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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.
Before we set about sharpening that landscape photograph, I want to provide you with a few recommended setting, and we're going to start by looking at settings that are applicable to commercial reproduction, when you're outputting your colors as halftone dots. In an upcoming exercise we'll talk about the best settings for inkjet reproduction. I should say that these are just guidelines, but specific guidelines. And if you follow the guidelines religiously they should work for you beautifully. They certainly have worked for me over the years, and I've been in the print industry for about 22 years now and I've been sharpening photographs for perhaps 16 to 17 of those years with varying degrees of success, obviously I've learned a lot over time.
So thanks do a lot of refinement, I have come up with this approach that you're about to learn. So it should work for you beautifully, but if you want to vary a little, obviously go for it. The name of this document incidentally is Recommended Settings. Its found inside the 08_for_output folder. If I bring my Layer Comps palette, were looking at the Halftone comp right there; we'll look at the Inkjet comp in the next exercise. When you're sharpening an image for output, all you care about is what kind of output you're going to.
In our case we're looking to commercial reproduction. So we're going to put the image inside of a book or a magazine or a newspaper, something along those lines, maybe a newsletter. The other thing you care about is the resolution of that image, whether you're printing it directly from Photoshop or you're printing it from a page layout application, such as InDesign. Now it's all based on this guy right here, 300 pixels per inch, which is your standard, everyday, ideal print resolution. Notice, by the way, I prefer to work with High Pass.
When going to commercial reproduction I use High Pass because High Pass is the least likely of the sharpening filters to clip highlights and shadows. We need to have dots, and by avoiding clipping of those highlight and shadows we have a little bit of dot information thanks to the halftone patterning. When we're going to inkjet I prefer to work with Smart Sharpen and allow the highlights and shadows to get a little bit clipped because it provides us better detail, but for halftoning, High Pass is your best bet. For 300 pixels per inch, I apply a Radius value of 2 pixels.
I actually set it to Overlay, I'll set it to the Overlay mode. You can see this little dagger right here that's referring to this item right here that says Overlay, 100%. Basically, when you're working with your other resolutions you need to reduce the Radius value or increase the Radius value, and as you reduce the Radius value you reduce the impact of the effect, which means you have to increase the amount somehow. And if you're working with an Overlay of 100% you don't have any headroom, you cant go any further up. So instead I'll set it to Linear Light at 40% which is essentially equivalent to Overlay at 100%.
They're not the exact same effects, but they're visually equivalent inside of the image. I use a Radius value that's equal to the resolution divided by 3 and then times 2. It's essentially what I am doing here. So it's about two thirds of 100 of the resolution, in case you're wondering where that math comes from. And it works that very nicely. You get a nice crisp edge, and bear in mind, we have to change the Radius because that controls the size of the halos and as we print the image smaller, we're at a higher resolution, we're reducing the size of the halo, so we need to increase the halo to compensate.
As we're reducing the resolution the halo gets bigger, so we need to take care to reduce the size of the halo to compensate. So that's why we are changing these Radius values here. If we go with the higher resolution such as 360 pixels per inch, which is kind of the top resolution you typically work with for print, then you want raise that Radius value to 2.4 pixels. We're sticking for Linear Light for our blend mode, and were going to reduce the Opacity value to 30% in order to reduce the amount of sharpening that we're applying to compensate for the raised Radius value.
Meanwhile, when we're reducing the resolution, we're going to go ahead and reduce the size of the halos as well. So we're going to reduce the Radius value and increase the amount. And you can see a variety of different options here that are available to you. Notice that there is this other asterisk right there that is associated with the 60% value for a 180 pixels per inch. Obviously that's a very low resolution, about as low as you want to go for print, and actually most folks don't go any lower than 220 PPI, but you can go to 180 with pretty good results sometime. These are all coated stock recommendations.
If you're working with uncoated stock then you want to go ahead and raise the amount a little bit. You want to raise the Opacity value, that's what these refer to, is Opacity values, and you want to go ahead and add 10% for uncoated stock, unless you are going to newsprint which is worse than uncoated stock. It's going to absorb more ink and that means that we need to increase the amount of sharpening that we're applying to compensate. Go ahead and add 15% to 20%, and that depends on the grade of your newsprint. If you're working with a high grade newspaper, for example, then 15% is good enough.
If it's low quality newsprint, if printing costs are a big issue and your publisher is trying to save cost by using cheaper paper, then you want to go ahead and increase the value by 20% to compensate. So those are my recommended settings. Now there is a little bit of a caveat here. This is all assuming that we intend our images to be viewed up close, so a distance of about a foot. So this is an image that you can hold in your hands or you can look at on a wall, but you get very close to it in order to see that image. If you're farther away from the image, if you're talking about very, very big art work, for example, that's viewed from a distance, then our logic changes, and I'll explain how it changes in the next exercise.
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