to sharpen everything and then go back and erase it all, I have got this powerful brush engine, if I had a tablet, I could have it be pressure sensitive.

Really, the very best way to use this is to set the Strength very low, something like you know 10%-15% and then build it up very slowly with a pressure sensitive device and you can get a great result. One other thing that you can do here, because brush-based edits are destructive, you are interacting with the pixels, you could duplicate your layer, so that you might want to turn that off down the road, as we mentioned before sharpening is different based upon where you're putting the image. So that gives you an idea of how powerful and how easy Selective Sharpening can be in Photoshop.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Insider Training: Enhancing Photos
Photoshop Insider Training: Enhancing Photos

31 video lessons · 13120 viewers

Bryan O'Neil Hughes
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 7m 53s
    1. Welcome
      2m 29s
    2. Using the exercise files
      42s
    3. What you need to know about Adobe Camera Raw
      4m 42s
  2. 9m 30s
    1. Reinventing the Crop tool
      5m 44s
    2. Using the new Crop tool the old way
      3m 46s
  3. 6m 4s
    1. Then versus now: Understanding how the Auto button works
      2m 55s
    2. Exploring strategies for using Auto
      3m 9s
  4. 6m 37s
    1. Using Curves
      3m 31s
    2. Exploring strategies for using Curves
      3m 6s
  5. 14m 57s
    1. Looking at sharpening
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding Smart Sharpen
      4m 41s
    3. Understanding the role of Smart Objects in a sharpening workflow
      2m 20s
    4. Applying brush-based selective sharpening
      5m 50s
  6. 9m 6s
    1. Understanding the challenges of building blur
      2m 54s
    2. Using Iris Blur to create shallow depth of field
      6m 12s
  7. 8m 20s
    1. The evolving Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools
      6m 24s
    2. Understanding the role of the graphics tablet
      1m 56s
  8. 12m 33s
    1. Understanding and using Content-Aware Fill
      3m 16s
    2. What to do when Content-Aware Fill doesn't work
      2m 38s
    3. Beyond fill: Content-Aware Patch
      1m 16s
    4. Content-Aware Scale: The feature nobody knows about
      3m 30s
    5. Content-Aware Move: Recomposing photos
      1m 53s
  9. 3m 17s
    1. Exploring what Liquify is really used for
      3m 17s
  10. 12m 1s
    1. Correcting automatically based on lens profiles
      4m 2s
    2. Getting the most out of Adaptive Wide Angle
      4m 47s
    3. Exploring lens distortion and video
      3m 12s
  11. 7m 22s
    1. Using presets new and old
      47s
    2. Surprising yourself with the Color Look Up Adjustment layer
      2m 15s
    3. Using gradient map presets for black-and-white conversions
      2m 31s
    4. Imagining a connected Photoshop
      1m 49s
  12. 15s
    1. Goodbye
      15s

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