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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.
In the previous exercise we were talking about the ideal sharpening settings for commercial reproduction, and I was suggesting different Radius values to apply using the High Pass filter based on the print resolution,. And the idea is we want those halos to be as small as they possibly can while remaining visible. If they get any bigger they become obvious halos and that ruins the effect. If they become any smaller, they are not visible at all anymore and you're not going to see the results of your sharpening. These values have been put through the paces, they should work out beautifully for you, but they assume that you're seeing the artwork up-close and personal, so no farther way then about a foot.
That works great for your print publications, for books and your magazines and your newsletters and newspapers and so on and so on. It also works well for calendar art, it works well for posters that you put on a wall inside of your home or office, it works well for artwork that you're printing yourself and hanging. Where this breaks down is if you're talking about very, very large artwork that's going to be viewed from a distance, say 5-feet or more away, and that would be images that are blown up on the side of bus or on a billboard or printed on a side of a building or images that are hung very high in a gallery, very, very large images that are hung high so that you can't get very close to them.
In that case you've got to bear in mind that as you walk away from your artwork, these halos get smaller and smaller and smaller, and the pixels in general gets smaller and smaller and smaller. In fact, your image gets higher res as you back away from it. So consider this. Imagine that you're looking at an 11x17 piece of artwork on a wall. So that's a standard tabloid size piece of artwork, right? 11 inches wide x 17 inches tall and its five feet away. That image is going to look the same as an image that's just 2 inches wide x 3.5 inches tall that's a foot away.
That's the kind of difference that it makes. So just a tiny image a foot away looks as big as much larger one five feet away. What does that mean to us? Well, let me show you. I am going to switch to this fairly nondescript image right here. I have not provided it to you; it's just a demonstrational image and obviously doesn't contain anything. The thing that's interesting about it is how big it is. I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+I or Command+Option+I in a Mac to bring up the Image Size command, and this is the guy that's just a foot away. It's 2.2 inches wide, 2.267 x 3.5 inches tall with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.
I am going to turn off the Resample Image checkbox, and I am going to change that Height value to 17 inches, the one that's five feet away from us. Notice, I am just letting the resolution drop to 60 pixels per inch. that's going to look the same, even though it's an extremely low resolution artwork. If I am guaranteed that nobody is going come within five feet of this piece of artwork, they will never know its low res. It will appear to them just like a 300 pixels per inch image inside of a magazine. So it's going to look great, in other words, even though it has no resolution to speak of.
We are also going to have to, however, factor in the fact the halos have gotten smaller, so we have to multiply them times five. Notice that 60 is 1/5th of 300. So we are going to have to multiply for five, meaning five for five feet or more away or we are going to have multiply times five in order to figure out the proper Radius value that we want to apply using the High Pass command. Alright, so I am just going to go ahead and cancel out of there. Now we can let the resolution drop when we know that the image is going to be viewed from a distance.
We cant afford to do that if the peson might get close to the image. So if you have a big huge gallery quality image that somebody could walk very close to it just hanging at about four-and-a-half feet high or something like that, they can get very close and peer at the details and then they can backup in taking the entire image, then you've got to keep that guy high res. It's only if you know theres no way they're going to be close to it, like a billboard. My Gosh! People are going to come within 20 feet of a billboard, so you can let the resolution drop, and by the way they do let the resolution drop.
If you were to get up there and take a close look at the billboard, you would see pixels. Lets go back to our little chart right here. If your image might be viewed up close then you've got to stick with the values I've given you. If, however, your image is not going to be viewed any closer than five feet away, then go ahead and figure out what resolution you are working with and multiply it times five. So if you are working with a 100 pixels per inch, that's going to be your resolution, then you need to calculate that for purposes of this chart you're working with a 500 pixels per inch image which means you need to go much higher with your Radius value.
In fact, if its a 100 pixel per inch and that multiples out to 500 pixels per inch then you are going to be applying something that's about twice as 220 value right here, and that would be about 3 pixels, about 3 to 3.5 pixels of Radius with High Pass. If you are going higher obviously you need to take these values up as well. So remember if it's going to be viewed from 5 feet away or more, multiply these values by five. If it's going to be viewed up close, stick with what youve got here. In the next exercise we are going to be talking about ideal sharpening settings for your inkjet output.
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