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Unsharp Mask

From: Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics

Video: Unsharp Mask

Let's take a look at the simpler and older of the two customizable sharpening features and that would be Unsharp Mask, so named because it actually uses a blur function that is masked by the existing edges inside the image in order to produce its sharpening effect. So let's go out to the Filter menu and then choose Sharpen and of course finally choose the Unsharp Mask command right here or if you have loaded D keys and you compress Shift+F5 in order to bring up the Unsharp Mask dialog box.

Unsharp Mask

Let's take a look at the simpler and older of the two customizable sharpening features and that would be Unsharp Mask, so named because it actually uses a blur function that is masked by the existing edges inside the image in order to produce its sharpening effect. So let's go out to the Filter menu and then choose Sharpen and of course finally choose the Unsharp Mask command right here or if you have loaded D keys and you compress Shift+F5 in order to bring up the Unsharp Mask dialog box.

Now, this dialog box is fairly indicative of the best of the filters in my opinion. It's got an in dialog box preview and a preview see effect in the larger image window as well. So you have a combination of two previews at your disposal in order to keep track of the image. What I tend to do is zoom into the 100% view size inside the larger image window and you can do that even when the dialog box is up on screen. You can go ahead and Ctrl-click or Command-click on the Mac in order to zoom in or Alt-click or Option-click on the Mac in order to zoom out and you can Spacebar+Drag the image round and you can take advantage of the other zoom options as well, Ctrl+ and -, that would be Command+ and - on the Mac.

At any rate, I would basically keep the image zoomed into about 100% and then I will zoom out from the in dialog box preview here by clicking on this - button, so I see the image at the 50% view size. So I can keep track of it at two different zoom levels, which gives me a better opportunity to go ahead and gauge the sharpness that's been applied to the image. Alright, now down here, we have got three slider bars, and that's it, just three numerical values, that's all we have to deal with. It's a little bit tough to come to terms with these options right at first, but once you understand how they work, it's really easy to manipulate them.

The amount value I think is fairly straightforward. The idea is that if you raise the amount, you are going to get more sharpening as you can see here inside of the larger image window, as well as inside the little dialog box preview. And if you lower that amount value, then you get less sharpening, pretty much that straightforward. I am going to go ahead and take this value up to 250%, which is about half of its maximum. The maximum is 500% so I guess it's actually exactly half of its maximum.

Now, the radius value controls the thickness of the edges. I was telling you that Unsharp Mask works by creating softness around the mask edges and that softness manifests itself as Halos which can get pretty darn thick if you raise the radius value or they can stay nice and tight, nice and small if you lower that radius value. And I will show you more about what's going on with radius in the next exercise as it turns out. Then finally, you have the threshold value which allows you to eliminate some neighboring pixels from the sharpening equation.

I am going to go ahead and zoom in even farther on this snake image here, onto its eye, so I am looking at both eyes actually at the 300% zoom ratio and notice the amount of digital noise that's being caught in the background here, in the blue background. Well, the idea behind threshold is you can try to get rid of some of that noise by going ahead and raising the threshold value. And so let's say I take this value up. Notice as I am raising the value, the noise is starting to go away in the background there.

And when I take this value up to 8, which works pretty well for this image as it turns out, I am saying that any two neighboring pixels, if they are at least 8 luminance levels different from each other, then they will get sharpened. If they are less than 8 luminance levels different from each other, then they will not get sharpened. And you recall luminance levels are measured from 0 for black to 255 for white. So, a threshold value of 0 means that everybody gets sharpened because all the neighboring pixels are at least 0, that is none, luminance levels different from each other but as you raise that value, you start to rule out the neighboring pixels that have less differences and you just focus in on the neighboring pixels that have more differences.

Now, you have to be careful with the threshold value. It works very nicely for this image here, especially when it's set to about 8, I find for this image. However, for some images, it's not going to work too well, you are going to get something of a pockmarking effect because it's an on-and-off proposition, either you are sharpening pixels or you are not sharpening pixels according to this threshold value. So keep the value low. I suggest you make sure that the threshold value never exceeds 10 levels, that would be sort of a rule of thumb. Sometimes you are going to violate that rule, but it's just good precaution.

For low noise modern images that you would capture with a digital camera, a threshold value of 2 or 3 is probably your best bet, so very small values there. Alright, so that's basically what's going on. The threshold value doesn't come into to play that often, most of the time you are focusing on amount and radius, and I am going to explore those options in more detail in the next exercise.

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Image for Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics
Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics

129 video lessons · 39058 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
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  1. 1h 15m
    1. Welcome to Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics
      2m 5s
    2. Selecting glass and water
      5m 23s
    3. Establishing a base layer
      4m 0s
    4. The Color Range command
      6m 45s
    5. Selecting sparkles
      3m 19s
    6. Setting sparkles to Screen
      4m 19s
    7. Selecting and compositing hair
      2m 59s
    8. When Color Range falls short
      7m 25s
    9. Selecting a base channel
      4m 25s
    10. Enhancing the channel's contrast
      4m 4s
    11. Dodging the highlights
      5m 55s
    12. Putting the mask in play
      3m 20s
    13. Reducing the edge fringes
      4m 21s
    14. Adding a layer mask
      4m 53s
    15. Creating a gradient quick mask
      5m 26s
    16. Blurring the layer mask
      5m 51s
    17. And that's just the beginning...
      1m 15s
  2. 1h 13m
    1. Edge-enhancement parlor tricks
      1m 30s
    2. The subterfuge of sharpness
      3m 14s
    3. The single-shot sharpness
      3m 47s
    4. Unsharp Mask
      5m 17s
    5. Understanding the Radius value
      4m 31s
    6. Gauging the best settings
      7m 14s
    7. Sharpening the luminance data
      8m 25s
    8. USM vs. Smart Sharpen
      6m 0s
    9. Smart Sharpen's Remove settings
      6m 23s
    10. High-resolution sharpening
      6m 4s
    11. Leave More Accurate off!
      2m 29s
    12. Turn More Accurate on
      2m 58s
    13. The Advanced options
      5m 17s
    14. Saving Smart Sharpen settings
      4m 18s
    15. Accounting for camera shake
      6m 0s
  3. 1h 24m
    1. Why the heck would you blur?
      1m 20s
    2. The "bell-shaped" Gaussian Blur
      7m 16s
    3. The Linear Box Blur
      2m 58s
    4. Median and its badly named progeny
      6m 3s
    5. Surface Blur and the rest
      5m 36s
    6. The Motion Blur filter
      3m 2s
    7. The Radial Blur variations: Spin and Zoom
      5m 55s
    8. The Captain Kirk-in-love effect
      6m 50s
    9. Averaging skin tones
      6m 2s
    10. Addressing the stubborn patches
      6m 0s
    11. Combining Gaussian Blur and Average
      4m 8s
    12. Blurring surface details
      7m 2s
    13. Smoothing blemishes while matching noise
      7m 52s
    14. Reducing digital noise
      8m 22s
    15. Smoothing out JPEG artifacts
      6m 1s
  4. 45m 28s
    1. Behold, the layered composition
      1m 13s
    2. The Layers palette
      5m 8s
    3. Enlarging the hand
      4m 40s
    4. Erasing with a layer mask
      6m 28s
    5. Moving a layer
      4m 3s
    6. Combining layers into a clipping mask
      4m 42s
    7. Hair and stacking order
      6m 12s
    8. Adding a frame and expanding the canvas
      6m 2s
    9. Adding a vignette
      7m 0s
  5. 42m 27s
    1. Organization: It sounds dull, but it rocks
      1m 8s
    2. The terrible battle
      3m 3s
    3. Assembling the base composition
      5m 46s
    4. Adding adjustment layers
      4m 55s
    5. Creating a layer group
      2m 24s
    6. Grouping selected layers
      3m 13s
    7. Making the TV lines
      4m 17s
    8. Introducing layer comps
      5m 52s
    9. Saving your own layer comps
      6m 40s
    10. Final footnotes
      5m 9s
  6. 1h 23m
    1. Parametric operations
      1m 4s
    2. The power of blend modes
      6m 44s
    3. Changing the Opacity value
      5m 35s
    4. Opacity vs. Fill Opacity
      4m 37s
    5. Meet the blend modes
      5m 38s
    6. Blend mode shortcuts
      5m 52s
    7. The darkening modes
      6m 12s
    8. Tempering a Burn effect with the Fill value
      3m 53s
    9. Saving a blended state
      2m 54s
    10. The lightening modes
      4m 55s
    11. The contrast modes
      7m 13s
    12. The comparative modes
      7m 25s
    13. The composite (HSL) modes
      6m 2s
    14. The brush-only modes
      8m 11s
    15. Blending groups
      7m 10s
  7. 1h 27m
    1. At this point, there is a great shift...
      59s
    2. Messing with the masters
      2m 28s
    3. Scaling a layer to fit a composition
      6m 39s
    4. Merging clock face and cardinal
      2m 2s
    5. Rotating the minute hand
      7m 42s
    6. Replaying the last transformation
      3m 50s
    7. Second hand and shadows
      5m 0s
    8. Series duplication
      3m 23s
    9. Skews and perspective-style distortions
      6m 43s
    10. The envelope-style Warp function
      7m 32s
    11. Introducing the Liquify command
      5m 9s
    12. Adjusting the brush settings
      4m 2s
    13. Viewing layers and the mesh
      4m 18s
    14. Incrementally undoing undesirable effects
      4m 5s
    15. Twirl, pucker, and bloat
      2m 2s
    16. Push, mirror, and turbulence
      4m 37s
    17. Protecting regions with a mask
      3m 41s
    18. Applying a digital facelift
      10m 53s
    19. Saving and loading mesh settings
      2m 31s
  8. 1h 18m
    1. Planes and perspective
      1m 7s
    2. The Blue Gallery
      2m 47s
    3. Introducing Vanishing Point 2.0
      5m 30s
    4. Drawing out perpendicular planes
      6m 54s
    5. Exporting the gridlines to a layer
      4m 45s
    6. Cloning an image from one plane to another
      7m 58s
    7. Blending the image into its new home
      6m 31s
    8. Healing away the sockets
      7m 48s
    9. Importing a new image
      6m 20s
    10. Masking and shading the image
      7m 27s
    11. Flat in, perspective out
      5m 57s
    12. Adding perspective type
      4m 50s
    13. Swinging planes to custom angles
      6m 2s
    14. Wrapping art around multiple surfaces
      4m 35s
  9. 1h 15m
    1. Type: The great imaging exception
      54s
    2. Creating an independent text layer
      6m 39s
    3. Editing vector-based text
      6m 38s
    4. Working with area text
      6m 15s
    5. Resizing the text frame
      6m 4s
    6. Obscure but important formatting options
      7m 25s
    7. Text editing tricks and shortcuts
      9m 38s
    8. Adding a ghostly cast shadow
      6m 19s
    9. Backlighting the text
      2m 48s
    10. Creating type on a path
      7m 37s
    11. Pasting text along the bottom of a circle
      3m 50s
    12. Flip and baseline shift
      3m 15s
    13. Warping text
      3m 58s
    14. Scaling the warped text to taste
      4m 18s
  10. 1m 11s
    1. See ya for now
      1m 11s

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