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In Photoshop CS6 for Photographers, author, photographer, and teacher Chris Orwig explores Photoshop from the perspective of the photographer.
The course details the features and techniques behind enhancing and retouching photos, preparing them for print and online publishing, and much more. Chris demonstrates how to make basic edits in Camera Raw, develop and save color profiles, work with layers and selections, tone and sharpen, and retouch images while retaining their natural character.
Chris also shares some creative tips and project ideas, such as converting a photo to black-and-white and enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks. The course also covers workflow details, such as organizing images in Bridge and Mini Bridge, optimizing Photoshop preferences, and calibrating your monitor.
Because selective sharpening is so important, here we're going to take a look at a few more examples of how we can use this technique. And in this case, I want to look at how we can paint in the sharpening into a particular area in our photograph. And if we zoom in a little bit on this picture, you'll notice that this sign is in focus and the rest of the picture is out of focus. So here we'll double-click the Zoom tool; that will take the image to 100%. And next what I want to do is paint in some sharpening into this area of the picture. To do so, press Command+J or Ctrl+J to copy that Background layer.
Let's name this new layer smart sharpen. Next, we'll navigate to our Smart Sharpen filter. We can do so by going to Filter and then by choosing Sharpen and then Smart Sharpen. We'll look at this dialog and increase our Sharpening Amount and Radius until we have nice crisp detail here. And a lot of times when you're hand-painting in the sharpening, you may want to increase this a little bit more than you need to. That way, you have that flexibility of going a bit higher or also a bit lower because with the mask, we can really dial that in.
So in this case, I'm cranking this up a little bit, clicking on here to look at my before and after, and then I'll click OK to apply that. The next up of course is to add a mask. The easiest way to add the mask is to create one which is filled with black. To do so, hold down the Modifier key; the Option key on the Mac or Alt key on Windows, which then allows us to click on this Mask layer Icon and create that mask so that it's filled with black. So again, Option+Click or Alt+Click the Mask layer Icon. Next, press the B key or select your Brush tool, and here rather than painting with an Opacity of 100%, what I want to do is paint with an Opacity which is lower than that.
I'm going to start say at about 60% or so and that way, I can start to paint across this and I can paint sharpening in at different levels. If I paint back and forth a lot, I'll build that up so that I have more sharpening there. And here I'll just go ahead and paint over these little elements and details here so that I can have some nice sharpening. And by doing this, I can bring in to focus that area which I really want the viewer to be drawn towards. If we were to turn off the Background layer, what we would see is that we now just have this layer faintly showing through.
As we paint more across this, you can see that I can build up the sharpening even more here as I paint back and forth across these areas. And by doing this, you can start to see how I'm really selectively sharpening these little elements. Typically, you don't sharpen with this view. I think it's helpful for demo purposes to be able to see that what we're doing is just sharpening those elements. And then finally, if needed, you can always lower the Opacity of the layer in order to get this exactly where you wanted. Well, now that we've sharpened that image, let's go ahead and look at one more photograph.
In this one we're going to focus in on eye sharpening. Press F to go to the full screen mode and then I'm going to double-click the Zoom tool in order to zoom into 100%. Well, here I want to sharpen her eyes and just her eyes. I want to make those eyes sparkle. So what I'm going to do in this case is rather than copy the entire layer and to have all of those pixels; in other words, to have that extra file size, because it's such a limited area, I'm going to make a selection. Here we'll use the Elliptical Marquee tool.
Go ahead and click-and-drag over one of the eyes, and you can do this in a way that you're being very generous. Press the Spacebar key, hold down Shift and click-and-drag over the other eye. And then next after having made these selections, go ahead and press Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows, and so that what you'll see is that we just have these areas on a new layer. Now we're going to sharpen these areas and then also mask in or hand-paint in the sharpening into just the eye itself, yet we selected these areas so that we wouldn't increase our file size in ways that we didn't need to.
The next step is that what I want to do is I want to reopen Smart Sharpen, and there's a real great shortcut that you can use which allows you to reopen the last filter which you used. And that shortcut on the Mac is Command+Option+F; on Windows that's Ctrl+Alt+F. And by pressing that shortcut, it then reopens Smart Sharpen. If you don't want to use the shortcut, you can always just go back to your Filter and then choose Sharpen and Smart Sharpen of course. Well, here I'm going to go ahead and focus in on the eyes and I'm just going to try to reposition this so I can see at least one eye and then the other over there.
Next, let's bring our Amount and Radius down. In Amount, we tend to hover right around 100 or so, a little bit higher with this file, and then I'm going to bring up my Radius and I'm looking to try to add a lot of sparkle. And for the eyes, because I want to add a lot of little detail, I'm going to keep the Radius lower and bring my Amount up higher. That's going to try to add just a little bit of that sparkle or shine into that area of the image. Well, now that we have this Amount and we can kind of see how we're bringing that in, I'm going to bring this up even a little bit more.
Next step is to click OK. Well, now we have this strange sharpening effect where it's this shape what we created. So once again, hold down Option or Alt, then click on that Add layer Mask Icon. Next, grab the Brush tool and with the Brush tool, we're going to go ahead and start to paint in the sharpening just into this area of the picture. And by doing this, what we can start to do is just sharpen the eyes here so that we can add a little bit of snap to this area of our picture. And the great thing about this is that once we have this nice mask, we can actually take advantage of this in another way as well which I'll show you in just a second.
Let me zoom out a little bit so that I can see this a bit more. If we click on our before and after, it's going to be subtle but what you should start to see is that the eyes, they kind of snap or come to life. I mean as I mentioned, once we have this selection made, what you can do is you can take advantage of that. We can duplicate this layer by clicking and dragging this to a New layer Icon. And when it comes to eyes or bringing out detail, one of the things that you can do is apply two different blending modes. One blending mode that works well is Screen.
This will be over the top at first, you can see it's brightening the eyes, but just hang on for a second because we're going to duplicate this layer and then change the topmost layer to a blending mode of Soft Light. I realize this is way overdone, but just stick with me. Here what we can then do is go to that screen layer and we can decrease that brightening effect until we have a nice amount of brightening there. We can also go up and decrease that contrast layer which was our Soft Light blending. And here by having these two extra layers, you can see how we're bringing out detail there.
We're also brightening the eyes. Let me zoom back in so you can see what we've done. Again, here it is. One layer where we sharpened the eyes, brought out all these nice details. Next, we copy that. In this layer, we applied a blending mode of Screen. That allows us to brighten the eyes and we can control how much brightening we want to bring into that area. Then finally, we duplicated that layer, changed its Blending mode to Soft Light by bringing in some nice contrast and detail so that our overall before and after really shows that difference.
And here I combine these extra steps just to highlight that when you're sharpening an area of your image or making some sort of a selective adjustment, sometimes you can take advantage of that and make further adjustments in order to enhance your photograph even more. If we zoom out a little bit, we can evaluate how we have done. Here it looks like the brightness is just a little bit too high there for me. We'll look at that overall before and then after. Subtle yet significant, and I'm just going to modify this a little bit more, changing those amounts here, just looking to make this look its best. There it is! Our before, and then after, and that wraps up our conversation about how we can apply selective sharpening.
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