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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.
Alright gang, in this exercise, we are going to embed a Smart Object inside another Smart Object. We are doing this So that we can apply a series of unmasked filters to the image independently of the mask filters that we have already applied. So the logic starts to get a little twisted here. I am working inside of an image called Filter mask.PSD which is found inside the 04_support_staff folder. This is just a catch-up document, in case you are just joining me or for some reason something is going wrong inside your file.
If you are humming right along, stick with the image you are working on. Please, by all means I want you to work this through from beginning to end if you can. I was telling you one of the great things about Smart Objects is that they are super efficient. Your file size doesn't grow, like it does if you are creating duplicate layers and you are applying effects to those duplicate layers and all that jazz as we used to have to do before Smart Filters came along. Well, the size of the file might imply that I am lying to you because now the file size has grown from 15.4 megabytes, as you can see down here on lower left corner of the image window.
The value after the slash tells you the size of the image with layers and masks and everything else that's going on. The reason it's 25.7 megabytes now, which is fairly considerably larger, almost twice as large, is because we have two masks inside of this image and each one of the masks takes up another channel's worth of information, so another third again. We don't really need two versions of this mask because they are identical to each other. We need the filter mask that we are seeing right here, this is sort of silhouette white buffalo here, the ghost buffalo that's next to the word Smart Filters.
We need that in order to mask the Smart Filters below it. But if you go to Channels palette, you don't need this one that's just called mask right here. That says upright, that has upright character saying mask. This guy right there, that's the Bison Filter Mask, that's the one that's assigned to the Smart Filters.. But this guy is the one that we created originally in order to make the mask in the first place in the previous exercise. These are the same darned things. I'll throw the mask away, make sure you are throwing the one that's the Roman word, not the italic words, and you'll see that your file size goes down. Look in the lower left hand corner of the image window once again.
Now its 15.4 megabytes, before the slash. That'll stay the same of course. So that's a flat size of the image. But the after slash file size, which is the more meaningful one, that's how much a room it's taking in memory and that will also contribute to the file size of the image on your hard drive. That's 20.5 megabytes. So it just went down precipitately, I mean, we just lost 5 megs. So that's good. Anyway, lets go back to the Layers palette. What I want to do basically, lets take a close look at the buffalo. You'll see that it still has this pattern of horizontal lines.
We got rid of that splash of burgundy that's on the animal and all that have the weird sort of color anomalies that were going on. But we have these horizontal lines that are still at work. We also have some weird patterns that are going on in the grasslands as well. So we need to apply the Reduce Noise filter. We are going to do that without the mask. That means we need to apply it to the image inside of the Smart Object. So we are going to have to enter the Smart Object and we want to apply Reduce Noise non-destructively, so we need to create an embedded Smart Object. Does that make sense? I hope so.
The logic is twisted. Some of you are going to totally understand this; other people are going to be going, what!? Anyway, what can I do? It's like the seeds on the buffalo. I can't do anything about that. I am going to go ahead and double click on that Bison thumbnail and that takes us in o the Smart Object. I turned off the warning. I said Don't show again so I didn't get a warning this time. I am just seeing that it is a Background layer that tells me that I am working on the Smart Object. I can also tell because I can look up here in the title bar and its telling me Layer 01.PSD.
It may tell you some other file name; it may tell you Layer, just, 0.PSD because this is actually a temporary file that is embedded in larger composition and as soon as you open it, Photoshop creates a temporary file on disc. Actually, its just a temporary file that's in the system folder. Don't worry about it. But that's why it changes names every once in a while. Because I want to apply Reduce Noise non-destructively, we need to convert this image into its own Smart Object and I am going to do that, same way I did it before, by going to Layers palette menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object or I can press my keyboard shortcut which happens to be Ctrl+comma or Command+comma for me. And that's not the default keyboard shortcut in other words.
I am going to call him Bison 2 or something along those lines, just to tell me that in case I accidentally enter the Smart Object and this name changes, that would give me a signal. Or I can say You're in the So just so that I know that I have accidentally double clicked on something and I just entered the Smart Object, I'll know I am inside of it. Does that make sense? Again, I hope so. I'll click on the thumbnail in order to make it active. Now we can apply Smart Filters to it and the first Smart Filter I am going to apply is Reduce Noise.
I got up to the Filter menu, choose Noise and choose Reduce Noise and that's going to bring up the last applied settings. The ones that I applied to that image of the woman by Pascal Genest. This time around, I am just going to take my Reduce Noise value down to 15 and the reason is because I have already reduced the heck out of the noise using that Median filter that's applied to the parent Smart Object. So I don't really need to do much to the Color Noise at this point of time. So I am going to take that value down just to save a little bit of effort on Photoshop's part.
Strength of eight is great, Preserve Details 20% is great, Sharpen Details zero is great, Remove JPEG Artifact does not need to be on; we don't have JPEG artifacts at work inside of this image. So that's good. I can take a look just to see if I got rid of some of those horizontal lines and I did. This worked wonders actually on those horizontal lines there. So, I am in good shape. I'll click OK in order to accept that modification and I will see that I have Reduce Noise applied. Now I don't need this filter mask. So I am going to throw it away because I don't like clutter. Then I want to apply a little bit of sharpening on top of this Reduce Noise pass.
But I am just going to apply a little bit of edge contrast enhancement, not really sharpening strictly speaking, and just a little bit of it. So I am going to do this using the High Pass command. So lets go ahead and zoom in on the image and with the Smart Object still selected, I'll go ahead and drag, open the palette a little bit so we can see the full name. I'll go up to the Filter menu and I will choose Other and then I will choose High Pass. Now I'll bring up, of course, the High Pass filter right there and I am going to apply a Radius value of 20 pixels. That sounds great for this particular image. Because like as I said, I am not really trying to sharpen it at this point; I am just trying to enhance the edges to keep it nice and tactile essentially and to defeat some of the effects of the Reduce Noise filter right there.
I will click OK and then I am going to change the blend mode because obviously the blending is not right at all. We need to drop out those grays. So I am going to double click on this blend mode icon right there. Now things are going a little faster because I am working on the top layer in the stack. They're not going super fast but a little bit faster than they were if we are trying to work on one of the earlier filters like Reduce Noise at this point. Then I am going to change the blend mode this time too Soft Light because Overlay is too much. If I choose Overlay, we are going to get a very emphatic contrast effect. So I'd rather work with Soft Light, something that's a little more subtle. So that's going to take the edge off a little bit.
And then I am going to reduce the Opacity to 50% in order to take the edge off quite a bit and then I will click OK in order to accept that modification. These are the filters that I want to apply. Click on this eyeball, this should go pretty quickly for the entire filter stack. This is the before version of the buffalo and this is the modified version of the buffalo. Thanks to the High Pass and Reduce Noise filters. Now note something. When you are trying to turn on and off the entire Smart Filter stack, you need to click over to the left. Notice that underline right there; you need to click to the left of it.
If you try to click right there where you think the eyeball should be, you are not clicking on anything. Photoshop is very sensitive; you have to click over here to get the eyeball. That's nuts of course. I mean what else would you be trying to do? But anyway I guess that it's a very sensitive, very sensitive program sometimes. Lets go ahead now and update the entire composition and I am going to do that by going up to the File menu and choosing Close. Don't choose Close All. Just chose Close to close this Smart Object, this particular Smart Object. Photoshop will ask you if you want to save the changes to this document and you want to go ahead and say Yes.
Now you are not saving the document to disc; you are saving the image that's embedded inside of the larger composition, like I was saying, in memory. But go ahead and click Yes in order to update. That's essential to getting any work done at this point. Then you should see, notice we've got the original bison Smart Object with the filter mask assigned to it and of course, Smart Sharpen and Median as a subset of that filter mask. It will take a moment though for Photoshop to reconcile these four filters being mixed together on the flight. It is actually trying to do a fair amount of work with juggling four filters at once.
So the more filters you heap on as single Smart Object or a single group of Smart Objects in this case, the slower Photoshop is going to perform. I still encourage you to go ahead and put the program through its paces. It is better to have a slow program than not to take full advantage of the features that are available to you, I think. Anyway, this looks a heck of a lot better and you can check out the difference if you want to from the History palette. I am going to bring up the History palette and I would go back here. Basically all that work is represented by a single history state.
Just Update Smart Objects. If I just click on Delete Channel, it goes back to the version of the image before I had assigned Reduce Noise and High Pass. So you can see that there is more of a pattern of horizontal lines going on and this is the before version; this is the after version. A lot of those horizontal lines are going away. It is a much better effect and you can see that on screen. I am actually going to zoom in, so we can see it up close and personal inside the video. This is before we did the work inside of this exercise, lots of horizontal lines going on.
This is after we did the work. So much more solid detail, those lines are almost completely gone at this point, not entirely but almost gone. They will certainly disappear in print and this is the final version. I am just going to go and press the F key in order to switch to the full screen mode. Press the F key a couple of times, tab away my palettes and then I'll go ahead and zoom in and this is the final sharpened version of the bison. Thanks to a combination of four filters, four Smart Filters, two different Smart Objects and a filter mask here inside Photoshop CS3.
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