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Virtually all digital images need some degree of sharpening to look their best, but it's not always easy to find the right way to go about it. This workshop from leading Adobe Photoshop expert Tim Grey dispels many myths and misunderstandings about sharpening, teaches you the underlying concepts involved in sharpening, shows you a wide variety of methods you can use to apply sharpening, and helps you determine which technique is best for a given image. In addition to Photoshop's native sharpening tools, learn how to make use of the options available in Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, and third-party plugins like Nik Sharpener Pro and PhotoKit Sharpener. The workshop concludes with several projects designed to help reinforce your knowledge of sharpening. See how to apply sharpening and softening to different areas of an image, apply creative sharpening to specific areas, and sharpen a black-and-white image.
In addition to the basic controls available in Smart Sharpen, there are also some advanced controls that enable you to mitigate the effect of sharpening in the highlight and shadow areas of an image. In this lesson, we'll explore the advanced controls for Smart Sharpen. I've already prepared my image for output, so I'm ready to apply my final sharpening. I'll go to the Filter > Sharpen, and then Smart Sharpen to bring out the Smart Sharpen dialog. As you can see, I have the basic options set, so I'm able to adjust my amount in radius and also determine whether I want to remove Gaussian blur, Lens blur, or Motion blur.
I'll keep that set to Lens blur. And I can choose whether I want to be more accurate option to be applied. In this case, I'll go ahead and apply Exaggerated Sharpening, so that we can get a better sense of the advance controls capabilities. I'll increase my radius fairly significantly. And I'll also increase the amount very significantly so that we can see a high degree of sharpening happening in both highlight and shadow areas of the image. I'm also going to turn on More accurate, again, just to emphasize the Sharpening effect.
Keep in mind that this is by no means a Sharpening effect I would normally want to apply to an image. I just want you to be better able to see the effect of the advance controls, which we'll take a look at now. All I need to do is choose the Advanced Option, and as you can see, I now have a Sharpen tab which contains my normal Smart Sharpen controls, as well as a Shadow tab and a Highlight tab. I'll start with the Shadow tab, and as you can see, I have several sliders available.
These allow me to mitigate the effect of Sharpening, in this case for shadow areas of the image. I'll go ahead and zoom in on a relatively dark portion of the image, so that we can see the effect of changing these shadow controls. The fade amount slider allows us to determine how much we want to reduce the effect of sharpening in shadow areas of the image. I'll go ahead and increase the value for fade amount, and as you can see in the preview, the effect of sharpening in some of the darkest areas of the image has been toned down. Now, of course, this is only affecting the darkest shadow areas of the image. If I need to broaden that range of tonal values just a little bit, I can increase my Tonal Width slider.
This will cause even brighter areas of the image to also have the Sharpening effect mitigated. I'll go ahead and increase this to a moderate value, and you can see that now, most of the dark areas are no longer being sharpened. And in fact, even some of the areas that were a little bit brighter are no longer seeing a sharpening effect. In addition, I can adjust the Radius, this controls the degree of blending between the areas where I'm mitigating sharpening and the other areas of the image. I'll go ahead and reduce the radius value and you may be able to see that there's a relatively abrupt transition between areas being sharpened and areas that are not being sharpened. To help emphasize that just a little bit, I'll reduce the Tonal Width so that we're able to see sharpening in more areas of the image. And then, I'll adjust the fade amount down and then back up. You might notice that the transition from areas that are no longer being sharpened to areas that are still being sharpened is relatively abrupt. If I increase the radius value, that area will transition more smoothly. So again, I will reduce the radius value and you'll see that we have a relatively abrupt transition in those areas.
And then, if I increase the radius value, you'll notice that that transition smooths up just a little bit. Of course, in most cases, you probably don't want to reduce the amount of sharpening altogether, so you'd probably use a relatively modest fade amount setting. Somewhere around 50% usually produces a good result where we're sharpening the overall image, but toning down that sharpening affect in the darker areas of the image. For Tonal Width, that will vary depending upon the image, so your best guide is to evaluate the effect within the image itself.
If you see that sharpening is effecting areas that are relatively dark, but not dark enough to be considered shadows, you can simply increase the Tonal Width setting in order to mitigate sharpening in those additional areas. And of course, the Radius slider then allows you to to transition between areas where you are mitigating the Sharpening effect versus areas where you want the full effect of Sharpening. We also have the same controls available on the Highlight tab. These do the exact same thing, the only difference is that we're focusing our attention on the Highlights, rather than the Shadows. So for example, let's take a look at a bright area of the image. I can fade back the sharpening in those brightest areas by increasing the Fade Amount adjustment, and then, I can adjust the Tonal Width value increasing or decreasing the range of tonal values where I'll be mitigating the Sharpening effect.
And once again, I can adjust radius in order to change the transition between areas where I'm mitigating the Sharpening effect versus not adjusting that Sharpening effect at all. And of course, I could always return to my sharpen settings in order to fine tune the overall Sharpening effect. For example, in this case, lets assume that I actually had applied a perfect mitigation for my shadow and highlight sharpening, and I'm not ready to finalize the overall sharpening effect. I could then reduce my radius value for example, and also reduce the amount, so that I produce a better result, in the image itself. In this particular image, I would probably also turn off the more accurate option.
So that I am now able to apply sharpening that will affect the overall image but will not affect the shadows or highlights too much. And when I am happy with the result, I can simply click OK to finalize the Sharpening effect. The advance controls for Smart Sharpen are, in my mind, most useful for images when there is concern about noise. That noise is most likely to appear in the shadow areas of the image. And so mitigating sharpening in the shadows can help ensure you don't emphasize the noise. This is just one example of the great benefits you can achieve using the advanced features of smart sharpen
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