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Virtually all digital images need some degree of sharpening to look their best, but it's not always easy to find the right way to go about it. This workshop from leading Adobe Photoshop expert Tim Grey dispels many myths and misunderstandings about sharpening, teaches you the underlying concepts involved in sharpening, shows you a wide variety of methods you can use to apply sharpening, and helps you determine which technique is best for a given image. In addition to Photoshop's native sharpening tools, learn how to make use of the options available in Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, and third-party plugins like Nik Sharpener Pro and PhotoKit Sharpener. The workshop concludes with several projects designed to help reinforce your knowledge of sharpening. See how to apply sharpening and softening to different areas of an image, apply creative sharpening to specific areas, and sharpen a black-and-white image.
Generally speaking, I apply sharpening as part of my final preparations to print or otherwise share an image. And as such, I don't need to retain a lot of workflow flexibility when it comes to sharpening. However, in some cases, you might want to take a more flexible approach to sharpening. The use of a smart filter enables just such flexibility. As you'll see in this lesson. Let's assume that this image is ready for output and I want to apply sharpening, but I think I'm going to need to do some print testing to determine the best final settings for that sharpening.
So, rather than doing a lot of undoing and redoing of my sharpening, I'll simply utilize a smart filter, which gives me great flexibility and control. The first step is to convert my background image layer into a smart object so that I can utilize smart filters. So I'll go to the filter menu and then choose convert for smart filters from the menu. When I click Okay to confirm that I'd like to convert this image, my background image layer becomes a smart object. Now if I apply sharpening, it will be as a smart filter rather than just directly affecting pixels.
So I'll go ahead and choose filter. Sharpen and in this case, I'll go ahead and use smart sharpen. And I'm going to start by applying exaggerated sharpening, just so that we can get a better sense of the flexibility that smart filters provide. With those exaggerated settings applied, I'll go ahead and click okay, and you can see the effect in the image. But notice, instead of actually altering the pixels on what was my background image layer, my smart object. I've applied this filter as a smart filter.
I'l go ahead and switch to my mask panels so that we can see the rays powered but more. And if I turn off the smart filter, you'll see the image is no longer sharpened. That's because the sharpening is happening separate of the image itself. I'll turn the smart filters back on and you can see that in this case the only filter applied is Smart Sharpen. If I want to change the actual sharpening effect, I can double-click the Smart Sharpen label there and then adjust the effect of sharpening. And there's no penalty to applying this adjustment.
I'm not actually applying multiple steps of sharpening but rather changing the original sharpening. And that's the benefit of a smart filter. I'll go ahead and click okay here. And I also have another ability, with my smart filter, and that is to change some of the settings for the application of that filter. I'll go ahead and double-click the control button over on the far right, and that will bring up my blending options. Here I can reduce the opacity of my sharpening effect. So if I'm happy with the overall effect, but I'd like to just tone it down a little bit, instead of changing the settings for sharpening, I can just reduce the opacity of the sharpening filter.
I could also change the blend mode to alter the effect of sharpening. But in this case I think I'll just tone down the overall effect and click okay. And at any time, I can double-click on my smart sharpen, smart filter in order to go back to the smart sharpen filter and make changes to the settings I've applied. In this manner, I can adjust my settings, print the image, and if I'm not completely happy with the print I can come back to this image and fine tune the sharpening. By applying a sharpening filter as a smart filter, you retain a tremendous degree of control and flexibility. At any time, you can return to the smart filter to refine the sharpening effect.
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