Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

Photoshop CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask


From:

Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

with Julieanne Kost

Video: Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask

One of the most commonly used filters in Photoshop is the Unsharp Mask Filter. Now before we add this filter, I will turn my background into a Smart Object, and then I want to make sure that I'm viewing my image at 100%, so we can use Cmd+ or Ctrl+1 to zoom in, hold down the Spacebar in order to navigate maybe to an important part of the image, say like this detailed area here. Then I'll choose Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask. You will notice that I didn't choose Sharpen or Sharpen Edges or Sharpen More, because those three filters, they don't have the three dots after them.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 42s
    1. What is Photoshop?
      1m 42s
  2. 1m 11s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
  3. 32m 15s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      2m 49s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      4m 27s
    3. A tour of workspaces in Bridge
      5m 32s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 44s
    5. Changing file names and batch renaming
      2m 58s
    6. Adding basic metadata with metadata templates
      5m 10s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 58s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      2m 37s
  4. 27m 1s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejected images
      4m 18s
    2. Saving images in collections
      4m 23s
    3. Rating and labeling images
      3m 46s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 16s
    5. Using smart collections
      4m 18s
    6. Viewing final selects in a slideshow
      2m 21s
    7. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      3m 39s
  5. 32m 8s
    1. Comparing RAW and JPEG files
      6m 10s
    2. Starting in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      3m 12s
    3. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      9m 13s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      3m 58s
    5. Toggling onscreen shadow and highlight clipping warnings
      3m 11s
    6. Choosing output settings
      3m 36s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      2m 48s
  6. 38m 37s
    1. Using the nondestructive Crop tool
      4m 42s
    2. Correcting a horizon line with the Straighten tool
      2m 41s
    3. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      3m 50s
    4. Fixing blown-out highlights
      2m 56s
    5. Revealing hidden shadow details
      3m 7s
    6. Correcting lens distortion
      3m 25s
    7. Making perspective corrections to images
      2m 40s
    8. Removing color fringing and chromatic aberrations
      2m 28s
    9. Sharpening the details
      7m 45s
    10. Making an average photo great
      5m 3s
  7. 51m 2s
    1. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      6m 57s
    2. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      10m 19s
    3. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      3m 41s
    4. Exploring a quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 31s
    5. Converting to black and white
      2m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustment tool
      3m 21s
    7. Creating selective color effects with the Adjustment Brush
      6m 5s
    8. Using sepia and split-tone effects
      3m 33s
    9. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 20s
    10. Adding vignettes and border effects
      3m 59s
    11. Saving variations within a single file with the Snapshot command
      3m 40s
  8. 15m 13s
    1. Copying and pasting settings across files
      2m 4s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      3m 22s
    3. Saving and using the library of Camera Raw presets
      6m 48s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process files
      2m 59s
  9. 30m 24s
    1. Opening files from Bridge
      2m 7s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      2m 51s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      3m 59s
    4. Using the Application frame
      3m 34s
    5. Managing panels
      5m 14s
    6. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 39s
    7. Switching tools using the keyboard
      2m 47s
    8. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      5m 13s
  10. 10m 25s
    1. Working with tabbed documents
      1m 34s
    2. Arranging documents
      1m 52s
    3. Stopping Photoshop from tabbing documents
      1m 32s
    4. Panning and zooming
      3m 14s
    5. Cycling through different screen modes
      2m 13s
  11. 15m 44s
    1. Understanding file formats
      4m 36s
    2. Choosing the resolution you need
      4m 39s
    3. Understanding Resize vs. Resample
      4m 11s
    4. Working with print sizes and resolution
      2m 18s
  12. 32m 53s
    1. Using Undo and the History panel
      3m 7s
    2. Using crop options
      3m 54s
    3. Understanding Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      1m 46s
    4. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      40s
    5. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      3m 31s
    6. Making the canvas bigger using the Relative option in the Canvas Size command
      2m 18s
    7. Using the Perspective Crop tool
      1m 27s
    8. Straightening a crooked image
      2m 29s
    9. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      5m 46s
    10. Making nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      2m 34s
    11. Warping images
      2m 48s
    12. Preserving important elements with Content-Aware Scale
      2m 33s
  13. 30m 41s
    1. Exploring layer basics
      11m 16s
    2. Loading, selecting, and transforming layers
      8m 4s
    3. Organizing layers using layer groups
      5m 3s
    4. Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers
      6m 18s
  14. 43m 11s
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      5m 43s
    2. Combining selections
      4m 4s
    3. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      5m 29s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      4m 35s
    5. Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge
      9m 42s
    6. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      7m 22s
    7. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      3m 17s
    8. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      2m 59s
  15. 34m 36s
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      3m 47s
    2. Starting with a preset
      2m 18s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      5m 31s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      6m 44s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      2m 30s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 29s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      4m 41s
    8. Making washed-out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 48s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      1m 47s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an adjustment layer
      2m 1s
  16. 19m 33s
    1. Adjusting shadows and highlights
      5m 44s
    2. Replacing color using Selective Color
      3m 49s
    3. Using fill layers to create a hand-painted look
      6m 5s
    4. Using a gradient fill layer to add a color wash
      3m 55s
  17. 52m 9s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush and the Patch tool
      12m 42s
    2. De-emphasizing wrinkles with the Healing Brush
      4m 52s
    3. Smoothing skin and pores with the High Pass filter
      6m 19s
    4. Making teeth bright and white with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      3m 21s
    5. Brightening eyes with Curves
      7m 0s
    6. Taming flyaway hair with the Patch tool
      3m 44s
    7. Removing unwanted details with Content-Aware Fill
      5m 49s
    8. Body sculpting with Liquify
      8m 22s
  18. 24m 12s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      4m 48s
    2. Combining multiple frames in an action sequence
      8m 44s
    3. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      10m 40s
  19. 38m 26s
    1. Overview of filters
      2m 52s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively using Smart Filters
      5m 18s
    3. Creating a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      3m 35s
    4. Creating an infrared look with Diffuse Glow
      2m 14s
    5. Adding noise with the Add Noise filter
      6m 27s
    6. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      5m 11s
    7. Giving an image texture with the Texturizer filter
      1m 49s
    8. Using the Field, Iris, and Tilt-Shift Blurs
      6m 1s
    9. Creating a painting with the Oil Paint filter
      1m 34s
    10. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 25s
  20. 22m 16s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      6m 42s
    2. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      2m 40s
    3. Scanning or photographing paper to add a deckled edge
      3m 1s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      5m 21s
    5. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      2m 26s
    6. Adding a realistic off-center vignette
      2m 6s
  21. 20m 9s
    1. Exploring character (point) type
      7m 6s
    2. Adding paragraph (area) type
      3m 38s
    3. Adding type on a path
      4m 44s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      3m 3s
    5. Warping type
      1m 38s
  22. 15m 57s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      6m 15s
    2. Adding edges, textures, and color overlays using layer styles
      4m 27s
    3. Creating a transparent logo or watermark
      2m 42s
    4. Knowing how and when to scale layer effects
      2m 33s
  23. 15m 45s
    1. Creating contact sheets
      2m 49s
    2. Using the Output workspace in Bridge
      5m 32s
    3. Exporting web photo galleries
      4m 20s
    4. Saving for the web
      3m 4s
  24. 23m 38s
    1. Working with video clips
      9m 29s
    2. Adding special effects to video
      5m 45s
    3. Adding pans and zooms to still images
      8m 24s
  25. 1m 10s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 10s

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
Please wait...
Photoshop CS6 Essential Training
10h 30m Beginner Apr 26, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Photoshop CS6 Essential Training, Julieanne Kost demonstrates how to produce high-quality images in a short amount of time, using a combination of Adobe Photoshop CS6, Bridge, and Camera Raw.

The course details the Photoshop features and creative options, and shows efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, the course explores techniques for nondestructive editing and compositing using layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more.

Topics include:
  • Organizing images in Bridge
  • Adding metadata such as copyrights and keywords
  • Editing in Camera Raw versus in Photoshop
  • Retouching in Camera Raw
  • Batch processing files
  • Customizing the Photoshop workspaces
  • Choosing a file format and resolution
  • Cropping, scaling, and rotating images
  • Working with layers, including merging and flattening layers
  • Creating selections and layer masks
  • Toning and changing the color of images
  • Adjusting shadows and highlights
  • Retouching and cloning
  • Creating panoramas from multiple images
  • Adding filters and sharpening
  • Working with blend modes
  • Adding type
  • Working with video in Photoshop CS6
Subjects:
Photography Raw Processing
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Julieanne Kost

Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask

One of the most commonly used filters in Photoshop is the Unsharp Mask Filter. Now before we add this filter, I will turn my background into a Smart Object, and then I want to make sure that I'm viewing my image at 100%, so we can use Cmd+ or Ctrl+1 to zoom in, hold down the Spacebar in order to navigate maybe to an important part of the image, say like this detailed area here. Then I'll choose Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask. You will notice that I didn't choose Sharpen or Sharpen Edges or Sharpen More, because those three filters, they don't have the three dots after them.

That tells me that I have no control. Whenever you see a filter or any command in Photoshop that has the three dots, that tells me that another dialog box is going to pop-up where I will have additional control. So Smart Sharpen and Unsharp Mask are the two most popular, we're going to go ahead and use Unsharp Mask. Let's scoot this out of the way, and then let's talk about the different settings. I think we all know that when you add sharpening to an image, you're really just trying to fool the eye into thinking that the image is sharper.

And the way that we do that, is we add contrast along edges. So when you apply Unsharp Mask, Photoshop looks for an edge in your file, and on one side of the edge, it will make it darker, and on the other side of the edge, it will make it lighter. And that increase in contrast is going to trick your eye into thinking the image is sharper. There are three different variables; the Amount, the Radius, and the Threshold. The Amount is how much contrast Photoshop is going to add. So when it finds an edge, how much darker does it make one side of the edge, and how much lighter does it make the other side of the edge.

Let's really move up the Radius here so that we can see what's going on. I will turn the Radius way too high, in this case to 3.8, and watch right along this line right here. Do you see that halo that's occurring? That's because the Amount is too high. If I take the Amount down, you won't see that strong halo. So any time you see that kind of halo in your image, that tells you that the Unsharp Mask settings are too high. The Radius Amount is usually kept down between 1 and 2.

It's dependent on the resolution. Because the Radius determines when Photoshop finds an edge, and it adds the amount; how many pixels on either side of the edge does the amount get applied to. So if you have a Radius of 1, Photoshop just sharpens 1 pixel on either side of the line, and by sharpening, I mean it adds contrast. If I move the Radius up to 2, now Photoshop is going to be adding the contrast to 2 pixels every time it finds a line. If we scoot this up again, I think you can see, there is the difference between 2 pixels for my Radius and there's 1.

So it's going to be a lot more subtle. If you have a higher resolution file, meaning that you're printing at 300 pixels per inch instead of maybe 240, then your Radius might be a little bit higher because you're putting more pixels closer together at the 300 pixels per inch than you are at the 240. Now, I am going to turn these both way up again so that we can take a look at the Threshold. The Threshold slider helps suppress the sharpening in areas that don't have a lot of contrast.

So you can imagine here we're talking about the sky area, or if you had a portrait, it would be in the skin tone. As I move the Threshold slider over to the right, you can see that all of the sharpening in the sky just disappeared. When I bring it back, right now the sky is being sharpened, this Amount to this Radius. So in order to quickly suppress that, we'll just scoot over the Threshold slider. I am also going to bring down the Radius slider to maybe 1.5 and let's bring the Amount down until I no longer see that halo here.

Then I'll use my Preview button or tap the P key to toggle on and off of before-and-after. One small tip that you want to remember, when you're sharpening in Photoshop, it's typically because you're sharpening for a specific output device. So if you're printing to a glossy paper, your sharpness level is going to be a little bit lower than if you're printing to a matte paper. Because when you print to a matte paper, because of the tooth of the paper the ink can spread more on a matte paper than it can on a glossy paper.

As your inks spread and bleed together, you're going to lose a little bit of sharpness to your image. So people tend to sharpen a little bit more for matte paper than they do for glossy paper. Of course, the nice thing about using the Smart Filter is that if we do print this image, and it's either too sharp or not sharp enough, we can quickly come back and change these settings. Finally, just as a suggestion, you might want to rename the layer perhaps Unsharp Mask (USM) for, and then just put the device that you sharpen for.

So for example if we just sharpen this for glossy paper, I would go ahead and name the layer, USM for Glossy. So there you go, you now have mastered the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop, just make sure that you apply it to a Smart Object. That way you can come back and change the parameters at any time.

There are currently no FAQs about Photoshop CS6 Essential Training.

Share a link to this course
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.
Upgrade now


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.

Upgrade now

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

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop CS6 Essential Training.

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


OK
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?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

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 lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Welcome to the redesigned course page.

We’ve moved some things around, and now you can



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.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com 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 lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

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

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked