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Selective sharpening with a hand-painted mask

From: Photoshop CC for Photographers: Sharpening

Video: Selective sharpening with a hand-painted mask

Learning how to selectively sharpen your photographs is an essential skill. Go ahead and click okay in order to do that.

Selective sharpening with a hand-painted mask

Learning how to selectively sharpen your photographs is an essential skill. Because of that, in the next few movies we'll be looking at some techniques which we can use in order to selectively sharpen our images. In particular, we'll work with these portraits of this same person in different environments. Beginning with the image on the right. And here, we'll keep things simple. Then in the next movie, I'll include a few alternative or advance short cuts which might help you out as well. Alright. Well, I'll select this photograph then press this F key to go to full screen mode.

When we view this image, we can see that it was captured with a shallow depth of field. And here we have the face primarily in focus. Then the hair and the background. And the shirt is out of focus. You know, in photographs, we're often drawn in to areas of sharpness or focus, and sometimes we can use photoshop to help out to sharpen specific areas of our pictures. Let's double click the Zoom tool to take a look at this image up close. When we double click the Zoom tool and get close, we'll see that this is the area of focus yet it isn't quite tack sharp.

So I want to help this image out and add a little bit of sharpness to a few areas. In particular the eyes, the lips, and maybe a little bit of the face as well. Well, typically the way I do this, most frequently, is to simply copy the background layer, and then to apply some sharpening and a mask to that new layer. So, here let's copy the background layer by dragging this to the new layer icon. Then double-click the layer name and let's name this one sharpen. Next step is to navigate to our Smart Sharpen filter which we can find underneath Filter > Sharpen, and then Smart Sharpen.

Go ahead and click on that and it will launch the Smart Sharpen dialogue. Alright, well, here we are. What we need to do is to dial in a good amount here. So I'm going to bring my radius up a little bit. This is a lower resolution file. So, I am going to have a lower radius. If you had a higher res file, it might be somewhere about one and a half or maybe even two. But with lower res files, we start a little bit lower here. And then I'll bring up my amount. And I'm just going to bring this up to make sure I'm adding a little bit of sparkle or snap.

I'm going to reduce some of the noise. That will help to minimize the texture that we have in the image. If you're looking at. the sharpening, and if you notice that you're sharpening the image in some ways that aren't very flattering. For example, the skin tone right here and underneath the eye doesn't look that good. Don't worry about it. We'll mask that out in just a moment. Sometimes too, it's helpful to go a little bit higher than you might normally go, because we can also mask this in by subtly painting it in with a lower opacity with our brush.

Again, you'll see that in a second. Well, let's apply this amount and then click OK. Now we have two layers, one which sharp. Another one, the original Which isn't it. On the top layer, we will add a layer mask. To do so, just click on the add layer mask icon at the base of the layers panel. Currently, the mask is white, which is revealing all of the sharpening. We want that mask to be black to hide it so we can then hand paint it back in and selectively sharpen this image.

One easy way to do that is to go to the edit pull down menu, then here we can choose fill. This will open up our fill dialogue and then we can select from the pull down menu to fill this. In with black. Go ahead and click okay in order to do that. Currently we have hidden all of our wonderful sharpening. So we need to bring it back. So grab the brush tool. Press the B key or just click on that icon. Then we need to choose white. Want to make sure we're painting with white here.

White will allow us to reveal or bring this back. What about our brush characteristics? Well if yo go up to the options bar, you want to choose a smaller brush. So you can get into the area that you want to work on. You also want to remove the hardness there. So you have nice soft edges. Doesn't have to be all the way down to zero but you want it somewhere down in this lower range. Alright, well what about opacity? Well, I recommend you take this somewhere below 50%. I'll go to 35. Because what you can then do is you paint once to bring in a little bit of sharpness.

And then you can paint again, multiple times, to build this up. And here that's all I'm going to do. I'm going to paint on the eyes, a little bit on the eyebrows, a touch on the hair over here. Bring in some sharpness into the lips. The more we paint over these areas, the more that this effect will be brought into the image. We can also increase our brush size. So here we'll go back, choose a larger brush, and just suddenly paint over some of the other areas. Maybe we need to sharpen a touch of the skin here. We'll stay away from those areas where it didn't look that good, but we will bring in a little detail in a couple of these other spots.

You know, if we were to turn off the visibility of our background layer, it would give us kind of a strange but insightful view of our photograph. Can you see what I'm seeing here? It's difficult to see, but we have some of the eyes right here, and the lips, and some little background elements. Now if I paint more over these areas, you can see how I can bring in more of this layer, more of the sharpening effect is now coming through, so with a lower opacity, you can paint this in little by little. And what this is doing is sitting on top of the original image, so that just those areas are receiving the sharpening amounts.

Now, with this image, its working well because we have a shallow depth of field. But it also works when you have a different type of depth of field as well, the whole technique revolves around selecting what you want to sharpen. And then copying the layer applying sharpening to the new layer, and then working with a layer mask and painting on that mask in order to paint the sharpening into specific areas.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CC for Photographers: Sharpening
Photoshop CC for Photographers: Sharpening

67 video lessons · 4655 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 23s
    2. Raw sharpening in Lightroom or Camera Raw?
      3m 56s
    3. Using the exercise files
      40s
  2. 44m 15s
    1. Lighroom sharpening workflow first steps
      5m 35s
    2. Understanding how the Lightroom Detail controls work
      5m 36s
    3. Reducing luminance and color noise
      5m 47s
    4. Improving details in a portrait
      9m 13s
    5. Improving details in an outdoor photograph
      7m 12s
    6. Sharpening in order to emphasize small textures
      3m 49s
    7. Improving sky details and edge sharpening
      7m 3s
  3. 53m 3s
    1. Selective sharpening with the Adjustment Brush
      10m 19s
    2. Learning Adjustment Brush shortcuts
      4m 15s
    3. Reviewing Adjustment Brush techniques and shortcuts
      7m 36s
    4. Sharpening eyes in a portrait
      6m 44s
    5. Sharpening large areas with the Radial filter
      6m 50s
    6. Improving details with the Graduated filter
      7m 35s
    7. Creating custom presets
      6m 2s
    8. Sharing and installing presets
      3m 42s
  4. 40m 40s
    1. Camera Raw sharpening workflow: First steps
      3m 28s
    2. Understanding how the Camera Raw Detail controls work
      5m 46s
    3. Reducing luminance and color noise
      4m 40s
    4. Improving details in a portrait
      7m 28s
    5. Improving details in an outdoor photograph
      6m 6s
    6. Sharpening in order to emphasize small textures
      3m 48s
    7. Improving sky details and edge sharpening
      9m 24s
  5. 53m 40s
    1. Selective sharpening with the Adjustment Brush
      7m 16s
    2. Working with the Auto Mask option in the Adjustment Brush
      5m 6s
    3. Learning Adjustment Brush shortcuts
      8m 30s
    4. Reviewing Adjustment Brush techniques and shortcuts
      5m 45s
    5. Sharpening eyes in a portrait
      5m 15s
    6. Sharpening large areas with the Radial filter
      7m 4s
    7. Improving details with the Graduated filter
      4m 34s
    8. Further refinements with the Graduated filter
      4m 30s
    9. Creating custom presets
      5m 40s
  6. 49m 5s
    1. Resizing before you sharpen
      4m 37s
    2. Using Unsharp Mask
      8m 21s
    3. Using Smart Sharpen
      6m 5s
    4. Demonstrating how Smart Sharpen works
      4m 23s
    5. Fine-tuning Smart Sharpen with advanced controls
      5m 39s
    6. Applying blending modes to avoid color problems
      5m 9s
    7. Putting it all together: Workflow part one
      5m 57s
    8. Putting it all together: Workflow part two
      6m 42s
    9. A conversation about sharpening controls
      2m 12s
  7. 49m 34s
    1. Applying Camera Raw sharpening as a filter
      4m 41s
    2. Using smart filtering for increased flexibility
      5m 50s
    3. Smart filtering and masking
      4m 54s
    4. Selective sharpening with a hand-painted mask
      6m 0s
    5. Selective sharpening: Advanced shortcut tips
      6m 31s
    6. Using Quick Select and masking to sharpen selectively
      8m 20s
    7. How to sharpen a layered document
      3m 41s
    8. Fixing a blurry photograph with Shake Reduction
      4m 40s
    9. Shake Reduction: Advanced controls
      4m 57s
  8. 32m 47s
    1. High-pass sharpening essentials
      5m 55s
    2. Smart filter high-pass sharpening
      4m 2s
    3. Smart filter high-pass sharpening continued
      5m 50s
    4. Edge sharpening: Building an alpha channel
      4m 52s
    5. Edge sharpening: Creating the mask
      5m 3s
    6. Using Smart Sharpen in an unlikely way for midtone contrast
      7m 5s
  9. 10m 59s
    1. Recording a sharpening action
      6m 11s
    2. Playing the action for a single file
      2m 18s
    3. Batch sharpening multiple files
      2m 30s
  10. 28m 48s
    1. Sharpening and saving from Camera Raw
      6m 51s
    2. Sharpening and exporting from Camera Raw
      3m 44s
    3. Output sharpening from Lightroom
      5m 26s
    4. Final output sharpening from Photoshop for print
      7m 17s
    5. Photoshop sharpening for web, mobile, and displays
      5m 30s
  11. 31s
    1. Next steps
      31s

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