Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
Illustration by Don Barnett

Using the Gaussian Blur filter


From:

Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Using the Gaussian Blur filter

Now strange is that may sound, any discussion of focus altering filters inside a Photoshop has to begin with Gaussian Blur. And if you know anything about Photoshop and youve spent six seconds using Gaussian Blur, you maybe thinking, "Give me a break, Deke!" Not only do you not need to show me Gaussian Blur, you don't need to show my grandmother Gaussian Blur, it is that easy to use. It just has a Radius value, you raise the Radius value, you get more blur, you lower the Radius value, you get less blur, that's all there is to it. But heres the deal, it's responsible for the way Unsharp Mask works.
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  1. 50m 30s
    1. Why every image needs sharpening
      2m 37s
    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 55s
    10. Gauging the ideal sharpening settings
      6m 13s
  2. 59m 28s
    1. Everyone knows you sharpen last (and everyone is wrong)
      1m 7s
    2. Understanding the conventional sharpening workflow
      5m 3s
    3. Flattening and saving to TIFF
      6m 40s
    4. Downsampling (and why you shouldn't upsample)
      6m 8s
    5. Understanding last-step sharpening
      6m 43s
    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 48s
    13. Learning that technique trumps timing
      4m 40s
  3. 1h 30m
    1. Comparing and contrasting neighboring pixels
      1m 6s
    2. Using the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 25s
    3. Using Gaussian luminance distribution
      7m 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 24s
    2. Using the Median filter and Dust and Scratches
      7m 6s
    3. Using Smart Blur and Surface Blur
      6m 14s
    4. Using the Despeckle filter
      8m 18s
    5. Softening flesh tones selectively
      10m 16s
    6. Using the Reduce Noise filter
      7m 27s
    7. Combining smoothing and sharpening
      8m 23s
    8. Making an image into a smart object
      9m 23s
    9. Applying editable smart filters
      6m 10s
    10. Combining two smart filters
      8m 6s
    11. Assigning a filter mask
      5m 59s
    12. Nesting one smart object inside another
      10m 31s
    13. Employing a static High Pass layer
      9m 0s
    14. Matching static pixel-level edits
      4m 37s
    15. Avoiding clipping with luminance blending
      9m 7s
    16. Sharpening and smoothing
      6m 37s
    17. Making an edge mask
      8m 15s
    18. Making a non-edge mask
      7m 17s
  5. 1h 33m
    1. Sharpening with Adobe Camera Raw
      1m 28s
    2. Introducing Camera Raw (4.1 or later)
      8m 12s
    3. Understanding why to sharpen for source
      5m 14s
    4. Using Camera Raw’s sharpening control
      5m 51s
    5. Previewing limitations and tricks
      6m 45s
    6. Why downsampling doesn’t work
      3m 12s
    7. Reducing chromatic aberration
      7m 29s
    8. Using the Defringe option
      3m 31s
    9. Understanding high frequency, low radius
      5m 21s
    10. Raising the Detail value
      3m 6s
    11. Using on-the-fly edge masking
      5m 40s
    12. Sharpening a low-frequency portrait
      6m 35s
    13. Eliminating color noise
      4m 47s
    14. Reducing luminance noise
      4m 41s
    15. Correcting “false sharpening”
      7m 14s
    16. Reducing shadow noise
      5m 22s
    17. Approximating ACR sharpening in Photoshop
      8m 35s
  6. 59m 12s
    1. Gauging and exploiting luminance frequency
      1m 26s
    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 1s
    8. Actioning a high-frequency edge mask
      5m 5s
    9. Downplaying color artifacts and clipping
      4m 5s
    10. Sharpening a medium-frequency image
      5m 25s
    11. Sharpening a layered composition
      7m 17s
    12. Sharpening for multiple frequencies
      4m 12s
  7. 1h 8m
    1. Who needs dull when you have sharp?
      55s
    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 38s
    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 27s
  8. 1h 18m
    1. Reverting back to convention
      1m 36s
    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 19s
    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 44s
    11. Sharpening for inkjet output
      4m 57s
    12. Revealing high-frequency multipass sharpening
      5m 21s
    13. Using Gaussian Blur to sharpen hair
      5m 42s
    14. Flatten, Save As, Resample, and Sharpen
      5m 10s
    15. Revealing low-frequency multipass sharpening
      3m 31s
    16. Sharpening an image for web or screen
      6m 22s
  9. 1m 51s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 51s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
10h 33m Intermediate Feb 15, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the effects of sharpening
  • In-depth examinations of Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, Emboss, and High Pass
  • Smoothing an image with the Surface Blur, Despeckle, and Reduce Noise features
  • Working with smart objects and smart filters
  • Creating edge masks and non-edge masks
  • Sharpening for digital-image capture using Camera Raw
  • Gauging and exploiting luminance frequency
  • Exploring creative applications of sharpening
  • Sharpening a multilayer composition
  • Sharpening eyes, hair, and out-of-focus backgrounds
  • Reducing noise in a high-frequency image
  • Determining ideal settings for commercial and inkjet output
  • Sharpening very large-format images
  • Sharpening an image for the web or screen output
Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

Using the Gaussian Blur filter

Now strange is that may sound, any discussion of focus altering filters inside a Photoshop has to begin with Gaussian Blur. And if you know anything about Photoshop and youve spent six seconds using Gaussian Blur, you maybe thinking, "Give me a break, Deke!" Not only do you not need to show me Gaussian Blur, you don't need to show my grandmother Gaussian Blur, it is that easy to use. It just has a Radius value, you raise the Radius value, you get more blur, you lower the Radius value, you get less blur, that's all there is to it. But heres the deal, it's responsible for the way Unsharp Mask works.

In fact, its so responsible for Unsharp Mask, I can actually duplicate the effects of Unsharp Mask, down to the last pixel, using Gaussian Blur by itself and no other filter. Out standing is that sounds, that incredibly boastful statement, I will bear out in an upcoming exercise, I'll show you what I mean by that, because it really is helpful to understand that sharpening is really blurring, that they are one and the same. But first, lets understand whats going on with sharpening and I also want to show you whats meant by the term Gaussian. We'll start off with this image called Happy family.jpg that's found inside the 03_sharpen_filters folder.

And it comes to us from photographer Justin Horrocks of iStockphoto.com, and I am going to go up to the Filter menu, I am going to choose Blur and I am going to choose Gaussian Blur, the most essential of these many blurring functions. Notice that I decide to keep our shortcut to it of Shift+F7 for my own purposes. You can likewise assign a keyboard shortcut to this filter using the Keyboard Shortcuts command under the Edit menu. Alright, I am going to go ahead and choose the command, brings up the Gaussian Blur dialog box. Lets go ahead and center the zoom on this baby's face here and I am going to click on the plus (+) sign to zoom-in and increment here to 200% and if I click and hold, you can see that this is the original baby face, and when I release- if you look closely, you can see the effects of this default Radius value of one pixel.

The idea is that Photoshop is applying this series of scrubbing bubbles to the image and each bubble is emanating from a single pixel at a time. So at any given nanosecond, Photoshop is applying a bubble to one of the pixels inside the image and the bubble currently has a Radius of one pixel, that is to say, a diameter of two pixels. But as well see in the next exercise, that Radius actually gets distributed, so that's larger than whatever the Radius value we entered here. But when it comes to just blurring the image, all you really care about is if you raise the value you're going to get more blur.

For example at Radius value of 12 pixels, we're pretty much obliterating the focus of this image and we can much farther with it. If you take the value down, I'll go ahead and click on that Radius value again and lower it to, lets say 0.6 pixel, then you're going to reduce the amount of blur you apply to the image, but you can still see the effects. If you closely, I am going to zoom-in on the baby's face even more, click and hold, this is the original baby eye, and release, this is the blurred baby eye. So it's just a slight amount of blurring. Now the minimum value that will produce any effect whatsoever inside this dialog box, and inside Unsharp Mask as well by the way, is a Radius of 0.3 pixel.

If you go below that, I'll press the down arrow key to go down to 0.2 pixel and I'll click and hold, this is before, I'll release, this is after. No difference. It's just a function of the way the math is calculated inside a Photoshop, that you have to have a Radius value of at least 0.3 pixel or higher to get any effect whatsoever. So if you ever just want to assign just a tiny little bit of sharpening to an image, something that verges on anti-aliasing, it's so subtle then a 0.3 Radius is the smallest you can apply.

Just bear that in mind, of course you can raise the value by pressing the Up arrow key, that will raise it in increments of 0.1. You can lower it in increments of 0.1 by pressing the Down arrow key, for whole number increment you press Shift+Up arrow or Shift+Down arrow. It's just standard filtering stuff. Many filters actually don't subscribe to that role. The bad ones will ignore you when you press the arrow keys, but the good ones will pay attention. So anyway, I don't really feel like blurring these good people. They might as well remain nice and sharp, we'll come back to them actually when its time to sharpen the image.

The image that I really want to blur here is this guy. It's a demonstration image, in fact its called Gaussian demo.PSD and its going to allow us to see the difference between a Gaussian luminance distribution and a Linear luminance distribution in the next exercise.

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