Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
Illustration by Don Barnett

Sharpening for commercial reproduction


Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images

with Deke McClelland

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Video: Sharpening for commercial reproduction

Now that we know the ideal sharpening settings for both commercial reproduction and local inkjet or dye sublimation outlook, let's go ahead and apply those settings to this landscape image from photographer Nick Roberts. I have sized this image in advance, as you may recall. The name of the image by the way is Output Photograph.PSD found inside the 08_for_output folder. I go to the Image menu and choose Image Size, in order to display the Image Size dialog box and you can see that I have scaled this image to measure 4 inches wide, 6 inches tall, a resolution of 300 pixels/inch.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 50m 30s
    1. Why every image needs sharpening
      2m 37s
    2. Understanding the effects of sharpening
      5m 26s
    3. Understanding the mechanics of sharpening
      4m 19s
    4. Understanding sharpening and gradual transitions
      3m 21s
    5. Understanding sharpening and noise reduction
      4m 0s
    6. Understanding amount and radius
      7m 50s
    7. Measuring your screen resolution
      6m 19s
    8. Using reliable zoom ratios
      5m 30s
    9. Calculating the actual print size
      4m 55s
    10. Gauging the ideal sharpening settings
      6m 13s
  2. 59m 28s
    1. Everyone knows you sharpen last (and everyone is wrong)
      1m 7s
    2. Understanding the conventional sharpening workflow
      5m 3s
    3. Flattening and saving to TIFF
      6m 40s
    4. Downsampling (and why you shouldn't upsample)
      6m 8s
    5. Understanding last-step sharpening
      6m 43s
    6. Recognizing problems with the conventional workflow
      9m 38s
    7. Erasing sharpening with the history brush
      4m 30s
    8. Using alternative sharpening workflows
      2m 37s
    9. Sharpening a scanned photograph shot on film
      2m 45s
    10. Sharpening a digital photograph
      3m 6s
    11. Sharpening specific details
      3m 43s
    12. Finding broad workflow conclusions
      2m 48s
    13. Learning that technique trumps timing
      4m 40s
  3. 1h 30m
    1. Comparing and contrasting neighboring pixels
      1m 6s
    2. Using the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 25s
    3. Using Gaussian luminance distribution
      7m 47s
    4. Using the Unsharp Mask filter
      4m 54s
    5. Understanding the history of Unsharp Mask
      3m 51s
    6. Building your own USM with Gaussian Blur
      7m 35s
    7. Using the Smart Sharpen filter
      7m 35s
    8. Compensating for camera shake
      8m 50s
    9. Building your own Smart Sharpen with Lens Blur
      6m 59s
    10. Using directional sharpening with Emboss
      9m 13s
    11. Using Smart Sharpen extras
      8m 56s
    12. Using Convolution Kernels for more accuracy
      7m 8s
    13. Using the High Pass filter
      7m 32s
    14. Using Luminance Sharpening
      5m 5s
  4. 2h 14m
    1. Smoothing filters, smart objects, and masks
      1m 24s
    2. Using the Median filter and Dust and Scratches
      7m 6s
    3. Using Smart Blur and Surface Blur
      6m 14s
    4. Using the Despeckle filter
      8m 18s
    5. Softening flesh tones selectively
      10m 16s
    6. Using the Reduce Noise filter
      7m 27s
    7. Combining smoothing and sharpening
      8m 23s
    8. Making an image into a smart object
      9m 23s
    9. Applying editable smart filters
      6m 10s
    10. Combining two smart filters
      8m 6s
    11. Assigning a filter mask
      5m 59s
    12. Nesting one smart object inside another
      10m 31s
    13. Employing a static High Pass layer
      9m 0s
    14. Matching static pixel-level edits
      4m 37s
    15. Avoiding clipping with luminance blending
      9m 7s
    16. Sharpening and smoothing
      6m 37s
    17. Making an edge mask
      8m 15s
    18. Making a non-edge mask
      7m 17s
  5. 1h 33m
    1. Sharpening with Adobe Camera Raw
      1m 28s
    2. Introducing Camera Raw (4.1 or later)
      8m 12s
    3. Understanding why to sharpen for source
      5m 14s
    4. Using Camera Raw’s sharpening control
      5m 51s
    5. Previewing limitations and tricks
      6m 45s
    6. Why downsampling doesn’t work
      3m 12s
    7. Reducing chromatic aberration
      7m 29s
    8. Using the Defringe option
      3m 31s
    9. Understanding high frequency, low radius
      5m 21s
    10. Raising the Detail value
      3m 6s
    11. Using on-the-fly edge masking
      5m 40s
    12. Sharpening a low-frequency portrait
      6m 35s
    13. Eliminating color noise
      4m 47s
    14. Reducing luminance noise
      4m 41s
    15. Correcting “false sharpening”
      7m 14s
    16. Reducing shadow noise
      5m 22s
    17. Approximating ACR sharpening in Photoshop
      8m 35s
  6. 59m 12s
    1. Gauging and exploiting luminance frequency
      1m 26s
    2. Using low-frequency source sharpening
      5m 53s
    3. Using High Pass for portraits
      4m 19s
    4. Actioning a low-frequency edge mask
      7m 42s
    5. Modifying the source sharpening
      5m 21s
    6. Using high-frequency source sharpening
      5m 26s
    7. Using Smart Sharpen for cityscapes
      3m 1s
    8. Actioning a high-frequency edge mask
      5m 5s
    9. Downplaying color artifacts and clipping
      4m 5s
    10. Sharpening a medium-frequency image
      5m 25s
    11. Sharpening a layered composition
      7m 17s
    12. Sharpening for multiple frequencies
      4m 12s
  7. 1h 8m
    1. Who needs dull when you have sharp?
    2. Focusing in on a person’s eyes
      4m 22s
    3. Blurring the area outside the eyes
      4m 22s
    4. Sharpening eyes and other details
      5m 38s
    5. Darkening the lashes and eyebrows
      7m 13s
    6. Sharpening dark-haired people
      5m 2s
    7. Edge mask and emphasize
      3m 38s
    8. Nesting a Smart Sharpen effect
      4m 48s
    9. Density mask sharpening
      5m 35s
    10. Adding depth of field
      4m 39s
    11. Sharpening a background
      4m 23s
    12. Masking background from foreground
      8m 51s
    13. Eliminating halos around a person
      5m 38s
    14. Deepening and warming a background
      3m 27s
  8. 1h 18m
    1. Reverting back to convention
      1m 36s
    2. Understanding the use-neutral composition
      4m 15s
    3. Restoring much-needed antialiasing
      4m 2s
    4. Reducing noise in a high-frequency image
      7m 24s
    5. Making a third-level smart object
      3m 55s
    6. Preparing an image for print
      5m 19s
    7. Using ideal settings for commercial reproduction
      5m 37s
    8. Calculating very large-format settings
      5m 11s
    9. Using ideal settings for inkjet output
      4m 26s
    10. Sharpening for commercial reproduction
      5m 44s
    11. Sharpening for inkjet output
      4m 57s
    12. Revealing high-frequency multipass sharpening
      5m 21s
    13. Using Gaussian Blur to sharpen hair
      5m 42s
    14. Flatten, Save As, Resample, and Sharpen
      5m 10s
    15. Revealing low-frequency multipass sharpening
      3m 31s
    16. Sharpening an image for web or screen
      6m 22s
  9. 1m 51s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 51s

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
10h 33m Intermediate Feb 15, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the effects of sharpening
  • In-depth examinations of Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, Emboss, and High Pass
  • Smoothing an image with the Surface Blur, Despeckle, and Reduce Noise features
  • Working with smart objects and smart filters
  • Creating edge masks and non-edge masks
  • Sharpening for digital-image capture using Camera Raw
  • Gauging and exploiting luminance frequency
  • Exploring creative applications of sharpening
  • Sharpening a multilayer composition
  • Sharpening eyes, hair, and out-of-focus backgrounds
  • Reducing noise in a high-frequency image
  • Determining ideal settings for commercial and inkjet output
  • Sharpening very large-format images
  • Sharpening an image for the web or screen output
Deke McClelland

Sharpening for commercial reproduction

Now that we know the ideal sharpening settings for both commercial reproduction and local inkjet or dye sublimation outlook, let's go ahead and apply those settings to this landscape image from photographer Nick Roberts. I have sized this image in advance, as you may recall. The name of the image by the way is Output Photograph.PSD found inside the 08_for_output folder. I go to the Image menu and choose Image Size, in order to display the Image Size dialog box and you can see that I have scaled this image to measure 4 inches wide, 6 inches tall, a resolution of 300 pixels/inch.

As long as I can get within a foot of this image, I don't care how big it is. All I care about is the Resolution value. So its 300 pixel/ per inch. that's all I need to know; I am going to go ahead and cancel out of here. But first I should say, just a little bit of an insight, but a very important one. If you plan on the importing this image into InDesign or Quark Express, i'ts very tempting, a lot of designers work this way. They just go ahead and leave the image set to any old resolution and they let the page designer scale the artwork to whatever size it needs to be.

That's a dangerous way to work. Now I know there are times where you have no control over what the page designer is going to do with your image. I have been in that situation many, many times; I am still in that situation with my magazine articles, but it's a dangerous way to work because it means that if the image gets scaled down, then the resolution increases, the size of your halos reduce and there goes through sharpening effect. It goes away. If your image gets scaled up then your resolution goes down, your halos get thicker and now all of a sudden, you are seeing halos all over your image. So it ruins the effect.

So it's better to know in advance, if you can know in advance, know in advance and scale your image accordingly. I know that this is going to be 300 pixel/inch image; so I cancel out. Now I want to go ahead and prepare this image either for commercial reproduction or for inkjet output. So I am going to give myself both filters to work with and I can turn them on or off depending on which one I need. that's going to require a nondestructive application of the filters. So we need a Smart Object. So I am going to select this Background layer, go up to the Layer palette menu, choose Convert to Smart Object.

Lets go ahead and assume that our first intention is to commercially reproduce this image. Let me go ahead and go ahead and rename this layer Output, or something along those lines. So my first order of business is do apply the High Pass filter. As you may recall, I will go back to my chart here. that's available to you, Recommended settings.PSD, and we will go ahead and switch over to the half tone settings right there and this is a 300 pixel/inch image, so I want to apply High Pass with a radius of two pixels and then we will go ahead and change the blend mode to Linear Light and the Opacity to 40%.

Although we could use Overlay at this resolution as well. Show you what I mean. Alright, lets go back to this image and we have already got the Smart Object. Lets go up to the Filter menu, choose Other and choose High Pass and there is my Radius value already to go, 2.0 pixels, that's the proper Radius value for 300 pixel/inch output. I will click OK, in order to accept that modification. There is something I don't need, I don't need the filter mask, throw it away. Now why don't I need to filter mask? Because we want to sharpen the entire image uniformly, every pixel by this same amount.

And you may say, well then we are going to sharpen the noise and the edges and all of the different stuff. By Now we have compensated for that. By now you already saw that this was use-neutral version of the image. We had already sharpened it for capture. We had already sharpened the image for source. We applied a little bit of sharpening inside the Camera RAW dialog box in order to compensate to demosaicing process. We had gotten rid of the noise to the best of our ability inside of this image using both luminance and color noise reduction inside Camera RAW, as well as an application of the Reduce Noise filter inside of Photoshop, and we had sharpened the image for detail using the Smart Sharpen Command in that big layered composition of ours.

We didn't apply any effect sharpening, but we could have. S, we've done all of our basic detail adjustment in advance and so should you. So when you apply output sharpening, you are applying it to the entire image across the board. So you don't need a filter mask. Now lets go over to the blending icon, go ahead and double click on it in order to bring up the Blending Options dialog box. We are going to change the Mode- now because this is a 300 pixel/inch image, we could change it to Overlay. Set an opacity of 100%, click OK, and we are good to go.

But just in case we are not really sure that we are going to 300 pixel/inch, or we work with different resolutions on a regular basis, and we just want to get in to some good habits here, then you are going to change the Mode option to Linear Light and because this is the 300 pixel/inch image, we are going to change the Opacity value to 40%, which produces not an identical effect to Overlay set to a 100%, but an equivalent effect and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them once the image is printed. A very slight difference in fact on screen.

Alright, I am going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and that is the properly sharpened version of the image for commercial output. Now it's going to look like we've got some pretty bad details up here near the horizon. Our cabbage is getting too brittle here, but in fact because we are going to be printing the image at a high resolution that stuff is going to resolve down and it's going to look really great. And all we are trying to accomplish with output sharpening is we are just try to make the image look as good in print as it looked on screen. So we are just compensating for the anti-aliasing and interpolation that happens during the process.

This is good for commercial reproduction. Now lets apply a pass of sharpening that's good for inkjet and we will do that in the very next exercise.

There are currently no FAQs about Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images.

Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.