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One of the most powerful ways that you can sharpen an image in Photoshop is using the High Pass Filter. Let's convert our background to a Smart Object and then choose Filter > Other > High Pass. Now when you're setting the Radius here, you want to be looking at your image at 100%. So let's zoom in, and then you can see, as I move the Radius to the left or the right, how we are getting contrast areas around our edges. Of course, because we're doing this with a Smart Filter, if we don't get the Radius correct on the first time, we can always come back here and change it.
So let's go ahead and go with 25 for right now and click OK. Now, the problem of course is that we have this gray area. It's almost as if we've solarized this layer. In order to get rid of that gray layer, because we've already found out that the Overlay and the Soft Light blend modes remove gray, I'll double-click on our blending options for the High Pass Filter. For mode, you can choose the Overlay, in which case you're going to get a lot of contrast, or we could go a little bit more subtle using Soft Light. But, because this is a hard-edged object, it's not organic, I'm going to choose Overlay.
We'll click OK and now if we wanted to make changes to the amount of the High Pass Filter, now we can do that with immediate visual feedback. So I'll double-click on High Pass and now we can see exactly what's going on in our image as I lower or raise the Radius. So as soon as you get the image the way you like it, we'll click OK, and we can toggle on a before and after. You can really see how that watch face pops using this method of sharpening. But let's do one last thing. Let's zoom out, and I'm going to use my paintbrush, so I'll tap the B key, and I want to make sure that I'm painting with black.
I want to paint in the Smart Filter mask and I want to get a little bit larger of a brush. So I'll use Ctrl+Option to increase the diameter and then I'll click and drag around the edge of this watch, because I don't necessarily want the watch band to be sharpened; what I really want is the face to be sharpened. So, if I Option+Click or Alt+Click on the mask, we can see where we've painted. If I've missed any areas, this is a great way to quickly go in and clean up a mask. And then I'll click on the eye icon again next to the Smart Filter mask and we can toggle on and off the High Pass Filter.
You can see how by using that Smart Filter mask I've isolated the sharpening to the face of the watch.
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