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Virtually all digital images need some degree of sharpening to look their best, but it's not always easy to find the right way to go about it. This workshop from leading Adobe Photoshop expert Tim Grey dispels many myths and misunderstandings about sharpening, teaches you the underlying concepts involved in sharpening, shows you a wide variety of methods you can use to apply sharpening, and helps you determine which technique is best for a given image. In addition to Photoshop's native sharpening tools, learn how to make use of the options available in Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, and third-party plugins like Nik Sharpener Pro and PhotoKit Sharpener. The workshop concludes with several projects designed to help reinforce your knowledge of sharpening. See how to apply sharpening and softening to different areas of an image, apply creative sharpening to specific areas, and sharpen a black-and-white image.
When you apply sharpening to an image, Edge Contrast is enhanced. Unfortunately, that sometimes leads to slight color shifts along the edges in the image, which can be problematic at times. In this lesson, I'll show you a technique that enables you to remove the color effect caused by Sharpening. One of the most flexible methods for approaching this technique is to utilize a Smart Filter. So I'm going to convert my Background Image layer to a Smart object by choosing Filter > Convert For Smart Filters from the menu. I'll click OK, and my Background Image Layer is now a Smart object.
So when I apply a sharpening filter, or any other filter for that matter, it will be added as a smart filter. I'll go ahead and choose Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Normally, I use Smart Sharp, and for my Sharpening, including when I'm using this particular technique. But with Unsharp Mask, I'll be able to produce a little bit more exaggerated result, and I want you to be able to see more clearly, exactly what's happening with this technique. So bear in mind, you could certainly use the exact same technique with both Smart Sharpen or Unsharp Mask.
I'm just going to use Unsharp Mask in this particular case by way of example. I'll then I'll apply Exaggerated Sharpening. Again, this is only to illustrate the concept here. Under normal circumstances, I would apply more appropriate sharpening, but in this care, I'm going to set the amount to the maximum value of 500 and I'm going to leave the threshold down at 0. I'll then adjust the radius a bit and make it not too large. I still want us to be able to see the finer details in the image, but again, this is exaggerated sharpening.
This is not part of the technique. I just want you to be able to see the effect of the technique just a little bit better. So I'll go ahead and click okay. And if we zoom in closely, I'm sure we'll be able to find some areas where we see color shifts. You can see some color halos along the edge detail here in the image, for example. If I turn off the Sharpening effect, you'll see that the colors is not there. Now, of course, in this case, I've applied exaggerated sharpening. And so, when you see the after, it's a little difficult maybe to get a context on exactly what's happening, but we'll see a better example of the effect of this color shift in just a moment. Because some of the pixels have changed in color value, we get some interesting art effects that aren't exactly a good thing.
But we can very easily cause the sharpening filter to only affect the luminance values, the tonal variations, within the image to not affect color at all. In other words, I'm going to scroll down here on my Layers panel so I can see my Unsharp Mask filter, which has been applied as a Sharp filter. Now, because it's a Smart filter, I can double-click on the Unsharp Mask filter at any time, and change those settings. For now, I'll leave them as they are. But I can also adjust the options for my Unsharp Mask filter.
I'll go ahead and double-click the button here, and you can see that my Blending options come up, this allows me to reduce the opacity of my Unsharp Mask filter. So, for example, if I wanted to reduce the strength, I could simply reduce the opacity value. Since I'm using a Smart filter, really, I would go back to my Unsharp Mask filter and change the settings, but the point is that we do have this flexibility. But in the case of color shifts, what we're more interested in is the Blend mode. The normal blend mode will cause there to be no change in the image relative to the sharpening we've applied. In other words, the sharpening is left alone as it is. However, if I want to change the sharpening so that it only effects tonal values and not color values, I can change the Blend mode to Luminosity. When I do so, you'll see an immediate change in the image. All of the color shifts that were caused by the Sharpening effect have now disappeared, leaving me with no color artifacts.
Now, of course, we still have very strong halos, because I applied and Exaggerated Sharpening. But you can see by changing the Blend mode for my Unsharp Mask Smart filter to the Luminosity Blend mode, now, that Sharpening only affects tonal values. There are no more color art effects as a result. So I'll go ahead and click OK, and then naturally, I would want to change my Sharpening settings. I'll double-click the Unsharp Mask Smart filter and I can tone things down a bit. So let's take this to a more typical sharpening value, and that looks a little bit better, still perhaps a little bit too strong, but you get the basic idea. I'll click OK and I'll zoom out so that we can see the full image, and now, because we've put that Luminosity Blend mode to use for my Unsharp Mask Smart filter.
The Sharpening is having a strong effect on the image, but it is not imparting any color shifts into the image. As you've seen in this lesson, the Luminosity Blend mode makes it possible to completely remove any shift in color caused by Sharpening, enabling you to achieve the desired result with confidence that you won't experience unintended consequences.
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