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Understanding the mechanics of sharpening

From: Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images

Video: Understanding the mechanics of sharpening

If you have the access to the sample files that are part of the series, I would like you to go ahead and open this diagram right here, it is called Sharp Shapes.PSD and it is found inside of the O1howitworks folder. That is available inside of that exercise files folder. Now this is a multi-layered illustration that is going to help us understand the mechanics of sharpening inside of Photoshop. I am going to go ahead and zoom in a little bit here. Now notice what we have is this serpentine, dark sort of line going through the image, and sprinkled inside of the line are some white circles at regular intervals and then the entire image is subjected to something of a texture pattern.

Understanding the mechanics of sharpening

If you have the access to the sample files that are part of the series, I would like you to go ahead and open this diagram right here, it is called Sharp Shapes.PSD and it is found inside of the O1howitworks folder. That is available inside of that exercise files folder. Now this is a multi-layered illustration that is going to help us understand the mechanics of sharpening inside of Photoshop. I am going to go ahead and zoom in a little bit here. Now notice what we have is this serpentine, dark sort of line going through the image, and sprinkled inside of the line are some white circles at regular intervals and then the entire image is subjected to something of a texture pattern.

Now so far, I have not sharpened this image at all and images that have not been sharpened are sometimes know as unsharp or unsharpened, you will sometime hear them called that. And what I am going to do, because this is a multi-layered file with all sorts of layered states saved inside of it, I am going to go ahead and open up my Layer Comps palette and I would like you to do that as well. Layer Comps, as you may kNow allow you to save layered states inside of a file. If you are not familiar with the palate you can go up to the Window menu and choose the Layers Comps command. Now currently I have Layers Comps set to Standard, this is the standard view of the image, the unsharpened version of the image, compare that to the Sharpened view. I will go ahead and click in front of the word Sharpened, on that little sort of page icon right there, in order to invoke the Sharpened Layer Comp. I going to go ahead and zoom in even closer on this image, so that we can see it very close and personal at this point.

So this is the Standard version of the image, this is the Sharpened version of the image. Notice what is going on. Photoshop is going through the image and increasing the contrast of the image right where it perceives edges. So right at point of the edge it increases the contrast and it does this by tracing along the dark side of an edge, it traces a dark halo. This little tiny sort of blackish line here that is tracing outside the circle is a dark halo and then on the inside, on the bright side of this edge of this circle, we have a light halo.

In this rapid transition from dark halo to light halo, is read by our eyes when we're zoomed out from the image. It is read by our eyes as a sharp transition inside of the image. Similarly, we have got dark halo along the dark edge of the big line, of the big dark serpentine line and we have a light halo along the light edge of the line as well and then we have these halos all over inside the texture. They're are lot more difficult to make out but there are halos inside of the texture and that is whats responsible for bringing out that textures well.

So sharpening does bring out texture, it brings out noise, it brings out film grain and so on. It brigs out bad details along with the good details inside the image. Sharpening inside of Photoshop enhances contrast along edges inside of an image. Compare that to just general high-contrast effect. So I were to click on the High Contrast Layer Comp inside the Layer Comps palette, you would see a high contrast version of the image. So this is the Standard view, this is the High cContrast view but this generalized high contrast effect does not lead to more sharpness, it has to be elevated contrast along the edges in order to be read as heightened sharpness.

AlSo I would like you to also compare sharpness. I am going to go ahead and zoom in even farther on the circle here. I would like you to compare Sharpness to Jagged transitions. So sharpness taken too far can result in jagged transition, but it is ultimately a different effect. Jagged edges by themselves do not impart a sense of sharpness they just impart jagged transitions. So as you can see, here is the standard view of the image, it does have a little bit more softness but it is really smoothness as apposed to jagged transitions here.

But notice how this sharpened transitions come out very differently. So that is a first look at how sharpness works. We have heightened contrast along the perceived edges inside of the image. In the next exercise I am going to show you how sharpness works with gradual transitions.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images

115 video lessons · 17005 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
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  1. 50m 30s
    1. Why every image needs sharpening
      2m 38s
    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 54s
    10. Gauging the ideal sharpening settings
      6m 13s
  2. 59m 31s
    1. Everyone knows you sharpen last (and everyone is wrong)
      1m 8s
    2. Understanding the conventional sharpening workflow
      5m 4s
    3. Flattening and saving to TIFF
      6m 39s
    4. Downsampling (and why you shouldn't upsample)
      6m 8s
    5. Understanding last-step sharpening
      6m 44s
    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 49s
    13. Learning that technique trumps timing
      4m 40s
  3. 1h 27m
    1. Comparing and contrasting neighboring pixels
      1m 6s
    2. Using the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 25s
    3. Using Gaussian luminance distribution
      4m 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 25s
    2. Using the Median filter and Dust and Scratches
      7m 7s
    3. Using Smart Blur and Surface Blur
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Despeckle filter
      8m 17s
    5. Softening flesh tones selectively
      10m 15s
    6. Using the Reduce Noise filter
      7m 27s
    7. Combining smoothing and sharpening
      8m 24s
    8. Making an image into a smart object
      9m 24s
    9. Applying editable smart filters
      6m 8s
    10. Combining two smart filters
      8m 5s
    11. Assigning a filter mask
      5m 59s
    12. Nesting one smart object inside another
      10m 32s
    13. Employing a static High Pass layer
      8m 59s
    14. Matching static pixel-level edits
      4m 37s
    15. Avoiding clipping with luminance blending
      9m 7s
    16. Sharpening and smoothing
      6m 36s
    17. Making an edge mask
      8m 14s
    18. Making a non-edge mask
      7m 17s
  5. 1h 33m
    1. Sharpening with Adobe Camera Raw
      1m 29s
    2. Introducing Camera Raw (4.1 or later)
      8m 13s
    3. Understanding why to sharpen for source
      5m 14s
    4. Using Camera Raw’s sharpening control
      5m 52s
    5. Previewing limitations and tricks
      6m 45s
    6. Why downsampling doesn’t work
      3m 12s
    7. Reducing chromatic aberration
      7m 30s
    8. Using the Defringe option
      3m 32s
    9. Understanding high frequency, low radius
      5m 21s
    10. Raising the Detail value
      3m 6s
    11. Using on-the-fly edge masking
      5m 41s
    12. Sharpening a low-frequency portrait
      6m 36s
    13. Eliminating color noise
      4m 47s
    14. Reducing luminance noise
      4m 42s
    15. Correcting “false sharpening”
      7m 15s
    16. Reducing shadow noise
      5m 22s
    17. Approximating ACR sharpening in Photoshop
      8m 35s
  6. 59m 8s
    1. Gauging and exploiting luminance frequency
      1m 27s
    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 2s
    8. Actioning a high-frequency edge mask
      5m 4s
    9. Downplaying color artifacts and clipping
      4m 4s
    10. Sharpening a medium-frequency image
      5m 24s
    11. Sharpening a layered composition
      7m 16s
    12. Sharpening for multiple frequencies
      4m 10s
  7. 1h 8m
    1. Who needs dull when you have sharp?
      56s
    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 39s
    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 28s
  8. 1h 18m
    1. Reverting back to convention
      1m 37s
    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 18s
    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 45s
    11. Sharpening for inkjet output
      4m 58s
    12. Revealing high-frequency multipass sharpening
      5m 21s
    13. Using Gaussian Blur to sharpen hair
      5m 41s
    14. Flatten, Save As, Resample, and Sharpen
      5m 9s
    15. Revealing low-frequency multipass sharpening
      3m 30s
    16. Sharpening an image for web or screen
      6m 22s
  9. 1m 50s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 50s

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