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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.
In this exercise, as promised, I am going to show you how I would really approach this image. What I think is the best approach to this specific photograph in terms of both smoothing and sharpening, and we are going to see a few different techniques along the way. We are going to actually use Motion Blur to correct some of the skin stuff that is going on because he is in motion after all. Because we have a motion blur going on inside the photograph, we can use Motion Blur to correct the image to serve as a smoothing agent and we are going to see a few other tricks along the way as well. So the first thing that I am going to do, of course, I am going to make sure that I have Sammy shake.jpg open. That is found, of course, inside the 03_sharpen_filters folder and I am going to select the skin tones inside of the face using the Color Range command.
So I am going to go up to the Select menu and I am going to choose Color Range. If you are not familiar with Color Range, its basically an enhanced version of the Magic Wand; I would like to call the Magic Wand on steroids. If you would like to learn more about it, if you have never seen the command before, you can check out my Photoshop CS3 Channels & Mask series. There is a chapter called Color Range and Quick Mask that tells you how to use this useful command. I am just going to click inside of the face somewhere with this eye-dropper. Notice that and then I am just going to kind of Shift-drag around a little bit inside of the skin tones and I am going to Shift-click inside of this little preview here to select this little bit of gray that's going along the right side of his eye- actually this would be his left eye of course.
That's basically the mask you want to be looking at. So that all of the white areas, by the way, inside of this mask representation of the image represent areas that will be selected in just a moment. I have my Fuzziness value set to 40 and I am going to go ahead and click OK to accept that selection. And then I am going to press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac in order to hide the selection outline so that the image is still selected of course. Now then, as I say, because he is in motion and he has got all of these little sort of motion trails inside of his skin and if you zoom in like check out this area above what is his right eye, you can see the repetition of these lines right here, as if he has got some sort of proto-gills built into his flesh that will allow him to breathe under water through his eye flesh.
That's what that looks like to me. What it really is, I believe, is the repetition of these weird artifacts inside of his flesh tones and they are getting repeated because the camera is basically catching this information multiple times as he and I are in motion. Alright, so I am going to go ahead and smoothen it out using a Motion Blur. So I am going to go up to this Filter menu, choose Blur and choose Motion Blur. These are the settings that I am going to apply: an Angle of 40 degrees. You may recall from the previous chapter, we are using 40 degrees in order to correct this image with Smart Sharpen and with Emboss.
So I am going to stick with that 40 degree value and a Distance of ten pixels worked pretty well for this image actually. You can fool around with that if you like. I could go higher actually. I'll take it to 12 this time around. What the heck, as this is not really going to make all of that much difference. Then I'll click OK in order to accept that modification. Now we need to reverse the effect. If we were just to sit here and sharpen what we have now, we would end up accentuating the difference between the smooth area that doesn't have any film grain inside of it whatsoever anymore and these areas here, that we're not smoothing, that still have film grain.
By film grain, of course, I mean noise. This is not a film image; that would be digital noise. So anyway, we need to reconcile that noise inside the de-selected portions of the image. So we are going to go up to the Select menu and choose Inverse in order to reverse the selections. So we are selecting the de-selected areas, and de-selecting the selected areas. So there we go. Press Ctrl+H or Command+H, again, to hide the selection outline just because they kind of get in your face. I am going to go to Filter menu, choose Blur and choose Surface Blur this time around. And these are the settings I want to use: Radius of ten and- actually you know what? We just raised Motion Blur so lets raise this guy, so we have a Radius of 12.
Even though the Gaussian Blur that's used by Surface Blur and the Motion Blur, their Radius values are not really identical to each other. They are completely different operations but what the heck, might as well match them. And then I have got a Threshold of 12 in order to protect the actual good detail inside of the selection, in the eyes and the nostril and the mouth and so on. Then I am going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and now I am going to press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to de-select the image so nothing is selected at this point. And I might as well, just to make sure we have some halfway decent transitions because we are beginning to get a little choppy inside of this image as you can see.
So to settle down the transitions a little bit, I am going to go up to the Filter menu and I am going to select Noise and I am going to select this guy right there, Despeckle, and it's just to add a little bit of despeckling, just one hit of despeckling to the image and that's it. Alright, now it looks like we've over-blurred the image and were I going to screen, I probably would have over-blurred the image by this point in time. I am assuming that I am going to print with this image. You will see if you press Ctrl+Alt+I or Command Option+I to bring up the Image Size command, you will see that the document size is 5 by 7 by a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.
So this is a high resolution print. So I am going to go ahead and cancel out. So in another words, a lot of this stuff is going to resolve itself away as you'll see. Alright, now lets go ahead and bring up the Layers palette here and I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J in order to jump this layer and lets call this one Emboss because that's what its going to be. We are going to use the Emboss filter to sharpen this image. Now I am going to go up to the Filter menu, choose Stylize and choose Emboss and I have already got the last settings loaded that I have applied in the previous chapter, which were an aAngle value of 40 degrees, a Height value of 5 and an Amount value of 200%.
I am going to stick with those values, click OK to accept that version of the Emboss setting. Then I am going to go up to this Blend Mode option here in the Layers palette, in the upper left corner of the Layers palette, and because we are working with layers, we do not have to resort to the Fade command as we have in the past. So I am going to go up here and apply the Overlay blend mode. Now that's going to get rid of the grey but it's going to leave all these weird color transitions behind. So we need to get rid of those with an application of the Luminosity blend mode. But we can't heap two blend modes on to a single layer.
So heres what we have to do instead. I am going to combine these layers, these two layers right here, into a third layer by pressing- and this is really the best way to do it. You can go up to the Layer menu. You can press and hold the Alt key or the Option key in the Mac, and go to the Layer menu and then choose Merge Visible. That will work. And that will deliver a third layer, notice that. But the best way to work, I swear to you, if you can just remember this keyboard shortcut because we are going to come back to it multiple times here throughout this series, Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E, that's Command Shift+Option+E on the Mac.
So its just mash your fist down on the E key and the E key is the second letter in merge. So its E for merge. That's sort of a standard keyboard shortcut inside of Photoshop. But you just mash your whole fist down with E and you get this layer that is a copy of the visible merge stuff inside of the image. Now lets turn off Emboss. Very important that you have turned off the Emboss layer; you can even throw it away if you want to. I am going to call this new layer Sharpened like so and then I am going to change its blend mode to Luminosity.
Watch the weird little color stuff that is going inside the image. As soon as I choose Luminosity, it goes away. So we will go ahead and zoom in on that nose once again. This was before with the weird color artifacting and this is after applying the Luminosity blend mode that color artifacting goes away. Alright, lets zoom out just a little bit. Now it looks a little weird, it looks a little bit too porcelain as you may notice here. And to me, it looks a little too sharp like I have gone a little over board with the sharpening effect. So I am going to reduce the Opacity value to something like, lets say about 70%.
I could do that just by pressing the 7 key as well if I wanted to, but I am going to go ahead do it with the slider. Alright, so that looks a little better to me. And lets go ahead and flatten this image just that we are merging all of the layers together. I would naturally, of course, go ahead and save off my layers as a PSD file because I wouldn't want to just throw away all of the work that I have done. But for the sake of demonstration here, I am just going to flatten the image and it's going to ask me if I want to discard hidden layers, which would be the Emboss layer. Do I just want to get rid of that one? Yes, click OK and so we have just sandwiched the entire thing. I am going to Shift+Tab away those palettes and I am going to zoom out a little bit.
Now in order to really get a sense of what this image is going to look like when we print it, we need to downsample it and this is just a preview of what the image is going to look like when we print it. And of course, you could also print it if you want to. You could print a copy to see what it looks like but here is how to soft proof it as it were on screen. I am going to go up to the Image menu, choose the Image Size command, we saw this few chapters ago. I am going to go ahead and make sure Resample image is turned on, set to Bicubic (best for smooth gradients), which is of course not true at all; its best for just about all images. I am going to change the Resolution to 117 pixels per inch.
Remember that's my little conceit here that I am working on a 17 inch MacBook Pro screen, even though I most obviously am not since I am working with Windows Vista. So resolution of a 117 pixels per inch, click OK and now lets zoom in on the image so we are seeing it at the 100% zoom ratio. It looks pretty darn good. Now I might do a little bit of work on the mouth, I might have actually erased away the sharpening where the mouth is concerned because the mouth is kind of in strange shape here. So the most motion is happening around this area right here. I suspect there is a little bit of a radial movement between Sammy and I.
It helps to think, where my son is concerned here, think of him as a combination between Michael Cera, that actor who was in Superbad and Arrested Development, and imagine him mixed with Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine. that's what we have here. I think it helps to make more sense of this particular pose of Sammy, he doesn't normally look like that but in this picture he does. You will be glad to know in the next exercise, we are shifting away from this image. We are going to take a look at a totally different image and I am going to show you the best of the noise removal functions inside of Photoshop, which is the Reduce Noise command.
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