Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
Illustration by John Hersey

Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

with Deke McClelland

Video: Sharpening with a High Pass layer

For our next project, we are going to take the same composition that we have been working on so far and we are going to sharpen the focus of the image using a combination of a High Pass layer a Density Mask and this is taking the high road basically. We are sharpening like professionals at this point rather than just uniformly sharpening the image across the board which is a dangerous thing to do with a portrait shot. We are going to just focus in on the best details inside of an image and that takes a little bit of finesse as you are going to see. Let's see how we would do things just sort of the regular way, the standard way to sharpen inside Photoshop. I am going to zoom in on this image considerably so that we can see the image at the 100% zoom ratio which is the best way to judge sharpening and I am working by the way inside of an image called The final color mask.psd.
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  1. 2h 12m
    1. The Odyssey Continues
      2m 39s
    2. Mapping one image onto another
      7m 12s
    3. Making a custom contrast mode
      7m 9s
    4. Luminance blending
      8m 39s
    5. Forcing the visibility of underlying layers
      4m 3s
    6. Adjusting the appearance of clipped layers
      4m 33s
    7. Selecting a Blend If channel
      6m 11s
    8. Enhancing highlights by hiding them
      5m 8s
    9. Smart Object first, layer mask second
      7m 22s
    10. The Fill Opacity Eight
      4m 30s
    11. Blending Smart Filters
      7m 24s
    12. Cleaning up edges
      7m 38s
    13. More fun with luminance blending
      6m 22s
    14. A first peek at the Calculations command
      12m 11s
    15. Masking a softly focused model
      11m 46s
    16. Moving layers and masks between images
      7m 34s
    17. Matching colors
      9m 12s
    18. Building transitional blended layers
      6m 33s
    19. Restoring normal colors
      6m 49s
  2. 2h 32m
    1. Layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
      1m 20s
    2. Rotating and stretching
      7m 54s
    3. A jet of motion blur
      9m 17s
    4. Keyboard tricks
      5m 4s
    5. Merging sky and landscape
      6m 2s
    6. Masking an adjustment layer
      6m 37s
    7. Creating two windows into an image
      7m 42s
    8. Whitening teeth and adding other highlights
      3m 46s
    9. Mapping a texture onto an image
      4m 0s
    10. Isolating a texture with a layer mask
      6m 44s
    11. Welcome to the glass composition
      3m 18s
    12. Balancing shadows and highlights
      5m 51s
    13. Masking the glass
      7m 24s
    14. Masking the text
      9m 23s
    15. Adding and blending the goldfish
      8m 44s
    16. Assembling the perfect group photo
      5m 12s
    17. Aligning photographs automatically
      5m 26s
    18. Masking in each person's best shot
      5m 18s
    19. Masking densely packed people
      6m 17s
    20. Crafting the perfect final poster
      5m 15s
    21. From the improbable to the impossible
      1m 56s
    22. The fantastical "world of clones" effect
      10m 0s
    23. Upsampling and blurring a background
      8m 39s
    24. Adding a knockout mask
      8m 3s
    25. Choking edges with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      3m 46s
  3. 2h 26m
    1. The corrective power of masking
      1m 6s
    2. The amazing luminance mask
      7m 21s
    3. Brightening and neutralizing the eyes
      8m 21s
    4. Adjusting a nondestructive composition
      5m 52s
    5. Creating a corrective mask
      6m 3s
    6. Averaging away irregular flesh tones
      3m 52s
    7. Modifying specific colors
      7m 46s
    8. Initiating the color mask
      5m 59s
    9. Refining the color mask
      6m 39s
    10. Adjusting the edges around fabric
      7m 55s
    11. Perfecting hair
      9m 34s
    12. Sharpening with a High Pass layer
      10m 12s
    13. The also-amazing density mask
      4m 47s
    14. Adjusting the knockout depth
      8m 48s
    15. Fashioning a depth map
      6m 12s
    16. Invoking a depth mask from Lens Blur
      6m 38s
    17. The perfect depth-of-field effect
      6m 25s
    18. Sharpening an archival photograph
      7m 7s
    19. Creating an edge mask
      8m 29s
    20. Making a High Pass sandwich
      7m 45s
    21. Applying the edge mask
      6m 1s
    22. Customizing your sharpening effect
      4m 6s
  4. 2h 3m
    1. Channel Mixer, I am your father!
      1m 39s
    2. Three ways to gray
      7m 48s
    3. Meet the Channel Mixer
      8m 26s
    4. Mixing a custom black-and-white image
      7m 9s
    5. Creating a professional-level sepia tone
      5m 36s
    6. Employing the Black & White command
      8m 0s
    7. Extreme channel mixing
      4m 50s
    8. The infrared photography effect
      6m 42s
    9. Taking shadows to the brink of black
      3m 56s
    10. Elevating highlights, leeching saturation
      5m 58s
    11. Deepening a black-and-white sky
      5m 49s
    12. Infusing luminance levels with color
      5m 43s
    13. Creating an opposing colorization scheme
      4m 58s
    14. Bolstering contrast with the Green channel
      5m 37s
    15. A tiny improvement to a terrific technique
      7m 38s
    16. The simple (but wrong) approach to red-eye correction
      6m 39s
    17. Channel-mixing red pupils
      9m 17s
    18. The expert approach to red-eye correction
      5m 20s
    19. Fixing problem coronas (pupil edges)
      8m 8s
    20. Making pupils match
      4m 7s
  5. 2h 33m
    1. Chops are dead; long live maskops
      1m 36s
    2. The Calculations command
      8m 16s
    3. Blue Screen blending
      7m 40s
    4. Refining the Blue Screen mask
      5m 53s
    5. Brushing away color fringing
      7m 24s
    6. Locking the transparency of a layer
      6m 21s
    7. Nondestructive layer painting
      7m 36s
    8. How the Add blend mode works
      8m 40s
    9. How the Subtract blend mode works
      6m 43s
    10. Focus, noise, and other masking challenges
      5m 32s
    11. The Add mode in action
      7m 51s
    12. The Subtract mode in action
      8m 24s
    13. Comparing two channels with Difference
      5m 23s
    14. Enhancing the contrast with Curves
      9m 10s
    15. Gathering details with Apply Image
      9m 43s
    16. Dodge highlights, burn shadows
      6m 6s
    17. Dodge and Burn in action
      8m 24s
    18. Painting in the scalp
      10m 0s
    19. Painting away the face and chin
      4m 52s
    20. Compositing complementary images
      4m 13s
    21. Multiply, Minimum, Blur, and Apply Image
      6m 40s
    22. Crafting the final composition
      7m 7s
  6. 1h 57m
    1. Mark of the Pen tool
      1m 34s
    2. The big paths project overview
      6m 51s
    3. How to make a path
      8m 24s
    4. Corner points and freeform polygons
      8m 6s
    5. Editing paths with the arrow tools
      5m 2s
    6. Adding and deleting endpoints
      5m 14s
    7. Adding and deleting interior points
      6m 6s
    8. Converting a path to a selection
      3m 35s
    9. Converting a path to a mask
      6m 38s
    10. Smooth points and control handles
      8m 57s
    11. Making cusp points
      5m 59s
    12. Combining paths in a vector mask
      7m 54s
    13. Turning a path into a shape layer
      8m 57s
    14. Combining paths to make a layer mask
      7m 52s
    15. Mixing layer and vector masks
      10m 14s
    16. Editing character outlines as paths
      8m 39s
    17. Using the Convert Point tool
      7m 8s
  7. 3h 17m
    1. Where there's a will, there's a way
      1m 18s
    2. Masking natural cast shadows
      4m 9s
    3. Applying the cast show
      4m 2s
    4. Creating a difference mask
      3m 7s
    5. Applying an arbitrary map
      3m 50s
    6. Making the flesh mask
      7m 16s
    7. Roughing in an object mask
      6m 48s
    8. Drawing missing details with the Lasso tool
      4m 7s
    9. Combining flesh and object masks
      3m 52s
    10. Amplifying the cast shadow
      4m 10s
    11. Selectively choking edges
      3m 58s
    12. Power duplication in Photoshop
      7m 8s
    13. Masking blond hair
      5m 48s
    14. Using Levels to mask iterations
      3m 14s
    15. Drawing an iteration boundary
      4m 54s
    16. Merging the best of two Levels iterations
      4m 4s
    17. More fun with Dodge and Burn
      6m 14s
    18. Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools
      7m 28s
    19. Pulling from another file with Apply Image
      4m 52s
    20. Blending clipped layers independently
      5m 42s
    21. Building the flame mask
      9m 21s
    22. Amplifying the flame
      3m 52s
    23. Masking an image against a busy background
      5m 15s
    24. The Freeform and Magnetic Pen tools
      6m 52s
    25. Masking with arbitrary maps
      9m 32s
    26. A more deliberate approach to arb maps
      10m 51s
    27. Combining arb maps with paths
      9m 28s
    28. Masking with the help of the History brush
      11m 38s
    29. Creating a High Pass mask
      7m 24s
    30. Coloring in the outlines
      8m 31s
    31. Mastering Calculations
      7m 28s
    32. Subtracting and merging the beak
      11m 5s
  8. 1h 33m
    1. The meaning of bit depth (and why you care)
      2m 49s
    2. Scanning line art in 8-bit and 16-bit
      5m 8s
    3. Measuring the 16-bit difference
      8m 8s
    4. Correcting 8-bit images in the 16-bit space
      9m 31s
    5. Opening a raw image directly in 16-bit
      6m 12s
    6. Editing in Camera Raw, opening in 16-bit
      8m 21s
    7. 16-Bit/channel vs. 32-bit/channel (HDR)
      8m 17s
    8. Working with auto-bracketed photographs
      5m 6s
    9. Using the Merge to HDR command
      5m 59s
    10. Adjusting the HDR preview
      6m 0s
    11. Building a 32-bit sky mask
      6m 29s
    12. Properly exposing land and sky
      4m 24s
    13. Modifying a layer mask in 32-bit
      4m 56s
    14. Converting to and correcting in 16-bit Lab
      12m 7s
  9. 2h 8m
    1. Photoshop flirts with the third dimension
      1m 13s
    2. The displacement map
      8m 24s
    3. Making custom waves
      7m 14s
    4. Creating a Gaussian distribution
      4m 31s
    5. Using a two-channel displacement map
      6m 27s
    6. Creating a rustic edge effect
      8m 21s
    7. Distorting and shading with a DMap
      6m 33s
    8. Moonlight reflecting off water
      8m 48s
    9. Mapping the reflection onto the water
      7m 3s
    10. Dipping the moon into the water
      6m 18s
    11. Turning flesh into stone
      7m 55s
    12. Wrapping the stone around the face
      7m 27s
    13. Softening a displacement map
      8m 4s
    14. Making a repeating watermark pattern
      9m 21s
    15. 3D embossing with Lighting Effects
      10m 47s
    16. The amazing credit card type effect
      6m 56s
    17. Lightening the credit card letters
      6m 16s
    18. Wrapping the background around the text
      6m 27s
  10. 1m 43s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 43s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
20h 48m Advanced Nov 21, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The elusive alpha channel remains one of the most misunderstood yet powerful tools in Photoshop. Alpha channels are collections of luminance data that control the transparency of an image, and they inform just about every aspect of Photoshop. As he builds transitional blended layers, fashions a depth map, makes edge adjustments, and takes on extreme channel mixing, Omni Award-winning expert Deke McClelland teaches Photoshop users that where there's a will, there's a way. Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks: Advanced Techniques covers mapping texture on an image, turning flesh into stone, using vector masks, working with all different channels, creating a rustic edge effect, and much more. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Channels and Masks from the Exercise Files tab."

Topics include:
  • Distorting and shading with a DMap
  • Understanding bits and channels
  • Creating paths with the Pen tool
  • Using blend modes and the Dodge and Burn feature
  • Understanding channel mixing
  • Using layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
  • Applying Smart Filters
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Sharpening with a High Pass layer

For our next project, we are going to take the same composition that we have been working on so far and we are going to sharpen the focus of the image using a combination of a High Pass layer a Density Mask and this is taking the high road basically. We are sharpening like professionals at this point rather than just uniformly sharpening the image across the board which is a dangerous thing to do with a portrait shot. We are going to just focus in on the best details inside of an image and that takes a little bit of finesse as you are going to see. Let's see how we would do things just sort of the regular way, the standard way to sharpen inside Photoshop. I am going to zoom in on this image considerably so that we can see the image at the 100% zoom ratio which is the best way to judge sharpening and I am working by the way inside of an image called The final color mask.psd.

It's found inside the 12 Specialty folder and it's called The final color mask because it does indeed exhibit the final version of the color mask in which we changed her blouse from crimson to yellow. Go ahead and select the Background layer because that's the layer that we want to sharpen. We can't really actually apply a sharpening filter to the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Then let's just work with static controls at this point. I am not going to bother with Smart Objects and Smart Filters. Go ahead and choose from the Filter menu, choose the Sharpen command and then choose this guy right here, Smart Sharpen and I have given you a keyboard shortcut. It is a very important command. If you loaded my Deke Keys shortcuts back in the preface then you can press Shift+F6 in order to invoke Smart Sharpen.

Basically the Smart Sharpen function includes everything that you can do with Unsharp Mask and then some. So it really is your when in doubt sharpening function inside Photoshop CS3. I am going to go ahead and choose the Smart Sharpen command and by default you will probably see some values along these lines. You will see the Amount value set to 100%, Radius of 1 and Remove set to Gaussian Blur. We are working with a digital photograph so we want to set the Remove function to Lens Blur which is going to account for any blur that's associated with the photographic process. So go ahead and choose the Lens Blur option and then I am going to suggest we take the Amount value up to 250%, so we have a lot of sharpening and I am going to take the Radius value up to 3 pixels. So we get some pretty thick edges.

So basically the idea where sharpening filters are concerned inside Photoshop is the program is going through and evaluating the edges inside of the image and edges are any point at which there are radical transitions between two neighboring pixels. So it locates these edges then it exaggerates the degree of contrast between these edges. So it takes already radical transitions and makes them even more radical. And so if it encounters sort of a light gray pixel next to a dark gray pixel, it might change the light gray pixel to white and the dark gray pixel to black.

That's how radical we are going here and then the thickness of those exaggerated outlines that it draws around the edges is determined by this Radius value right here. So you can see at this point that we have a fairly well sharpened image. I will go ahead and match the interior preview to the exterior preview there. The problem is that we are not only focusing in on the good details inside the image such as the eyes and the eyebrows and the under side of the nose and so forth, but we are also sharpening her pores and her moles and you know all that stuff as well. Stuff that we might not want to sharpen inside the image and I don't think we do inside of this portrait shot.

Generally you don't and by the way, see this More Accurate check box right there. Leave it off when you are working with portraits, definitely a dangerous check box. I will go ahead and turn it on so you can see. Basically it riddles the image with further sharpening; sort of a micro sharpening that digs deep into those pores. You don't want that for a portrait shot, so leave that turned off. If you were going with the Smart Sharpen function, these would be some good settings to work with. I am going to suggest that we can do a better job with a High Pass layer. So let's go ahead and cancel out of there and we will return to the comparatively fuzzy image.

Now what I would love to be able to do inside of Photoshop CS3 is convert this background into a smart object and then apply High Pass which you will see is really great for sharpening. Apply High Pass as a smart filter which is possible to do. The problem is then you don't have the control over that High Pass layer that you need to have. So we have to do this the old fashioned way that is the Photoshop CS2 and earlier way, not -- without the aid of the smart filter and I will explain why that is when we come to that juncture. Anyway, go ahead and make sure you still have the background layer active inside of this composition, then I want you to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac in order to jump to layer and display the dialog box. I am going to call this new layer sharpen and it's just a copy of the background layer.

I will click OK and one of the reasons I would prefer, I should say this the reason I would prefer to work with a smart filter combined with a smart object is because that way we wouldn't to have to create a duplicate of the image. When you duplicate the image you grow the image size and you can see it down here in the bottom left corner of the Image window. It says, Doc: 18.3M. Now for me the layer version of the image just jumped up to 38.9 M. So we just basically doubled the size of the image. Smart filters don't do that. Anyway though, it's not an option. We can't use the smart filter for the reasons I will show you as I say. Now I am going to move this image to the top of the stack by pressing Ctrl+] or Command+] on the Mac and what that means, if I zoom out here you can see that I have reinstated her crimson blouse. Here it is without the sharpened layer, here is the image with the sharpened layer.

So I have undone all that work we did over the course of last few exercises. That's actually okay. We are going to come right back to it in just a moment. As soon as we blend the High Pass layer with everything below, all that crimson will drop away. So here is what you do with High Pass. This isn't going to seem like a sharpening effect at all. I am going to zoom back in on the image incidentally. I am going to go up to the Filter menu, choose Other and I am going to choose the High Pass command and notice that I have given you a keyboard shortcut for this one as well because it's so ultra useful, Shift+F10. Once again if you loaded my Deke keys way back in the preface and what it does though, doesn't seem like an appealing thing to do at all. It goes ahead and turns the image gray.

So the idea is higher Radius values ironically in this twisted world of High Pass, higher Radius values seem to do less to the image, they appear to do less to the image. Whereas lower Radius values wreak more of this gray havoc on the image. I want you to take this value up to 3 pixels. It is a Radius value. It's just like that Radius value inside the Smart Sharpen dialog box. It defines the thickness of the edges. So imagine this. Imagine we are sending the image through a funnel and every color that goes through the funnel drops away to gray but then the edges are hanging on for dear life and they are refusing to go down the funnel. So all the non-edges turn gray and the edges turn gray to lesser extents based on this Radius value.

So with a tiny Radius value like 3 pixels relatively small we get just a few edges hanging on and those are the most important edges inside the image. They will help us to define the sharpness. So go ahead and apply a Radius value of 3 pixels, click OK. Now we don't like the gray, right? We like the darkness, we like the lightness, we don't like the gray. We want to drop the gray away. If that sounds like a blend mode to you, good job. The blend mode we want to apply of course, is a Contrast blend mode and our bet is going to be Overlay. All of the Contrast modes treat gray as neutral, so it will drop away and the blacks and whites hang on. And Overlay is just a good sensible mode for this kind of effect.

So I am going to press Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac with one of my Selection tools active in order to apply the Overlay mode to the sharpen layer and notice the difference. This is without that layer, this is with that layer. It's a pretty subtle difference so far, that's why we need to increase the contrast of this layer. Now if we had applied High Pass as a smart filter to the smart object, to the background smart object here, then this is as far we would be able to go. We could apply High Pass with a Radius of 3 and then we could of course, apply the Overlay Blend mode but we couldn't increase the contrast of the effect and so this is all we would get. That's no good. We have to increase the contrast of the effect. So we cannot use smart filters. It's very unfortunate.

Anyway I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac to bring up the Levels dialog box and this is how we essentially crank up the Amount value. That Amount value that we had available to us inside of the Smart Sharpen dialog box. I am going to send the Black point value to a 100 and the White point value to 155. So in other words we are adding a 100 to the Black point, we are subtracting a 100 from the White point. So we are taking this little funnel of colors right there, upside down funnel of colors in the histogram and we are spreading them out and we are exaggerating the contrast like crazy. I will click OK and now we have a ton of sharpening going on as a result. Not only that, we are really over sharpening the image at this point, but notice that it's affecting all layers below it.

So it's affecting multiple layers at a time and you can see that we have pretty much dropped out the crimson colors that were interfering with the blouse. We can see the yellow blouse once again and we are actually going to make it even cleaner in the next exercise. But for now, things are looking pretty darn good. They are definitely looking sharp. Although, you might say, I think this is overly sharpening. This is too much sharpness. It's certainly less subtle than what we had with the Smart Sharpen filter. Well we are going to curb the sharpness and we are going to isolate the sharpness just to the most essential details inside of the image, so that she looks great, no pores are sharpened and we are going to do it using a Density Mask in the very next exercise.

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