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Real focus happens inside the camera's lens element. The sharpening features in Photoshop CS3 exaggerate the contrast along edges in a photograph to transform a well-focused image into an outstanding image. In Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images, Deke McClelland teaches a host of sharpening and noise reduction techniques, including using filters such as Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, High Pass, and Reduce Noise. The training teaches the essentials of sharpening, including what it does, why it's important, and how the filters function. Plus, the training covers Deke's recommended best practices, including the four distinct varieties of sharpening, which can be used independently or in combination with each other. Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images is about how to transform images from looking good to looking their absolute best. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I am going to show you how to apply Density Mask Sharpening inside of Photoshop. Now I was telling you at the outset of this project, that this technique is specifically applicable to dark haired people. I should specify what I mean by that. It is any one from medium brunette and darker, which is most of us, incidentally. Most of us have dark hair, but you may wonder well what about the blonde minority out there. We don't want to forget about them. How do we go about sharpening those folks? If Density Masks don't work for them, what do we do? Well actually, and this is going sound like a cultural commentary, it's not.
This is a point of image editing fact. Most blondes are not real blondes. Most blonde people get blondeness whether a man or a woman. They get their blondeness from a bottle, which is a good thing from our perspective because it means their eyebrows are still dark and their eyelashes are very dark as well. So we will still be able sharpen their eye details using a Density Mask. Also we will be able to sharpen the shadow details, such as the pupil, everybody has got black pupils and the corona around the irises, even if you are detailing with a light eyed person, which is fairly rare once again, they are still going to have dark corona around their eye, that is dark sort of halo around the eye and of course all the shadow details, like the inside of the mouth and the bottom of the lip and underneath the nose, and around these fingers and underneath the chin and so on. Those are all going to dark as well.
So a Density Mask is going to work for those folks. The only place it is not going work with blonde people is inside the head hair and we are not that terribly concerned about the contrast between the highlights in the blonde hair inside blonde people because there isn't there much contrast in the first place and the techniques that I have already shown you such as High Pass sharpening will work just fine. Alright having said that, I am working on a catch-up image if you have just joined me, I am working on a an image called Jet black hair.PSD, It's found inside the 07_For_Effect folder and I have gone ahead and converted background layer to a Smart Object and I applied the High Pass filter, subject to an Edge Mask.
Now what we are going do is create a second pass of sharpening using the Smart Sharpen Filter as it turns out, that will be modified by a Density Mask. So because we need a different mask this time around, I need to go ahead and enter my Smart Object and create a Nested Smart Object. I am going to do that by double clicking on the yowo thumbnail right there, in order to open the image inside of a separate image window as we are seeing right here and this is original unsharpened version of the image, as we can see by the fact that she hasn't been sharpened of course that we are looking at the Background layer.
Let's go ahead convert that Background layer to another Smart Object by choosing Convert to Smart Object, here from the Palette menu and I am going to call this one density. Not destiny, but Density because we are going to be applying a Density Mask. Now we are going to approach this sharpening effect, much as we would a High Pass sharpening effect that is to say, we are going to go ahead and load a channel as the selection outline, so that we have a Base Mask to work with before we apply the filter. So I am going to go to the Channels palette. Now when we are working with an Edge Mask, we want a high degree of variety, between highlights and shadows and mid-tones inside of the image, which is why we go with green channel.
When we are working with a Density Mask we want a high degree of contrast and you are going to get most contrast inside any portrait shot, whether we are talking about black skin tones or white skin tones or something in between, you are going to find the most contrast inside of the red channel. So go ahead and Ctrl-click or Command-click on the red channel thumbnail in order to load it as a selection outline. Now go back to the Layers palette and as I said this time we are going to be applying the Smart Sharpen Filters. So go to the Filter menu, choose Sharpen and choose Smart Sharpen and we are going to go over the top with the effect as you are seeing right here.
I want you to really hit this image hard. I want you to apply an Amount value of 500%. That sounds ridiculous and it looks horrible in the background. Don't worry about it, it will look great in just a moment. I want you to assign a Radius of 3 pixels for this image. You might go higher for a higher resolution image and then set Remove to Lens Blur. Now we are sticking with one of our rules of portrait shots, don't turn on the More Accurate check box. Leave that off. Because if we were to turn it on, notice what happens. We get this microscopic level of sharpening going on inside the image and that doesn't benefit anybody.
Alright, so I am going to turn off More Accurate, 500 for an amount, 3.0 for radius and Lens Blur for Remove, click Ok in order to accept your modification. Now we have exactly the opposite of the effect we were looking for, we are sharpening the heck out of the highlight and we are ignoring the shadows and that's because we were working with a Luminance Mask. What we need to do is convert this Luminance Mask into a Density Mask and we will be doing that in the next exercise.
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