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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, 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 CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this exercise, I'm going to demonstrate what's going out with that More Accurate check box inside the Smart Sharpen dialog box. I'm back inside the Macro butterfly.jpg image, found inside the 15_sharpen folder. I'm going to press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac to bring up the Smart Sharpen dialog box, complete with the last used settings here. I'll go ahead and center the butterfly's head inside the preview. So, I've got an Amount value of 500%, obviously. That is oversharpening the image. A Radius value of 4.5, with Remove set to Lens Blur.
Actually, great settings, except for Amount, which is too high; otherwise, great settings if I were planning on printing this image. All right, so what I want you to notice here is that we have a single rung of highlights on the inside of this curlicue. We have a single rung of shadows on the other side of that edge; whereas if I turn on More Accurate, we're going to essentially have a double row of halos, and we're tracing around every single little bit of noise inside the image.
What I don't want you to think is that this hint that appears when you actually hover over More Accurate that says Toggle to produce a more accurate sharpening effect, is in any way shape or form accurate. That's not right, because if it were, you would always turn on this check box. There wouldn't be any reason to turn it off, why would you want a less accurate effect. One would hope that Adobe would turn it on, by default for you, and it's actually off by default. This is not a more accurate effect; this is a much busier effect. It's going to work for some images, and not others.
Now, for most images, More Accurate should be turned off. The reason is that it exaggerates noise. So it's pretty much the opposite of the Threshold setting inside of the Unsharp Mask dialog box. Instead of avoiding the noise, it exaggerates the noise when it's turned on. Then also, it brings out all sorts of defects in people's skin. So, if you're sharpening a portrait, definitely, leave this check box turned off, because otherwise, you're going to bring out every single pore in a person's face.
Now, in the case of our butterfly, we've got too much noise to handle this check box, and we also get this unfortunate double halo effect, where we get a light halo followed by a dark halo on the highlight sides of each one of these edges. It doesn't look good at 100%, it doesn't look good in the background at 50%. Having More Accurate turned off, definitely delivers a better effect all the way around. All right, so I'm just going to go ahead and cancel out of this dialog box, where the butterfly is concerned, because we've already seen Smart Sharpen applied to it.
Let's go ahead and switch over to this image here. It's called Gray head iguana.jpg, also found inside the 15_sharpen folder. This image comes to us from my fellow lynda.com trainer, Chris Orwig. He's done a brilliant job on this photograph, of course; the guy is a professional after all. This is a lower noise image, even though, by the way, it was shot with a higher ISO setting. So, this image has an ISO of 400. This one here, my macro butterfly image has an ISO of 250 for what it's worth. Anyway, one of the things that this image has going for it, is all sorts of highly articulated details.
So, low noise, lots of details that we really want to bring out. We're not worried about this iguana's skin defects. In fact, we want to exaggerate those defects, because they're not defects; there are these wonderfully awesome scales that we want to call attention to. So, I'm going to press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac, and I've got my same settings intact here: an Amount value of 500%, way over the top, Radius of 4.5 pixels, Remove set to Lens Blur, ideal for digital photographs assuming that you're going to print the photo.
If we are, by the way, preparing this image for display on the web, you'd want to drop this Radius value down to about one pixel or lower. Let's go ahead and center that I here inside of the preview, and then I'm going to turn on the More Accurate check box. Notice that Photoshop now digs into every single crevice of this lizard skin and it brings out not only these edges around the scales, but also, all kinds of detail inside the scale. Now that's not, in any way, shape or form, none of this kind of sharpening is going to survive the print process.
You wouldn't even notice it, the sharpening that's at work on the inside of these scales, but might show up nicely onscreen. So, one of the things you might think about after you turn on More Accurate, if it appeals to you, you might want to think about raising that Radius value just a little bit. So in our case that might take it up, even though I'm preparing an image for screen work, let's say, I might take it up to 1.2 pixels. Now, More Accurate is great when you're sharpening still images. By the way, it's really great for that if you're trying to bring out fabric or woodgrain or tiny little details.
If you're sharpening for the screen, it can work out sometimes. If you're sharpening the equivalent of the still image, like a very still lizard, for example, anything but a portrait shot, that's the one thing that I would tell you, just avoid portrait shots like crazy, and also avoid high noise shots, like the one we saw before. So anyway, end up coming up with this result here, and of course, an Amount value of 500% is over the top. Let's go ahead and try out 200% and see how that looks. I'll click-and-hold the preview to see the original version of lizard.
Then I'll release to see the Sharpen version. I think we've got a nicely sharpened image going on here. So, I'll click OK in order to accept that modification, and then I will zoom in to 100%, because we're preparing them for display onscreen after all. So, that's how the More Accurate check box works. It's not about accuracy; it's about noise, low noise, go ahead and turn it on; high noise, turn it off. It's about portrait shots. In any case, any portrait shot that you run into, leave that check box off, and then finally, if you're working on a still life, you might think about turning it on.
In the next exercise, I'll introduce you to Smart Sharpen's Advanced Settings.
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