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All righty, in the last movie you saw me sharpen this image, and you saw me do it by duplicating my Background layer and sharpening that duplicate. The idea with this is if I now print the image and decide that it's over-sharpened, or not sharpened enough, then all I have to do is delete this layer, and I'm back to my original image. I can now reduplicate this layer and sharpen it again with different settings. I'm going to Undo that because I don't want to delete my sharpening layer. This is the power of having sharpening in its own layer.
There is another advantage though, take a look at what happens if I turn off the Sharpening layer, this should make sense to you. This is my original image, this is my sharpened image. Hopefully, on your screen you can see the differences that are happening, say, right in here, keep an eye on this area right here, as I turn off my Sharpening layer and turn it back on. Her eye is getting a lot more detail, her eyebrow is getting a lot more detail, but this tiny amount of skin texture right here is also getting more detail.
Watch her nose here as I turn Sharpening on. I'm just picking up more skin texture and while, in some cases, it might even be more accurate, because as I sharpen, I start to see tiny little downy hairs on her nose, that's all actually there, and that might be more accurate, but I don't think it's necessarily that flattering in the portrait. So what I would like to do is sharpen really only her eyes and maybe her eyebrows and maybe some of this hair over here. Well, I have that already. I've got her eyes sharpened, I just have everything else sharpened also.
So what I'd like to do is constrain this layer, so that it only shows certain things, and I can easily do that with a mask. With my Sharpened layer selected, if I go up to the layer menu and choose Layer Mask > Hide All, I get this. Now over here in my layers palette, I now see a layer mask attached to my layer, and it's filled completely with black. This works just like the mask in an Adjustment layer. This mask is effectively a stencil where it's black, the attached layer is not showing through, where it's white, it will show through, where it's a shade of gray, I'll get some semi-opaque compositing.
So what I'm going to do is grab a paintbrush and some white paint--and that's a paintbrush that's way too big--and I'm just going to make sure that my layer Mask is selected, and I'm going to paint over her eyes, and wherever I paint, I see things get sharper. Just get that roughed in there, and I'll hit her eyebrow here, and those areas are sharpening up. And if you look in my mask here, you see two holes punched in the mask, right where her eyes are. So those white areas indicate that the sharpened image is being shown in those areas, whereas, the black areas reveal that the lower image is being shown.
In other words, I've layered just the sharp eyes on top of my other layer, which has no sharpening at all. So I've managed to sharpen her eyes without sharpening anything else. Let's go down here and hit her teeth. Teeth can often look nice with a little bit of extra sharpness in them. I might do her lips a little bit, but I think that's going to bring out a little too much texture on her lips, that looks okay. Another thing I might want to do just because they're at the same plane as her eyes is get some of these hairs over here sharpened up a little bit.
Viewer's attention is going to be on her eyes, so we might as well make some of the surrounding hair a little bit sharper. So there we have it. I've got her eyes sharpened without messing up any of her skin texture, here's a before and after. Again, I don't know if this shows up on your reduced window size, but I'm getting a nice pop in her eyes without muddying her skin texture at all. So sometimes you'll want to do just a selective sharpening pass, sometimes you might find that you need to do both a global sharpening pass and a selective sharpening pass.
I might, for example, duplicate a layer and sharpen the whole thing a little bit, not super-aggressively, then make another duplicate of my original layer and sharpen just the eyes and mask all that together. So sometimes I'll combine different amounts of sharpening by using multiple sharpened layers with different masks. For the most part, you'll probably find particularly in portraits that all you need to do is sharpen only certain areas, and you can do that with a single layer with a layer Mask.
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