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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.
There's a good chance you've heard the admonishment, that you should always evaluate the effective sharpening, with a 100% view of the image. And this is actually very good advice. By using a 100% Zoom setting, often referred to as an actual pixels display, you're ensuring that one pixel on your monitor, reflects one pixel in your image. As a result, you'll get a more accurate view of the actual effect of Sharpening on the image, and yet I almost never set my images to a 100% Zoom setting when sharpening.
I realize that might sound like a silly form of rebellion, so let me explain. I do indeed use a 100% Zoom setting to evaluate the effect of Sharpening, but I don't set the actual image to that 100% Zoom setting in most cases. Let me show you what I mean. Of course, I fully appreciate that this isn't exactly an image you might be interested in printing, but we'll use it for our sample purposes here. I've set my Zoom to a 100% setting, in other words I'm looking at the actual pixels display for this image.
Now this is a relatively small image but I still can't see the entirety of the image. I could certainly Pan around to evaluate various areas of the image, but that isn't always the easiest way to work. Instead, when I'm ready to sharpen, I re-size the image to fit the available space. I can do so by choosing View > Fit on Screen from the menu or by pressing Ctrl+0 on Windows or Cmd+0 on Macintosh. This will allow me to see the entire image.
Now, when I apply Sharpening, I can use this for navigation purposes. For example I'll use the Unsharp Mask filter, don't worry for the moment about which particular filter or settings I'm using. I just want to give you an example of one of the ways we can work. I'll go ahead and move the Unshut Mask dialog out of the way, so that we can see the overall image. And you'll notice that the preview in the Unshut Mask dialog is set to a 100% view. That means I can use this preview very effectively, to evaluate the results of my Sharpening.
In this case I'm going to apply an exaggerated sharpening just so that we can see it a little bit more readily in this preview. Notice that I can still see the preview in the image, but because it's not a 100% Zoom setting, it's not ideal for evaluating sharpening. It's also important that I evaluate various areas of the image. For example, I might want to check the smooth background area to make sure that it's not being sharpened. I don't want to accentuate any detail that might appear in smooth areas. I can change which portion of the image is being previewed in my Sharpening dialog, by simply clicking within the image.
I can Click on a key area and make sure the sharpening is appropriate for that portion of the image, and then Click on Additional Areas to make sure the sharpening effect is working well in all portions of the image. So I'm still using a 100% Zoom setting to evaluate the sharpening, but I'm doing that in the Sharpening dialog, in this case the unsharp mask dialog. The image itself is set to fit on screen, so that I can easily choose additional areas of the image that I would like to evaluate, as I fine-tune my sharpening.
As you can see, by fitting the actual image to the available space on your screen, and then taking advantage of the 100% Zoom setting in the dialog for your sharpening filter, you can sharpen in a more flexible way. You're able to evaluate the effect of Sharpening at a 100% Zoom setting, but also quickly evaluate different areas of the image simply by Clicking in various areas as you work to finalize your effect.
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