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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.
Alright just because we didn't quite get through that whole Lens Blur and Motion Blur thing in the last exercisem I went ahead and built up a group of these objects, inside of this file called lens&motionblurgroups.PSD that's found inside the 03 sharpen filters folder. What it contains is all of the layers- notice this Lens Blur 24 group- it contains all of the layers that are necessary to make up the Manual Lens Blur effect, the Lens Blur equivalent that is of the Smart Sharpen effect set to Lens Blur and that's this group right there, go ahead and turn it on you can see, that we now have a sharpened version of our image.
Above it I have a group that is all of the various layers that were required when I was putting them together using the Apply Image command and so on. These are the layers that are required to create the manual version of the Smart Sharpen filter set to the Motion Blur effect. And just by way of an FYI, when you are applying Motion Blur that's the Motion Blur Command under the Blur sub-menu in the Filter menu. I've got an Angle value of zero in this case and a Distance value of 20, so you just go ahead and set the Distance value to whatever it is, that you want to use as a Radius value, so notice the Distance and the Radius values for Smart Sharpen they both match each other exactly.
Just a bit of FYI, something you can play with if you are so inclined, because you did such a great job of sticking with that amazing amount of theory right there, I am going to lay on here right now a very practical technique. So this one is not theory at all, this is total practicality here. We are going to see how to compensate for Motion Blur and/or camera shake, but this time we are going to use the Emboss filter instead, which gives you quite a different effect that's better in one way than the Smart Sharpen filter and it's worse in another way.
We are back inside the Sammy image, the one that's called Sammyshake.jpeg, its found inside of the 03 sharpen filters folder. What I am going to do just so that we can compare these two effects to each other. I am going to go up to the Filter menu, I am going to go ahead and choose Sharpen and I am going to choose Smart Sharpen, and with any luck we should see the last values we applied here, which is Remove set to Motion Blur, that's good, an Angle value of 40 degrees, More Accurate is turned off the Radius value is set to 9-pixels and the Amount value is set to 200%.
Now I am going to go ahead and raise that Radius value to 10-pixels instead, so that we are comparing apples to oranges. You will see why that's necessary in just a moment. So I am just going raise that Radius value to 10-pixels and then I am going to click OK. Now I am going to go ahead and zoom-in so that we can see this effect up close in personal. We are working with the flat image as you can see here inside the Layers palette and I want to go ahead and keep this Smart Sharpen version of the image so we can back to it and I am going to use History to accomplish this, by the way. So I am going to collapse this right-hand column of palette here I going to bring up my History palette and you could see that I've got Smart Sharpen following Open.
As opposed to undoing this effect, which would get rid of it, I am instead going to go over to the File menu and choose the Revert Command, or I could press the F12 key, and notice what that does. That adds another state called Revert. So my Smart Sharpen state is still intact, but I have restored the original version of the Sammy image here and now I am going to hide the History palette for a moment. Now we are working with a flat image so we're going to have to jump through a couple of hoops in order to make this Emboss effect work out. It works even better as it turns out if we are working with a Smart Object, if we are applying a Smart Filter version of Emboss to a Smart Object, well see how that works a little later.
I am going to go up to Filter menu, I am going to choose Stylize and I am going to choose the Emboss command. Now what you should know about Emboss is it's a terrible embossing filter. It produces this hideous effect but it's a great alternate sharpening filter as we'll see. So I am going to go ahead and choose Emboss and notice what it does first of all, it makes the image look like its kind of engraved in lead or something along those lines,. It turns all of the non-edges to gray and then the edges get highlighted with either shadows on one side or highlights on the other side.
It's a directional effect, and notice that I've gone ahead and matched the values that I applied inside the Smart Sharpen filter. So the Angle value is set to 40 degrees just as it was with Smart Sharpen, and of course, we don't need to set the Remove function or anything. There is no Remove function, so we don't have to set it to Motion Blur, Emboss is automatically applying a directional effect here. Now the Amount value is analogous to the Amount value inside Smart Sharpen, so I went ahead and set it to the same thing 200%. The Height value is analogous to half of the Radius value because the Height value is approximately twice as strong as the Radius value.
So instead of setting it to 10, I set it to 5. Now the whole reason we made Radius 10 is so that we could evenly divide it by 2. Because you cant enter decimals into the Height value here. It has to be an even number of pixels. So 45 and 200% gives us something of an equal treatment but as you'll see, its pretty different. Go ahead and click OK, and of course, its very different and that we have all these grays all over the place. It doesn't look like a sharpening effect at all. Well, heres what you do. In order to get rid of those grays, you have to invoke the Overlay blend mode.
You can't do it from the Layers palette since we have a flat image here, so I am going up to the Edit menu and choose Fade Emboss in order to fade that filter. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+F or Command Shift+F on the Mac. And now instead of changing the Opacity value I am going to change the mode to Overlay and that's going to drop out all the grays and it's going to screen the highlights and multiply the shadows so we are going to get this very smooth effect right there, where the Emboss effect is woven into the fabric of the original image essentially.
Now if we felt like we've gone too far, you could go ahead and back off the Opacity value a little, and I might take the Opacity value down to about 80%, maybe even down to 75% for this effect and then go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. Now here's the thing. This is a different effect than we saw with Smart Sharpen. So lets go ahead and compare them from the History palette. Here's my Smart Sharpen effect right there and there is the Emboss effect faded of course using the Overlay Blend mode. So heres Smart Sharpen, and I am going to go ahead and zoom-in even farther, so we can see what's going on.
There is the sharpened version of the eye right there. Now in addition to producing a more subtle effect where edges are concerned, which you can barely see, notice that even though we had a very high Radius value 10-pixels. You cant really see any halos, you cant see those dark and light halos around the edges the way you can when you are Smart Sharpening with Lens Blur or Unsharp Masking or Smart Sharpening with Gaussian Blur. However, we are bringing out a lot of noise. So if you look at what ought to be smooth portions of the skin tones for example and this is a child after all.
He doesn't have a wrinkly skin. He doesn't have big pores, any of the things that we adults have and yet we have a lot of weird articulation going on inside of the skin tones and that's because of the digital noise that was captured by the camera as a result of having so much blur associated with this image and it really gets exaggerated by Smart Sharpen. So lets go ahead and compare that to the Emboss version of the image- not nearly as much noise. So Emboss doesn't tend to bring out the noise in the image the way that Smart Sharpen does. However, it produces big thick halos inside the image.
So the halos are much more obvious. You can see this weird light halo around the top of the eye here and this dark halo underneath. If we go down to the nose, it's even more noticeable. You can see the nostril has this Neon strip across the top of it, whereas with Smart Sharpen you don't see that pretty much at all. Its got a little bit of lightness there, but some of that lightness which is just brightness bounce that was already associated with the original image before we sharpened it. I can show you that, if I go to the Open option here which represents the original state of the image. You can see that we have a little bit of brightness here and that's a highlight that's reflected off of the top of his lip.
Anyway, I am going to go back to Smart Sharpen. So that's the Smart Sharpened effect, that's the embossed version of the effect. Here's what I am going to tell you. If you're trying to compensate for a Motion Blur or you are trying to compensate for camera shake, that kind of thing, and you are going to screen, then you are better off if your final output device is a screen. Because you are going to the web for example or like a presentation, then your best option is to go with Smart Sharpen. However, if you are going to print, you want those nice thick halos, because they are going to survive the printing process so you want to go with Emboss instead. And of course the additional upside is that Emboss is bringing out less of the noise inside of the image.
One more note about Emboss is that it produces some very clearly-defined halos. They aren't those soft drop off halos that you get with Gaussian Blur or Lens Blur instead they are very sharply-defined halos, so that's something to bear in mind as well. So take it easy on that Height value, don't go too far with it. A Height value of between 3 and 6-pixels is generally going to serve you well. In the next exercise we are going to see the remainder of the Smart Sharpen options including More Accurate and the others. Stay tuned!
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