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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.
FocalBlade is a Sharpening tool offered by the plugin site, and it offers impressive power for sharpening your photographic images. Let's take a look at some of what FocalBlade has to offer. I'll go ahead and apply this Sharpening as a SmartFilter, so that I can go back and refine my sharpening later if I need to. So I'm going to convert my image to a Smart Object first by choosing Filter > Convert for Smart Filters, and I'll Click OK in the alert here, and my image is converted to a Smart Object. I can then choose Filter > Photo Wiz, and then FocalBlade from the menu in order to bring up the FocalBlade dialog.
By default, FocalBlade is working in Easy mode, but I can also choose a variety of other modes including Advanced mode, which adds additional tabs with more controls. To get started, we can use the Auto mode, and this is actually relatively straightforward and an easy way to start working with FocalBlade. I'll Pan across the image here a little bit so we can see some more details. And you'll see that we have a reasonably good Sharpening Effect. But let's take a look at what happens with some different settings. I can for example, adjust the strength of the Sharpening.
Let's set it to very high, just so we can see a better sense of exactly the effect in the image. I can also change the surface. Now what this essentially means is, are there lots of smooth areas or not very many smooth areas? So if I choose very light for example, we're assuming there are a lot of smooth areas, whereas if there are not very many smooth areas, we might choose very strong or somewhere in between, of course. So with an image that contains a lot of sky, for example, we might choose the Very Light or Light option. Where as something with a lot more detail, we might choose Strong, or Very Strong.
Taking that a step further, we have the Details option, and this is similar to the Radius setting in Smart Sharp and around Sharp Mask. Do we have very fine detail, in which case we would want to use a small radius. We want those halos to be very small along contrast edges in the image. Or, do we have very coarse texture, where we want to have the radius relatively large. We can also specify the output conditions. Right now it's set to display. When I switch to the Print option, you'll see the preview updates with a much stronger Sharpening Effect, and that's because, when printing, we have additional softness introduced by the spreading of ink on paper. And so we need to exaggerate our sharpening just a little bit. In this case, I think things are a little bit too much, and so I might tone down my other settings here.
Obviously, in this case I'm just demonstrating the concepts, and so I don't need to be especially worried about the particular settings. But I still want them to be somewhat reasonable. I can also go into some of the additional tabs here, for example in addition to the Auto option I can work with Manual. And this allows me to control the strength of the Sharpening, the size of the halos, and the surface settings with a bit more control. For example, I could increase or decrease that radius size, and I can increase or decrease the intentisty of the Sharpening Effect.
The Auto options relate directly to Manual. In other words, when you establish settings here for the Auto options, they will automatically adjust the Manual settings. This just provides you with a bit of fine tuning ability within FocalBlade. We can also fix some common problems using the Fix tab. For example, the White Halo adjustment allows us to mitigate the effect of the white halos, the brighter halos, when we're enhancing contrast along edges within the image. So if I lower this value, I'm allowing those halos to show through, if I raise the value then I'm preventing those halos from being visible. And I have the same control available, for the black halos as well. Although in most cases, you'll find that white halos are a bigger issue than the black halos, when it comes to those contrast edges. Simply because the black halo tends to blend in a little more readily with the image.
We can also adjust the peak values for white and black, and the range value for highlights and shadows. In other words how broad a tonal range will that effect. And we can fade back the effect of that halo reduction. We can also apply Color Noise Removal to the image. Generally speaking I would have already applied Noise Reduction to the image before Sharpening it, but it is nice that we have these additional controls available. We also have the option to mask our overall Sharpening Effect. We can protect specific colors, and we can also work with an Edge Mask.
Now this allows me to change the intensity, the width, the Removal option, in other words, where are we removing sharpening, a variety of controls related to that edge mask, which is obviously a fairly sophisticated capability. And taking a look at the Effect option, we also have the ability to add an ethereal glow type of effect to the image, or to add the appearance of film grain. Generally speaking, I would say that working with the Manual option is going to give you the most control, within FocalBlade.
And you might also obviously make use of some of the fixed settings. But more often than not, those are the only two places that you'll need to go when working with FocalBlade. And of course when you're first getting started, you might simply work with the Auto options, as you gain more familiarity with the various controls that are available here. In this lesson, we've taken a look at the basics of FocalBlade, and hopefully that's provided you with some sense of what it has to offer. If you want to really dig deep into the finer details of Sharpening, this is a great tool to consider.
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