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Using Unsharp Mask

From: Photoshop CS4 for Photographers: Desktop Printing Techniques

Video: Using Unsharp Mask

In this movie, I want to share with you some general sharpening guidelines, as well as I want to begin to talk about using the Unsharpen Mask filter. Now, for general guidelines what you want to do is for standard sharpening your Amount's set about 100, your Radius is going to be 2 or less. One other thing you are going to see is your Radius typically is pretty low. It rarely goes higher than 3. Now, for the Web, your radius is really low, 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.3. Very rarely goes up this high as 0.5. Now our Amounts also vary and again they are going to typically be somewhere in the 100s, although for the web that's a little bit different, but somewhere in the 100s with a really low radius.

Using Unsharp Mask

In this movie, I want to share with you some general sharpening guidelines, as well as I want to begin to talk about using the Unsharpen Mask filter. Now, for general guidelines what you want to do is for standard sharpening your Amount's set about 100, your Radius is going to be 2 or less. One other thing you are going to see is your Radius typically is pretty low. It rarely goes higher than 3. Now, for the Web, your radius is really low, 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.3. Very rarely goes up this high as 0.5. Now our Amounts also vary and again they are going to typically be somewhere in the 100s, although for the web that's a little bit different, but somewhere in the 100s with a really low radius.

Okay, well now that we have those tips, let's click off that Tips layer. Click in the Background layer and copy it by clicking and dragging it to the New Layer icon. We will go ahead and name this new layer unsharp. Now we are going to navigate to our Filter pulldown menu, choose Sharpen and Unsharpen Mask. Just as a side note, could we have converted this for Smart Filters and done this as a Smart Filter? Sure. Yet, in order to do something a little bit different here, I'm going to simply do this as a regular layer. So I go to Unsharpen Mask. Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to bring my Amount, my Radius, and my Threshold all the way down. And again, I like to reposition my dialog, so I can have a pretty good preview of the background as well as this portion of the preview here. Typically, what you want to do is bring your Amount to the somewhere in the high 100s, so in this case about 170.

Next bring up the Radius, and you want to bring this up slowly. You want to find where it starts to halo and you can see the halo off of the petals on the sunflower here. Now, one of the interesting things with this photograph is it's not sharp. So we are trying to bring in some sharpness. It's pretty soft. It's not even that focused there. So I start to see the halo really early on with this image. It's coming in quickly. So my radius needs to be super low and I'm just looking to find where the halo becomes just unbearable. Now once I start to see that halo being unbearable and I think it's right about there, I'm going to then bring my Amount back down to about 100%. Now why did I do that? Well, I brought my amount up, in order to find the sweet spot for my radius.

Now this is a pretty small file. It's a soft file. So I have a radius that's actually pretty high for this type of an image. Yet you can use this technique on all different types of images. Again a high amount, bring your radius up until you see the halo, then bring that amount back down. Now, what's the deal with the Threshold slider? Well, if I increase my Amount up, I'm going to go ahead and increase this significantly. The Threshold, I like to think of as a slider that says, hey guys, you know back it off a little bit. It's kind of the save-the-day slider. So when I increase the Threshold slider, even on that bad of sharpening, you can see that it's making out to be a pretty decent image. Now, it's not amazing.

But keep in mind I'm exaggerating the amount intensely here. Okay well, let's go back down to about 100 or so. Bring the threshold down. So what I'm doing is I just think of this kind as a peacemaker slide. Make peace between the amount and the radius there. I click on the image to look at my before and after and I'm looking to try to create a pretty subtle effect. Now a lot of times it's helpful to actually look away from your monitor, and then look back and say, does this image actually look good? In my case, I think it does. Therefore I'm going to increase my Amount just a little bit more, also my Threshold and the Radius just a little bit more, so I have a little bit too much sharpening, click OK to apply that.

The reason I like to have a little bit more here is because I can then mask it in the specific areas, or I can simply lower the Opacity to dial this and then find a sweet spot. So again, I just like to have a little bit of that upper room there, so I can bring it down and find the sweet spot. It also gives me different flexibility in regards to my different paper types. So if we zoom on in this image a little bit, here is our before and then after. This image has now been successfully sharpened, before and after, except if I really focus in on this portion of the flower, let's look for problem areas.

Before and after, gosh. All on these petals, this looks horrible. So I click on the Mask icon, grab my Brush tool, Left Bracket key for a nice small brush. I press the X to flip black and white, so I have black there, at 100% Opacity. I am just going to go ahead and paint away the halos and anywhere where I see a real problematic halo, I'm going to get rid off it. I could also try few different techniques here. Blend modes would be worth trying and whatnot. I could also try to go back and lower the amount of my sharpening, but in my case, I'm just going to go ahead and hit these real heavy halo areas and it looks like I have got all of those there. I think down here, a little bit down below, and nothing too bad down below. Okay great.

Now that really made a difference. If we Shift-click that mask and zoom in on those areas, so here is before, Shift-click, there is after. Okay, so we have nice sharpening. We have now some nice sharpening on these petals right here, but we are not getting any of that halo effect in the sky. Okay, now we have successfully sharpened this photograph. Yet, what we want to do here is begin to experiment with our blend modes a little bit. So let's zoom in on the image. And then we are going to go ahead and Shift-click this mask. Let's say that we didn't want to create this mask. Well, we could try our two blend modes. We'll first try Darken because that's up at the top. It won't work. But it's kind of interesting.

Well, then what if we try our Lighten or Screen blend mode? Well all of a sudden the halo up there is completely gone. Here is our before and after. We still have some pretty nice sharpening effects, yet we don't have that halo. So again, keep in mind, these blend modes can really help you out. Right, well let's take it back to Normal, because we have already done our mask work. Shift-click that mask to turn that mask back on. What we want to do here is because we have created a mask and we have sharpened in a specific area, is we want to make sure not to add any extra exaggerated noise. So we are going to take our blending mode to good old Luminosity.

Now that we have it on this Luminosity blend mode, we shouldn't see much of a difference. If anything we will see a subtle improvement with the photo. We'll go ahead and zoom out and then look at our before and after. That one is looking great and this image is now done.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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  1. 4m 20s
    1. Welcome
      3m 23s
    2. Using the exercise files
      57s
  2. 12m 3s
    1. Introducing color management
      2m 32s
    2. Creating a neutral work environment
      2m 49s
    3. Calibrating your monitor
      3m 54s
    4. Calibration demo
      2m 48s
  3. 31m 39s
    1. Correcting color pt. 1: Determining the white and black points
      2m 27s
    2. Correcting color pt. 2: Using curves
      4m 15s
    3. Correcting color pt. 3: Fine-tuning
      3m 14s
    4. Correcting color pt. 4: Adding finishing touches
      4m 35s
    5. Color-correcting an outdoor portrait with curves
      2m 41s
    6. Color-correcting skin tone by the numbers
      2m 36s
    7. Applying skin tone color correction by the numbers
      3m 52s
    8. Correcting reflected color
      2m 25s
    9. Color-correcting a studio fashion portrait
      3m 18s
    10. Color-correcting skin in a natural light portrait
      2m 16s
  4. 40m 52s
    1. Camera Raw input sharpening
      4m 14s
    2. Sharpening with Camera Raw
      2m 28s
    3. Introducing Smart Sharpen
      4m 57s
    4. Sharpening pt. 1: Using Smart Filters
      3m 15s
    5. Sharpening pt: 2: Using Smart Sharpen
      6m 5s
    6. Sharpening and blend modes
      2m 46s
    7. Using Unsharp Mask
      5m 41s
    8. Using High Pass to sharpen
      6m 0s
    9. Adding texture and effects with High Pass
      5m 26s
  5. 19m 25s
    1. Business card resources
      4m 11s
    2. Using a business card template
      1m 22s
    3. Designing the front of a business card
      5m 7s
    4. Designing the back of a business card
      5m 17s
    5. Repurposing a business card for others
      1m 26s
    6. Business card examples
      2m 2s
  6. 32m 11s
    1. Typography resources sites
      3m 32s
    2. Tips and shortcuts for working with type
      4m 7s
    3. Promo card inspiration and resources
      3m 26s
    4. Using a template to build a promo
      2m 19s
    5. Customizing the template
      5m 1s
    6. Building a grid-based promo card
      7m 29s
    7. Resources for creating a photo book
      3m 22s
    8. Photo book examples
      2m 55s
  7. 53m 53s
    1. Creating a PDF layout with the Output module
      6m 35s
    2. Creating a layout pt. 1: Using the Output module to create a rough layout
      3m 24s
    3. Creating a layout pt. 2: Customizing a PDF layout in Photoshop
      5m 1s
    4. Creating a three-image layout in Photoshop
      2m 50s
    5. Creating a grid photo montage
      5m 23s
    6. Building a creative layout pt. 1
      4m 24s
    7. Building a creative layout pt. 2
      8m 6s
    8. Multiple-image layout pt. 1: Using Bridge and Photoshop
      3m 59s
    9. Multiple-image layout pt. 2: Masking and resizing photos
      6m 19s
    10. Multiple-image layout pt. 3: Finalizing the layout
      2m 39s
    11. Multiple-image layout pt. 4: Color and sharpening
      5m 13s
  8. 13m 34s
    1. Printer recommendations
      2m 47s
    2. Paper recommendations
      1m 50s
    3. Paper resources
      3m 27s
    4. Printing recommendations overview
      5m 30s
  9. 15m 46s
    1. Color management refresher
      1m 53s
    2. Finding sample files online for test printing
      3m 0s
    3. Soft-proofing with paper profiles
      1m 49s
    4. Soft-proofing to correct an image
      2m 52s
    5. Setting white and black points based on the test print
      6m 12s
  10. 34m 0s
    1. Starting with Camera Raw
      3m 3s
    2. Resizing in Photoshop
      5m 9s
    3. Setting the white and black points
      2m 17s
    4. Checking skin tone
      3m 48s
    5. Sharpening with Smart Sharpen
      3m 55s
    6. Making soft proof corrections
      2m 54s
    7. Introducing the Photoshop Print dialog
      2m 44s
    8. Color management and the Photoshop Print dialog
      3m 32s
    9. Final Print dialog settings
      2m 33s
    10. The final print
      4m 5s
  11. 23m 7s
    1. Setting up a test strip print
      2m 32s
    2. Modifying the test strip print
      5m 30s
    3. Understanding rendering intents
      2m 20s
    4. Test-printing rendering intents
      2m 35s
    5. Batch-processing with actions
      5m 50s
    6. The image processor
      4m 20s
  12. 23m 55s
    1. Overview and intro
      4m 45s
    2. Using a promo card template
      2m 47s
    3. Converting to CMYK
      7m 36s
    4. Field trip to a printing press
      8m 47s
  13. 6m 36s
    1. Resource sites
      2m 0s
    2. What's next
      2m 51s
    3. Goodbye
      1m 45s

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