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Sharpening the details

From: Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

Video: Sharpening the details

Just about every image you are going to work on can benefit from some level of sharpening to enhance the details and make your images really pop and stand out. So let's take a look at how Camera Raw makes sharpening images pretty easy. Let's go ahead and double-click on this raw file here that we're going to sharpen. The first thing you've got to remember right off the bat, is to make sure you're viewing your image at the 100% view. Any other view is only kind of an approximation of what that image would look like when you print it or output it in some other various format. So getting to the 100% view is what you want to do before you go sharpen.

Sharpening the details

Just about every image you are going to work on can benefit from some level of sharpening to enhance the details and make your images really pop and stand out. So let's take a look at how Camera Raw makes sharpening images pretty easy. Let's go ahead and double-click on this raw file here that we're going to sharpen. The first thing you've got to remember right off the bat, is to make sure you're viewing your image at the 100% view. Any other view is only kind of an approximation of what that image would look like when you print it or output it in some other various format. So getting to the 100% view is what you want to do before you go sharpen.

To do that, a really easy way is just to double- click on the Zoom tool in the top of the toolbar here. That takes your image to the 100% view. You could also use the view switcher button down here, but I find the double-click is pretty quick and easy there. So we've got the 100% view. Now we want to go to the Detail tab, which is where the sharpening controls are located. We'll go ahead and click on that button here, the third from the left. You'll see here in the Detail panel there are four different sliders to control sharpening. Now before we get into the details of sharpening, let's make sure that we kind of understand what's happening when you're doing sharpening.

So what's going on here is you're increasing the contrast of edges. Now, an edge in Photoshop or Camera Raw's definition is simply a light pixel next to a dark pixel. It doesn't necessarily, from an editorial perspective, know what an edge is. It's purely based on lights next to dark. So we'd look at the shirt and see there's a natural edge between foreground and background, but what we might consider a dust spot, let's say you had a spec of dust in the lens and that was showing up in the background. We wouldn't necessarily want that to be sharpened per se. So from an editorial perspective, you have to make some choices about where the sharpening's going to occur, and that's what these four sliders over on the right are going to give you some control over.

Okay, so the first slider is the Amount slider. This is like just a general volume knob. It determines how much brighter or how much darker each half of that edge is going to get. So it actually helps to think about sharpening being split in half; the light half of the edge, and the dark half of the edge. When you increase that amount, the lighter half is going to get lighter, the darker half is going to get darker. Kind of make sense now that you understand what the edge is all about. So notice that the default amount is 25%. That's because we have a raw file open right now.

If I had opened up a JPEG file in Camera Raw, the default amount would actually be 0. Camera Raw is smart enough to detect if it's a JPEG or a RAW file, and assumes that a raw file has had no sharpening applied to it because it's a raw capture. And a JPEG file has already had some sharpening applied to it in the camera during capture time. So that's why you might see different values for your start value depending on what file format you actually have opened up in the Camera Raw Editor. So let's go ahead and crank up the amount quite a bit. Your range is going to vary depending on the image type and to your liking as well.

There is really no right number here. You will have to fiddle around somewhat to get it to look exactly the way you want. Here, I've taken it up to 80. You can see the image is overall looking a lot sharper, for better or for worse depending on your perspective here. One way to kind of again see the before and after, we'll just press the P key on our keyboard. So there it is before we've increased the sharpening. If I press the P again, it goes back to showing you the 80% value. Now, when you're playing with that Amount slider the one thing you want to be looking out for are Halos; little blips or pockets of white.

So take a look at let's say the side of her cheek here. I'm going to really crank up the amount significantly. Now, you can see it not just on the cheek but elsewhere. You are seeing this light half of the edge getting overemphasized or over-sharpened. The contrast is getting too severe and so you're ending up with these Halo Effects. I am going to take the Amount back down to about 80, let's say, where we were before. What the Radius slider lets you do, it lets you determine how wide the edge is in Camera Raw's mind. How wide is that range of Halo enhancement going to be? Now, one of these tricks in Photoshop and Camera Raw that really come in handy is the ability to preview the slider as kind of an isolation.

So I'm going to hold down the Option key, or the Alt key in Windows, and as I click-and-drag that slider, this actually helps you visualize what the radius is all about. I take it all the way down to the smallest setting. You can see that the width of the sharpening effect, that white and black halo edge there is at its minimum. When I really crank it up, you can see the Radius, what it's doing. It's actually increasing the range of what an edge is considered to be. So obviously a high Radius is going to give you a lot of posterization and a lot of intense sharpening around those edges.

A lower Radius is just going to be an overall softer effect. What kind of radius you need will depend on the type of image you're using. So if you're using an image with a lot of high level detail, like grass is a good example, or architecture with a lot of detail in the building, you might actually end up using a lower radius, because there's such a lot of detail that's not a lot of pixels wide. A softer image, like a portrait, can stand to use a higher radius, because there's not as many edges or the edges are a lot wider in terms of overall width.

So again hold down the Option key or the Alt key, that lets you drag and preview the effect of that slider in isolation of the grayscale image. You can also do that for the Amount and actually for all four of these sliders. So if I take the Amount slider, it's sometimes easier to see the overall sharpening when you just view the image as a grayscale image instead of the color. So again I'm holding down Option or Alt as I drag this. It's just a nice little helpful technique there to kind of really get a good understanding of what's happening as you're using these Sharpening sliders. So Amount is overall sharpening, Radius is how wide that range of haloing will be.

Then the other two sliders are for dampening or controlling or lessening the amount of overall sharpening being applied either to the entire image or specific areas within the image. So that brings us to the Detail slider. So while Radius determines the width of the halos, the Detail slider allows you to dampen or lower the intensity of those halos. So the lower the value, the softer the halos are going to be and the less detail enhancement you'll see. So we've got a starting point of 25 here. I'm going to crank this up again all the way over to the right, just to overemphasize and you can see you'd never used this.

But what you're revealing here is that a lot more details are being considered to be edges and therefore they're getting sharpened by the Amount and Radius adjustments. Again, it helps to hold down that Option or Alt key, and drag that slider left or right to actually see what is going to be considered detail or not. So if I really lower that Detail slider, you can see the skin texture is not being included and all the little pores are not getting that enhancement which in some cases is exactly what you want. You don't want to overemphasize areas that you don't want your viewer to notice.

If I drag that slider to the right, you can see more details are being considered edges, and you can start seeing the hair get a lot of contrast there. So that's going to get some sharpening. So again there's no magic number, there's no right setting here. You just had to do it for taste. I'm going to take it back to about a detail of 20. That seems to be a nice balance between hair detail and facial detail. Now the Mask slider, this is really powerful. It allows you to apply an edge mask to the sharpening effect. Basically actually deciding where the overall sharpening is going to be allowed to appear.

It's kind of like when you're using layer masks in Photoshop if you've done that before. Let's go ahead and hold down the Option key and drag the Mask slider. It starts out with just completely white, so nothing's being masked. Like I said in talking about layer masks in Photoshop, white reveals and black hides. So if everything is white, every available pixel is a candidate to get sharpening here. If I start dragging this to the right, you'll start seeing areas of black are starting to appear. So Camera Raw is building a mask for you, anywhere you see black, and if I keep going to the right, more black will appear, anywhere it's black or really dark gray, the sharpening will either not be allowed at all or only be allowed a little bit depending on how gray it is.

If I take it all the way to the right, you can see I can really limit this, it's like the Find Edges command or the Find Edges Filter, built-in here as a slider and being applied as a mask on the overall sharpening effect. So where you put this again it's up to you, where do you want to emphasize the detail. I am going to take it to about 65 here. You can see I'm getting some nice sharpening on the eyes and the hair, but I'm not over-sharpening the skin texture and making the pores pop out here. Here's before, we'll click in the Preview checkbox and there's after.

You can see I've really limited the sharpening exactly where I want it. So the trick here is to learn the relationship of each of these four sliders so that you can make good decisions based on the image type that you have. As a review, Amount is the overall, Amount or Sharpening, how much lighter and darker the edges are going to get, the Radius is how wide of a range should that edge be considered, how wide will those halos be? The Detail lets you determine how much detail will be considered to be sharpened or not, and then the masking lets you basically hide where that sharpening comes into play.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5 Essential Training
Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

154 video lessons · 95272 viewers

Michael Ninness
Author

 
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  1. 6m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. What is Photoshop?
      2m 49s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
  2. 28m 29s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      1m 54s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      3m 39s
    3. A tour of the different workspaces in Adobe Bridge
      4m 58s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 35s
    5. Changing obscure camera file names with the Batch Rename command
      2m 36s
    6. Adding basic metadata to every image with metadata templates
      3m 36s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 6s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      4m 5s
  3. 23m 4s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejects
      5m 27s
    2. Protecting the keepers by saving them in collections
      3m 18s
    3. Rating images
      3m 15s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 43s
    5. Viewing final choices in a slideshow
      2m 12s
    6. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      4m 9s
  4. 30m 50s
    1. Raw vs. JPEG files
      5m 13s
    2. Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      5m 9s
    3. A tour of the Camera Raw user interface
      6m 44s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      4m 2s
    5. Toggling onscreen Shadow/Highlight clipping warnings
      2m 37s
    6. Choosing output settings
      2m 45s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      4m 20s
  5. 41m 34s
    1. Eliminating red-eye with the Red Eye Removal tool
      1m 13s
    2. Improving composition with the non-destructive Crop tool
      3m 33s
    3. Correcting a rotated horizon line with the Straighten tool
      3m 5s
    4. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      2m 13s
    5. Fixing blown-out highlights with Recovery
      2m 36s
    6. Revealing hidden shadow detail with Fill Light
      1m 47s
    7. Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction
      5m 37s
    8. Removing color fringes with Chromatic Aberration
      2m 36s
    9. Sharpening the details
      8m 59s
    10. End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great
      9m 55s
  6. 39m 5s
    1. Fixing blown-out skies with the Graduated Filter tool
      4m 34s
    2. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      5m 41s
    3. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      4m 28s
    4. Quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 33s
    5. Converting to black and white
      3m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustments tool
      4m 18s
    7. Easy sepia and split tone effects
      2m 35s
    8. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 46s
    9. Adding vignettes and border effects
      2m 13s
    10. Saving variations within a single file with Snapshots
      4m 21s
  7. 15m 48s
    1. Copying settings from one file and pasting across another in Adobe Bridge
      3m 7s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      2m 28s
    3. Saving and using a library of Camera Raw presets
      5m 33s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process multiple files
      4m 40s
  8. 30m 39s
    1. Opening files from Adobe Bridge
      3m 1s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      3m 28s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      2m 57s
    4. Changing Mini Bridge so it auto-collapses
      1m 20s
    5. The Application frame
      2m 16s
    6. The Application bar
      1m 16s
    7. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 23s
    8. Panel management
      5m 31s
    9. Switching tools using the keyboard
      3m 18s
    10. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      3m 9s
  9. 16m 12s
    1. Tabbed documents
      2m 1s
    2. The Arrange Documents widget
      1m 38s
    3. How to stop Photoshop from tabbing documents
      3m 34s
    4. Pan and zoom
      5m 21s
    5. Cycling through the different screen modes
      3m 38s
  10. 36m 59s
    1. File formats
      13m 6s
    2. What resolution does your image need to be?
      10m 15s
    3. Resize vs. Resample
      9m 40s
    4. How big a print can you make with your image?
      3m 58s
  11. 42m 17s
    1. Crop options
      4m 12s
    2. Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      3m 30s
    3. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      1m 34s
    4. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      6m 1s
    5. Making the canvas bigger by a specific amount with Relative Canvas Size
      1m 39s
    6. Correcting perspective with the Crop tool
      3m 5s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
      50s
    8. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      4m 12s
    9. Nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      4m 2s
    10. Warping images
      3m 40s
    11. Preserving the important elements with Content-Aware Scaling
      9m 32s
  12. 54m 42s
    1. The Background layer
      5m 14s
    2. Using a layer mask instead of deleting pixels
      4m 12s
    3. Loading multiple images into a single Photoshop document as layers
      1m 30s
    4. Naming, hiding, creating, and deleting layers
      4m 18s
    5. Changing the stacking order of layers
      2m 51s
    6. Selecting layers without using the Layers panel
      6m 28s
    7. Transforming layers
      7m 16s
    8. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 51s
    9. Changing the opacity of layers
      2m 57s
    10. Organizing layers into groups
      2m 55s
    11. Saving variations with layer comps
      5m 3s
    12. When to merge and rasterize layers
      5m 0s
    13. Flatten vs. Save As (a Copy)
      3m 7s
  13. 1h 4m
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      7m 23s
    2. Transform selections
      2m 40s
    3. Quick Mask is your friend
      4m 31s
    4. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      6m 33s
    5. Using the Quick Selection tool
      3m 1s
    6. Re-selecting a previous selection
      1m 35s
    7. Improving a selection with Refine Edge
      4m 21s
    8. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      12m 7s
    9. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      2m 59s
    10. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      4m 53s
    11. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      3m 53s
    12. Combining multiple exposures with the Blend If sliders
      6m 26s
    13. Replacing the sky in an image
      4m 19s
  14. 1h 1m
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      7m 57s
    2. Starting with a preset
      4m 25s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      10m 28s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      5m 4s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      5m 56s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 55s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      9m 0s
    8. Making washed out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 46s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      5m 49s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an Adjustment Layer
      7m 28s
  15. 11m 32s
    1. Shadow/Highlight
      9m 3s
    2. Matching color across multiple images
      2m 29s
  16. 34m 12s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing brush
      6m 21s
    2. Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores
      8m 23s
    3. Taming flyaway hair
      4m 47s
    4. Making teeth bright and white
      1m 43s
    5. De-emphasizing wrinkles
      4m 41s
    6. Removing unwanted details with Content Aware Fill
      4m 26s
    7. Body sculpting with Liquify
      3m 51s
  17. 21m 6s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      7m 20s
    2. Combining multiple frames of an action sequence
      8m 30s
    3. Combining group shots with Auto-Align
      5m 16s
  18. 25m 36s
    1. Overview of filters
      4m 6s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively with Smart Filters
      4m 45s
    3. Giving an image a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 41s
    4. Adding noise to an image with the Add Noise filter
      3m 34s
    5. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      4m 12s
    6. Giving an image more texture with the Texturizer
      1m 17s
    7. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 1s
  19. 30m 44s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      4m 43s
    2. Three blending modes you must know
      6m 41s
    3. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      3m 33s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      4m 33s
    5. Creating a diffused contrast glow effect with Overlay
      6m 2s
    6. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      5m 12s
  20. 21m 39s
    1. Character (point) type
      8m 19s
    2. Paragraph (area) type
      4m 42s
    3. Type on a path
      2m 54s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      2m 24s
    5. Warping type
      3m 20s
  21. 20m 35s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      4m 43s
    2. Adding an outer glow effect
      3m 13s
    3. Adding a border around an image
      2m 53s
    4. Copying layer effects and applying them to other layers
      2m 3s
    5. Saving layer styles and applying them in other documents
      2m 42s
    6. How (and when) to scale layer effects
      5m 1s
  22. 16m 6s
    1. Creating PDF contact sheets
      6m 41s
    2. Exporting web photo galleries
      6m 8s
    3. Saving for the web
      3m 17s
  23. 1m 19s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 19s

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