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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 this exercise we are going to get rid of the weird color anomalies that are showing up inside of this Bison photograph. I am working by the way, in a catch-up document, if you are just joining me. If you have been working along with me, stick with the document that you have been creating, but if you are just joining me you can open this image called Nondestructove sharpening.PSD, found inside the 04_support_staff folder. You can see that there is this area of sort of burgundy stuff that's showing up to the left of the creatures jaw, but also we have some other colors that are showing up down here in its muzzle, so we have some more burgundy at work here in various different areas actually. Also over here on the creature's nose.
Then we have some sort of greens and blues that are showing up in this sort of, what is it, a mustache? I don't know. We have got a lot of weird stuff. Then of course the creature is just covered in these seeds, but that's his business, we are not getting rid of that. We are not grooming him. We are just trying to make him look the way he really looks, and of course emphasize the details with some sharpening. So what I am going to do is I am going to apply a pass of the Median filter to just the color information inside of this image. So with the Bison Smart Object selected, I am going to go up to the Filter menu and I am going to choose this guy right there, Noise, and then I am going to choose the Median command.
I am going to apply a big heaping amount of Median here. I am going to raise the Radius value to 50 pixels, which does fairly average the appearance of the bison at this point, but that's OK. We are going to turn around and apply it to just the color information. So I will click OK in order to accept this modification. It's going to take a few moments to apply Median at this point, for two reasons. First of all, this is a big amount of Median that we are applying. A high Radius value takes longer to render, but the other thing is that we have Median and Smart Sharpen working together nondestructively, and that takes a lot of computational effort on the part of Photoshop.
Meanwhile though, if you take a look at the file size information down here in the lower left-hand corner of the image window, you can see that the file size is not growing despite this layering stuff that we are doing here. Despite that we have an image embedded inside the larger composition, the image size has not grown, its still 15.4 megabytes, which was the original size of the file when we first opened it. So we are not going to get a big file on disk. Alright, so anyway the Median filter should only be applied to the color information inside the image, not the luminance information.
So we are going to have to double click on this little Blend Mode guy right there. Now two things about this Median item right there, this Median Smart Filter that's included inside my Smart Filters list, because it's at the top of the list, it's being applied after Smart Sharpen. So the bottom item is applied first and then the top item, so you read up the list. We really want Median to be applied before Smart Sharpen, because I told you, you always apply- this is the universal rule by the way, when you are doing sharpening, you always apply your smoothing first and then your sharpening afterward.
So I need Median to be applied before Smart Sharpen. So I need to grab it and drag it underneath Smart Sharpen, like so. Now this isn't true on the Mac, but under Windows Vista you are going to see this little preview of the icon right there, the Smart Filter Icon, and you are also going to see, on both platforms you are going to see this horizontal bar that's showing you that you are moving it below Smart Sharpen, then release. It is going to take a moment to reapply the filters. Notice you get this progress bar that's saying it's rendering the Smart Filters; it means both of the filters, it's having to reapply both of them to the image.
This is where you start getting into the big delays where Smart Filters are concerned, and this is not something I am very pleased about. I wish it didn't occur. I will tell you that Photoshop CS3, which is the version I am using, that's the first version of Photoshop to support Smart Filters, so this is essentially 1.0 feature right now. So hopefully we will see it get quicker in future incarnations. Alright, so I just moved Median below Smart Sharpen. That's good. Now I need to change the Blend Mode assigned to Median to Color, so that Median is only averaging the colors inside the image and it's leaving the luminance information untouched.
I will do that by double-clicking on this little Blend Mode icon right there. But when I do that, when I double-click on the Blending icon, I am going to get an alert message that's telling me- now this one is really important, it's telling me a Smart Filter stacked on top of this filter will not preview while this filter is being edited. So in other words, we will be able to preview Median by itself in a vacuum without Smart Sharpen on top of it. That's another bad version 1.0 implementation of Smart Filters. Hopefully they will fix that one too because that's not acceptable on my opinion, but anyway, they will be applied after committing the Filter Parameters dialog box.
OK, so don't show again because there is nothing you can do about it, just remember it or leave it unchecked if you want to see this every single time. I don't think you do. But click OK in any event, and then you will get the little Blending Options dialog box after yet another progress bar. Now this is making this feature look very bad indeed. The thing is it does invoke delays, but it is a great way to apply parametric effects, to apply nondestructive filters, and it does put, like I said, it puts the onus on Photoshop to keep the file size down.
If you are more concerned about time than file size, and you are willing to accept the big files, then there is another way to working, and I will show you that in a later exercise. But for now we are going to just suffer through it. I am going to change the Mode now from Normal to Color, and that will preview very quickly, notice that. So Photoshop is armed and ready to preview this effect as soon as it gets done with its progress bar. This did go ahead and do a pretty darn great job actually of just making the colors inside of the image more homogenous.
You can see most of that burgundy junk it has gotten rid of, and the weird blues and greens inside the muzzle are gone as well. But we are left with a very boring beige background as well. We got rid of some of the greens that work inside the background, the good greens that we need in order to give the image a little variety. So we are going to need to apply a mask, but for now we will just go ahead and accept this modification. Click OK. Now quite surprisingly, we don't get a progress bar. So sometimes you wait, sometimes you don't. That's a good thing.
Anyway, now we are seeing the effects of Median and Smart Sharpen mixed. Median has the Color Blend Mode assigned to it, so it's just affecting the color, not the luminance, whereas Smart Sharpen has the Luminosity Blend Mode assigned to it, so it's just affecting the luminance information and not the colors. These guys are affecting different parts of the image, opposite parts of the image. Alright, in the next exercise we need to take care of the fact that we just wiped out all the colors in the field, and the best way to see that you wiped out the colors in the field, because you could turn on and off these eyeballs, but I don't recommend you do that because that invokes new progress bars.
If all you were trying to do is just see it before and after, don't turn the eyeballs on and off. That's going to waste a lot of your time. This is a big tip, by the way, huge. Instead, make sure you got your History powered up and go back to a history state before you applied it, for example, Median. So I am going to go back to Deselect, and I will close History, and now you can see that we have got these great colors that work inside of our background. So this is the way the colors used to work. Now I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, this is the way they look now. Did you see the difference there? I am going to go ahead and zoom in on these grasslands in the background.
This is the before version with more color of work. Notice the green right there, and there is some green here, a little patch of green, some greens around this area. These are good color anomalies, because they were actually in the original theme. This is the way the colors look now. Strictly homogeneous, very flattened, very dead, boring. We don't need that in this image. We want to keep those colors where we can. So what we are going to have to do is we are going to have to apply a Filter Mask, and we are going to make that Filter Mask in the very next exercise.
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