Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
There will be instances where you will want to selectively sharpen an area of your photograph, yet it just won't make sense to work with the brush tool and to hand paint that in, like with this photograph here. What I want to do is selectively sharpen Rachel here, who's doing this amazing handstand down at the beach. And rather than painting the sharpening in in this area, what we'll do is first make a selection, and then we'll create a mask based on that selection, and then we'll sharpen that area of the photograph and perhaps extend it as well with a little bit of hand painting.
Well, let's take a look at how we can do that. It all begins by duplicating the background layer. To duplicate this layer, let's do so by way of a shortcut which I highlighted in one of the previous movies that was Cmd+j on a Mac or Ctrl+j on Windows, or if you want to do this without using a shortcut, just click and drag this to the new layer icon. Alright, well, let's double-click that layer name and name it Sharpen. Next step, we need to make a selection. So here I'll zoom in a bit on the photograph so that we can see the area we want to focus in on.
Then let's use the Quick Select tool to build a quick selection which will turn into a mask. Tap the W key to select the Quick Selection tool, or just click on this icon right here. Now with our brush size, what we'll want to do is have a relatively small brush so we can paint over some of these details here. We want to turn on Auto Enhance to make sure our edges are enhanced as we go. This will take more time, but in my experience typically it's worth it to use that option.
So turn on Auto Enhance. Then just start to click and drag over the photograph. In doing this, what we're looking to do is to build up a good selection of the subject here. Also keep in mind that if we select an area which we don't want to use, that's okay. We can always erase that from the selection. We're just going to go down to this part of the photograph. And the way the we can erase, or I should say better actually remove that from the selection, is by holding down the Option key on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then clicking over those areas.
Let me zoom in to show you what I mean. Down here if we look at the subject here, we can see we have a good selection of her in this area, but I also selected some of the sand. If I wanted to remove that I would hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click or click and drag over that area. This will just ensure that we have a better selection so here we're just refining this. If we go too far, and we subtracted from that selection area we want, we'll just paint over it after you let go of that shortcut modifier key, and that way you can get really precise with what you have selected.
Also keep in mind that what we'll do is refine the edge of the area that we're selecting. So let's do that next. Whenever you're working with Quick Select, it gives you nice quick selections, but sometimes they aren't the best selections. To fix that up we'll go to our Refine Edge dialog. In the Refine Edge dialog we have different ways that we can view our photograph or our selection. On Layers isn't that helpful. We need something which is showing us a view which is helping us to see some of the edges that we have there.
So lets go to the On White. I think that one's helpful. Most quick selections can use a bit of Smart Radius, and can increase that radius to fine tune those edges. We'll zoom in a little bit so we can see that. Also we can perform a bit of smoothing here, and a touch of feather. And then one of the things that you may want to consider doing is adding some Shift Edge, and rather than shifting it this way to increase the edge, shift it the other. This will just trim off the edge. This sometimes helps to make sure that when you sharpen it you don't exaggerate the edges in an unnatural way.
Alright, if you want to cover the edges, you can leave it right where it's at, or you can just drop it down a few points. That's what I'm going to do. Then click OK. Actually, before we click OK, I was getting ahead of myself here. We need to choose output. Rather than outputting this to a selection, let's output this to our layer mask. Go ahead and select Layer Mask, and then click OK. That creates a layer mask for us, so that on this layer we now have just that selected area which we can then sharpen.
So we'll turn off the visibility of the background layer to just double check that that's looking good. Next step, we want to click into the image, not the mask. We want to sharpen the photograph. So, click into the image thumbnail there. And then we'll navigate to our Filter pull-down menu. Here we'll go to Sharpen and then choose Smart Sharpen. We already know this stage of the process, but let's go there anyway. Here we are inside of Smart Sharpen. We want to evaluate this image and the detail that we have here.
And I'm going to bring my Amount and Radius down to a little bit of a lower value, and then incrementally increase these. You know, how high you can go with your Amount and Radius really depends upon the quality of the capture. In this case I was using a great lens, it's a 70 to 200 2.8 L glass Canon Lens. It's a really high quality lens. It is so sharp I can't believe it, and the quality of the capture is going to allow me to increase my Radius and also my Amount higher than I would with a different type of camera or lens.
And so as your making these adjustments, of course, you want to be paying attention to how the image is holding up, or falling apart. At this point I just noticed that it's falling apart a little bit here. I think my Radius is too high. The edges look like they were glowing or overdone, so I'm going to drop that back down. The Amount, as well, I think I went a little bit too high. I was getting a bit overambitious. Once we've found the right spot for the sharpening, we can click OK. And now what's great about this is that the sharpening is only applied to the area where we have visible on this layer, which is the area inside the mask.
If I zoom in on that, what we'll see is we'll be able to turn off the before and after view here. Here's before and then after. That looks really good. And we want to evaluate this in its entirety, you know, and see how this looks in the overall setting. In this case, I think it's looking great except for one thing. We have a problem. One problem is that the hands are really sharp but the sand around it, which is in focus, isn't. Let's zoom back into that area. When we get up close to that area, and here let me double click the zoom tool to make sure I'm at 100%, which we are right there, we can see that we have all of this area of focus and sharpness.
Rather than having an exact selection here, we need to soften this. To do that just grab your brush tool. You want to paint with white. You're going to want to paint with a brush which has 0% hardness. Nice big brush there. And let's go with a little bit of a higher opacity. I'll go up to maybe 30%. I'm just going to paint in some brightness. And you know what, I just made a mistake. You can see the white area right here, and the mistake is, is that I was painting on the image and not the mask.
Don't know if that's ever happened to you, but here it happened to me. So I'm going to go to Edit and then choose Step Backwards. I want to undo that. Next I want to click into my mask and I want to paint with white on the mask. When I do that, what I'm able to do is to paint in some sharpness to the surrounding areas, which will make the sharpness on the hands look that much more natural, and it will fit in rather than stand out. And that's really important. You want this to look natural and authentic. You want all of these elements to blend in.
So in this case what we'll be able to see is what I 'm starting to do, is to paint in some of the detail that we have in the surrounding area. I'm painting in at a lower opacity, which is just bringing a little bit of snap to those areas, which is helping me to improve the overall look in this photograph. All right, last but not least, we want to zoom out a little bit just to make sure that we've covered our bases. Looks like I need to bring in a little bit more over there on this side as well. And that wraps up our work on this project.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 69703 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 91792 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 60098 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 28770 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.