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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you some great settings using the Smart Sharpen filter for sharpening the detail inside of a high frequency, high resolution image. Now, by high frequency I mean that the Luminance Levels are changing quite rapidly inside the image, so that there is a lot of detail to work with. So this would be a landscape or a cityscape or a shot of multiple people, typically like what we have here. If you're sharpening a portrait shot, which would be a low frequency image, meaning that we have more contours going on, more slow transitions, that kind of thing, then you tend to be better off where sharpening is concerned using the high pass filter, and I'll show you how that works later in this chapter.
But for now I have opened this image called Cheerful girls.jpg, and this image comes to us from fellow trainer and great guy here at lynda.com, Chris Orwig, a real super dude. A good photographer as well, as you can see here, beautiful shot. Anyway, let's say I want to sharpen it using Smart Sharpen. Why then, I would go up to the Filter menu and Smart Sharpen was the last command I applied so what the heck, I'll just press Ctrl+Alt +F or Command+Option+F on the Mac. You know what? This darn dialog box is so gargantuous that it's covering up the girls in the background. Also, you know what I'd like to do is I'd like to see the girls at 100% inside the dialog box, since I have this generous In dialog box preview to work with.
I would like to see them at Print Size in the background. You can do that, you can go to the View menu and choose Print Size, even though you have the Smart Sharpen dialog box up on screen, and that will go ahead and send the image to hopefully what is now an accurate Print Size for you. Also, by the way, what I could do, because I have a keyboard shortcut, because I loaded my own Deke Keys here, I could press Ctrl+Alt+0 or Command+Option+0 on the Mac, and it just sort of ever so slightly zooms in right there, as you can see. So now what I'm going to do is I'm going to leave that Amount value set to 200%, actually that works out nicely. You could if you're just investigating what -- some amount of sharpness to apply, you could go ahead and take this guy up to 500% and check out all of the color artifacting that's been happening on the middle girl's shirt there, the red wagon with a dog in it, we've got all kinds of blue stuff going around in that wagon. It's going at a little bit of an angle, and that's because, oops, I still have Motion Blur active, I don't want that, I want to switch to Lens Blur. This is a digital photograph. I haven't really done much of anything to it. I just opened it from Camera Raw essentially and saved it out as a JPEG file. I haven't even bothered to downsample it or anything like that. This is a 12-megabyte plus image, and I've got its size to 364 pixels per inch I believe. Anyways, I think it's 8 by 12 inches.
So it is a high resolution image. They get higher. There are 21 megapixel cameras as I'm talking to you right now. I'm sure there will be something beyond that by the time you're listening to me. But anyway, when we're working with digital photographs, we typically want to work with Lens Blur, and that's what I'm going to do here. Now, that's just ridiculous at this point, and the reason its ridiculous is I have my Radius value set way too high. Now, I was telling you, if you're going to go with a high Radius value, then you can investigate a low Amount value sometimes in order to get the heightened contrast effect that's known as a Clarity effect, because its still edge driven. This is what the image looked like before. If I click and hold here inside the preview, this is what the image looks like after.
So we're bringing out some of that volumetric detail a little bit. I might even, if I were going this route, bring the Radius value even higher, to something like 50 pixels, and maybe even take that Amount value down. But tell you what, I want a really high Amount value, I'm going to take this guy to 200%, or wait a sec, wait a sec, we were working with 500%, right, just so we can get a sense what's going on. Doesn't look too good with such a high Radius value, so let's take that Radius value down. I was telling you, you can reduce the Radius value in one pixel increments by pressing Shift+Down Arrow, like so. That's not going to get us very far very fast though, because we have such a high Radius value right now.
You can also scrub, notice that, if you scrub on the word Radius, you're going to reduce or enhance the value in increments of .1 pixels. If you want to move faster than that, you Shift+scrub so I can take it down in whole pixel values hereby, Shift+scrubbing over to left. I'm going to take that value down to 4 actually for this image. The Amount value is way too high at this point, however the Radius value is looking pretty good. We have a nice amount of Radius. It looks like too much at 100%, but it looks really good back here at the Print Size resolution.
So that's a nice thing. I'm going to go ahead and back off that Amount value to something much more acceptable, such as 200%. I sort of already gave that part away earlier, but it looks pretty darn good. Now, to get a sense of the before and after inside the dialog box, at 100%, we'll click and hold, and that's before, then release, that's after. So she is oversharpened inside of the dialog box at 100%. So this would be too much if I were going to the web, but I'll tell you what, I'm not going to post a 36 megabyte file to my website. That would be ridiculous. So I'm not going to do anything resembling that. This is definitely sharpening for output at this point. I want it to look nice and tactile on that page.
Also, you should know, when you're going to print; whether you're printing locally to your Inkjet printer, or you're sending it out to a commercial printer for commercial reproduction, then there is a little bit of softness that occurs as a result of the print process. So you're trying to anticipate that when you're sharpening your image for output, and that is why we've applied this Amount and this Radius, and just to get a sense of what it looks like, really when it prints; so we're soft-proofing here, I'm going to turn off the Preview checkbox. I want you to keep an eye on that image in the background. This is what it looked like originally, a little bit soft really when taken in the context of what we're seeing right now. Little bit soft before and now, nice and sharp and tactile after the sharpening, without over sharpening that image.
All right. There is one other option that I've pretty much just ignored so far inside of this dialog box, and that's that guy right there, More Accurate. I'm going to explain how it works and why most of the time you do not want to select it, in the next exercise.
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