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Real focus happens inside the camera's lens element. The sharpening features in Photoshop CS3 exaggerate the contrast along edges in a photograph to transform a well-focused image into an outstanding image. In Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images, Deke McClelland teaches a host of sharpening and noise reduction techniques, including using filters such as Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, High Pass, and Reduce Noise. The training teaches the essentials of sharpening, including what it does, why it's important, and how the filters function. Plus, the training covers Deke's recommended best practices, including the four distinct varieties of sharpening, which can be used independently or in combination with each other. Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images is about how to transform images from looking good to looking their absolute best. Exercise files accompany the course.
I am working, by the way, if you are just joining me, I am working inside of a document called Two Smart Filters.PSD, that's found inside the 04_Support_Staff folder. I am going to go ahead so we can see what the grasslands in the background originally looked like. I am going to turn off the Smart Filters eyeball right there. I was telling you that you are going to waste a lot of time if you turn on and off eyeballs in order to preview before and after effects, I was telling you that in a previous exercise. That's true if you turn off one of these two eyeballs right here that's associated with a single Smart Filter, but if you turn off all of the Smart Filters, that typically goes pretty fast.
So I am just going to go and turn off the eyeball for all the Smart Filters right there. Right away, it goes back to the original version of the animal, and you can see all the wacky colors that are going on inside of its eyes and its muzzle and inside of its coat. But you can also see the good colors that are going on inside the background; those greens that work inside of the background, and the yellows. We have got some oranges almost showing up, but we do have a little bit of greenery left, and I would like to go ahead and save that green if I can. So that's why we are going to restrict our Smart Filters to the bison itself, which needs all this color editing that's going on, thanks to the application of the Median Filter to just the color information inside of the photograph.
So in order to create this Mask, I want you to leave the Smart Filters off, and I want you to go to the Channels palette. So go ahead and click on the word Channels. Now I tell you all about masking inside of my Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks series. It's broken into two pieces: Essentials and Advanced Techniques. It's a part of the Online Training Library, so if you subscribe to lynda.com's Online Training Library, you have access to it. In all there are 32 hours worth of information; 300 different movies. I cannot begin to convey to you everything about masking right now in this one exercise, so I am just going to run through it as if you know basically how masking works.
We are going to start off with the red channel because it has the highest degree of contrast between the animal and the grasslands. We want the animal to be white so he is affected, and we want the grasslands, the background, to be black, so it's not affected. So we are looking for contrast for starters. We will grab red. I am going to drag it to the bottom here on this little page icon at the bottom of Channels palette and release. Now we have got the colors inverted; he is dark and the background is light. I need the opposite, so I am going to press Ctrl+I or Command+I in the Mac in order to invert those colors.
I am going to zoom out a little bit here to the 50% zoom size, just so I can take in more information. I am going to go ahead and call this guy Mask. I am just going to rename this Mask by double clicking and changing its name. Now I am going to increase the contrast a little bit inside of this channel, by going up to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments and choosing the Levels command. that's the easiest thing to do here. You could also press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac. I am going to change this first Input Level value to 70. So I am saying anything that has a luminance level of 70 or darker is going to become black.
So that's going to make a lot of colors inside that background black, as well as the seeds on this animal's head. Then I am going to change the white point to 190, by which I am saying, anything that has a luminance level of 190 or brighter, should be made white. So much of the interior of the animal is now becoming white. Some of its coat is remaining sort of grayish, that's OK. I am going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept these settings; so 70 for the first value, 190 for the third value, right here. You can leave that middle value alone.
I will click OK in order to accept that modification. Now I need to convert this mask to a selection outline, and you do that by pressing and holding the Ctrl key on the PC or the Command key on the Mac, and clicking on that thumbnail. So Ctrl-click or Command-click on the thumbnail for the Mask Channel, and you will see that you load a selection outline. Now lets go back to the RGB image by clicking on it at the top of the Channels palette. I want you to go to the Layers palette now. Turn the Smart Filters back on by clicking on the eyeball in front of Smart Filters, and then I am going to right -click on Smart Filters and I am going to choose Add Filter Mask, and that will go ahead and convert the selection outline to a Filter Mask, just like that.
So you can see the thumbnail view of this Filter Mask right there. By the way, if you are seeing itty-bitty icons inside the Layers palette here, you can right click in an empty area, the empty area at the bottom of the palette, and you can choose Large Thumbnails, which is a lot more helpful. Then you can see what's going on. So there is the Mask, and what it's doing is it's constraining the effects below it in the interior of the Mask, in the white area, and it's excluding the filters from the black area. So white reveals and black conceals in the case of this Filter Mask right there. As a result, we are sharpening and also applying the Median function to the interior of the buffalo, and we are not affecting the grasslands at all around the outside.
You can verify that by turning this eyeball on and off. Once again, this should be fairly quick. So turn that eyeball off and you can see that the grasslands are not affected but the animal is very much affected. Then turn it back on, and you can see that the sharpening effect comes back into play, and so does the smoothing effect, the color smoothing effect, as a function of this Median Smart Filter right there. There is a problem however, I do want to sharpen the grasslands; I don't want to average the colors of the grasslands. So I am glad I have this Filter Mask here, but I do want to sharpen those grasslands in the background, and the problem is that this Filter Mask affects all of the Smart Filters in kind.
There is no way to say, don't affect Smart Sharpen, just affect Median. That's actually OK to a certain extent, but somehow we need to sharpen that background. We are going to have to do that by embedding a Smart Object inside of this Bison Smart Object. So we are going to have to have one Smart Object inside of another, so that we have another Smart Object that has some sharpening functions applied to it. You will see what I mean if you join me in the very next exercise.
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