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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this exercise I am going to introduce you to the next Sharpening Filter in our hit parade located under the Filter menu. You come down here to Sharpen and it's this guy right there, Smart Sharpen. In many respects it's an upgrade to Unsharp Mask. It does lack one option which is Threshold. In return, it gives you few more. Notice that if you've loaded dekeKeys, I give you the next keyboard shortcut sequentially which is Shift+F6 for Smart Sharpen. Anyway, I have created a sample file here, so that we can compare, and contrast the results of the two filters.
It's called USM butterfly.psd and it's found inside the 15_sharpen folder. It contains this layer right here USM which stands for Unsharp Mask and this is the butterfly subject to those very settings that we applied in the previous exercise. On top, I have another layer called Smart Sharp. I'll go ahead and turn it on and click on that layer to make it active. This is the original version of the butterfly before we applied any sharpening settings. Now let's go up to the Filter menu, choose Sharpen, and choose Smart Sharpen; brings up this big old dialog box here, so it's significantly larger than the Unsharp Mask dialog box.
It also has this big whopping preview here. Now, a lot of people love this preview. I don't know why? All it does is block the background image that's right there. So we already have this great preview in the background, what do we need this gargantuan preview inside the dialog box, particularly sense, it sometimes malfunctions. Notice here on the PC anyway. If you press Ctrl and Spacebar at the same time, that would be Command+Spacebar on the Mac in order to get the Zoom tool and you click to zoom-in, you zoom-in to totally the wrong portion of the image, which is a big pain in the neck.
Then you have to go back to the image itself, and click in order to re-center that preview, like so. So I am not very fond of this gargantuan preview, very fond however of the settings that are provided to me inside this dialog box. So the default settings are what you see here, an Amount value of 100%, Radius 1.0, Remove set to Gaussian Blur; we'll come back to that in the next exercise, and More Accurate Turned off. We'll see what all that stuff means. But right now I am just going to apply the same settings we applied before.
I am going to raise that Amount value to 500%, you may recall that's what we did at the end of the previous exercise. Then I'll tab to the Radius value, take it up to 3 pixels, leave Remove set to Gaussian Blur. That's what's going on inside of Unsharp Mask because Unsharp Mask as I was telling you uses Gaussian Blur in order to create a sharpening effect, and that's what's happening here as well. Leave More Accurate turned off, don't fiddle with any of the other options. Now, the one big difference here is we don't have a Threshold setting. I had previously raised the Threshold setting to 5 inside the Unsharp Mask dialog box, that's not an option here inside Smart Sharpen.
So I'll just go ahead click OK in order to accept that modification. Then just as we did with Unsharp Mask, I'll go up to the Edit menu, choose the Fade command, so I'll choose Fade Smart Sharpen in this case, Ctrl+Shift+F or Command+Shift+F is the keyboard shortcut, and I'll change the mode from Normal to Luminosity, so you have that exact same issue by the way with Smart Sharpen as you do with Unsharp Mask. It's just as likely to bring out aberrant color halos as Unsharp Mask is. So go ahead and change the mode to Luminosity and then I'll reduce that Opacity value to 30%.
I am just running through the same motions I did before. I'll click OK in order to accept those changes. Let's go ahead, and zoom in to the image, so that we're seeing it at 200%. This is the Smart Sharpen version of the butterfly, and if I turn it off, this is my Unsharp Mask version of the butterfly underneath. So the biggest difference is and you really have to keep a close eye after this. The biggest difference is that we have more Noise; we are sharpening more of the Noise in the image where Smart Sharpen is concerned because we don't have that Threshold value that's ruling the Noise out.
Now if you're ever feeling like getting scientific inside of Photoshop, and you really want to compare the effects of a couple of different approaches, then go ahead and apply them to different layers like this, and then here's a little trick that you should know. You can change the Blend mode that's assigned to the top layer, go ahead and change it from Normal to Difference, and that's going to find the differences between these two layers. So I'll choose the Difference command; anything that appears black is exactly the same. Anything that appears any other color is different.
Well, if you take a look at this image, and I'll go ahead and zoom-out, so we can see more of it; it appears as if everything inside this image is absolutely black. Well, not quite. It looks that way but that's not quite what's going on. So I am going to create a Merge Composite of these two layers using that top secret keyboard shortcut which is basically mash or fist E, and you may recall under the layer menu that Ctrl+E goes ahead and merges two layers together, that's Command+E on the Mac, and then if you want to merge everything that's visible it's Ctrl+Shift+E or Command+Shift+E. If you add Alt or Option, then you go ahead and merge all the visible layers onto a new layer, and that's what we are going to do here.
So I'll go ahead, and press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E, Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac, and that goes ahead and merges those two layers onto a new layer, and I'll go ahead and name this layer Difference. Now, let's use the Levels command in order to find what those differences are. So go up to the Image menu, a static application of levels will do us just fine. So go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, and choose Levels or press Ctrl+L, Command+L on the Mac. Notice that tiny histogram over here on the far left side of the graph, that shows us that we do have some luminance distinctions inside of that dramatic shadow detail.
So I'll drag this White slider triangle almost all the way over to the left hand side. You can see now these are the differences, anything that doesn't appear entirely black is the difference between these two layers; a difference between that is Smart Sharpen and Unsharp Mask. Notice that I've changed that Y point value to 2. So anything that has the luminance level of 2 which is very, very dark or brighter, has now become white. So we are really exaggerating the distinctions. I'll will go ahead and click OK in order accept that modification, and then zoom in.
And everything that's not black at this point, everything that has any kind of color going on are just low levels of differences between these two layers, between Smart Sharpen and Unsharp Mask and it's all happening inside of that Noise. So Unsharp Mask gives you a mechanism for avoiding the Noise, using that Threshold value, and Smart Sharpen doesn't. So Smart Sharpen is really designed for low noise images as we'll see. All right! So that gives you a basic sense of how the Filter works.
In the next exercise, I'll introduce you to the Remove option inside of the Smart Sharpen dialog box.
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