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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.
All right, now put the Density Mask. I am still working inside of that Jet black hair.PSD image that you can find inside of the 07_For_Effect folder. And what I have done is, I have gone ahead and double clickws on the Smart Object, so that I am looking at the Smart Object that's why its called Layer O2.PSD on screen. Your's might be call something different. I went ahead and converted the background layer to a Smart Object. I loaded the red channel as a selection outline and I applied the Smart Sharpen filter. Now my Smart Sharpening effect, which happens to be over the top, I have got a 500% Amount value going, is affecting just the lightest detail, just the highlights inside of the image.
A little bit of mid-tones and it's not affecting the shadows at all. that's exactly the opposite of what I want and that's a function of the fact that I am working with a Straight Luminance Mask, which happened to be a copy of my red channel as I was saying. What I want is a Density Mask, which happens to be the exact opposite of a Luminance Mask. So all I do to get a Density Mask is I press Ctrl+ I or Command+I on the Mac to invert the colors. Voila! We have a density mask and incidentally, it gets its name after ink densities.
So where the inks are denser, they are going to be darker; where the inks are less dense, they are going to be lighter. Alright, so it just happens to be the inversion of a Luminance Mask, however, despite its fancy name. Now I am going to Alt-click or Option-click on the Filter Mask thumbnail in order to return to the full color image and you can see that we are now affecting the darkest color inside the image, the shadow detail. And we are living the highlight detail alone. We are still affecting the highlight detail just a little bit however.
If I zoom in on the eye for example, if I turn off the Smart Sharpen effect, you can see that we are bringing out those highlights around the eye and I don't want to do that. I don't want to bring out any of this glitter or any of the other surface details in her skin. So I am going to make the dark luminance levels inside of this Filter Mask that much darker. So I am going to click on the Filter Mask thumbnail to make it active, then I am going to press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac to bring up the Levels dialog box and I am going to drag this black slider triangle over to a 100.
So we want the black point value right here to be a 100, meaning anything that has a luminance level of a 100 or darker is going to become black and that's going to do a great job of protecting the highlights because we have inverted the mask of course. So the shadows are going to protect the highlights. I will click OK in order to accept that modification. So this is before. See how we have got a lot more highlights showing up inside this image, getting sharpened that is to say, and this is after. Now there is still one more modification I need to make to this effect.
If you take a close look at the hair detail and some other details inside the image as well, you will see that there is some color artifacting that's occurring here because we are sharpening not only the luminance levels, but also the color values inside this image. We need to change that by double clicking on the little blend icon to the right of the word Smart Sharpen and I am going to change the mode from Normal to Luminosity; standard stuff of course. Then I will click Ok in order to accept that modification and you can see those little color pixels go away and this was before. If you look very, very closely inside the video you will see them right here and this is after they disappear.
It's a subtle change, but a very important change as well. You never know when those color details, those little color artifacts are going to come bite you when the image goes to print. Alright, we are done; this the Density Mask, the embedded Density Mask inside of this image. I want you now to go up to the File menu and choose the Close Command. Photoshop is going to ask you if you want to save your changes to the Smart Object. Click the Yes button here on the PC or the Save button I believe its called on the Mac and you will return to the larger composition that contains of course the yowo layer right there and the High Pass filter that's modified by an Edge Mask.
Now I had said a couple of exercises ago, I went ahead and set this High Pass effect to the over the top blend mode of Linear Light and that's too much. We no longer need that kind of emphasis for High Pass anymore. So lets go and settle things down, return it to a reasonable level of sharpness by double clicking on that blend icon and changing the mode from Linear Light to Overlay, which is going to workout much better for us of course. Then go ahead and click Ok in order to accept that modification and we now have some brilliant details going on inside of the hair. Check it out.
If you zoom in there, you are going to see some very nice hair contrast going on and the eye looks spectacular as well. And we are not bringing out any surface detail inside of that skin. So just to give you a sense of what we have accomplished in the last couple of exercises with the addition of the Density Mask Sharpening Pass, I will go ahead and press the F12 key to revert to the original version of Jet black hair. So this is the High Pass only effect with High Pass set to Linear Light and you can see how we are bringing out some sharpening inside of the highlight and this is the result of toning down High Pass and focusing in on the shadow detail thanks to that Density Mask.
A much better affect. Works great for your dark hair people and of course for blondes, who aren't really blondes, who have got their blondes in a bottle and you want to bring out the eyebrows and the eyelashes and other dark detail, other shadow details inside of your professional quality portraits.
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