Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
Illustration by Don Barnett

Using on-the-fly edge masking


Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Using on-the-fly edge masking

In this exercise I am going to demonstrate how to use the Masking value here inside the Detail panel of the Camera RAW dialog box. I am still working inside of that Ornaments defringed.dng file. The only changes I've made to it are to reduce the Radius value to 0.6 and to increase the Detail value to 80. Now you might look at the sharpened result and say "Deke, this is way too far. We're making these edges super-crunchy here, really crispy and we're applying too much sharpening especially given that we're just sharpening for the source.
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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?
    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
Deke McClelland

Using on-the-fly edge masking

In this exercise I am going to demonstrate how to use the Masking value here inside the Detail panel of the Camera RAW dialog box. I am still working inside of that Ornaments defringed.dng file. The only changes I've made to it are to reduce the Radius value to 0.6 and to increase the Detail value to 80. Now you might look at the sharpened result and say "Deke, this is way too far. We're making these edges super-crunchy here, really crispy and we're applying too much sharpening especially given that we're just sharpening for the source.

We're not trying to sharpen for output; we don't want the image to look in anyway shape or form over-sharpened because that will harm our ability to edit the image in the future. So we just want to sure up the details inside the image, not over-emphasize them." Well, bear in mind that we've got this Amount value through the roof right Now set way too high, I have it set to its maximum value so we can gauge the other values. Once were done in just a moment in fact, well reduce this Amount value. We can also constrain the effects of our sharpening by raising the Masking value.

Now the Masking value applies an Edge Mask on the fly so that you don't have to build an Edge Mask yourself, it makes one for you. Its a really great function, it doesn't- you know, building your own Edge Mask is actually more versatile because you are in control of how the edges shake down. But, this is definitely much more convenient. It does help in the case of this particular slider bar. I think it helps a lot to go ahead and Alt-drag or Option-drag that slider triangle so that you can see the Edge Mask generated live before you on the fly. You can see if we take that Masking value higher, were masking away more of the details inside the image.

So bear I mind, black is going to conceal and white is going to reveal. So in other words, any place that were seen black inside of the mask right now that's an area that were not going to sharpen inside the image. We're only going to sharpen the white edges. So we want to bring out more edges than that I think, but we don't want to just leave all the edges open for interpretation here. We do want to protect some areas of the image to avoid bringing out noise inside of the photograph. So I am going to take this Masking value up to something like 40; actually I think it works very well for this image.

You can check out other regions of the image if you want to, I'll go ahead and drag over to this area that shows me because its an area of very high-contrast layer, me as a reflection of course, and very tiny inside this silver ball. If I alter option drag on the masking slider triangle, you can see how there is a wide edge on this neon as they're tracing around me like I am this little stick figure there, and that's exactly what we want. So as soon as I release, you can see that its protecting what were the formerly those black regions inside the mask and its revealing the white edges, it's doing a very nice job indeed.

Then it helps to keep the noise from being drawn out inside of the non-edge detail of course. Alright, so as I was saying, this is a medium-frequency shot, I mean its high Amount, low Radius, high Detail and low Masking, relatively low Masking. So were staying on the south side of 50% right there. Now we've taken Amount too high, just because we want to go high with Amount, it doesn't mean we want to go this high with the Amount value. Now when I would recommend for the shot, its something in the 70-80% region.

So this is 70% just to give you sense of what that's going to look like and its going to look much more subtle. Notice a lot of those edges drop out and we get a much more subtle effect than what we had before. Or 80, if you wanted to go on high side, you could take the Amount value up to 80%. that's a little subtle for our screen purposes here though because I want to demonstrate what's going on. So I am going to take the value up to 100% for this shot. Then as for the sake of comparison here, were going to switch over to Photoshop. I would like to be able to just turn on and off the Preview checkbox.

But, because I am working inside of the Ornaments defringed.dng file; if I turn off Preview, then were going to see the image as it appeared when I had the Amount value set to 150% and Radius default, and Masking set to their defaults of 1.025 and 0 respectively. That doesn't do us much good. So lets go and turn Preview back on. I'll just go ahead and show you what the image would look like, were we to open them inside Photoshop. So I'll go ahead and switch over to Photoshop here. This is the original festive ornaments.dng file over here on the left-hand side, and this is the sharpened version.

According to our settings of 100%, 0.6 Radius, 80 for Detail and 40 for Masking over here on the right-hand side. If you like, you can go and zoom-in. I'll go ahead and zoom-in on the shot on the right so that we can see the details here at 200%. So you can get a very good sense of the comparison between the two. But, I think even more telling, if you are doing this on screen with me is to compare them at 50%. So I am going to go ahead and zoom-out for the 50% zoom ratio for both shots, both on the left and right-hand sides.

You should be able to see the difference here if you look closely. This is the unsharpened version over on the left-hand side. This is the sharpened version over here on the right-hand side. Its a little too sharp as I say because I said I crank the Amount value up to a 100%, I recommend something like 70-80 for this specific shot. But it will now hold up well. We have compensated for the photographic process, we have sharpened for this source very successfully indeed and this image will hold up to future edits, including sharpening for detail, sharpening for effect and sharpening for output as well examine in future chapters.

In the next exercise, we'll see how to sharpen a portrait shot inside Camera RAW.

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