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Photoshop is the tool of choice for most creative professionals and has quickly become household name synonymous with computer art and image manipulation. In Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics, internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland teaches such digital-age wonders as masking, filters, layers, blend modes, Liquify, Vanishing Point, and vector-based type. Along the way, Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, trimming away jowls and fat, and wrapping one image around the surface of another. Plus, the training teaches how to construct and organize the elements in a composition so you can edit them easily in the future. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Ready for more Photoshop CS3 training with Deke? Check out Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Advanced Techniques.
Note: Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials is a recommended prerequisite to Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise I am going to show you how to figure out the perfect Unsharp Mask settings for a specific image. I have gone ahead and zoomed to the snake down to the 50% view signs here and I have filled the screen with the snake by Shift+Tabbing way my palette so we can focus in just on this creature hair. And I am going to the Filter menu and I am going to choose Sharpen and I am going to choose the Unsharp Mask Command as I have done so many times now. Brings up the Unsharp Mask dialog box but of course and I am going to click on the creature's head in order to scroll to the head inside of the, in-dialog box preview.
And I am actually going to zoom out a couple of clicks inside the preview to see it at the 50% zoom ratio as well. Now here is how I suggest you use the controls inside the Unsharp Mask dialog box. First take the amount value up really high. Now I typically start with something in the 200% to 400% range, you can go all the way to 500 if you want to, which tends to be a little bit of overkill. And you are not going to stick with this value because this would be straight on over-sharpening of the image, you are going to ruin your image if you apply this much sharpening.
You are going to make it very difficult to edit in the future because you are going to have so much contrast between neighboring pixels, you are going to have brought out so much noise inside the image and so on. But a high value is useful for gauging the effect of the other values. So as I say, I am going to raise it to 400 in the case of this image, subtlety be darned and then I am going to tab down to the threshold value and I am going to take that value up to 8 luminance levels because we have already determined in advance that 8 luminance levels work well for this specific image.
And now finally let's go back to the radius value. Now if were sending this image to screen, I am actually going to zoom in to a 100% inside the larger Image windows so that we can take in the snake at the 100% zoom ratio. If I were getting this image ready for screen display then I would want to keep the radius value very low. I might take it down to 0.5 pixels or even lower. You can go down to about 0.3 pixels before the effect starts dropping away.
So something like 0.5 combined with a very high amount value will give you an effect that pops on screen. The problem is it's not going to show up very well in print and in order to demonstrate that I am going to zoom out even farther here inside the in-dialog box preview. Notice that I am now looking at the image at the 25% zoom ratio which more or less something like 25 or 50 is going to give you a rough sense of what the image is going to look like when it finally prints.
So I will go ahead and click and hold on the image which takes away the preview, right and it shows me the before view and then I will release to see the after view. There is no difference going on. So it's a safe bet that this affect will drop away the sharpening affect that I have applied will drop away when I print the image. Now it's not necessary going to go completely away but you are not going to see it nearly as strongly as you see it on screen here. So compare that to the 100% preview out in the larger image window, this is before and this is after, it's a pretty easy affect to see.
So what I am going to suggest, you do if you are going to print you need to take this radius value up to a higher level. And instead of going with 0.5 you are going to want to send this value to something along the lines of 4 times that much which would be about 2 pixels. Now that's just a rough approximation, you are going to want to modify your radius value to taste but something in the neighborhood of 2 might end up working up pretty well. Now check out the larger 100% image window preview and it looks like we have applied way too much sharpening, this is before and this is after.
And certainly our amount value is way too high, we are going to have to tamper that. But it also looks like we have fairly thick GUI edges that don't really look all that sharp. Compare that to the in-dialog box, 25% preview if I click and hold there is the before view, if I release there is the after view. Now that looks pretty tactile, it's looks pretty sharp, it looks over sharpened. I am applying too much amount as I have mentioned before but it does look like a tactile pop-off the page effect. Something else I have to tell you about gauging your sharpness on screen only certain zoom levels are going to work for you.
A 100% works great and anything larger than a 100% is useful as well because you are blowing up the pixels. But once you start dropping away pixels it's not such a good story. If I zoom out to the 66.7% zoom ratio that's a terrible zoom ratio. I am dropping pixels out, it's a nearest neighbor interpolation, remember nearest neighbor from our discussion of the Image Size command that means that some pixels are just getting dropped away. Photoshop is not taking the time to average neighboring pixels, alright so we get a very choppy screen display that is not indicative of how the image is actually going to look when you print it or export it or whatever you decide to do with the image, whereas if you zoom at another click here by pressing Ctrl minus to zoom it out to 50% that's a good zoom ratio.
This is a Bicubic Interpolation, so Photoshop is going around and averaging neighboring pixels in order to figure out how it should show you the image on screen. 33% is once again bad, 25% is good, 16.7% is bad, 12.5% is good-bad, good-bad, good, well you can't even see at it this point, but you get the idea. So every other click is bad. Basically you are good ones, alright our 12.5% that's good you are probably not going to be zoomed out farther than that on a regular basis.
25% is good, 50% is good and a 100% and larger is good as well. Alright so that's why I have got 25% inside the dialog box and a 100% outside the dialog box. Let's now take this amount value down to something more reasonable and I am going to scale it down to 200% just as sort of a starting level. And now if you don't feel like that's high enough based on the previews that you are seeing on screen, you can press Shift up arrow in order to raise that value in 10% increments.
If you feel like it's too high then you can press Shift down arrow to lower the value in 10% increments. Now you can also just press the Up and Down arrow keys without the Shift key in order to raise and lower the value in 1% increments, but 1% increments aren't really going to do with that much. So that's why I tend to work in 10% increments where amount is concerned. So I work with the Shift key with amount and I work with and without the Shift key for radius and I work totally without Shift key for our threshold, in case you are curious. Alright anyway I am going to take this value down to about a 160%, I think a radius of 2 pixels and a threshold of 8 works well for this image, I am going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that effect.
So this is the image before I apply the sharpening, this is the image after I applied the sharpening. We can customize the amount of sharpening we apply using Unsharp Mask.
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