Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

The mechanics of sharpening

From: Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features

Video: The mechanics of sharpening

In this exercise, we are going to take a little tour of the mechanics of Sharpening, which probably sounds hideously dull, but it's actually really great, because you are going to see how sharpening is ultimately just a little parlor trick that makes us think we're seeing more sharply focused details. And we'll also see how it compares to other parlor tricks: Height and Contrast, jagged edges, stuff like that. I'm working inside of an image called 'Sharp shapes.psd,' and it's a layered image. So, if you were to bring up the layers palette, you could tour through those layers if you wanted to.

The mechanics of sharpening

In this exercise, we are going to take a little tour of the mechanics of Sharpening, which probably sounds hideously dull, but it's actually really great, because you are going to see how sharpening is ultimately just a little parlor trick that makes us think we're seeing more sharply focused details. And we'll also see how it compares to other parlor tricks: Height and Contrast, jagged edges, stuff like that. I'm working inside of an image called 'Sharp shapes.psd,' and it's a layered image. So, if you were to bring up the layers palette, you could tour through those layers if you wanted to.

Not really necessary, but I say that because I'm going to be touring you through Layer Comps, which are different layered states of an image. And we have got this thick dark serpentine line here, with a bunch of white circle set inside of it or light circles I should say. It's set against a light background. And then we have a Texture Pattern at work throughout everything. And that will give us a sense for where the sharpening is occurring, because when Photoshop sharpens an image, it's elevating the degree of contrast around edges. And edges are areas of rapid luminance variation.

That is, we go from light to dark very suddenly. Like this thing right here is an edge. And the perimeters of the circles, those are edges as well. And even these little bumps have edges associated with them. So the more contrast that's going on at that edge, the bigger the edge is, the bigger the precipice. And Photoshop's job is to increase that edge to make it even more of a cliff, as we'll see. All right, so I am going to go ahead and bring up the Layer Comps palette, I'll go to the Window menu and choose Layer Comps.

And as I say, Layer Comps, they allow you to save layered states inside of the image. So in our case, we are just touring the layers that I have setup in advance for you. So here's the standard version of the image. Let's go ahead and actually zoom in, so that we're really close to the image. Again 200%, so that these details survive the downsampling inherent in our video process. And I am going to switch from Standard to Sharpened, and these are the sharpened edges. Now you can sharpen an image to any degree you want to. You have all kinds of control over the sharpening process, so I don't want you to think, "This is this image sharpened." "This the only way it could be sharpened." It could to be sharpened in any number of ways. But no matter how we were to sharpen it, we would get this kind of effect where we would go from having - notice this - we have a dark edge set against the light background, if you will.

It doesn't really matter who is the background and who is the foreground, but that's what we've got. And as soon as I sharpen, I go ahead and trace an even darker halo on the dark side and a lighter halo on the light side. So we have halos around everything at this point, and they're always exaggerating the information that was already there, the luminance that it was already there are. So dark details, dark edges tend to go nearly black when we have really steep edges like this. And they go nearly white on the light side.

Now we are also elevating the degree of contrasts associated with this texture pattern here. And it's all in the name of attracting the eye's attention. So, our eyes respond to areas of rapid contrasts, and the more rapid that area of contrast, the more that seems like a tactile detail. The more our eyes read that detail as being sharply focused. Even to the point of painfully sharply focused. And that's kind of what we are looking for here. We want some nice, sharp details, where we want sharpness inside of our images.

All right, so that's the sharpened version. And I was saying, we were basically elevating contrasts throughout the image, but we are not doing a general contrast enhancement. This is what a general contrast enhancement looks like. So we go from the standard image, which has a fair amount of amount of contrast associated with it in the first place, and then we enhance that contrast like so. So the dark areas become darker, the light areas become lighter. That has nothing to do with the edges though. It's not favoring the edges at all. It's simply increasing the contrast across the board.

That does not produce the effect of height and contrast. This does. When we start to attack the edges, that's when we get sharpness. Now, you'll sometimes hear folks refer to these sharp edges as 'jagged' and I want to clarify, they aren't jagged. This right here is jagged. These are jagged transitions, and I'll go ahead and zoom in and so you can really see how jagged they are. We have all the stair stepping occurring there. That also is not read by our eyes as being sharp. That is rather read by our eyes as being bad detail inside of a pixel-based image.

I mean that's not going to get us anywhere. Whereas Sharpening looks like this. We have a high degree of contrast. We do have some stair stepping, but we've also got some natural anti-aliasing built into that so that our edges remain nice and organic. So we have what ultimately appear to be naturally focused photographs. So that gives you a sense of how Sharpening works. In the next exercise, we are going to see how Sharpening affects more gradually transitioning edges.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features
Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features

13 video lessons · 12256 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.