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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
All right, so how do we go about the gauging the best sharpening settings when we are applying the Unsharp Mask filter? Well, first of all you go ahead and zoom your image to whatever zoom level you want, and pretty much anything is okay these days. Now let's make sure everything is okay. Let's make sire it is on your own computer, and my computer here. What you do is you go up to the Edit menu and you choose Preferences, and those of you who are working on a Mac, you go to the Photoshop menu and you choose the Preferences command, and then choose performance, and you should see right there, this enable OpenGL drawing check box not only available to you, but also turned on. So make sure it's turned on.
It should also tell you the video card that it detected. Now if you can't turn on this check box, if it's just completely unavailable to you, one of two problems, either you don't have an compatible video card and you can check out the documentation that came with you the computer to find out what kind of video card you have, and then you can search the video card and find out if it's OpenGL compatible or not. If it is OpenGL compatible, and it probably is if you spent thousand bucks or more on your computer, but if you bought a really inexpensive computer like a $500 computer something like that, probably not, it probably isn't OpenGL compatible. But if it costs thousand bucks or more, probably it is, in which case, and if you look at your documentation and find out, hey, I got an OpenGL card, then what you want to do is you want to go on line and see if you can download a more recent video driver. Make sure to quit Photoshop, make sure to quit everything, install the most recent video driver that's offered by your manufacture, restart your computer, definitely do that, and then start back up Photoshop, and then it should be back in business.
But sometimes all you got to do is restart Photoshop, by the way, I have had a lot of issues with Photoshop, just kind of checking out on the old OpenGL, and you just restart the program, and it gets back with the program, worst case scenario, you have to restart your machine. All right, so anyway, cancel out of there, I'm in a good shape. Now the reason I went on about that is because OpenGL support is very important to gauging sharpening in Photoshop CS4. It means that you can gauge sharpening at any zoom level essentially, otherwise, if you can't get OpenGL support to work you can only gauge your sharpening at 100% and higher, 100%, 200%, 300%, so even zoom levels, or you can go down to 50%, down to 25%, or down to 12.5%, nothing else, under 100% is going to work for you, that's why OpenGL support is so important for gauging sharpening. So that's step one. Step two, obviously, go to the Filter menu, choose Sharpen, and choose Unsharp Mask. Okay, I'm going to zoom out to click to 67.5%, I'm going to center the zoom on the snake's head, more or less, and when you are gauging sharpening, always best to look at the heads. If it's an animal, you want its head in there in some place. If it's a human being, the eyes, baby, watch those eyes. Then if it's some other kind of image, whatever you think is important, in order to bring out.
Like if it's a landscape, you might have different areas inside that landscape that you want to sort of focus in on. All right, the thing I next do is I'll go ahead and crank this Amount value just through the root, to 500%, that's way too much sharpening. This is called over-sharpening the image. It can be very damaging to an image if you do it, if you over sharpen it. Also big FYI, big note here, sharpening is one of the last things you want to do to an image, even though we were certainly discussing it in the middle of things here, because it's very difficult to edit the image after you get down sharpening it.
Other edits will start falling apart if you've already sharpened the image. So you can get most of your color corrections out of way. And good thing we already discussed color corrections before we embarked on sharpening. Also, if you are applying a big old sharpening effect, or even a multi-pass sharpening effect, which sometimes works, as I explained inside my Photoshop CS3 sharpening images series, then you might want to go ahead and run a Save As, so you don't save over the original images, just save it as a separate image, and then finally you can apply non-destructive sharpening effects. By non-destructive, I mean that you can change your mind later, you are not actually sharpening the pixels, you are not doing any damage to them upfront using Smart Objects and Smart Filters, and I'll be showing you that very smartly in the final part of this series, when we get into the super sophisticated Photoshop stuff. But anyway, here I'm just trying to gauge how much sharpness I want to apply. I'm going to crank that Amount value up to 500% for starters. Then I'm going to take this Radius value down. Now here's the rule of thumb for Radius, where just straight everyday sharpening is concerned.
If you go on the screen, if you're sharpening with the screen output in mind, in other words, for the web, or for kiosk or for presentation or something along those lines, then you probably want to be looking at the image at here in the image window. I'm looking at it at 200%, 100% is going to give you a even better idea of what the image is really going to look like. So I'll take it out to 100%, and you want to go with the low Radius value, because that's going to give you the crispiest edges, basically a high amount combined with a low radius value, and just because we do have some noise going on in the background there, I'm going to take this threshold value up a little bit, to about 4 levels, it's starting to look pretty good to me. Okay, so this is a nice sharpening effect for screen. Problem is it ain't going to work for print. So if you're hoping it will sharpen the image, and have the sharpness survive the print process, forget about an ultra low radius value like 0.5 pixels. It's just is not going to live.
And let me show you what I'm talking about. I'll zoom out to 50%, which is fairly indicative of what your print image is going to look like. And if I click in hold in dialog box preview, you can see a little bit of a change, so this is before, and this is after, just a little bit of a change. Now if you were to print to the very low resolution, 50% might give you an idea, 33% is going to give you a better idea, and 25% is going to give you possibly a better ideas as well. And I'll show you how to gauge exactly what your screen resolution is and what your print out is going to look like in the next exercise. But as I was saying, 25% is fairly indicative, so I'm going to go ahead and click and hold, so we see the before view of the snake, and now release, so we can see the after view. No perceivable change, even in the Amount value, crank through the root, at 500% I cannot see the effect of the sharpening, that's because of my radius value is too low.
So think about it, you are actually seeing those halos, even though they are super thin, it's blurred across half a pixel essentially. So it is showing up at screen resolution, but once you start increasing the resolution, the image shrinks it down on the page, that edge is going to grow so thin that it ultimately goes completely away, that it's disappear from view. So what I'm going to recommend you do is take this value up to about 4 times its Radius, to something like 2 pixels, and if you're really serious about this concept, and you want to come up with some great Radius values for specific print resolutions, then again check out my Sharpening Images series. I have charts even that tell you exactly what values go with what resolutions and so on. So there's a ton of information available to you there. But even though it look likes it's completely over sharpened now, here inside the 100% view, check out the 25% view, this is before, and this is after. So we can now see the sharpening effect, and it looks very crisp. It's over sharpened, but it looks nice and crisp. Whereas at 100% it looks pretty gooey, and not all that sharp.
Then you will take this amount value down to something reasonable, and what I'm going to tell you is something like 200% is probably going to work up pretty nicely for this image. Radius of 2 pixels is fine, in the threshold of 4 levels. You can of course go your own way, but these are the values that I'm going to accept, and I'll click OK. All right, so how do we know? Is this going to print good or is it not going to print good? I'm going to show you, so that we can see exactly how it's going to print, or more less exactly we can get a soft preview of how's it's going to print in the next exercise.
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